I'm building a new retort in the yard for making charcoal, this post is also on the forestry forum, I was advised to ask here too.
I could do with a bit of a dig out concerning automation.
Suggestions for other forums to post this on welcome.
I'll need to read and log the data from 4 or more thermocouples and display temp/time graphs in real time on a display, ideally the real time data and log would be available over a local network, perhaps even sent to an android phone.
Is there a knowledgable individual who wishes to help, I imagine an arduino to read and log the data, and a raspberry pi to do the web server duties etc might suit and be reliable and inexpensive. I can offer compensation/payment I have forest products, posts boards poles firewood, charcoal etc to trade, or even euro's if that suits.
Hopefully the new retort will improve the economics of making charcoal from Irish woodlands. For this first retort I am aiming for 120kg daily output and a cycle time of below 8 hrs, build cost below 3K. A larger design that makes 270kg/cycle is potentially workable also and would cost in the region of 4.5K euro to build. This new design recycles all the waste heat into drying input material, greatly reducing the stock level required in the yard, furthermore clean burn technology in the firebox and recyling of gases from the wood chamber ensures minimal release of smoke etc.
For comparison the current Retort we are using is an Exeter Retort from the Carbon Compost co in the UK, this also has a 120 kg output, but the cycle time is considerably longer requiring at least 24 hours for a load, fire, cool, unload cycle and costs around 18K. No waste heat is recycled bar that from the burning wood gas which is used to maintain the reaction to completion at the end of the burn, the gas and steam from the wood chamber that is released during the drying phase and at the beginning of the pyrolysis stage (before it will burn with a stable flame) is smelly and toxic, its got nasties like pyroligneous acid, methane, tars etc in it, not as bad as a ring kiln but smoky and smelly nevertheless.