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Dr Bob

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Everything posted by Dr Bob

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  3. Not a clue. My bus pass has now expired. The guy's next door system works fine - with the same webasto heater and a google nest. I just needed to know how to wire it and Tonka's picture shows that.
  4. Ok, thats the heatmiser which looks totally different to the google nest. The nest has a red +ve and brown -ve feed which I will take from the boat circuits then has a wire out that is the 'call for heat' wire to the webasto. I cant see properly from the pic but there seems to be 3 wires from the square female connector - a red (so +12v and two others. I suspect one is black and goes to the A2 - so that is the 'call for heat' and the other one is brown and goes to the unmarked screw (or is it a -ve?) On my webasto switching box, I have a red, a brown and 2 blacks. Is it any of the two blacks I need to use? Edit Ah rather than just looking at the picture, I have now read the words (I am a muppet.....whadyou expect). Now clear. I'll try and wire it up on the weekend. Many thanks.
  5. Yes, its a little square plug with the 4 wires. I want to ditch the controller and connect the wire that fires up the webasto to the google nest. Is it the black one?
  6. I'm getting cheesed off with my Webasto control thingy giving me little control. Great, you can program it to come on 3 times a day but it never switches off. I'm going to fit a google nest but what wire do I need to connect for the 'request for heating'? Looking at the 4 wires going into the controller, there is one red, one brown and two black. I assume from looking at wiring diagrams the red is the +ve, the brown the -ve and the blacks then must be the request for heat wires. I am guessing if I put 12v down the black wire from the google nest, the webasto will fire up. The guy on the boat next to use wired his up that way but he's not around to work out which wire he used!
  7. Worms are a good way to compost but only at low temperature. I think the max is around 45°C or maybe even less (<40°C). Once the temperature gets to the high 30's, the worms will start trying to get out of the box so not pleasant. If you tried to take the box over 40 ish then you'd be killing off the worms - so using the roof to get to 50 to kill off the pathogens aint goin' to work. I think Tiger worms are more temperature resistant but you still couldnt do it on the roof.
  8. That all assumes land fill is the main route to dispose of our black bag waste. Unfortunately (or Fortunately?) it isnt. The majority of black bag waste goes to incineration these days and incineration costs are adjusted to match the landfill tax. This is the nub of the problem. The waste companies ie Biffa, Viridor etc dont want poo in their incinerators. It has less calorific value than the average so reduces margins. They happily take nappies because of the plastic content which is higher in calorific value than most of what they put in. They can stop getting the dog poo and some of the human poo (the 7Kg limit) via their private contracts...but its all about money. We deal with all of these waste handlers with our involvement in Plastic recycling and it is all down to margins.
  9. Your water is coming from the water in the stuff you put in, or rain ingress afterwards. My experience of composting in the garden was that the heap always got too dry but I didnt have a clue what was needed. Water is needed as the bugs 'swim' in the water to get to the food. The compost has to be in the ball park of the right 'wetness'. Too dry and the bugs cant get to the food, too wet and the air doesnt get in and you start to get anearobic decomposition. In the lab we measure water content as per the test schedule using scientific meters. The way to do it in the field is to pick up a handfull of compost and squeeze it. If it drips it is too wet, if it doesnt drip it is too dry - ok extreme - but you are looking for something just in between. In practise, I never add water but if a box on the roof was looking a bit wet, I just leave the lid off for a few hours on a hot day. Its not really that important but you dont want the compost bone dry or swimming in water. Agreed. It becomes a very easy routine but with no need for any hardware maintenance.
  10. I do agree with what you are saying but I am not suggesting everyone changes to separating toilets with composting on their boats. Exactly what you say will happen. The reason for posting on here is that there is so much aggression towards this toilet type that it appears as bad, illegal, the devil - and that needs balancing out. Those people who can compost successfully (and that is everyone if they put some effort into it) will have a much superior form of toilet for their boats. During last summers crawl around the network, we were moored up at Red Bull filling up with water when two old dears turned up. She was mid 80's, driving her 90 year old looking hubby with his trolly with cassette towards the Elsan. Their boat wasnt in sight so they must have been dragging this casssette for at least 15 mins (the speed they were going) and you could see it was a struggle. God knows how he would have lifted it up to the Elsan. Anywho, that didnt matter as the elsan was blocked and out of order. I suggested to Mrs Battleaxe they may want to consider as separating toilet. "Oh no, their illegal, you should be locked up". I swiftly withdrew. If anyone would benefit with this type of toilet it was those two, but no, poisoned by the words we here on here. What a shame!
  11. It just shows the lack of inteligence in some people. What on earth do people think happens to their poo when the flush it down the loo. It biodegrades in the system further down the line creating CO2. That is nature. DUH! People seem to have forgotten about the carbon cycle. Plants decay and go to CO2. Living plants pick up that CO2 to help build new cells. That cycle has been going on for a few years.
  12. Above is an extract from the ISO 16929 test method (EU standard) for the temperatures that have to be used when doing the fragmentation test for industrial composting. The temperatures are deemed by the standards body to represent what happens in an industrial Windrow compost heap (but that's another story). In our lab test we have units similar to the mini hot bins operating for the 12 weeks of the test at this temperature. Everything that is used by industrial composters is fully composted after 12 weeks at these temperatures - note most of them avoid anything man made like cups, plates, wet wipes even if they are stamped compostable. These temps CANNOT be sustained in a small uninsulated box. You can achieve them easily in an insulated 50-100L box but only if you feed them regularly ie twice a week. This is the basis of the mini-hot bin. Go to their web site and see how they work. They do work on boats but you need to feed them kitchen waste as you wont have enough poo to feed them so you then end up with loads of great compost - but what then do you do with it. Our 120L a year is fine for our pots but I guess with a hot bin you'd make over 300L a year. Keeping the temp up at these levels is easy with a hot bin. For us mere mortals trying to compost smaller quantities ie 20-40L in an uninsulated box, you will never achieve any real temperature rise, so using the boat roof as a radiator between April and October is the answer to get the material up to 50-60°C to assist in killing the pathogens (along with time) - see the humanmanure book. Hence the 6-9 months compost time depending on season. You also do need to get the water content right and turn it regularly - once a month - when its on the roof.
  13. Mike, I dont know enough about the bugs to answer you question properly, other than they are everywhere. When we do a fragmentation test, ie to see if a bit of plastic packaging is compostable, we cut some 10cm pieces of film up and put it in something that is very like one of the mini hot bins, charged with 50L of 'feed'. The food is chosen to work the bacteria hard for the 12 week cycle. We mix up the feed - usually a blend of food waste, paper, card, and other stuff (ie a blend of green and brown) and put it in the bin. Always, 2-3 days later the temp is up at 60°C with the bugs chomping away. I dont know what the bugs are but they are always there. They are in the food. They are on the paper. We always put in 1-2Kg of aged manure (but less than 2 months old). This is all done accurately with a known recipe. It always gets to temp even without the manure. I guess it is nature. Leaves fall from the trees and biodegrade. That is the bugs in action. Keeping sourdough is not that easy as it takes a while to get going and you need to keep it at the right temperature. This 'reaction' is much quicker but yes, is essentially the same. The bugs are all around us.
  14. I think this is the problem. The normal Jo in the street will not believe composting is possible because of their experiences in composting garden waste. Exactlly where I was 3 years ago. However now having seen close and personal these mini hot bins (circa 50L volume) generating 60°C + in 2-3 days and holding it up there - and seeing how we do our lab tests keeping samples up in the 50/60°c range and them fully composting down in weeks, you start to understand what composting really is and how it works. Industrial composting works in 12 weeks. Fact. We cant do it that fast on a boat but 6 months is possible. Properly means that you compost until all the material that can be composted is eaten by the bugs. When there there is no food to be consumed by the bugs, then the material is said to be fully composted. The Rottegrad scale is used to determine completion of composting. An alternative is to measure the volatile fatty acid concentration of a compost and it must be below the set value (meaure via ion chromatography of an aqueous extract). We do this in the lab. It is pretty obvious though that you can visually assess it as well.
  15. The old compost in the pots goes on the marina's compost heap. The bacteria that biodegrade the 'food' breakdown the long carbon chains releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. Therefore a highly organic feed becomes less organic as it is loosing CO2. In the lab, the main test to determine if something is biodegradeable (ISO 14855) is to put the test specimin in an oven at 58°C for 6 months and measure the amount of CO2 that is given off. A product is said to be biodegradable if 90% of its carbon is converted to CO2 ie there is very little organic component left. This is why the product going into the composter may be highly organic but the product out is totally different. It is not human poo anymore. Now most food waste (and hence manure) is a complex mixture of Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen - especially if plant based - so it all doesnt disappear as CO2, only the predominantly CH2 bits of it (ie the long chain fatty acids, the triglycerides etc etc). I dont know what the cellulose type molecules get up to (the ones built on lots of C,N and O). Its too complex. If you do any digging, let me know. That is aerobic composting. If you look at anearobic digestion, a different set of bugs operate with instead of turning the CH2 chains to CO2, turn them to CH4 (methane) and other organic species such as acetic acid.
  16. Thanks Haggis. I have a 40 litre on the cruiser stern. A heavy duty HDPE box from B&Q. That gets moved into 2 cheapo 20L boxes on the roof. Moving the stuff mixes it up. Remember the oxygen? You do need to mix the boxes occasionally so transferring it helps. I dont usuallly wash box 1 as the residue has all the good bugs in it. Ditto the 20L boxes. These are small to get a bit more surface area on the roof to get more heat in in the summer. Box 3 which does get the final 3 months of composting I do wash out when I am near a tap as that has essentially finished composting. The turd box in the loo hasnt ever been washed out in 2 years. I scrape out the solids with a trowel. It doesnt smell. I probably spend no more than 10 mins a week managing it. With our pump out I used to have to strip the vacuuflush unit twice a year when it broke - an hour each time, plus the time taken to do pump outs etc. Its a lot less time consuming than pump outs or cassettes.
  17. Visual assesment is a good way of seeing the quality of the compost if you have a baseline to compare against. Have a read of the Humanmanure handbook - available free on t'internet for info on pathogens and temp/time requirements. The OECD 208 test is done in the lab for ecotoxicity for seedlings. The point I am making is that if it is done properly then the waste is fully composted in 6-9 months and no poo remains. You dont need then to test every batch. You can see if it is right. ie the material changes from a box of poo turds to a box of fine soil type material. Once you've seen it happen then you will know what I am talking about.
  18. We produce 40L in 12 weeks. Over a full year it decomposes to circa 120L. We werent on the boat a full year but put half in our plant pots in April and half in the pots in october. Fully agree with you, but it is easier than you think. Dunno, wheres you goin' be in May? I'll bring a brolly.
  19. I remember writing something on eco fans a while back. I think that was longer! Turn the heap. That's what you are doing wrong. Problem is it is too much like hard work to turn a heap so it never gets done so it never composts down. Let the heap get to a critcal size then sell the house and buy another with a smaller heap. Agreed
  20. i think the key here is that the 'highly organic waste' is no longer highly organic after composting. The bugs reduce the waste to compost. Once our pots are finished with they go on a compost heap. I agree with you.
  21. Not if you compost the waste. The waste is then no longer waste and can be used as any other scarce resource. Of course its an issue if you start by throwing it all in a bin - but sensible people dont do that so these toilets are an excellent solution for sensible people.
  22. You've started something now. Next thing we know well have @TheBiscuits quotiing us Macbeth
  23. Cheat, you cant have read it in that time!
  24. Dr Bob here with the duck Well things haven't changed much here in the 2 year since my last comments on composting toilet waste. Still the same un-informed bullies, loudmouths and Crocodiles (big mouths and no ears) beating down any attempt at a reasoned argument why composting may be good on a boat. The aggression shown to Squid's 'first time' question on the topic in a recent thread shows just what a toxic place this can be. I write this note – and it is a long one – to give some hope to those who seek some real input to their decision on whether to attempt to compost their toilet waste on a boat – but it is a long read. I expect the crocodiles will give up pretty quickly. If you get bored easily then dont bother reading any further. Let's be clear, after having a separating toilet on our boat and composting our waste for 2 years now, I can honestly say it has been the best purchase ever for a boat. This is on a boat that was brand new in 2020. After 6 months we ditched the state of the art pump out macerator toilet for a Compoost loo (anyone want to buy the toilet and holding tank?). I'm not going into detail of why it has been the best purchase. The list is too long. But believe me, it has been our best purchase. So why am I posting such a long and rambling post on here? Well, there are a couple of big points that I think are never discussed but provide all the ammunition for the naysayers and Crocodiles to beat all who stick their heads above the parapet into submission and silence the large number of people (inc on here) who have these toilets. Maybe it will help those trying to understand if composting human waste on a boat is a viable route. The Crocodiles can now go and spout their un-informed rubbish on other threads. For the interested, please read on. The first big issue is when the Crocodiles use the phrase ' it's disgusting' when referring to separating toilets and composting of the waste solids. If you see anyone saying “it's disgusting” then you know they dont know what they are talking about. They've probably never seen a separating loo. So many of them dont even have canal boat – so how can their words be believed? Let's look at how conventional toilets work. You sit on the bowl and deposit a load of wee and poo in the bowl (not necessarily in that order). The instant these two streams meet, enzymes in the streams start a chemical reaction which turns urea in the urine into ammonia and some other very smelly molecules. The evolution of ammonia is significant and as the volume builds you start smelling a very unpleasant smell coming from between your legs. That is disgusting. Can you remember exiting the bathroom and closing the door, saying to the next person “I'd give that 5 mins if I were you”? Yes that is disgusting. Separating toilets – if they are working properly and used properly – do not mix the wee and poo so you dont get the ammonia evolution and there is almost zero smell. In the 2 years of operation, I have never smelt the disgusting smell made by previous user (or by me). Handling the waste after (the poo box and wee bottle) is not at all smelly or unpleasant. We were up in Jockland for 4 weeks in December and using the loo in the house was an experience. Very smelly. You just dont get that on the boat. Everyone I know who has moved to a separating toilet has said the same. I note one person on here who moved back to a conventional toilet after trying a separating toilet but I wonder if he had a well designed separating toilet or even used it right. If he had smell then something was very wrong. Separating toilets are not disgusting. What is disgusting is asking your visitors not to use the toilet after eating sweetcorn or apple cores. Well its not the asking that's disgusting, its the job needed to clean the remnants out of the duck valves in a vacuuflush system. Similarly replacing the seals in a leaking cassette and dont get me started on the state of the elsan points on the network. Disgusting is the word to describe it. No, if someone says to you that separating toilets and composting of the solids is disgusting, then it is clear that they have no experience of the issue which then questions anything else they may utter. The second big issue is can you compost human poo? This is a real issue and in defence of the Crocodiles, I can see why they may say its impossible, so how do you dispose of you untreated poo? I really can see why you are so passionate about our inability to compost. Let me try and tackle this thorny subject and bring some clarity to the debate. I am going to digress here and declare a professional interest. I am a director of a test laboratory up in Jockland. In 20 years we have grown to be one of the countries best respected UCAS accredited test labs in the UK for testing of plastics. At the start of 2020 we expanded our expertise to cover biodegradation testing of initially plastic packaging materials and that has now grown to the point we are one of the leading test labs for biodegradation and composting in the UK. We test a range of packaging products to see if they biodegrade or can be composted (either for home or industrial composting) using a range of Eu defined test standards and methods. We test to BS EN13432, ISO 16929, PAS 9017, ISO 17556, ISO 14855 and ISO 20200 amongst others. Have a read of the BS EN 13432 standard to see what is involved. We know what composting is all about. I personally have been the technical gatekeeper for this activity so now see myself as an expert in the field. Unfortunately however, the majority of people in the UK do not know how to compost – and that was also me 5 years ago. I've lived in a house with a garden for 40 odd years and being a keen gardener, always had a compost heap. Various heaps, boxes, machines. None worked. Filled them up in spring and summer and by next spring – nothing had happened. In 40 years I likely only ever made a few shovelfuls of good compost. Composting doesnt work, does it? Maybe that is too sweeping a statement but there is some supporting info out there. Three months ago, University College London (UCL) wrote a paper summarising a trial they ran over 24 months, asking the public to compost in their home heaps, bins, custom designs etc, items you can buy which claimed to be 'home compostable'. The output of this was picked up by the Guardian and ran as a story claiming that over 60% of items claimed to be home compostable were not. Now, these were not just items claiming to be compostable, they were items deemed to be compostable by the accreditation organisation TUV, a very very well known Austrian company. TUV run a scheme where clients get their products tested and TUV accredit that it is all done right. The UCL study concluded over 50% of their accredited products did not home compost, things like plastic cups, wet wipes etc. We as a company do not work with TUV but the labs TUV use are bone fide labs and do things right. We know the limitations of the test methods but the huge discrepancy here is because the average Jo public doesnt know how to compost. To compost properly you need food, water and oxygen. It's really is very simple but the majority of peeps do not know that -so dont understand what composting is, how to do it or what it can achieve. Let's then look in a bit more detail at composting. The words 'industrial composting' describes the process that the big compost makers use to make their compost. We are dealing here with aerobic composting (ie with air) and not anaerobic digestion which is a totally different process (which is where all food waste in the UK goes). Industrial composters use a 12 week cycle to complete the composting process – to turn for example garden waste into a fully composted product. Yes, only 12 weeks. The temperatures used are of the order 65°C for a couple of weeks then 55/60°C for another 6 weeks followed by <45°C for the final month. In the lab we use kit that simulates large scale Windrow composting – kit that is not a million miles away from the mini-hot bins you see used on boats for hot composting. For the ISO 16929 test, we run these bins at the temps above to monitor biodegradation and fragmentation to show what composts and what doesnt. What is absolutely clear is the things like food waste or horse manure, that we use to create the composting medium, degrade totally in the 12 weeks to a soil like, compost. It looks like soil, its smells like soil and it probably tastes like soil. The biodegradation is the action of bugs (ie bacteria etc) eating the food (the waste you put in). You can clearly measure how fast the bugs eat by I) the temperature rise and ii) the amount of CO2 evolved as they eat the long carbon chains. To multiply and eat, the bugs need food, oxygen and water. Get any of those 3 wrong and the biodegradation will not happen properly. In performing these tests we have learnt what food the bugs like. Firstly you have to have a balanced Carbon/Nitrogen ratio but then some food is better than others. An example is sawdust vs coconut choir. Sawdust is a pig for the bugs to eat. You really need the whole 12 weeks to get that to degrade. The coconut Choir disappears in half the time. Newspaper is a pig. Too much lignin. Good quality office paper goes in half the time (far less lignin). Food waste and horse manure is a delicacy for the bugs and half way through our 12 week cycle the food waste is fully decomposed. There is a test for the maturity of a compost ie the Rottegrad test, which is used to determine the final quality of the compost. So, where does that get us? We know we can fully biodegrade food waste and horse manure in 6 weeks at 'industrial' temperatures. The product is not food waste or horse manure. It is a fully degraded compost. It is therefore interesting to see these mini hot bins being used on boats. Yes, they really do work, and work very well. In that cold spell before Christmas at the lab, we had night time lows of -9°C and day time highs of -5°C in Livingston yet we were maintaining 60°C in a couple of hot bins we were testing to see the limits of the low temp performance. Quite a few peeps have these on their boat (they fit in an open cratch quite well), but the drawback for me is that you need to feed them with things other than poo – otherwise there is not enough food. This then doubles the amount of compost you make so disposing of it is more tricky. What's then best way to do it on a boat? Human manure degrades exactly the same way and at the same speed as food waste/horse manure - chemically it is almost the same. I talked about food, oxygen and water but the other key input is temperature. Typically chemical reactions half in speed if you drop the temperature by 10°C. This means composting speeds reduce as the composting temperature goes down. If then you can aim to drop temperatures from the 60's/50's to 40/30's you will basically quadruple the times seen in the industrial composting work. This is what we do on the boat. We have 3 * 40L boxes. Our poo bin is emptied into box 1 (on the crusier stern every 5 to 6 days). It takes circa 12 weeks to fill the box. It is then transferred to a similar volume box(es) on the roof and box 1, now empty is ready to take the next 12 weeks of poo. 3 months later box 1 is emptied into the 3rd 40L box. We are not full time liveaboards (but on the boat all summer) – but extrapolating we make circa 160L of solid waste a year which decays down to around 120L. With a decent size boat (ie 65ft) we have loads of roof space so storing this amount of solids in not a chore. In the summer the dark blue roof gets to 65 to 70°C more days than it doesn't so allows you to get a lot of heat into the roof boxes. Our poo mix is fully composted down to compost only in 6 months max in the summer (ie a couple of months on the roof) and the the stuff produced in the Oct- Feb time is fully composted after starting the first part of the summer on the roof. From my experience of knowing what compost looks like at various stages of decomposition, I can see how well ours is composted. At the end of the 6 months (summer waste) or 9 month (winter waste), I can see that we have perfect compost which is no longer poo. We use that 120L direcct for our plant pots, half for the summer pots and half for the winter pots. No soil. Just compost. Last summer we had the best tomatoes in the marina. As the compost has seen temps of 50-60°C and spent 6 months well aerated, all the pathogens are dead. It is absolutely fascinating to see a box containing a mix of human poo and coconut choir change before your eyes in 6 months to be a non toxic valuable resource. A long way back up this thread, I said that it was impossible to home compost. For most it is. For most they will look in disbelief that you can turn turds into compost. It is totally a surprise that you can do it with very little effort if you do it properly. Once you get over that hurdle then it suddenly dawns on you that you can compost human waste on a boat – and all of a sudden a separating toilet becomes an option. Yes guys, it works. It's not disgusting. Using the heat of the roof of the boat gets you to the point where you can compost in a short space of time. The wee bottle ….you ask? Down the elsan (that's how I know what a crap state they are left in!) or down a toilet. Siiimple. Obviously the Crocodiles who are on my blocked list will not get any replies from me on this thread but if anyone needs more info then the best thing is to go over to the farcebook site on boat composting as there are some very knowledgable people over there with a wealth of information. You wont get a sensible discussion over here. Definitely the best thing we ever bought for the boat...but make sure you get a properly designed one that works. See you all in another 2 years to see if you've all lightened up.
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