Permafacture and Blog
Though it would have been nice to stop by the e farm, The traveling has been so hampered by my quantity of gear (guitar, bike, camping backpack half filled with books) that I am glad i didn't try to sqeeze in a visit on this move. Let me know when the next solar convergance is and I will be by.
Its been a long, slow process getting from Northern California to Austin (texas) where I plan to make my home for a while. I've had lots of time to think and scrutinize my intentions. So much time that I decided to make a website to help focus my intention and share it with others who might be interested. Marcin has always been asking me if I've been posting my ideas anywhere. Finally there is a place for that.
My website is www.permafacture.org and specifically, the blog at www.permafacture.org/weblog/ will keep track of my ideas and research in a public forum.
Though I dream about fancy technology, the place to begin is with something simple and useful, with something that will open up possibilities and enable more complex contraptions. The simplest and most useful piece of technology I can think of is a methane digester. Kitchen scraps, live stock poop (not from people yet though), and non-liginous garden waste become cooking gas to displace imported natural gas, propane or (heaven forbid) an electric stove top. The gas is stored over water in an upsidedown barrel, and pressure regulation for your stove is handled by heavy rocks. I helped my good friend Arvo with this at his haven in northern new mexico (www.solarark.org)
There are many places this can go. First in my mind is using a molecular sieve or pressure swing adsorbtion to remove the carbon dioxide and get higher quality gas. These two closely related technologies are simple, useful and highly effective in a wide variety of situations. PSA is commonly used industrially to give %95 pure oxygen with %5 argon, and it is a simple process. And from there, I expect to refine the digestion process, incorporating fungus and/or dilute acids (produced on site from combustion) to increase the yield and range of useable feedstocks.
The excess carbon dioxide, conviently clinging to the adsorbant, then can likely be fed to algae. Perhaps in a closed system, the algae's oxygen will enrich the adsorbant in place of carbon dioxide, and the adsorbant can enrich some combustion air before being returned to the methane tank. Just educated speculation. Then press the algae for oil and return the carcases to the methane digester. Or, perhaps experimenting with oxidative coupling of the methane to form higher carbon chains and eventually liquid fuels will be more interesting than algae tanks.
Depending on what is interesting and useful to the community, there are many routes. And the community in Austin is interested. Of all the towns I've been to, Austin has the most vibrant and active radical community I've seen. From a handful of anarchist communes who have put me up for months to the radical urban sustainability of the rhizome collective (www.rhizomecollective.org), who are now driven from their warehouse by the feds and into 7 acres of reclaimed land in east austin. Also, accion zapatista got their start there and the yellow bike project (www.austinyellowbike.org) is in full swing, helping people build/maintain bicycles and bicycle based machinery on a scale I haven't seen anywhere else. I ran into someone from www.mayapedal.org there and a wandering freegan jesus like character on his way to south america.
I look forward to developing something I can share with the factor e farm community, the community of austin, and concerned communites elsewhere.