So for the greenhouse project we’ve also decided that we need some sort of energy capture. There are of course regular solar panels and they’re becoming cheaper and cheaper these days, but our greenhouse project wouldn’t be our greenhouse project if we wouldn’t be stubborn in pursuing our own cheap solutions.

So a while ago I bumped into this very creative solution by Cansolaire. They use soda cans in order to create aluminum heat exchange pipes and capture the heat for, well, heating! After all, when we need heating, why would we bother converting the heat to electricity first? The heat to electricity conversion is a mostly inefficient process while mere heat capturing can be extremely efficient (~95%).

Their units look really quite spectacular as you can see on the picture below.

Cansolair

Essentially what you’re seeing is a ‘box full of soda cans’. Of course the soda cans need to be processed, the box needs to look decent and the shiny cover is fairly expensive but still it is what it is! On youtube.com, etc. it’s easy to find many videos of people demonstrating how to make these units yourself, so as we have a rather urgent need to start heating our garage, I have teamed up with my brother Ron on this. He is going to build me two of these devices and install them on the roof of my garage.

We really want these two ‘demo models’ to look very neat and high tech so we’ll spend some decent money on that. We will also have an invitation on it to simply ring our doorbell if interested in this ‘technology’. We feel that everybody can make these devices themselves but we will also offer to make them for other people.

Chapter 1. Greenup

The UN has started a greenup campaign through which it aims to stimulate a ‘greener planet’. In Almere where we live, this has already resulted in a school getting a ‘Green-up machine’. This machine gives students a receipt through which they can participate in a lottery for returning their soda cans.

This machine is provided by Tomra Systems. I believe this is a fantastic idea but I also believe we can make it even more fantastic. I have contacted both Tomra Systems and the Helen Parkhurst school to ask them if it would be possible if I use the soda cans they collect to build these solar heat exchange panels with.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if this girl could be environment-aware TWICE by not throwing the cans in the environment but by also contributing to using the sun for heating?

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UPDATE 16-01-2014: Tracy has collected some soda cans in the park already. Here they are soaking in a tub of soapy water. Perhaps this weekend we’ll make it a family trip to the park, each armed with a garbage bag 🙂

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UPDATE 30-01-2014: Wow, I had a meeting with Robert Verboom and Rene Veldkamp of the Helen Parkhurst school. What an interesting meeting that was! Of course we will get the soda cans, probably some 200 or so per week. The only ‘problem’ that indicated was that there aren’t just soda cans in the machine but also drinking cartons (these also contain aluminum on the inside).

What’s even more interesting were the ideas that popped up during the meeting. The Helen Parkhurst school is a so called technasium. This means that they give special attention to technology and give kids the opportunity to develop in it. I can just imagine that 3DN in the future will act as an external customer for their research.

It would also be possible to arrange for some small prizes to be provided by 3DN to the Helen Parkhurst school to stimulate the soda can collection even more.