Sustaining Future

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Start Solving Global Problem at our Own Backyard

I wrote about Aquaponics before. By producing food locally, we reduce transportation. By using insects and bacteria from nature, we also help reduce waste.

Permaculture is another approach which gets inspiration from nature. [following quote from wikipedia]
In permaculture and forest gardening, seven layers are identified:

1. The canopy
2. Low tree layer (dwarf fruit trees)
3. Shrubs
4. Herbaceous
5. Rhizosphere (root crops)
6. Soil Surface (cover crops)
7. Vertical Layer (climbers, vines)

The 8th layer, or Mycosphere (fungi), is often included in layering.

A mature ecosystem such as ancient woodland has a huge number of relationships between its component parts: trees, understory, ground cover, soil, fungi, insects and other animals. Plants grow at different heights. This allows a diverse community of life to grow in a relatively small space. Plants come into leaf and fruit at different times of year.

I found a gem at the Pirate Bay today and search for permacultur. The short (5 minutes) video talks about how a 10 acre desert land is turned into a food production lot. The video is called "Greening the Desert Permaculture in Action"


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Reduce water used by Toilet

Most toilets in Australia have two buttons: one for full flush and other for half flush. TreeHugger has posted on how to hack the toilet to flush less water by bending the connection to the float. [See here. The following picture is also from TreeHugger.]

Here is another simple method which does not involving any plumbing:
Used soda bottles (those 2L or 1.5L are prefect), stone or some thing which can weight down the bottles

1. Find out the current depth of water in your toilet.
2. Cut the soda bottle to a height LESS than the water depth (measure from bottom of bottle)
3. Place the result of step 2 into the toilet tank by filling with the tank water.
4. Place your weight in the bottle to ensure it stands up right after flushing.

The soda bottle half will hold the water from flushing out. That's less water used in flush. You can reduce the amount of actual water used by adding more usch water holder inside the tank!


Clean water for under-developed areas

Get clean water from a polluted source. When arrive home, the water is cleaned. What a great idea!


Ethanol for $1 a Gallon

A biofuel startup [Coskata] in Illinois can make ethanol from just about anything organic for less than $1 per gallon, and it wouldn't interfere with food supplies, company officials said.

Coskata uses existing gasification technology to convert almost any organic material into synthesis gas, which is a mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Rather than fermenting that gas or using thermo-chemical catalysts to produce ethanol, Coskata pumps it into a reactor containing bacteria that consume the gas and excrete ethanol. ... 99.7 percent pure ethanol.

The method seems to have the ticks to several important factors:
  1. cheaper than gasoline by about 1 dollar,

  2. can be produced locally (near the feedstock) reducing the need of feedstock transportation, (another important factor in reducing green house gas and cost)
    If you're in Orange County, you can use municipal waste. If you're in the Pacific Northwest, you can use wood waste. Florida has sugar. The Midwest has corn. Each region has been blessed with the ability to grow its own biomass.

  3. a net energy gain of 7.7 times (compared with typical corn ethanol production of 1.3 times)


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Backyard Aquaponics Magazine

This is the first issue of the magazine and is now available free for downloading.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Roads as solar energy collector

Dutch Company Siphoning Heat from Asphalt for Energy Uses from TreeHugger reports how a Dutch civil engineering company can collect heat from asphalt covered road, store in deep underground aquifers and later retrieve.

Originally a system erected to reduce road maintenance costs, Ooms' technology consists of a network of flexible pipes held in place by a grid and covered over by asphalt - which helps magnify solar heat. Heated water coursing through the pipes is pumped deep underground into aquifers; it can then be retrieved, even months later, to keep the road ice-free during the winter. Alternatively, the system can pump cold water from a separate reservoir to cool homes or office buildings in the summer.

Using underground aquifers as a heat buffer, cooled during winter months and used for cooling in summer (hereby warming aquifers and storing the heat for winter warming need)! How clever!

Question: If household use, how large is the heat buffer needed to maintain a Melbourne home comfortable year round?


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

High-rise Integrated Food Production and Living

One of the cost of current super-market food distribution model consumes a lot of oil because food are reported to have travel 100's km before they reach the consumer. City living is still the preferred way of life for a large portion of the population. Is there a way to reduce food transportation for city folks?

The previous post Aquaponics is based on single level living (as in a standard lot in Australia) where people have a backyard for fresh vegetable and fish.

Vertical Farming is a high rise, can be in a city, which is for food production.

Another variation is agro-housing in which buildings made for, with, and alongside residential experiments in agriculture. [source]

Both vertical farming and agro-housing can utilize strategies such as aquaponics to solve water supply and waste disposal at the same time.