I will explain our planned infrastructure in response to questions raised two posts ago. We should start by saying that we eat our own dog food with respect to the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS)- and as we bootstrap one technology upon another – the infrastructure is built piece by piece. GVCS is like a RepRap for a new civilization.
You then look at Factor e Farm, and it is currently something like the 4th world under construction. Stateless and radical. I love every piece of it. Yet outsiders are all in for a surprise on just about everything we do here. Pioneers would do well here, but we’re not your average Joe. Where to start?
Here is the status of important issues.
The most important issue to the well-being of poeple at Factor e Farm is central heating – if we want to do the space heating part of a community right. Unless we do the Babington burner and/or gasifier stove, conneted to a central hydronic system – we’ll be burning I don’t know how many individual stoves, and wasting a lot of wood like we did this year. The only advantage is that you get a lot of ash fertilizer.
Best solution for heating is the effective use of solar design and effective biomass combustion. With The Liberator 2, we plan on building solar-design CEB structures – connected, solar cluster design – earth bermed, with a living roof. We intend to heat these with a central stove – either gasifier or Babington burner-fired.
This plays into a greater Combined Heat and Power ecology. The gasifier is also relevant to cooking gas applications, and the Babington is a great choice for firing both stoves and flash steam generators for power generation. Thus, we want to run a steam engine generation off our stoves in winter, and use a similar steam system for steam powered – hydrauilic hybrid tractors (like LifeTrac) and for cars.
The Babington relies on waste oil sources (cooking, crankcase, and others) or virgin oils – both of which are not highly sustainable. Thus, we’re working on the pyrolysis oil generator– to produce about 200 gallons, sustainably and organically harvested, per acre from grass fuel crop, and more than double that once we get our soil fertility up. This is likely to work well, as pyrolysis oil is a proven technology, and there are 1 ton per day units available on the market.
The central stove should have a heat exchanger and water pump – for pumping water to any number of rooms. Hydronic radiators would release the heat.
Water Supply and Water Heating
We have rooftop catchment, where we collect 400 gallons of water per inch of rainfall, and a well. You can read about last year’s adventures with well-drilling. We need to develop an open source well rig that can go below bedrock. A LifeTrac-powered, heavy duty rig will do the job. To be developed.
We are just finishing an insulated steam shower to replace the last one. We have a 4×4 framed cubicle, using the electric heater element, and insulated walls – so that a misting head will produce a steam shower. This will use ridiculously low amount of water while providing a full, heated shower experienc of whatever length, as one is not concerned about water use. We are eager to test this in the next day or two.
We still have the hot water tank in the back of our masonry stove – but we never did finish the Babington burner properly, nor ever run the stove to heat the tank. Just didn’t get around to it in our ample spare time. We considered purchasing a turnkey Babington burner, with auto ignition and flame sensor, but we were not as excited about it after finding out its $1500 price. Back to opensourcing the thing, but if anyone wants to donate one of these to us – we would have a heated water tank under pressure now.
The Babington is a modular, portable technology that can be run on-demand – so it could be used for hot water, space heating, electric generation, and powering vehicles. That’s why it’s part of the GVCS. Very robust, and fuel is localizable. The next best bet is a gasifier, but that is much more cumbersome because of fuel handling. For the Babington, you process the biomass to liquid form first, so you’re good to go with an easily-transportable, high-density, liquid fuel.
Erosion and Water Runoff
The first thing to say here is that we are on a sloped land parcel that used to be a soybean field. It was abused and eroded, such that the front of our place has a couple acres of area with about 8 feet of soil washed off the top of the hill. There are erosion problems, and former industrial farmers installed no erosion-control swales or berms of any kind.
Bulldozer work for the proper swales and water catchment would be approximately $10-20k and require at least 3 weeks of full-time work for doing it properly. Given that we’re short of that sum, our present strategy is to build an open source bulldozer at $5k in materials.
In the interim, we’ll unroll several large round haybales in critical erosion channels, and we are doing microberms around individual trees to hold in additional water. Plus, we can dig a few trenches with LifeTrac to divert some of the major runoff.
This discussion is not as bad as it sounds, as the mud and water happens for only several weeks in spring and fall. The rest of the year, you may get 3-5 days with enough rain were water actually runs close to the living areas. Typically, it’s quite dry here, with a total of about 35 inches of precipitation per year.
Flush perfect fertilizer into drinking water to pollute rivers downstream? You must be nuts. Factor e Farm policy is to recycle your gold.
Let me tell you a story. I was once afraid of composting toilets. The immediate, exotic answer that popped up is Living Machines. They are still one of the headings on our wiki. They are not a priority for this year because they are a high-infrastructure, inegrated project that you don’t step into lightly. I think Living Machines are appropriate for the 10 and up home scale, and we will probably end up making a system. In the meantime, we’ll poo in buckets. I think it’s hands-down the simplest, most effective way to go. In the orient, farmers even put up outhouses on roadsides to capture more of this gold.
Some like the idea of electrically-heated toilets like the Biolet. Sounds nice, but electric poo fryers are not our idea of ecological nightsoil handling.
Hear ye, hear ye, let’s put this crap to rest… in a bucket. Yes, number one and number two separation is a good idea. We also recommend the anathema of the bodet to all, unless you favor walking around with a dirty ass.
On a serious side – what do we do on all of this? The solution set is:
- Humanure Handbook
- Steam shower
- Hydronic central heating
- Rapid house-building with a 3000-brick per day CEB machine
- Proper kitchen and bathroom facilities to be built as part of the new Solar Village cluster
What will we end up doing this year?
- 3000-brick per day CEB machine for sure and Solar Village prototype
- Next would be the Babington and gasifier , plus flash water heater coil (same as flash steam generator), plus stove for central heating and hot water
- Follow with an open source bulldozer to kill off the erosion issues, and second prototype of LifeTrac in the process.
If we get skilled people here, we will also: (1), knock off haying/silage equipment for collecting biomass and spreading on our land, (2), do the steam engine, (3) do the pyrolysis oil, (4) do more open source fab lab equipment.
I can’t plan beyond the 2 months necessary for the CEB Prototype 2 and 3. Help us if you have skill and can propose concrete, place-based solutions to any of the above – beyond concepts and on to technical implementation.