Presentation on the Global Village Construction Set

Last week we spoke at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

The topic was the Global Village Construction Set: Open Source Engineering for Sustainable Living. I focused on the construction of economies that utilize local resources. I proposed the route of open source, flexible fabrication – applied to Community Supported Manufacturing – as a viable route to an industrial system free of geopolitical compromise.

See the full presentation for details here.

Moreover, the day was fruitful in terms of other applied contacts towards Global Village Construction.

First, we met Dr. Henry Liu, retired UM professor who succeeded in commercializing fly-ash bricks in the United States. While plain soil is our preferred building material for our Compressed Earth Block press, we would like to apply fly-ash stabilization for bricks as needed. We could use stronger, waterproof bricks for foundations, floors, and driveways. We are planning on these in this year’s construction program if we find these are feasible.

Second, we met a couple of green developers who are currently working on Bear Creek Prairie, a 20 acre conservation development within the city limits of Columbia. These people are both the general contractors and developers of the development, and they have the right principles in mind. One possibility to pursue is energy farming: solar turbine that sells power back to the grid. The prospects are exciting here, as it would be a practical application of the type of work we’re developing in the Global Village Construction Set. An opportunity is at our door already.

Third, we’ll be getting help from a grantwriter for low-cost, grid-intertie, scalable (10-100 kW) wind turbines. Wind energy is proven. We’re just planning to slash the cost by at least a factor of two, to make this technology available to average Joe.

Then, we met Dr. Yuyi Lin – who is interested in biomass gasification – and a realistic possibility of charcoal production and liquefaction to fuel emerged. This is what we mean when we talk of growing our own gasoline – from local biomass. It’s not that difficult if you have a personal gasifier. Plus, charcoal is a versatile product.

Next, we talked to Greg Baka, who sells heavy hoes and other groundbreaking items at We discussed the techniques for efficient production of greenhouse glazing from recycled, UV-stabilized plastics. This can be quite a solution for greenhouses if we are using bioplastic from on-site resources.

Plus, we talked to several other professors. We will be preparing a list of potential student research, practicum, in-service learning, internship, and other applied projects in collaboration with Factor e Farm. There is significant interest. For example, UM, Columbia is the first land grant university in the USA that created a Sustainable Agriculture major for undergraduates. I bet that if they keep hanging out with us, they’ll have a Sustainable Manufacturing major soon.


  1. chris

    I’m very interested in biomass gasification. For a farm system it seems like a necessary part of the system as a whole. From a farmer’s standpoint I’m securely confused as what to do as petrol slips away. The gasification will play a key role…. from greenhouse heat supplement, field vehicle fuel, backup generator fuel, cooking stove fuel, etc.
    I’m still not 100% content on bio-diesel for my tractor due to the methanol input. But advances will come I’m sure, making biodiesel able to be produced on-farm methanol free.

    If there are any solid links to hands-on farm friendly prototypes of bio mass gasifiers/liquifiers please shoot some links my way. Thanks in advance.

    Glad you’re doing the work you’re doing in my home state. Missouri is a great platform for agri-related open technology. I can’t believe Rock Port (8 miles from my hometown Tarkio) is the first 100% wind powered municipality. Never saw that coming.

  2. Marcin

    You raise an interesting point about biodiesel. In my opinion, it’s the oil that’s the issue, not alcohol. Jerusalem artichokes – a crop that can be harvested in a highly permacultural fashion where remnants of the root self seed – can get you ample alcohol. The oil is a much more scarce resource – if you talk about no more than 1-2% of cars that can be fueled from waste vegetable oil sources. Otherwise, virgin edible oils are too precious to burn. This is until algae-derived oil enters the scene.

    Utilizing proven technologies, we can do ethanol-fired steam – yes, steam – hybrid electric drive systems. That is the best solution I can propose today for locally-made, locally fueled, open source transportation systems for all kinds of applications.

    Links on the gasifier: we’ll post material as soon as we have it. It’s a senior research project at U. Missouri, by our friend Mike Koch, . Contact me if you want to build a gasifier, [email protected].

  3. […] « Presentation on the Global Village Construction Set […]

  4. Franz Nahrada

    Congratulations! I consider this an important step in the realization of a truly able Open Source Development community around Global Villages as the focus of some central human living questions. We should double our efforts to invite agricultural universities all around the world into this community. And we can do it much easier once a good example is given. Maybe that could also be the initial point for VideoBridging between universities and exchanging views and research perspectives.

  5. […] view the presentation and pass it around: » […]

  6. Fabio

    Hi guys,

    I agree on your visions that producing local biofuels is a way to further decentralise the economy and enhance self-sufficiency. Community owned schemes could concentrate biomass utilisation for the production of biofuels. Do you think algae farms could provide for biofuels on small scale?

    Research shows that there are more products obtainable from biomass, from bioplastics to feed/food to chemicals, etc. I believe these are absolutely in line with the open source ecology philosophy and could greatly improve quality of life for communities, regionalizing the economy.

    Interested in conversation on these issues.
    In the meanwhile, best wishes for your projects

  7. […] community. This is a feasible alternative to global supply chains that we are exploring. See our presentation from an earlier blog entry for more about this […]

  8. […] Acquaintance Ben de Vries forwarded me this email: Global Villagers, Last week we spoke at the University of Missouri, Columbia, about the Global Village Construction Set: Open Source Engineering for Sustainable Living. I focused on the construction of economies that utilize local resources. I proposed the route of open source, flexible fabrication – applied to Community Supported Manufacturing – as a viable route to an industrial system free of geopolitical compromise. Please view the presentation and pass it around: […]

  9. […] bioproducts – biofuels, bioplastics, and others – which are one of the keys to localization and the Global Village Construction Set. He is writing his thesis on bioproducts – within the context of sustainable communities and open […]

  10. […] 1. Global Village Construction Set (and weblog): […]

  11. […] 1. Global Village Construction Set (and weblog): […]

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