Structural vs Air Temperatures in Butcher Shop

Temperature Probe in Admin Bathroom

The bottom number of 40°F represents the air temperature of the butcher shop within the structural building on the first floor in the bathroom of the Administration section about one foot up from the slab with the doors and tower vent open at the end of October just before we close up. At the time of the above photo it was 37°F outdoors at 4 pm after a 16°F night time low on a mostly sunny day with all doors and vents still open from the summer.

The air temperature in the butcher shop has floated from 46°F in the dead of winter with the doors closed when it was -20°F outdoors up to 62°F with the doors open in the heat of summer which peaked at 86°F outside.

The top number of 50°F is the temperature down in the plumbing deep within the structural concrete of our butcher shop. That is considerably warmer than the air temperature due to the stored thermal energy within the 1.6 million pounds of the building. Over the past year without heating or cooling the structure has floated around 40°F to 50°F with brief localized spikes when we poured concrete in FCB and Admin which imported large amounts of heat of reaction. The heat of reaction of the concrete we just poured raised the structure in the Admin section to 48°F.

Thermal mass and lots of insulation are the key. The butcher shop acts like a cave that keeps naturally cool in the hot months and warm in the cold months just like our cottage without the need for additional heating. Unlike a real cave we disconnect from the earth because we need some parts to be colder (reefer) and some parts to be a little warmer (Inspector’s office). This disconnect lets me adjust the structural shell temperature and then the inner building of the reefer to the temperatures we need and then they’re very stable. Within the reefer which is within the structural building is the Brine-Cooler-Freezer which are deeper rooms progressively colder.

We just put the front door back on yesterday and will now be able to close the building up for the winter to retain its heat better. At that point the air temperature inside will approach the structural temperature. Since we’ll be applying polyurethane and polyurea coatings with some temperature sensitivity during application we’ll then heat the Admin and initial cutter sections a little to optimize conditions for their chemical reactions. Toasty.

Interesting even with the doors and tower vent open all summer the building stayed cool, like a cave, due to it’s massive store of ‘coolth’ from the winter. Walking in from the hot summer day outside felt like walking into a cooler without any need for mechanical refrigeration. Visitors commented every time on this dramatic demonstration of the passive coolth storage. It also made it very pleasant working on plumbing, metal working and other things during the hot days of July and August when temperatures soared here on the mountain as high as the mid-80’s F. (Yes, I realize that 86°F is nothing to those in more equatorial climates but to us that is very hot!)

One morning late in the summer a cloud rolled through our valley and right in through the open doors of the butcher shop. Low and behold, it started raining indoors! We actually had our own little weather system in the butcher shop. I realized that what had happened was when the warm cloud came into the cool building the cold front of the interior air hit the hot moist air it precipitated raining down on the floors. At first I thought it was simply condensation on the cold surfaces but it wasn’t – and that wouldn’t explain the actual rain that fell inside. The ceilings and walls stayed dry but the floors ended up soaking wet. The tower effect of the building continued drawing in cloud which kept the rain cycle going long enough to soak the floors. I could see the actual edges of the cold clear air vs the warmer cloud moving in the building as it rained. Most unusual. That was the only time I’m aware of it happening although there may have been other times when I just wasn’t present.

In the long run the high thermal mass of the butcher shop coupled with its extreme insulation and thermos bottle arrangement of buildings within buildings will make it easier to keep each section at the right temperatures. Normally energy for refrigeration and heating are a big expenses for meat processing facilities. We’re spending extra on design, engineering, construction time and money for concrete & insulation now so as to save big on energy costs in the future. Greening makes sense, not just from a feel good environmental point of view but at the bottom line where pennies part from pockets.

Outdoors: 37°F/17°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 59°F/56°F

Daily Spark: There has been a recent dramatic uptick in the amount of spam coming into my servers. I receive 1,000 to 10,000 spam a day. Recently it has been towards the high end of that range. I see almost none of theses missives. Virtually all of those spam are generated by automated systems, by bots. They’re almost all caught by my software, my bots that fight off the spammers’s invading bots. I wrote my first anti-spam bots back in the late 1990’s and continue to improve with new weapons. Bots are loyal, determined and tirelessly defending my inbox and comment queue. This is the future of personalized warfare: have your bot call my bot, they’ll clash, flame and fry while you and I yawn. The goal is to hew the ham from the spam.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Structural vs Air Temperatures in Butcher Shop

  1. Kirsten says:

    First of all, thanks for all the info you share on your blog. It’s my go-to for pig questions often. We’ve had registered Large Blacks for a few years and really like them but we just had a major problem with a gilt’s mothering skills. She seems like a really great pig in every way…except one. She had 8 piglets and she as well as they seemed to be doing great. They were up and about, she was up and about. We took for feed and water. Everything seemed great but when we went back yesterday to check her, she had eaten most of the babies! It was awful! We are not too happy about this and were thinking that we should just cull her but after reading some stuff last night we are considering giving her a second chance. Our other sow is a great mom and Large Blacks are supposed to be, though we did read that sometimes gilts don’t know what they are doing at first. I wanted to know what you thought on the matter. We certainly don’t want to sell breeder babies that might have a bad trait. Your opinion would be appreciated.

    • I would eat her. I would also hesitate to keep any of her offspring for breeders but would consider them all feeder pigs. Eating your young is not acceptable behavior, even in a first timer.

      • Kirsten says:

        Thanks for your reply. That really seems like the right thing to do. There’s nothing like eating a registered $350. pig. Oh, well.
        BTW, we ate a 10 month old Large Black boar and he tasted fine, no boar taint.

  2. Patrick says:

    Sounds like we share an outlook on green tech…my definition of “green” is the technology that actually keeps more green in our pocket. We went biomass for winter heating (wood gasification) and saved more than $4000 last winter – and that does not take into account the fact we didn’t get the system up and running until Turkey Day. This year should be better. The boiler was expensive and so was the effort to put it in with all the doodads required. It’s an EPA registered unit and very efficient, but also about 3-4x the cost of older tech. Even though this boiler is expensive, we will pay it in savings in 4-5 years assuming propane stays the same. If it goes up, we pay off sooner.

    Now looking at solar. Same considerations apply: it has to pay itself down in 4-5 years and be manageable by us. My brother is putting his in now, in a more northern latitude. If it makes sense for them up there, our increased sunshine (significant) and baseline power costs should make solar sensible for us, too.

    But solar requires subsidies to make any financial sense. Those come in the form of tax credits (federal and sometimes state); grants (our state and many others); forced price-fixing schemes from the utilities (“rate metering”, etc.) to accept private power at market (or higher) rates; and additional requirements at the state level that require utilities to purchase a certain percentage of solar power from private producers. In short, solar makes sense only because the gubbermint forces it to make sense.

    I have no problem with the tax credits…the risk is still born by the buyer (not Uncle Sugar) because the tax credits only kick in when the buyers actually go ‘at risk’ themselves. In the end, it’s a case of the government not getting some of my money. I am OK with that. I still own 70% of the risk, here. The rest…not so sure.

    But it is what it is and we will probably bite from the apple. It’s still a metric ton of work and not cheap. So lots of risk. But the risk/reward profile has tilted toward the reward end, provided we do a lot of work on our own (typical).

    Now if I could just wrap my stick-built house in ten inches of concrete, we’d be all set!

  3. Beth Stoneking says:

    So Walter, how do you pronounce “coolth”. I’ve never heard it spoken and it’s hard to say it as one syllable… does not roll off of the tongue. It’s much easier to say cooleth but I don’t imaging it’s correct.

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