Pyrolysis Open Source Design Rationale (OSDR)

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Product Definition


Pyrolysis oil is oil obtained from the anaerobic burning of a given mass. The vapors from an object burning in an airtight container cool and condense to form oils which store energy for later use, in addition to gases such as CO, H2 and CH4. For a village, pyrolysis oil can fuel a steam engine, in turn the steam engine can provide electricity, and power vehicles for transportation and farming. Pyrolysis oil can be obtained from burning most dry biomasse feestocks (grass, wood, etc).

General Scope

The initial scope will be to find a simply constructed pyrolysis reactor which can be scaled up to produce 1 ton per 24 hours. The next phase will be to reduce the most toxic by products by determining the best heating rates to this end, the best cooling methods towards this end, the best biomass preparations, and the best biomass towards this least toxic end.

Product Ecology

Pyrolysis oil can be the base energy source for all the village's energy needs. Pyrolysis can be burned to heat water, creating steam for the village's steam engines. The steam engines provide electricity, transportation, and other machine powered mechanical items. Pyrolysis by products are oil, heat, and charcoal. The heat from the pyrolysis process can be used to heat buildings. Charcoal can be used for heating buildings, kilns, and foundries. It can also be used as biochar, a soil amendment.


Pyrolysis oil can be obtained from any local biomass. In desert areas this may present a challenge, however, solar concentrators may provide the steam for steam engines. Currently, pyrolysis oil could replace the global flow of petroleum products.


The design will include the flexibility to go from the ability to create pyrolysis oil either on a vehicle, in a small dwelling, to a reactor which can produce 1 ton in 24 hours.

Analysis of Scale

- section unfinished 

(Exploration of the appropriate scale for carrying out this enterprise, based on the notion that human orgnization works most effectively up to a certain size, after which organization begins to break down. The effective scale may change depending on the scenario).

Life Cycle Analysis

- section unfinished (material flows analysis, 'from crust to dust').

Enterprise Options

    section unfinished

(Note that village design favors neosubsistence in order to integrate participants' lifestyles for increased self-sufficiency. Enterprise may involve production of the product itself, fabrication of devices that build the product itself, production of other items using the product, education, training, certification, consulting, further R&D activities, and others)

Development Approach

Time Line

See Pyrolysis_Oil_Project_Status for current status and past history actions.

section unfinished

March-April 2009

Develop small model reactor for empirical knowledge

  • Purchase parts by March 21st
  • Assemble by March 22nd (now delayed: lack six parts)
  • Test Model by April 5th

Concurrently Invite Collaborators

Development Budget

Value Spent

Model for Empirical Knowledge Costs Totals To Date

  • Tools: $220
  • Materials: $320
  • Hired Professional Help: $0

Value Available

- section unfinished (resources that are available but have not yet been utilized)

Value Needed

- section unfinished 

(This is what's needed in labor and materials to complete the project under two scenarios: normal and accelerated. The normal scenario assumes voluntary labor and materials at cost. The accelerated scenario refers to spending money to outsource the necessary developments. Outsourcing means spending the money on independent contractors who would otherwise not contribute their services in a volunteer fashion. For this, labor is accounted in hours. In the industrialized world, typical professional services may be $50 per hour.)

Deliverables and Product Specifications

The Industry Standard Our Product Will Match


  • Automated reducing the time required for its operation.
  • Biomass loading is required every 8 to 10 hours.
  • Pyrolysis oil produced is collected and stored.
  • Ability to convert 1 tone of biomass per 24 hours.
  • Portability allowing easy transportation and setup at processing sites.
  • The system consists of two modules: the dryer and reactor.
  • These modules are both connected and can be disassembled and moved using conventional equipment including forklifts and flatbed trailers.

Additional OSE Product Specifications

  • Must be simple enough for a non-technical user to manufacture.
  • U.S. dollar cost must be kept to a minimum.
  • Pyrolysis Reactor must last 100 years.
  • Fewest moving parts as possible.
  • Smallest energy input to Reactor as possible (including any control circuits).
  • Must be able to manufacture parts in an Open Source Global Village.


Market and Market Segmentation

Salient Features and Keys to Success

section unfinished (Explanation of the critical features of the Deliverables, and how they can produce breakthrough developments, such as those of ecological features, durability, cost reduction, ergonomics of production, and so forth.)

Technical Design

The general assumptions for product design are, wherever possible: (1), lifetime design, (2), design for disassembly (DfD), (3), modularity, and (4), scaleability. Technical design progress will be visible in real-time, as updates are posted on an ongoing basis.

Product System Design

section unfinished

(This parts starts to define the technical aspects of products beyond Product Definition. This includes the product itself and framework of other products within which the product is used or fabricated. Product system design includes components of the Scope as defined in Product Definition. Different options, variations, or implementations of a product are included. Product system design is an iterative definition, such that the best approach will be pursued as additional information becomes available. Particular product development forks may be selected.) Product system design includes:

Diagrams and Conceptual Drawings

Structural Diagram of the Technology

Functional or Process Diagram

Workflow for Productive Activities

Technical Issues

section unfinished (main technical issues to be addressed and resolved)

Deployment Strategy

  • Create model pyrolysis reactor to gain empirical understanding of overall process.
  • Locate pyrolysis specialist willing to contribute to an open source pyrolysis reactor.
  • Come to prototype agreement amongst contributors.
  • Create small prototype to determine issues if any.

(Prioritization of steps to be taken, such as design prototyping fabrication iterations. The goal is to build on past work, involve additional developers, obtain peer review, identify prototyping collaborations, and follow import substitution to build capacity locally, until an integrated technology base, including provision of feed stocks, is under control of a community.)

Performance Specifications

 section unfinished


section unfinished 

(design calculations, yields, rates, structural calculations, power requirements, ergonomics of production - labor and fatigue, time requirements for production, economic break even analysis, scalability calculations, growth calculations)

Technical Drawings and CAD

CAM Files

Component Design

section unfinished

(Design of components related to the product system. This will be the main thrust of the wiki, as product ecologies are based on individual components. These components are likely to be located on their own subpage, because each component design has a number of subsections:)

Diagrams be added when prototype has been agreed upon by collaborators..

Conceptual Drawings

Performance Specifications

Performance Calculations

Technical Drawings and CAD

CAM Files


section unfinished (breakdown of components into subcomponents will be provided as needed.)


section unfinished (Deployment progress is visible by the documentation provided in the sections above, but tangible results of substance can be documented by pictures, video, data, and so forth. Progress is designed to be transparent to the observer.)

Production Steps

section unfinished (fabrication, assembly, and any strategic insights of the production process)

Flexible Fabrication or Production

- section unfinished (describes infrastructure requirements (equipment, utilities, etc.), tool requirements, techniques, processes used)

Bill of Materials

- section unfinished (materials, sourcing, and prices of required materials or feedstocks)

Pictures and Video

- section unfinished (of materials, parts, prototypes, working models)


section unfinished (any results that are measured)

Documentation and Education

section unfinished (this section is dedicated to preparing and disseminating results, in the form of publications and technical reports.)


Negligiblek's Model for Empirical Knowledge

Elliot's Pyrolysis Prototype


Enterprise Plans

section unfinished

(Are people able to use the presented information for entrepreneurial, right livelihood goals? The best mark of a complete development process is the number of independent replications. That is, is the information sufficiently complete and clear, such that people can egage in an entrepreneurial, subsistence, or neosubsistence opportunity? To facilitate this process, we are publishing enterprise plans that help to clarify and deploy enterprise opportunities related to the products in this wiki. Since the authors will be either directly or indirectly engaged in many or all of the projects- in an economically significan way- it is natural for working business models to be developed and shared. )


Current Steps

See Pyrolysis_Oil_Project_Status for detailed current status and past history actions.

Current Stage: Model Building for Empirical Knowledge

Developments Needed

  • Donation Delivery of: 1' of 2" copper pipe, 2" solder cap, 2" screw cap donation.
  • Water vessel and lid.
  • Basic Calculations of range of energy in joules to be expected by processing 1 ton of biomass in 24 hours

Collaborators Sign-Up List

If you'd like to collaborate on this project please email the Project Lead listed below with the following

Subject: Name, email, and Skype are preferable.

Listed below are the collaborators on this project:

  • Temporary Project Lead - Negligiblek, efarmnegk at gmail dot com, phone available upon email request.
  • Designer/Prototyper - Elliot , offonoffoffonoff gmail com

List of Prototyping Collaborators with Access to Fabrication Capacity

  • Negligiblek, see contact info above, Hand tools only (does a leatherman count?).

Resource Development

List of Stakeholders

(this is a list and description of individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions that may be particularly interested in the product under development, at any of these levels:

List of Supporting References

Internal Links to Diagrams, Flowcharts, 3D Computer Models

(Please create new pages, embed Category:Pyrolysis Oil in them, and then place a link below to your new page).


Diagrams with Basic Ideas

Basic Calculations

Flow Charts

Pattern Language

Publicity Sites Listing and Possible Collaborators


(Currently out of Negligiblek's pocket ...a very shallow, tenuous pocket at that)

Pre-Ordering Working Products

If you're interested in buying our product before it has been completed in order to speed our project, please contact:

negiliblek at yahoo com

with the Subject line as follows:

Subject: Pyrolysis Pre-Order: Name and Skype are preferable.

User/Fabricator Training and Accreditation

User Training will be provide to those who Pre-Order our Pyrolysis reactor.

Fabricator Training will also be available upon completion of this Project.

External Links to Standards and Certification Development

The Industry Standard this Project hopes to meet: 1_Ton_Per_Day_Pyrolysis_Oil_Reactor_Specifications

- Independent review will be solicited as a means to verify and control quality of products and services.

Volunteer Grant Writers Sign-Up List

If you'd like to grant write for us on a volunteer basis for this specific project, please contact:

negiliblek at yahoo com

with the Subject line as follows:

Subject: Volunteer Grant Writer: Name and Skype are preferable.

Professional Grant Writers Sign-Up Lists

Outcome-based only.

If you'd like to grant write for us on a professional basis for this specific project, please contact:

negiliblek at yahoo com

with the Subject line as follows:

Subject: Pro Grant Writer: Name and Skype are preferable.

Collaborative Stakeholder Funding Sign-up List

Name, email, and Skype are preferable.

(Once products are demonstrated, we will solicit stakeholders to fund production capacity. This is a highly innovative social enterprise model, where stakeholders contribute a small amount, say $50, to the actual building of a facility for producing a specific item under the model of flexible fabrication. This is essentially a question of distributing the development and production cost via a collaborative enterprise model.)

Links and Lists of Tool and Material Donations

Links and Lists of Charitable Contributions