*Public side of facility shown trieft

Breitenbush $ Systems Layout*


*Public side of facility shown return temperatures are 180°F to 190°F. This water heats all the buildings on site, plus the hot tubs. (The natural hot spring pools use surface spring water.)

Two three-phase, 480 V, 3 hp pumps run this system in winter, with only one needed in summer. Cabins and other community buildings use old-fashioned cast-iron radiators, with valves on each radiator to let residents and guests control the heat. The radiators also come in handy for drying clothes and warming toes.

Because of the wide area serviced by the system, it's inevitable that the buildings closer to the wells have more heat available. There is discussion about developing two more

Resident homes (shown here) and guest cabins use traditional cast-iron radiators to distribute geothermal heat.

existing wells to increase the heat capability for certain parts of the property. The existing wells have roughly a 5 million Btu per hour capacity, while the community is only using about 2 million Btu per hour at most.

Breitenbush Hot Springs is open year-round, and this area can experience several feet of snow during the wintertime—so plentiful, renewable heat is a boon to residents and guests alike.

Beyond Renewables

Breitenbush's efforts toward sustainability go well beyond energy. The many buildings take plenty of care to help them withstand guest use and seasonal changes. In all construction and maintenance, the community tries to use recycled materials as much as possible. They frequently harvest trees that fall in their forests, and either mill them into lumber or use them as natural posts and beams.

The pumping system, which pulls hot water from the geothermal heat exchangers and circulates it through the buildings.

The pumping system, which pulls hot water from the geothermal heat exchangers and circulates it through the buildings.

One of the hot spring pools overlooking the river.

Composting is a way of life in the community, with centralized composting tanks that are scientifically managed to produce compost quickly. The composting system is one of many projects of the Breitenbush Eco Fund, a nonprofit associated with the community that works to spread the lessons learned at Breitenbush to the outside community.

The resident side of the Breitenbush property includes a large, heavily used community garden. The future may hold development of agriculture for guests as well, since community members are concerned about the impact of their business, and believe strongly in using local resources and building a sustainable example.

Residents are intensely aware of their energy use and impact. They understand that being directly responsible for their energy actions is not necessarily the easy way, but it's worthwhile work. They are conscious of conservation and efficiency. And this awareness extends to how they care for the property they steward, how they care for their bodies, hearts, and minds, and how they care for the thousands of guests who come and go each year.

Breitenbush's influence extends far beyond its acreage, inspiring its thousands of visitors who return home with more knowledge of how to live balanced lives. They may not be blessed at home with the hot and cold running water that fuels Breitenbush's energy scene, but with the principles they see in action in their brief stays, guests can seek out and shepherd the resources on their own stomping grounds, and learn to use them more wisely.


Ian Woofenden ([email protected]) appreciates the hot springs and warm personal connections made at Breitenbush Hot Springs.

Breitenbush Hot Springs • www.breitenbush.com


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by Shari Prange

Narrow the field and find the best battery for your EV.

The right batteries and design can make or break how your electric vehicle (EV) functions on the open road, in terms of speed, range, reliability, and consistent performance under varying conditions. The trick is finding a battery pack that fits your needs, within the physical limits of your vehicle and the financial constraints of your budget.

The Right Type

Some batteries offer enough power for excellent acceleration but are limited in range or cycle life, while others offer better range but with high price tags.

Unfortunately, you can't have it all in one battery type, or by mixing different types. A battery pack needs to be made up of identical units—same voltage, same ratings, same chemistry, and even similar age—so that duty cycles and charging profiles match. You don't need to be a battery engineer to choose a battery, but you do need to know how batteries work in an EV, and which types will not.

Physical characteristics like size, shape, and terminal type are usually dead giveaways to a battery's intended use. But making the distinction with EV batteries isn't always that easy—they often look alike on the outside. It's what's inside— like number of plates, plate thickness, or chemistry—that makes all the difference in how a battery can be used.

Deep-cycle traction batteries, which are designed to deliver high-current draws and tolerate deep discharges, are the best choice for EVs. Of the different types of traction batteries, a golf cart-type battery offers a good balance of size and capacity for most EV conversions. They come in 6 or 8 volts, and when combined into high-voltage packs can propel a passenger car at 100 mph or faster—and provide good range and cycle life. The 8 V versions sacrifice a little amp-hour capacity (affects range) to provide additional voltage (affects speed and power). A number of different

The 6 V golf cart-type battery has a good combination of size, voltage, and capacity for EV use.

chemical reactions can store and release electricity. Only a few, however, are appropriate for EVs.

Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries

Flooded lead-acid (FLA) batteries—the most common EV battery in use—tend to be long-lived (up to four years) and offer the least cost per amp-hour of the available batteries. Size and weight are the main drawbacks of FLA batteries. With an energy density of 15 to 20 watt-hours (Wh) per pound, FLA packs are heavier and take up more volume to achieve the same amount of range compared to the other battery technologies. The energy density of FLAs is low and their volume per volt is high.

Each cell is comprised of positive and negative plates, usually lead alloyed with antimony, in an electrolyte solution of sulfuric acid and water. During the charging process, a small amount of water in the electrolyte is turned to gas and escapes. In addition to keeping the top and terminals clean and regularly equalizing the pack, you will need to check the electrolyte level and add water as necessary. Though watering does mean regular maintenance, it also means FLA batteries are more forgiving of charging and discharging abuse than sealed batteries.

Compared to the 6 V version, an 8 V golf cart battery gives higher voltages for more speed and power, but sacrifices total range.

FLA batteries produce hydrogen gas when charging, so they must be fully enclosed in boxes if they "share the air" with passengers (i.e., in the passenger compartment or hatchback/trunk area). Forced-air ventilation (using a fan and ducting to the outside) is necessary to release the hydrogen gas, which can be flammable in high concentrations. FLA batteries also lose capacity in cold conditions and may need to be insulated.

Because FLA batteries will swell slightly as they age, you need to leave space—about 1/16 of an inch—between the new batteries when positioning them in the pack. Otherwise, when the time comes to replace them, you'll find bloated batteries wedged in place.

In FLA batteries, a battery management system (BMS) is optional but can extend battery life when used properly.

Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries

Sealed lead-acid (SLA) batteries, also called "VRLA" (valve-regulated lead acid), are available in two technologies: absorbed glass mat (AGM) and gel cell. Instead of free liquid as in a flooded battery, the electrolyte is held either in mats of glass fibers next to the lead plates or in gel form. These spill-proof batteries are more resistant to damage from vibration and physical shock than FLAs, and have a lower energy density, at 8 to 15 Wh per pound.

"Sealed" batteries are sealed only in the sense that you can't add any liquid to them. They are constructed with vents or valves to automatically relieve pressure from gas buildup if they are overcharged or discharged too severely. While sealed batteries are more convenient because they are "maintenance free," they are less forgiving of abuse because there is no way to restore lost electrolyte. Overcharging or discharging too deeply will shorten the battery's cycle life dramatically. A BMS is required for most SLA batteries to better control charge and discharge.

Unlike FLA batteries, in high temperatures, SLA batteries may require cooling airflow from fans since overheating causes a loss of electrolyte that can shorten battery life.

Custom copper interconnects on these 6 V batteries make for an immaculate installation.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

Nickel cadmium batteries are alkaline batteries that use nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes. Delivering 20 to 30 Wh per pound, NiCd batteries offer a higher energy density than lead-acid batteries—in other words, a NiCd battery is smaller and lighter than a comparable lead-acid battery. NiCd batteries also tolerate deep discharging for longer periods.

Sealed lead-acid batteries have less range per volt than flooded, cost more, and require more careful charging regimens, but are convenient since there is no need to water them.

Sealed lead-acid batteries have less range per volt than flooded, cost more, and require more careful charging regimens, but are convenient since there is no need to water them.

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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