Top 15 things you could do to retrofit your home and ?garden to make it more resilient

1) Solar PV system

-without storage...until solid state electrolyte batteries are available OR when affordable micro-electrolysis systems for Hydrogen gas (H2) production (eg.Enapter) with storage and fuel cell become available. Biochar can be integrated both into the H2 storage and fuel cell electrodes

2) Low energy/energy efficient electrical devices

eg. kettle, reverse cycle aircon, LED globes/lights, oven, pressure cooker, heat pump (for hot water..uses approximately 1/4 of power (depending on the tech) compared to an electrical hot water tank which uses approximately 40% of your power).

3) Insulation with high R value in the ?walls and roof

Cheap way to regulate climate inside the house. Biochar can be used as a filler in the insulation. Biochar also provides electromagnetic shielding from 'Electrosmog'. If high humidity, biochar-based render on the walls can help regulate humidity too. If building a new home, biochar can be added to plaster for humidity regulation and reduction of 'Electrosmog' as well.

4) Water tank harvesting water off the roof

This could be a primary water source or backup

5) TLUD biomass gasifier stove eg. Permastove V5

They produce heat for cooking/water purification and biochar as a 'waste' product. This biochar can be used for (6), (7), (8), (10), (11) and (12). Can buy pellets in many places eg. sawdust or rice husk. Primary or backup stove.

See the page on this website

6) Biochar for air filtration

If the air quality is poor eg. In a large city. Could do this by filling up microgreens trays and placing them around the home

7) Biochar for water filtration

If the water quality is poor. Can add to water jugs and replace the Carbon filter.

8) Microgreens grown with biochar

A good way to get trace elements and nutrients into your diet and have a tasty smoothie or salad.  Spent biochar with biomass residue can be added to the Permachar Kitchen Garden (10) or food forest (14)

See the page on this website.

9) Kon-Tiki 'Rolls'

I'd suggest using a Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' for larger amounts of biochar that could be used for insulation, render or plaster in (3) and for the biochar aquifers in (10). The Kon Tiki 'Rolls' could then be used to make biochar to help grow other plants eg.'Food forest' (14) if there is space which should include biomass plants that can be coppiced eg.Acacias, olive, oil mallee et al for future biochar production and expansion of the food forest (14) or PKG (10) or for a small income eg. sell biochar bags.

See the page on this website.

10) Permachar Kitchen Garden (PKG)

If you've got a back/front yard or a rooftop garden. Grow some herbs and veggies for your diet.

See the page on this website.

11) Self-composting 'Humanure' toilet

Indoor or outdoor. Conserves water and creates great compost - just add biochar! Compost can be added to the PKG (10) or food forest (14).

12) Worm farm to compost kitchen scraps/'waste' (or could feed to chickens (13))

Can add milled biochar to the system. The worms will help innoculate the biochar. Also, you can test the quality of the biochar...if the worms avoid it, then it's unsuitable for the chickens (13), PKG (10) or food forest (14)

13) Chicken raising (if you're not Vegan).

Provide eggs and meat (if you're not Vegetarian...could always barter with it/sell it) when the chickens stop laying. Can add milled biochar to the chicken food which reduces parasites and add to chicken bedding which will innoculate the biochar with micro-organisms from manure and will provide great mulch/slow release fertiliser for the PKG (10) or food forest (14).

14) Food Forest

If you've got the space, why not try growing some fruit, nut and biomass plants. Just add inoculated/quenched (Kon-Tiki 'Rolls') biochar into the planting holes and use chicken bedding waste for mulch around the base of the plants which will also act as a slow-release fertiliser and reduce evaporation from the soil.

15) Compost tea

Can use feedstock from the worm farm to inoculate batches. This can be used as a foliar spray on the PKG (10) or food forest (14).


These 'Top 15' technologies could also be used to retrofit a shipping container home and ?garden for more remote living or used around the urban landscape on reclaimed land...







An Appropriate technology Renaissance?

Ecodemocratic Appropriate economic transitional/transformative/resilience planning to map our way out of the COVID-19 recovery with a focus on appropriate technology and de/re-carbonisation of the economy/Planet.

How could it work?

Solar Impulse Foundation label accreditation which permits rebates for those technologies accredited, produced and sold by apptech companies anywhere in the world including Australia. However Australian apptech would have larger rebates over imported apptech that meets similar standards because locally/Nationally produced technology is even more appropriate and ticks more boxes eg. sustainable local employment, lower logistical Carbon footprint compared to imports, use of Australian supply chains, manufacturing and local resources eg. steel, people



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A 'Green economics' for the future?

Serving suggestion...How to dismantle the 'Carbon bomb' with a modded 'industrial ecology'? Globally available sunlight harvesting - not the Ancient sunlight stuff

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Micro-electrolysis for hydrogen fuel production

I read an exciting report today that Japan is moving to a Hydrogen economy, just like South Australia and potentially Australia and the greater region. It got me thinking about engines and I came up with a few learning issues which may be of interest to some people...



LI: Could you use graphene-based solar PV cells (integrated with the outside of a vehicle and powered from sunlight and moonlight) to produce Hydrogen via micro-electrolysis, first stored in a fuel tank then injected into Hydrogen fuel cells on demand (modifying existing fuel injection tech, using sensors and AI) to run an electric motor for unlimited range?

NOTE1: if this were possible, it would solve the problem of centralised 'Green Hydrogen' production and distribution of Hydrogen to fuel bowsers. For eg, in Australia we have the 'Tyranny of distance' to deal with. This design could be considered as a decentralised 'appropriate technology' for solar-rich countries

NOTE2: This could also avoid repeating the mistakes of the 'oil economy' but for the 'Hydrogen economy' instead. Timely given the volatility of oil prices and 'Peak oil', which many experts, such as Richard Heinberg, agree we have already passed. Arguably we've also hit 'Peak Civilisation' too with the 'coronavirus'/COVID-19.  'The race for what's left:The global scramble for the world's last resources' by Michael T. Klare is a great read!. Another good read is 'Soil not Oil' by Dr Vandana Shiva.

NOTE3: Why start a war for Hydrogen if it has been democratised, just like the 'Kon-Tiki' biochar kilns and 'TLUD' stoves (and others) democratised biochar?!

LI: What about submersibles?

In theory, if they were running on diesel engines, you could add Hydrogen to diesel with direct fuel injection of Hydrogen into the cylinders of diesel engines and have Hydrogen fuel cells (with biochar electrodes) as standalone power (less noisy) with different ratios of Hydrogen and Helium calculated for a given depth and temperature. Hydrogen could be produced elsewhere with solar-powered (heterojunction printed Buckminsterfullerene based ('buckyballs') PV cells) micro-electrolysis with Helium reserves on board



LI: Could you produce Hydrogen used for micro-grids running off a solar PV farm on the community scale?

LI: Could you produce virtual power plants of Hydrogen fuel cells running from buildings into a grid or micro-grid (like some companies are already doing with battery storage)?




LI: Could you use a biochar-producing combined heat and power (CHAP)  machine (using micro-gasification in one turbine and a Stirling engine eg.ML1000 to capture heat and also produce power) to power electrolysis of water for small-scale production of Hydrogen that can be used in vehicle and building Hydrogen fuel cells?

LI: How would the cost-benefit of the above system compare to good quality solar PV panels (that don't produce biochar)?

NOTE: assuming an average price of biochar as a commodity which is a fast moving playing field

LI: Using seawater/brackish water could you use solar powered desalination (with (1) reverse osmosis with biochar electrodes and graphene membrane or (2) capacitive deionis(z)ation (CDI) with biochar electrodes) to produce low TDS water (<12.8 ppm) to supply water to the Enapter 'EL21' (modular and scaleable, also powered by solar) for Oxygen and Hydrogen production for air (O2) and Hydrogen (H2) fuel cells?

NOTE: most households won't need to worry about salty/brackish water

LI: Could you use a biochar cathode and anode inside a Hydrogen fuel cell?

NOTE: Biochar electrodes have been successfully used in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs). You can find research on this on the 'Resources' page on this website



LI: Could u produce water from ice (near the surface) then convert to O2 and H2 using solar power electrolysis?
LI: O2 for the suits and bases THEN use air batteries in the Oxygen rich environment to produce backup power for the bases and possibly fill space suits (along with air batteries inside the space suits that could power sensors and AR) and grow food, medicine and biomass?
LI: Hydrogen fuel cells to power the bases (along with air batteries) and Hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles (that could also be powered by the transport design mentioned above if anyone can get it to work safely)?
LI: Biomass to produce Biochar in the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' (in an Oxygenated environment) eg. in a separate structure to a base in case the structure catches fire), used to grow more plants for more biochar (and more food and medicines)?


What about the bigger picture in Australia once the initial prototypes of 'Green Hydrogen' farms/plants are perfected?


How to find  future decentralised energy hubs for 'Green Hydrogen' production farms/plants in Australia and get off fossil fuels permanently...maybe a billion bucks for starters. 'Technology neutrality' in the space of global climate change/disruption/chaos? It's like decelerating decarbonisation and accelerating decarbonisation simultaneously!! Evidence-based policy would be more appropriate...Let the data be your friend!


I would suggest using a GIS with data found at or elsewhere...if the Gov has the data

Site search criteria could include:

-high solar photovoltaic/solar insolation potential areas

-close to ports

-close to rail eg. North-South, East-West rail links

-close to the National Highway

-close to population centres for consumers and farm workers

-cheap land/available land for lease from TOs

-close to farmland that can benefit from 'Green Ammonia'

-access to seawater if the solar electrolysis is using seawater or if the solar electrolysis needs low TDS water, this could be obtained from solar desalination of seawater or in the case of brackish water from bore water and aquifers, Calcium removal as well (and whatever else needs to be removed)


I imagine that these questions will lead to many more research questions but could develop many green collar jobs in cottage or larger industries in Australia or even overseas...

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The humble phytolith

This journey begins with a crazy ecofeministanarchist?marxist called Carrie who I fell in love with at St Mark’s College in Adelaide while studying a M.B.B.S. at the University of Adelaide. Carrie was studying ecological and sociological subjects at a hippie college in Oregon, USA. She decided to spend a year at the University of Adelaide in an exchange. It turned out there some radical students and lecturers there who Carrie enjoyed learning from and spending time with. We started going out with each other when it was clear that we both enjoyed having fun and good conversation. She taught me a lot about ‘The Environment’ and got me excited about public health and alternative ways of looking at the world which were not really promoted in the conservative medical curriculum at that time. At the end of the first year of Uni, Carrie went back to the USA to continue her studies and I was stuck in a heart wrenching long distance relationship with her and an increasing studyload at Uni. By the end of the third year, I’d managed to fail almost every subject and managed to pass 13 supplementary exams which may still be the record in the Adelaide Uni med school. After this, I decided to go overseas on a world backpacking tour when I was 21. I caught up with Carrie in the US, broke up, continued to travel with her in South America but the damage was done. She mistakenly took Larium for malaria prevention which wasn’t really needed and she became psychotic, depressed and often tearful. She left me with a friend at Punta Arenas in the Tierra del Fuego (land of fires) and headed back home – she’d had enough and that was the last time I’d seen her. She had left her mark on me – I was now deeply concerned about social and ecological issues and swore never to take Larium.




A couple of years later I quit medical school, joined up again then quit it again. I now had a strong desire to word up on environmental issues and started a Masters at Flinders University in ‘Environmental Management’. In one of my tutorials in ‘Environmental Politics’ I met a student who was a self-declared permaculturist or ‘permie’. I started researching it and realised that there were other people out there who were disillusioned by politics and wanted to live sustainably while achieving social and environmental change. I quit after passing all but one of my subjects ‘Environmental Politics’ - I got caught up in the politics of the Murray-Darling Basin and refused to submit my essay in fear of being labelled too ‘radical’ and realised then that down the rabbit hole we needed systemic change to implement bioregions with bioregional management plans based around river catchments such as the MDB. That was in 2003. A lot of stuff happened after that. I was restless, moving around the country and overseas too. I worked in many different jobs, lived in many places, had different partners and learned a shit load about survival.




I made the call. Time to study a Diploma of Permaculture as nothing else was working out for me. I went to Byron Bay and studied a Diploma under the Permaforest Trust directed by Tim Winton. Tim and his crew were great mentors. I met other mentors along the way. I spent some time with the late Geoff Moxham from Terania Creek who had been obsessed with biochar for 4 years before he ironically got killed by biomass (in an elaborate swinging tree trunk manouvre that knocked him on the head after which he went into a Tibetan Buddhist dying position while haematoma presumably ruptured his brain and killed him). Biochar is basically biomass (the mass of anything biological) that’s produced in an oxygen starved fire in a process known as ‘pyrolysis’. I got my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) and went on to design a ‘Top-Lit UpDraft’ stove out of Geoff’s reclaimed 304 stainless steel birko that I inherited for my main research project, inspired by Geoff and Dr TLUD that we could fight climate change, poverty and respiratory disease with the one simple technology that produces biochar. This is when I began to learn about phytoliths from Dr Jeff Parr’s research.




So, what is a phytolith? It’s basically a compound of Carbon and Silica that forms in plant cell walls, inside plant cells and between plant cells. It’s also known as ‘plant stones’, ‘plant opals’ and ‘PhytOCs’. What is it good for? We’ve all heard about climate change and probably other names for it as well to describe the end of days such as climate chaos, climate disruption, climate heating, and of course, climate hell. So many research papers and articles have been released around this topic, mainly in the last couple of decades but beginning as early as the 1950s. So what do phytoliths have to do with any of this? Carbon biogeochemical sequestration. Why do we need that? It is Carbon emissions causing the majority of climate heating. Who causes those? Mainly people and environmental runaway loops or cascades that feedback into themselves such as the Arctic melting (known as the ‘albedo flip effect’) and bushfires, such as those seen in California, the Amazon and Austalia in recent months and years.




I almost studied Archeology at Melbourne Uni and I had been interested in this topic for many years, inspired by different archeology celebrities and my own travel eg. I visited Egypt when I was 10 years old and was amazed by it’s culture. Phytoliths were one of the key tools in understanding archeological time. In fact, phytoliths of a bamboo genus, Pleioblastus have been recorded in parts of soils dated to the last interglacial period (130,000–74,000 BP ) from Japan...Bamboo biochar. According to PhytAID phytolith research group, fossil grass short cell phytoliths (GSSCP’s) have been found on every continent and the oldest GSSCP’s are at least 66 million years old....but this is just a snapshot of the potential of phytoliths, and long-term Carbon and Silica sequestration to heal the planet…




Many years went by via different projects which I hoped would kick start my business. It didn’t seem many people were listening – or maybe I wasn’t marketing my technology effectively? I instead made it a personal challenge to design many different kilns (devices used to make the biochar) for many different applications. I got sucked into ‘top fed open draft’ (TFOD) kilns in 2015 with the design of the Kon-Tiki biochar kiln by Dr Paul Taylor and Hans-Peter Schmidt which was a variation and adaptation of the Moki kilns from Japan. These were mainly cone based kilns with near zero Carbon emissions to make biochar if they were manufactured and operated appropriately. After various failures in work (though I did finish a few qualifications at TAFE), I became long-term unemployed. The longer I was out of work the more application rejections I received and the worse my mental health became. So, rather than give up hope I just kept developing appropriate tech as I predicted one day people, if not now, could benefit from it and make a positive environmental impact.




To help pass the time, I began learning programming on a super intuitive platform called ‘Datacamp’. A major growth area in coding is an area of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) called ‘Machine Learning’ (ML). Python seemed to be the the best language to learn for this exciting area of new applications. I then had a hunch that maybe people had used ML to recognise Phytoliths in a large volume of samples so I researched it and alas work had been done on this. In other research, people had made predictions about quantities of biochar produced based on kiln and biomass/plant properties. Adding 2 and 2 I realised you could probably make predictions of how much Carbon could be sequestered as Phytoliths/PhytOCs from a given type and amount of biomass for a given kiln design over time well into the future. Kiln designs could include the Kon-Tiki eg. the Kon-Tiki ‘Rolls’ (which is for sale on my website at in a shameless plug). I contacted Dr Paul Taylor and it turns out that he was researching how to estimate tonnes of biochar produced over time as a basis for a Carbon Credit system for the United Nations (UN). This was interesting to me as I had been researching NORI, a blockchained Carbon removal/credit scheme (the potential competition) and I found that their weakness was the lack of the temporal dimension. Paul had worked it out with a physics proof of concept and I had done it with ML and Phytoliths (see previous '#Software for the hardware' blog and check out "")! Carbon credits are probably doomed by capitalism and corruption anyway however ecocapitalism seems to be increasingly more ethical than other forms of growth capitalism :(




So now what? Well, all these megafires in Australia are killing my hope. I keep asking myself, is it too late to even bother trying to spread biochar throughout the main planks of the economy when so much Carbon is being released into the atmosphere making the conditions worse for future bushfires (on a macro scale, just like on a micro scale the bushfires create their own weather to increase the fire magnitude)? Then it occurred to me today, while I was reading an article that there are a small number of researchers saying that Phytoliths are not affected by bushfire. In other words, maybe the bushfires are adding soil Carbon to the soil (aka ‘Terra preta Australis’) in addition to the soil Carbon that was already there before the bushfire, locked up in Phytoliths? Also, as fire (and water) is used by nature to germinate various dormant seeds such as the Acacia species would the magnitude of the fires destroy the seeds? Obviously, it’s tragic that all that bushland, homes, communities and people’s lives in Australia have been all but destroyed and many species will struggle to repopulate, including us humans. But, when the recovery happens, will the same development and planning mistakes be made as they have in the past and will we miss an enormous opportunity to think like a Permie and solve various problems using elegant solutions so that ecosocioeconomic systems are resilient to future catastrophic bushfire, doughts, other climate events, global financial crises and even climate-related economic downturns?




All the technology in the world won’t make it rain. Climate change is changing rainfall patterns and causing droughts all over the planet and will only get worse before/if it ever gets better again. Cloud seeding shouldn’t be used – Indonesia tried it and it caused flash flooding and besides - you need clouds in the first place to seed which we presumably don't have in large quantity over drought-stricken areas. So, we are left with a small number of safe biogeochemical sequestration options such as biochar (which has a plethora of multiple uses) for long-term planetary sustainability and healing. Unfortunately, once the forest is gone, there will be virtually no evapotranspiration and evaporation in these areas to produce rain clouds which provide water for seed germination and long-term survival of the regenerating flora and fauna. Note that the charcoal remaining from the bushfires will be able to provide a buffering effect for water release into the ground once rainfall returns. The charcoal/biochar is like a sponge - when it's wet micro-organisms mainly live in the soil and the biochar adsorbs water into it's 3D matrix. When it's dry, micro-organisms enter the 3D matrix from the soil and use what moisture remains inside and the nanostructures as 'high rise accommodation' and continue to mine nutrients found inside the matrix. When it's dry, water is released from the outer areas of the matrix back into the soil.


Even if we seedball (google) (eg. biochar, clay and acacia gum binder) the hell out of these burnt areas with drones with pneumatic cannons (eg.AirSeed Technologies) we still need water eg. rain for germination which has been demonstrated in the Kenyan seedballing It has taken up to 7 years for some acacia seedball areas to germinate in Kenya due to lack of rainfall. But, what will we tell our young people if we don’t even try and regrow our forests?


We could establish key wildlife/biodiversity corridors connecting a patchwork of agroforestry ecosystems. For eg, if the drought hasn't broken soon, bores could be sunk and we could R&D fire-resistant/fire-safe irrigation to supplement the biochar water conservation strategy. These agroforestry ecosystems could be grown with selected fire-resilient food, fuel and fibre crops that don’t require excessive soil and water resources but still support some wildlife to link up with the wildlife/biodiversity corridors. For example, the hemp plant could be grown and used in combination with recovered biochar in biocomposite called ‘charcrete’ (refer to ‘Burn: Using fire to cool the earth’ ) to rebuild sustainable housing and infrastructure in bushfire affected areas.  WWF Australia wants to grow 2 billion trees by 2030. This could integrate well with agroforestry ecosystems. It would be a shame to just regenerate bushland only to have it unsustainably burn down again in the future - we need to think outside the box and adapt to the new environment the megafires have produced and will keep producing possibly to varying degrees every fire season from now on though it's hard to imagine a similar extent of damage could ever happen again...touch wood.




David Holmgren, co-founder of Permaculture with the late Bill Mollison, wrote an article called ‘The flywire house’ in 1993. I’ve got a book on earth covered houses and there are always ‘Earthships’ pioneered by Michael Reynolds and crews. I would like to see collaboration across the entire system and the thinking of the system needs to be updated to now and into the future. It’s not enough to just declare a ‘climate emergency’ and make a minimal effort to rethink policy. What is happening now in Australia with climate change is happening in other parts of the world and we still don’t have a comprehensive mitigation and adaptation strategy on the table. How much suffering is ‘needed’ before the system reboots onto a more positive footing for dealing with all this chaos? The key is time travel...could we use the humble phytolith to lead us down good cultural and survival pathways. So, I think a valid question to ask is then, which cultures were sustainable and in some case still are and what we can do to learn from them that also commits to building future policy, research and development goals for sustainable culture?







#Software for the hardware

Here's a rough unmanicured software idea, to be coded in Python, for determining Carbon credits for biochar production over time


NOTE1: competing Carbon credit systems don't take into account 'time' decay of Carbon

NOTE2:For your biochar producing tech, look no further than the 'Rainbow Beeeater' biochar kiln, 'The Big Roo' biochar kiln, 'Kon-Tiki' biochar kiln eg. 'Rolls' and 'Permastove' biochar-producing TLUD stove eg. the 'Permastove' V5

NOTE3: No microtransactions will be used in this 'point-of-sale' (POS) software (just trust with Federal/Government reserves). Getting rich while saving the planet isn't always the way to go (though ecocapitalists might disagree...). Why not create POS software for Carbon biogeochemical sequestration that gathers intelligence and becomes more intelligent over time? As an aside, maybe dumb POS terminals will become a thing of the past aka they can be more than just a glorified calculator and collect business intelligence too (a little Orwellian)!


*Which tools to use for measurement of C and Si?
With an 'Our Sci' reflectometer/ BFA 'Bionutrient Meter' (a beta reflectometer with a bunch of sensors currently under development) (C + ?PhytOC) OR reflectometer(C) and fluorescent microscopy (PhytOC) (using a microscope set up for flurorescence and a fluroescence-capable camera) scan a biochar sample from a larger batch/quantity of biochar produced OR instead of using PhytOC as a proxy of time, use the Silica reflection. Interesting to note is that PhytOC has an approximate refraction level of 1.4 so it could be measured with a refractometer too. Maybe a 3D scanner that could calculate both the Silica AND Carbon (Si, C, PhytOC)?
scan sample of biochar
output-)input: into a cloud database (eg.AWS, Azure, Cloud, Alibaba):
#These questions can be used to collect additional variable data for the sample database/training data
user input: 'What is the moisture content of the biochar sample?'
user input: 'How many tonnes of  biochar have been produced?'
user input: 'What is the main plant used in making the biochar?'
user input: 'What is the estimated percentage of the main plant used in making the biochar?'
user input: 'What are the other plants used in making the biochar with approximate percentages?'
#run some Pytorch machine learning algorithms based on previous graphs/images of UV to NIR taken via #reflectometer (or whichever tool is found most effective and versatile) to determine Carbon percentage
print ('Carbon percentage of biochar sample')
#run some Pytorch machine learning algorithms based on previous images of PhytOCs taken via reflectometer #(or whichever tool is found most effective and versatile) to determine PhytOC percentage
print ('PhytOC percentage of biochar sample')
#A 10,000 year projection or if u were even more optimistic, a million years
print('A graph  as a function of 'PhytOC' with 'Carbon sequestered over the next 10,000 years')
calculate: 'C credits (tonne.year(s)) earned over the next 10,000 years' * 'current market cost of tonne.year'
#(in US/Euro/local currency)
print ('Money earned for biochar produced')
Any ideas or comments??
Any Python programmers interested in working on this code?
Let's build a sustainable and ethical future!
I can be contacted on my 'Contact' page...

*'Machine learning prediction of biochar yield and carbon contents in biochar based on biomass characteristics and pyrolysis condions' by Zhu, Xinze et el (2019). This prediction could be bootstrapped onto the POS software to make a financial quote based on how many tonne.years of Carbon could be produced based on 'biomass characteristics and pyrolysis conditions'. They used the random-forest ML algorithm from Python's scikit-learn module

*'Machine learning algorithms improve the power of phytolith analysis: A case study of the tribe Oryzeae
(Poaceae)' by Zhe Cai and Song Ge (2017). This paper quotes some very high percentages of phytoliths recognised with the SVM ML algorithm

*'Phytoliths as proxies of the past', by Irfan Rashid (2019). Great overview of phytoliths using examples mostly from fields of archeology

*'Role of phytolith occluded carbon of crop plants for enhancing soil carbon sequestration in agro-ecosystems' by Rajendiran, S. et al (2012). A little dated but great background reading.

*'Phytolith Formation in Plants: From Soil to Cell' by Nawaz, M. et al (2019). Long article, haven't finished reading it yet but very interesting so far...








Computing convergence with the human mind



At what point did the human mind converge with the machine? No doubt, much has been written about this topic. Some of it good, some of it insane and some of it crap. So what I am proposing is that convergence with information technology began in the 1940s with the Manhattan Project. We moved on to Alan Turing and the Turing machine that cracked the Enigma Code during World War II. We then had enormous 'supercomputers' like the one used to land man on the moon that filled the size of a room, then eventually the personal computer in the 1970s with the rise of Apple, IBM, Amstrad, Commodore, Atari and the list goes on, then the mobile phone with basic software, then the smartphone, and the continual miniaturisation of the PC in the form of laptops, hobby computers, credit card sized computers, tablets, 2 in 1, smaller and more powerful desktops, tiny smartphones, tiny game consoles, modern retro-gaming consoles, connected homes, connected cars, connected grids, Augmented Reality (AR) with smartphones and glasses, virtual reality (VR), and the big one, Artificial Intelligence (AI). We now have companies eyeing off convergence between the human brain and IT hardware. Elon Musk has started a company to investigate and commercialise this just like Mark Zuckerberg has done a similar thing.

Then there's software. This is a massive topic, just like hardware, but probably much larger. There is the topic of programming languages as there is the topic of Operating Systems (OSs). I think five OS classes have survived to date. Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux and Android. I have used all the stated OSs over the years and I think at this point Android is the winner for smartphones and tablets and Linux is the winner for desktops - but only just. It also depends largely on what you want to do i.e. the application. I've seen Android, based on a Google stack, go from basic smartphone software to a fully fledged mobile/desktop OS using Sentio. For certain Samsung Android devices, DeX can also be used to interface mobile with desktop on a monitor/TV screen with HDMI (just add bluetooth keyboard and mouse). Now there's no need to have a separate pieces of hardware, like a desktop, laptop, tablet, computer monitor, to your smartphone unless you are needing specific applications that run on other OSs. Less e-Waste too - there's way too much of it and most of it goes to landfill. For example,  it's very difficult to remove Cobalt and Lithium from the environment, found in most Lithium ion batteries. Water filtration with biochar to remove heavy metals and phytoremediation (possibly bamboo) is key here.  To continue,  I still use Windows OS for my music studio because all of my software works in this OS but there is an increasing number of options for music production on Android eg. Remixlive, Audio Evolution Mobile etc. Many creative professionals swear by Apple for their production software but it's not cheap hardware and often underspecced compared to PC hardware for the same price. You're also locked into the Apple ecosystem :( I've researched business applications and I'm convinced that it's possible now to run a business on your smartphone! Then there are all the possible uses for controlling smart devices using small, cheap and open source computers such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

Does all this technology make our lives easier or more complicated?


I would argue that it does both. The main annoyance I have with using computers is all the software updating required and all the charging required of the devices. This all takes time and data however with most OSs now, updating can occur in the background while you are working. What if you could build a computer that powered itself and didn't need updating, like the human brain? Probably not going to happen. The closest I think we'll get is Graphene or Shwarzite storage technology in batteries that can be charged very quickly and support many charging cycles compared to Lithium ion. If you don't need to go online on a device, then use it offline. Maybe every 6 months you can connect it online and update it. The problem with Android OS is all the app updates. It seems every time I charge my smartphone, there's loads of updates. I think it's largely feature bloat. The problem with updating is that you might break your apps with new bugs. At this stage, there's no way of downgrading the apps if they are buggy as fuck. The only way to do this in Linux is to Timeshift it or Time Machine in macOS. But, it means that if you restore your OS to a previous point, you've lost any data you have added since that time. I think sandboxing apps in the future might be the best option. Chrome OS is now sandboxing both Android apps and Linux apps but I'm not sure if this will actually allow you to downgrade the app if it's buggy but at least the app won't break your OS if it fails. Maybe a 6.5" Chrome OS/Fuchsia OS/Sailfish OS smartphone, with inbuilt ruggedness to last 10 years with a graphene oxide/Carbon ion battery and desktop convergence could be the best of all worlds in the future. So, back to the question. I think all this tech has begun a convergence with the human mind. Many of us have become dependent on it for our thinking as this becomes Kraftwerk's 'Man and Machine'. So given that tech is becoming more complicated so will our minds or, at least, our minds will work differently to before we were inundated with tech. Long-term memory will probably decline as will our ability to navigate without aids, have a deep intellectual conversation and remember song words to old songs. Needs we never had before now need to be satisfied with our tech.  It seems complexity and simplicity are interdependent.

Does it make us more powerful and less human?


I would say yes and no. I can be speaking in real-time with people from all over the world in loads of different languages (if I knew them all). I can be peering at icebergs in Antarctica or playing chess with a Grandmaster. I could be listening to radio, podcasts or songs from all over the world and accessing databases of plants at the same time. The possibilities are as endless as the imaginations of the programmers that build software and the sensors available to us. We may have superhuman abilities to organise information now making our complicated lives simpler to navigate but ultimately why do we need so much of it? We an use tech to isolate our selves by working remotely and use videoconferencing or connect to people like in 'Meetup'. Customised engagement with the real and virtual worlds.

-So, what will be the next step in convergence?


I imagine it will be something like the Razr phone/laptop hybrid. Similar to the Andromium ‘Superbook’ (which has had production delays and I’m not even sure if you can buy one), but more integrated. The advantage of the Superbook is that you can keep on upgrading your phone and it will still work with the laptop shell that it is and run Sentio desktop app. I tried screen mirroring on my PC but there was a time lag and it seemed to need access to everything on my phone so I don’t trust it and I had to install some dodgy software on my desktop. I also tried a Chromecast dongle clone but the resolution was only 1080p and Chromecast apps only allowed me to use specific services rather than a screen mirror which is what I wanted. Most of the screen mirrors I tried were buggy and had lots of ads. I’ll keep looking for ‘the one’ screen mirror app. I made a mistake buying my Samsung phone because I can’t use DeX on it or even use a USB-C/HDMI connector. Gutted. Now I’m using Sentio desktop in landscape mode with a keyboard and mouse. Seems to work well! It would be nice if the screen was a tad bigger though, maybe 7 inches.

-Renewable Energy?

Battery power is always a consideration so having a smaller screen will save power. I can also charge my phone off a 20W solar panel with an integrated power bank that has a USB-C output. It won’t be fast charging but will do the job OK albeit a bit slow. The USB-C hub I am using works like a treat. The 4k HDMI output doesn’t work at all but the USB-C port is fine for connecting to the solar panel and the SD card reader (useful for my DSLR) and USB-A inputs all work. I’m using a bluetooth mouse and dedicated USB-A keyboard which is more reliable and secure than bluetooth and doesn’t need charging (no backlit but who cares). Another option is if your phone supports Quick Charge 3.0/4.0 which it should if it has a Qualcomm processor, you could get a dedicated power bank that also supports QC. The power bank could be useful if you don’t have an integrated power bank on a solar panel. The power bank should also be chargeable from a solar panel with a microUSB input or USB-C input. Ideally you could buy a large capacity graphene power bank which will charge in minutes from a mains supply but at this stage I can only find low capacity ones eg.6000mAh and they’re bloody expensive.



-Reverse engineering

There have been some attempts to make small 6” phones with inbuilt keyboards, either sliding ones or clamshell configurations like the 'Cosmo Communicator'. A number of mainly Chinese companies are producing 8” and 9” mini laptops. These are pretty cool devices but low-powered although I just read that One Netbook may be using a 10th gen Intel ‘Ice lake’ or 'Comet Lake' processor in a 9” mini laptop called the 'One Mix X' due for release in the last quarter of 2019. It will not be cheap. Maybe cost AUD1k with only modest RAM and disk space. I reckon just reverse engineer a laptop in the configuration I have outlined. Cheapest option, not the prettiest, but works like a treat!


-What about Linux on Android?


I tried a few different apps to install Linux on top of the Android OS and it was hopeless. Either buggy, too difficult or simply didn’t work. Why you can’t just install a baked version of Linux without a rooted Android OS eg. Ubuntu or Mint is beyond me. Most of the apps required installation of a Linux container then required some terminal hacking to install the graphics environment. I used Termux to run a linux Command line, which seemed to work OK but at one point needed access to everything on your phone which didn’t seem very secure. You have the option of rooting your phone then installing a baked version of Linux from a bootloader but you have to lose the Android OS. Maybe someone’s worked out a way to dual boot Linux and Android on a phone but not ideal. It would be good if you could run some Linux app containers on top of Android like you can with Chrome OS. I’m still searching for the right software. The reality is that Linux sucks for most phone functions although Purism OS on the Librem 5 could work well but I would much rather have native Android than a locked down phone with average quality and low quantity of apps although over time they may get support from many developers to add more apps to the pool. I’m very interested to try Sailfish OS which can be found on the 'Cosmo Communicator' and on selected Sony 'Xperia' phones. I’m waiting to get a version that will work on all phones. I’m not sure at this stage if you can run Android apps on Sailfish OS but that would be a great feature to have with the best of both worlds - a secure user-friendly environment with access to the Google Play store but lets face it, many apps nowadays require a ridiculous number of permissions to work and probably won’t work well in containers. I think the reailty is that if you have an Android phone it will probably never be secure but very useful nevertheless!



I think ultimately tech can improve people's lives and complicate it more. We can use it for good or for evil depending on your perspective of good and evil.

There's no substitute for physical intelligence though which I've previously blogged about. We need to sleep, eat and find happiness (which might be a computer game). Tech can take us only so far on our journey of life. The world is our oyster but there's no tech substitute for eating oysters.






A rough overview of Carbon sequestration

Will there be ever be a time again when we can live without the fear of climate change collapsing our Civilisation?


We live in a time and place of enormous change in both present and predicted in the future.


Is there a chance that we can collectively get off the tree and work together to build a climate resilient Civilisation that can drawdown Carbon emissions beyond zero emissions?


One word (that was two words). Leapfrogging. We need to free the emerging/developing economies from buying technologies that only enslave them in a future of climate uncertainty. The answer to this techno-Colonial problem is to leapfrog climate polluting technologies and assist people to purchase/build and use the best available appropriate technologies, or apptech, to solve the problems of today and prepare for climate resiliency in the future. It may all sound like grandiose hyperbole but seriously guys we are on the clock and we're running out of time faster than we can act. I have been researching apptech for a good decade or more. I have seen many promising designs over the years many which never get developed on any scale worthy of a just climate transition. I've become obsessed with the potential of biochar which has been researched, documented, and applied (in no particular order) by the likes of Professor Stephen Joseph, Dr Paul Taylor, Dr Johannes Lehmann, Dr Lukas Van Zwieten, Dr TLUD, Russell Burnett, Geoff Moxham, Kathleen Draper, Albert Bates, Hans-Peter Schmidt, Kelpie Wilson, Charmaster Dolph and many more. Could this be the silver bullet we are looking for? I've come to an early conclusion that biochar will be integrated through many industrial, agricultural and horticultural products and systems in the present and future. However, this is only part of the puzzle.


In the integrated Permachar systems I have designed there is technology that needs to be purchased. At the household scale, The Energy Kit (TEK) includes a Top-Lit Updraft (TLUD) stove eg. The Permastove V3, a battery bank, LED lights, a solar PV panel, USB cables, and a Capacitive Deionization (CDI) kit placed in series in a DIY water filtration system.


On the village scale, a solar PV panel, 12V AGM battery, Goal Zero Guardian and 12V Shurflo pump can be combined with a Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' biochar kiln, water tank, IBC container, irrigation line and fittings, drying shed and hammer mill. A village pelletiser to make fuel pellets from agricultural waste residue for TLUDs could also be purchased. I've made a growing inventory at: The ideal is that households do things on the small-scale with cheaper apptech and on the village/community level the more expensive components/apptech are used and biochar production and water filtration is conducted on a medium-scale for agriculture/horticulture.


Once you get to the large-scale of things, shipping container biochar kilns like that produced by 'Earth Systems' and used by companies such as 'Green Man Char' become applicable. Municipal green waste collected by councils and normally used for mulch could be used to produce biochar with these shipping container kilns. The councils could then use this biochar in their gardens and parks as well as selling it to their ratepayers at a reasonable price.


There are numerous propositions for long-term Carbon sequestration.


Biochar, produced via the pyrolysis of biomass in a low-oxygen environment, is probably the safest and most democratic way to do it. Plants with high Silica content such as grasses like bamboo (it grows on 6 continents) will probably have the longest-term Carbon sequestration. The Silica creates plantstones/phytoliths/PhytOCs/plant opals with the Carbon for sequestration over millenia timescales. I've read research that phytoliths were found from campfires 35,000 years ago and were still stable. Recently, I've read about the possibility of heavy metal sequestration in the phytolith complexes after using phytoremediation to remove heavy metals from contaminated soil (and potentially from spent biochar used in water filtration of polluted water with salt and heavy metals). Bamboo can be used for this purpose then biocharred in a biochar kiln such as the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' (which is yet to be built) and would lock in the heavy metals and salt if present which could then be safely used for growing food. There's also evidence to suggest that the presence of biochar in soil adds additional Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) to the soil over time.


So what are the competing methods for Carbon sequestration?


Planting more trees (apparently President Bolsanaro isn't listening. More than half a billion trees have been logged in Amazon over the last year). I would argue that rather than growing forests, use biochar in the planting holes and grow agroforestry systems that include fodder/biomass for future biochar production used to expand the agroforestry system even further. There are many examples of this in Nepal. Arguably this is a type of Carbon farming. A good reference here is 'The Carbon Farming Solution' by Eric Toensmeier that describes perennial crops and regenerative agriculture for Carbon Farming.


Magnesium Oxide cement that sequesters Carbon during it's lifecycle. Dependent on the availability of the Magnesium from mines that might not be located in the right places (the 'Tyranny of Distance'/logistics).


Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) at coal-fired power plants. Still only at demonstration stage and dependent on stable and empty aquifers located near the power plant. Some failures of this system have been recorded due to leaky aquifers eg. The first system built in the U.S. Also, a dead end for the Carbon ('dead Carbon' as opposed to 'Living Carbon' in the soil) that doesn't achieve any other economic purpose.


Machines that capture CO2, water and sunlight that produce Hydrogen Gas (H2) and 'green' ammonia (NH4) such as the project in South Australia. Looks very promising but various snags along the way for a Hydrogen economy.


Machines that just capture CO2 and produce bricks (or don't produce anything useful at all).


Wooden/bamboo buildings. This is really only medium-term C sequestration but if you go to some countries like Japan there are wooden buildings still standing from 500 years ago or longer).


The remaining options are more like improved efficiencies in various sectors of the economy that reduce C emissions but not necessarily eliminate them. This is probably where most of the action will be over the coming decades. Renewable energy is probably the big one (that includes biochar if produced from sustainably managed biomass feedstock). More interesting is the opportunity afforded by cogeneration of biomass power plants that Combine Heat and Power (CHP) while producing biochar as a by-product. The Rainbowbeeeater 'ECHO2' is a fine example of this. A case study is the Holla Fresh herbs production facility in South Australia ( where the heat is used to heat the greenhouse and the biochar is (presumably) used to grow the herbs. Electricity is also produced to power the greenhouses. Another power plant is the Allpowers Lab generator that is shipped on a pallet from the U.S., pyrolyses biomass and produces biochar as a by-product of power production (without heat production).


Cogeneration and the Kon-Tiki biochar kiln.


The Kon-Tiki is a simple and effective way to turn waste biomass into biochar on the small to medium scale. My ultimate goal as a designer is to find a way to cogenerate heat and power from the Kon-Tiki kiln that produces biochar as it's primary product. No doubt Dr Paul Taylor is working on it too. Hot water production has potential using a copper coil inside the cone with attached water containers. With an adapter, essential oils can be produced as well which has been successfully implemented in Nepal. So far, I'm not aware of any wood vinegar being produced from a Kon-Tiki. There are possibilities to attach Thermoelectric Generators (TEGs) to the kilns but I'm not aware of any cheap TEGs that can be retrofitted - possibly at the base of the kiln. A BBQ grill and rotisserie can be added but maybe for the time being that's as good as it gets. Any ideas, please contact me!


So there we have it - a cook's tour of Carbon sequestration with many plotholes!







Seed funding for greentech/apptech startups

So how did we get to this point? Or more appropriately, what was the point of getting to where we are now? How difficult was it to spend years researching something that is in the future? Has the future arrived? At what point did many of us say, eg, climate change is real for me? At what point will the majority ask for stronger action on climate change disruption and be heard by the leaders who are meant to lead us? We just had a Federal election and the former leader, Bill Shorten, of the major opposition party, the Australian Labor Party, couldn't make up his mind about whether or not to make a 'Just Transition' a central election promise in Australia (there were plans for a central Just Transition authority if they won the election). It should have been a no brainer. The Greens had one, Beyond Zero Emissions have many plans, loads of the green NFPs in Australia had one and the Australian public, according to a Lowy poll, polled 66% of Australians wanted stronger action on climate change just before the election.  I doubt they would have rejected a Just Transition if they were asked whether or not they supported it. Naomi Klein outlined her desire for one as well in her book 'This changes everything' which was published in 2014 and is a brilliant read.
I think it's great that the Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, was able to balance the budget but at what cost to health, education and 'The Environment'? A billion dollars has been set aside for 'The Environment'. A hundred billion dollars has been set aside for roads, ports and rail upgrades. Apparently transport is not part of the environment. Furthermore, the Federal Government has no energy transition plan and refused to sign a Just Transition declaration at the Poland climate conference in December 2018.

So, the question is how much would a Just Transition cost and how many jobs would it create? The Greens claimed 180,000 new jobs would be created with a Just Transition. Should that budget be limited to civilian costs or should it include Defence as well? I think we're lucky in South Australia because successive Governments have rallied to introduce funding for green technology...I read yesterday that we're building the world's largest Hydrogen gas and 'green ammonia' plant - powered by sunlight, CO2 and water. Bring it on!

Something that I have encountered over my research is how difficult it is to introduce fabricated green tech on the market since the costs of production are high (though we do have access to reasonably priced Corten steel). I'm specifically referring to the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' kiln as a case study for small-scale greentech/apptech in Oz. I've used social media as a way to get the word around. I've provided loads of information about biochar and biochar kiln technology on the website and ads elsewhere. I've sent away emails to a range of places and people who might be interested but despite this effort, not one email reply or phone call has reached me with interest about the tech. So I'm wondering is it marketing, the cost of the technology, the vision of potential users, my vision, or just time poor markets that can't concentrate on anything for too long. I mean, I have to reflect on this and ask who am I not reaching out to? I have faith in the kiln technology and at the current price of naked biochar on the market, if you have a sustainable feedstock supply to burn, you could make your money back in half a dozen burns. So what's missing in the equation? More marketing, more phone calls, or cheaper tech? Or everything and then some. The problem is I love the 'Rolls' kiln I'm selling ( but it is a lot of money for buyers to spend on something they haven't tried out BUT people make that leap of faith in some cases every year on buying a laptop for their office. These kilns will last for years even when they are left out in the weather. The problem with the campaign is that it would really help if I had one of the 'Rolls' kilns built so I can do photo shoots and demonstrate the tech to the general public. But, I need to run the campaign in order to get a few of these beauties built so I can market it some more and get the whole small-scale biochar show 'rolling' in Oz.

What would make it a lot easier for my business and other start-ups would be to access to seed funding for greentech/apptech startups like my own. I've researched this on the internet and there doesn't seem to be any specific small grants or seed funds coming from State or Federal budget for greentech/apptech (though CEFC did link me to which has a great range of resources including angel funding for 'cleantech'). I need around 10k to get it going and I don't want to get a bank loan and use my house as collateral. I've even thought about selling my house so I could get the beautiful thing built. I can't seem to find meaningful work anywhere or I'm underskilled and won't meet the criteria for many jobs.  So, this is how I got to this point...all I can say is seed funding for greentech/apptech start-ups from  Government should be a high priority within 'The Environment' (which includes us) budget, even if they don't promote the grants as part of a comprehensive Just Transition.






How to achieve a Federation of bioregions

I call it the 'lean green bioregional machine'

-an integrated political and Earth Stewardship system (did u read Will Steffen's latest paper under 'Links and Resources?')

-?similar to the direct democracy model in Switzerland or simply a Federation restructure

-Elon Musk supports direct democracies in principle so they must be good

So, how can it be done?

-make a map of bioregions based around groundwater aquifers (Inflow=outflow +/- changes in storage)

-get a map of 'House of Representatives' electorates

-overlay the two in a GIS and shave off the 'House of Representatives' electorate borders along the groundwater aquifers and turn them into water bioregions

-allocate bioregional 'Senate' seats based on an equation integrating area, water and population within the bioregion (x/y/z/t plus a bunch of other numbers)

-?blockchain the PM and possibly the system using POS method on the Ethereum platform

-what about State Governments? These would be replaced by bioregions

-what about Local Government? Borders could also be redefined within bioregions

-transition some Government jobs from State Government to the new bioregional platform/structure

-use those funny video link-ups on wheels for meetings (C U Geoffrey Blainey's 'Tyranny of Distance')

-what about debates? These could take place online using video link-ups...less travel kms and possibly lower testosterone levels. People from the community and experts could join in!

-likely high initial cost to set up but undoubtedly long-term savings which could transfer to lower income taxes


-How to charge 'reasonable' rates for groundwater used by mining companies eg. Adani, BHP etc taking into account that groundwater is one of the most valuable and essential resources for Australians past, present and future?

-A Carbon tax with direct dividend to consumers

-Apptech/Green tech seed funding - distributed tech and grid restructure

-Increased apptech/greentech R&D military budget

-Increased environmental refugee intake

-Treaty and a stronger Native Title system


Do we have a working model in progress?

CSIRO bioregional assessment programme could be a start plus working models in Australia and ?overseas

Alternatively, a National Water Plan suggested by Professor Craig T Simmons FTSE at Flinders University at the National Centre for Groundwater Research and


Why not give those poor ol' climate scientists their jobs back in CSIRO? Maybe a Gala dinner for some fundraising...or just find a Government who is serious about climate research?