So, a follow up 'Sci-Fi thought experiment' to the 2022 ALP budget. Some holes, a couple of Liberal policies eg.fracking donations and tax cuts for the wealthy and no integrated 'climate plan' -yet.
Maybe Australia is due for a retrofit and a rebuild that could generate millions of new jobs (sorry, no modelling there. BZE is onto it).
So here we go...
A 'Climate plan' for a 'climate emergency'->Selection of future green and appropriate, mostly 'Carbon negative' technologies, with seed funding and grants made available, manufactured by
mostly Ozzie startups with some international collaborators/businesses until 2030 (an arbitrary date but who knows what manufacturing tech and designs will be available by
then?)->Establishment of industrial ecologies in reclaimed land in cities and rural regional centres (with microgrids) + 'Carbon negative' learning centres + Ecovillages for students and
'workers' (some could work remotely from home if the work situation changes) with microgrids (including 'community batteries') and transport links to the learning centres and workplaces for
bicycles, swap in/swap out battery cells for scooters->A fraction(?) of the million 'energy efficient' (open to interpretation) houses, as proposed by the ALP.
Some interesting options for building technologies and techniques are available which all need high thermal mass R values for climate-proofing rising global atmospheric temperatures and extremes...
3d printing of building materials and entire structures
*possibly using a hemp+hemp biochar+concrete biocomposite, or rather 'hempcharcrete'. In areas of flammable spinifex, spinifex can be pyrolysed for biochar (think fire stick farming). Spinifex could possibly replace the hemp for 'Spincharcrete'. Thermal mass, from what I've researched, could be an issue for these designs that seem to use a double wall for air insulation and stability however biomass insulation eg. hemp, spinifex (a fire-retardant variety), could fill wall cavities rather than air and probably get a better R value - it needs to be researched. Also, concrete needs a number of inputs from a variety of places with some energy intensive processes. But, these guys are talking about space bases so thermal mass studies need to be done in a desert then expanded on the moon, which would use regolith concrete so the results couldn't be perfectly compared. As it turns out, the company has started operations in Alice Springs, NT - in the desert. A golden opportunity for thermal mass testing and presumably more affordable housing!
Possibly suitable for bushfire prone areas. The thin concrete outer walls could possibly crack with high temperatures from a bushfire.
Milled biochar could be added to the raw clay input to make 3D printed 'Charclay bricks'. The internal geometries of the clay bricks in the above research paper (can be downloaded as a PDF) for increasing tensile strength (and possibly air cell insulation) are gobsmacking. The brick designs could be scalable for larger bricks but the size/weight ratio would need to be optimised for brickies. This could also be a 'Carbon negative' building material with the added biochar and also possible increased tensile strength which could be investigated in future research. I would would also assume this is a greener material than concrete, even with the added biochar, but more manual labour for construction of structures/houses (which may be a good or a bad thing) but could use the 'In Situ Resource Utilisation' principle for making biochar and mining clay at the site of construction with a mobile kiln eg.in a shipping container, that could be designed to fire bricks from process heat of pyrolysis of locally sourced biomass and produce biochar to add to more bricks and produce electricity to power a series of 3D printers for the Charclay brick manufacturing. Another shipping container could be dropped in carrying the brick 3D printers. There's also the possibility of building a double wall with a large air gap that can be filled with biomass insulation for more extreme environmental temperature ranges eg. arid areas. Perpetual motion, more or less with clay and biomass being the only material inputs (and everything else that is needed to build an 'energy efficient' house). Basically, it would be a high-tech mud brick operation.
Possibly suitable for bushfire prone areas - fire testing would need to be done.
-3D printed bio-based materials eg.using forestry/agroforestry waste from regeneratively grown trees.
Hemp or bamboo fibre could also possibly be used either from waste or purpose grown crops.
Cradle to grave sustainability is possible with Carbon sequestration in the wood/hemp/bamboo fibre and full recyclability at the end of a house/structure's lifetime. Faster to construct than charclay bricks and greener than concrete or charcrete.
Not suitable for bushfire prone areas.
Until there's a shortage of used tyres ('Garbage Warrior' Michael Reynolds claims used tyres are everywhere!), Earthships could be a great option with high thermal mass for climate-proofing the country (and Planet?). Dr Martin Freney in SA is the thermal mass expert in this type of architecture known as 'Biotecture' with an Earthship BnB as a demonstration of what can be built on the small-scale with practically unlimited scaleability.
Suitable for bushfire prone areas. https://www.earthshipecohomes.com.au/bushfire-family.html
-Rammed earth, if the right soil is available is also a resource and logistically efficient way to build with high thermal mass and looks great.
Suitable for bushfire prone areas.
-Strawbale is also a resource and logistically efficient way build for high thermal mass in areas with lower humidity and access to straw and render.
Suitable for bushfire prone areas.
-Flood proofed house
A challenge for rebuilding flooded areas in Oz with flood proofed houses for future major rainfall and flooding events
There's probably a skills shortage in all of these techniques so the Gov needs to make a decision soon so builders can be skilled up in time for 2024 and beyond. Also, a number of building companies have collapsed in Australia so this could be a pathway back into business for them since supply chains for conventional materials have been disrupted around the country and there were many issues with fixed payment contracts so the Gov should think outside the box on this problem.
A million houses sounds like a very ambitious number, to the ALP's credit who wants to 'Build' a better future. High rise apartment buildings (even with renewable energy and greenery) and housing estates probably wouldn't pass the test of a sustainable Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) and the dated pattern needs to change anyway. With effective planning (people, spatial information, logistics, finance, auditing, data analytics and project management and team software to avoid another 'Pink bats scheme'/Home Insulation Program) it could be achieved. The number of new houses needed (as a fraction of the million houses, for the industrial ecologies) will be low during the construction phase of industrial ecologies (houses for business builders so why not start building the permanent houses at that stage and temporary prefab housing for builders building the permanent houses which could be trucked or railroaded onto site) and increase over time and possibly exceed a million houses in the long term if the demand for our technologies accelerates which it probably will, whether they be for domestic consumption or exports. Also manufacturing capacity will probably take a number of years to ramp up also taking into account future automation technologies for Industrial Revolution 4.0 which in some cases may reduce demand for 'workers' and housing.
So, linking in free education for domestic students and fee-paying international students at the world's first 'Carbon negative' learning centres for mostly 'Carbon negative' and some 'Carbon neutral' technologies, located within the industrial ecologies, for theoretical and applied STEM-Arts industrial design, R&D and commercialisation course/module learning and culture, including free (domestic and international student) internships for business admin and management and apprenticeships for design and manufacturing jobs. Learn, work and earn. This could float more boats so the graduates are industry ready for the businesses and don't have to move for their first job in the industrial ecology. See REFERENCES below for some interesting case studies.
Maybe each industrial ecology could have a theme eg. space, agricullture, urban housing etc. Also, many of the startups in the industrial ecologies could be founded by the first graduates (and beyond) from the learning centres associated with them. So, how could the initial startups or established companies be chosen for the industrial ecologies? Criteria. What criteria? A Carbon footprint of the tech's cradle to grave lifecycle. If it can be calculated that the tech is Carbon neutral or better, aka Carbon negative, then the startup/established company can join the ecology, on condition that they will make available internships and apprenticeships for the students.
How can Aussie manufacturing be fired up? With an American company? An eg. of a business that could establish itself in the 'space' industrial ecology could be a Sakuu gigafactory with the first one based in Silicon Valley. Sakuu has designed a 3D multimaterial printer which might still be at prototype stage (sakuu.com) - information is scarce about their Kavian (TM) platform and I doubt it's able to print at the atomic level. For a variation of the 'new material' previously blogged, maybe print a modified Carbon perovskite crystalline superlattice (eg.200 layers, using perovskite ink grown from Si and C rich bamboo biochar for Si-C bonds on the crystals which could achieve higher efficiencies than C perovskite-Si wafer tandem PV cells as well as possibly utilising quantum superabsorption in vertical quantum wells) bonded/layered onto a printable Polymer Derived Ceramic (PDC), with ceramic for stability, mixed with finely milled bamboo biochar powder again including Si-C bonds (found in the phytoliths present) where Si increases Li storage capacity and C increases electron conductivity and could be alternatively layered (like a layer cake) with Li for solid state battery storage, storing the energy harvested from the PVs. Ceramic powder could be imported from Japan but ideally produced in Australia. Lithium could be obtained from WA mines with local refinement in the pipeline (see REFERENCES) or possibly the Top End (but will have heavy rainfall at the mines which will probably leach sulfuric/sulphuric acid into the water sources eg.rivers, springs, groundwater) in the future (as opposed to the dominant model of sending unrefined rock to China then importing back the Lithium Hydroxide for battery production...hello high Carbon footprint, a missed value adding opportunity and an unstable supply chain though this is debatable and includes all mining commodity trading partners, not just limited to China. Supply chain instability has arguably been caused by COVID-19 leading to a downturn of many economies, a war in Ukraine, shifting geopolitics and a possible parallel economy is emerging with cryptocurrency.
Alternatively, there's Sodium mined from saltpans and seawater (as a byproduct of desalination) that could replace Lithium but suffers from a lower energy density which may not be a problem for applications when size and weight is less of an issue eg. community batteries. Transport (built into the chassis) and small electronics eg. at the back of smartphones would be the most obvious applications for the 'New material', PVs and batteries but I imagine there are many.
I just think it would be awesome if we could build our own C negative Greentech/Apptech using locally refined raw materials in Australia and even go further via mining/desal companies using carbonfuture.earth to drawdown C in a 'Carbon sink' for biogeochemosequestration which, eg., could add C/biochar to regenerative agroforestry ventures.
Students and 'workers' will undoubtedly need housing for study, work and families if they choose to have them. There needs to be a variety of house configurations for this. Maybe the students could get extremely low rent until they graduate then after securing work, enter into an interest free monthly purchase plan/agreement for a house (without rent, a conventional mortage, 'Afterpay' or credit cards), buying it from the Gov. Rental could still be an option too if a 'worker' does not want to enter a purchase agreement, but still at a low market rate. If people need to change jobs and move to another industrial ecology site, when housing becomes available, it shouldn't affect the payment plan i.e. it keeps going. I'm not sure what would be the best way to refund money if a payment plan is exited - maybe calculate a low rental rate for the period of tenancy and subtract it from the amount paid in the plan then return/refund the difference.
The division between work and play is blurred here and goes well beyond just 'energy efficient' housing. Sign me up for a happy, sustainable, meaningful and reasonable livelihood and existence with many of the Aussie perks. Or as Confucius famously said "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Sounds Utopian? Just about anyone can learn and work of age (assuming they are not children, retired or have a bad disability or both). Things got more urgent. This idea could be a recession circuit breaker. Better than 1950s and 1960s public housing thinking, a climate emergency with lack of planning, rising poverty, no real wage increases, rising cost of living pressures, energy price gouging, rising inflation, a broken education system that desperately needs more funding, a health system barely coping with COVID-19 (which could mutate into something worse but seems to be mutating into many subvariants and even subvariants of subvariants that don't cause severe disease if vaccinated), a manufacturing industry that is almost dead, supply chain instability, too much money printing (what about the physical economy?), a construction industry that is collapsing (like China) and a CCS fantasy (with the exception of BECCS). But, it's not all 'carnage', as Donald Trump once described the US in his first Presidential speech.
We still have Tim Tams, koalas, surf, diverse culture, each other and a whole lot more worth mentioning but too much to put in a blog!
Like a good integrated design, every subsequent industrial ecology should be better than the last one with updates and improvements. This is not a cookie cutter operation. Some of the tech used in the ecovillages could be built in the local industrial ecology and even exported to subsequent ones in different areas/regions. And of course, being the incorrigible salesman, permaculture plants could be grown around the ecovillages for biochar which probably meets the criteria of Professor Robert Pope's famous 'Human survival technology' (possibly made in a KTE and TLUD stoves) to build out regenerative agroforestry systems using circular Zai pits and swales in the ecovillage gardens for food and medicine.
Maybe aim for 2026 for the first near fossil free model/prototype (which could eventually become C negative), with a fraction(?) of the AUD$1.9 billion of fracking money (and possibly signing the 'Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative' at COP27) to get things started, which gives whoever would be mad/visionary enough to take this project on, 3 years to attract additional business investment and construction and iron out the initial wrinkles...so, where would be the best first site?
Maybe somewhere with clay (swales/Zai pits), biomass (3D printed bio-based houses; biochar, which can be used to grow more biomass + raw material for New Material/PVs/battery ceramic-C-Si anodes), high solar insolation (PV solar harvesting and testing), seawater (microalgae, desalination and Sodium as a byproduct for 3D printed Na solid state batteries) and an atmosphere (DAC for C, N, H20->H2, vodka, fertiliser etc.)! South Australia could be a good candidate, maybe starting with the 'Space' theme, given we are home to the Australian Space Agency and over 100 space-related organisations.
There is an interesting discussion around space objectives eg.Where will be the first land based space base? eg.Moon (using 3D printed regolith bricks/concrete for structures)->Launch vehicles to Venus (deep space experience and science of a possible Earth future) then eventually slingshot to Mars and establish a colony/presence.
A way out of climate breakdown is needed that can help save the Planet and may be a way in to space and beyond. In the 'Eclogue 10', by Virgil, he writes 'Omnia vincit amor'
(Love conquers all). Maybe this even applies to space travel.
If we're not in a hurry...