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Corn cobs fuel new energy idea
More than 3 years after first reading in FARM SHOW about a corn cob "brick maker" from France, Earl Wittrock has installed one of the machines on his Carroll, Iowa, farm.
Working through letters and overseas phone calls, Wittrock persuaded the company to sell him a demonstrator model which is the first to enter the U.S. The machine, built by ComDec in Dijon, France, is scheduled to go into full production soon and Wittrock plans to set up as U.S. distributor. "Testing of initial models took longer than the company first anticipated," Wittrock notes.
The pto-powered, 3-pt. mounted machine can be easily moved from place to place. Wittrock says he can make about 150 15-lb. bricks an hour from corn cobs at about 14% moisture. High pressure ¨about 4,000 psi ¨ is used to compress the cobs into 8 by 8 by 16-in. long bricks without adding water or any other additive. Cobs simply feed into the 1-ton machine's hopper and a pair of packers, powered by 5-in. dia. hydraulic cylinders, compresses them into bricks.
"I've also used it to compress wood chips and it'll work on other materials, too. The company is working on a larger machine that'll compress waste paper into large bricks and wrap them for burning," says Wittrock.
He's selling corn cob bricks for use in home-burning stoves. The bricks sell for about the same price as good firewood ¨ $75 to $100 for a 4 by 8-ft. "cord". He says cob bricks burn hotter than wood with little smoke and almost no ashes.
Wittrock expects production machines to retail in the U.S. for $12,000 to $15,000, depending on the strength of the dollar and shipping costs.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Earl Wittrock, Rt. 3, Box 7, Carroll, Iowa 51401 (ph 712 792-2663).


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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #6