I contructed a charcoal retort using the "rocket stove" design of James Hookway, to convert scaps of wood from my workshop and yard debris into lump charcoal. I have used some of the charcoal to fuel my "Big Green Egg" for cooking, some is given to friends,and some of it goes into my compost heap, after beeing pulverized in my chipper-shredder. The retort takes about the same space the the "burn barrel" that it replaces. This makes me feel better than just burning the stuff up, and solves a problem with our local trash collection people, that they refuse to pick up the workshop wood scraps on the grounds that they are "construction debris".
I am very positively impressed by the Hookway design. It is very efficent of fuel, and covenient to use. The main difficulty I encountered in constructing one was obtaining some high quality stainless steel tubing for the combustion chamber. I finally found some at https://www.shapirosupply.com/, and had a local welder do the fabrication of that part. I did the rest of the fabrication myself mostly using materials from the local Home Depot store. Since the only galvanized sheet metal they had was narrow, I ended up using a lot of pop rivets! The insulation is "rock wool". James Hookway says Perlite or Vermiculite is better, but rock wool was easier to find, and is holding up pretty well so far.
Here are links to some more photos of the retort, in construction and in use:
|© 1993-2004 T. P. Baker, at the Department of Computer Science, Florida State University|