It's a problem I'm facing right now. Centralised battery megafactories V decentralised, open source and small scale production lines. So what we've got is locked in technologies for 10 years with a battery megafactory in Queensland - there will be more. The only thing it offers is higher temperature performance Li ion batteries compared to the rest of the pack - which is appropriate for predicted global average temperature increases but it's still Li ion - mined (presumably in Australia) and highly toxic when released into the ecosystems at the end of their life. Could the batteries be recycled/upcycled at the end of their life? What about the logistics of this? It seems that there is neither cradle to grave sustainability or circular economy happening here. They want to break into many markets including the South Pacific market but at the end of the day they have no clue how money poor (and culturally rich) many of these communities and people are. Could people afford to buy the batteries? Probably not. Inappropriate technology.
So, my alternative approach might be decentralised open source production lines to produce solar generators (basically batteries with ports and a solar regulator for charging from a solar panel). The Marxist in me wants people who want affordable and sustainable solar energy storage to be able to produce their own. But, the real question is are there any sustainable biomass/feedstock sources in the South Pacific that won't produce more ecological issues eg. land clearing, destruction of coral reefs, food for biomass. It may not be possible to grow kelp due to the sometimes rough seas and an increase in megastorms would need to be considered. Limited freshwater supply is another consideration for growing feedstocks, though solar desalination is always a possibility too. With Starlink global internet going online soon, I imagine there will be exponential demand for ways to power smartphones and computers eg.laptops and provide lighting for study. The CharTron concept may well take off (see 'Project Golf Buggy' page)!
Watch this space
So, the problem of Government and VC money for greentech and possibly other start-ups seems to be at the R&D stages and not necessarily the commercialisation stage.
In the current dominant model, dollar for dollar funding is often provided by Government when you want to commercialise a prototype of something after a whole bunch of red tape.
Now that we are in the worst recession the planet has ever had since probably the beginning of capitalism, and we've got climate change which isn't slowing down despite all the reductions in travel commutes and domestic and international air travel, we need to innovate to create more 'Green collar' jobs. So, we need to redefine the funding model to make it easier for greentech start-ups to access capital right at the beginning when the first design concept and plan/strategy is formed. The old models of VC capture and Government funding needs to change.
I've broken down the new funding model into 3 steps:
1- Research for the prototype
2-Development of the prototype
3-Commercialisation of the prototype
I would argue that money 'invested' at steps 1 and 2 is far more valuable than money provided at Step 3.
In other words, less money will be needed to commercialise an idea compared to the old model of dollar for dollar or VC at step 3 - often where it's least needed..
With this new model, way more start-ups will be possible and commercialise more quickly. This is particularly important for technology start-ups because the game is changing so quickly now with new art/science/design innovations and breakthroughs that are happening at breakneck speed all over the planet.
In other words, if the R&D steps take a long time (or don't even make it to Step 3), the technology will probably be superseded by better technology elsewhere by the time, or even before, it reaches commercialisation.
Robot production lines sound exciting and futuristic but aren't suitable for every technology and business model.
Space and Defence are great growth areas and will create many jobs (along with locked up IP), with the potential to develop greentech and make their IP open source, though I doubt that will ever happen on a large scale. Either way, I believe even more jobs will be created in greentech over the long-term (sorry, no modelling data) so we should be investing heavily in this area for the future circular economy.
C'mon ?fellas, why not a billion bucks during a recession for ARENA to invest in 'Green Hydrogen' projects with a focus on sustainability, scaleability (micro-electrolysis to macro-electrolysis), efficiency, durability and modularity??
PS. Maybe add some seed funding for sustainable seaweed eg.kelp farming at Port Lincoln?
Why? The seaweed would be harvested, pyrolysed and added to ammonia (NH3) from the prototype 'Green Hydrogen' plant to make slow release fertiliser with surface area off the charts (3487m2g-1)* for microbial housing, Mycorrhizal Fungi (that collects the nutrients and minerals from the 3D biochar matrix and delivers them to the plant roots) and whatever else the farmer/gardener needs to add for tuning their soil?
PPS.Biochar seaweed eg.kelp could be a suitable candidate for Hydrogen storage tanks too since it has enormous surface area with highly tunable porosity and surface chemistry for H2 binding sites that allows higher storage density compared to, say, a Carbon fibre tank with nothing inside.
Hybrid electric/Hydrogen vehicle suitable for the Australian outback (and Australian built and sold exclusively to Australians) with practically 'almost' unlimited range
Eg. The 'Adventure', with a similar size footprint to a Troopy which allows for on and off-road stability, passengers, luggage and the energy systems
Eg2. The hybrid electric/Hydrogen 'Adventure' 4WD ute with solar panel tray cover and inbuilt H2 pump and H2 storage
This could also be a prototype for a Mars vehicle...
2 ways to power the engine
1- Hydrogen fuel cell (HFC)
2-'Flash graphene' supercapacitor
2 ways to utilise solar power
1-Micro-electrolysis for H2 production (onboard/on the 'H2 extender' trailer)
2-'Flash graphene' supercapacitor charging
2 ways to externally 'charge' the vehicle
1- Electric power terminals eg.The 'Chargefox EV'
A network would need to be built in the Outback OR independent power and H2 production, onboard the vehicle or via and 'H2 extender' trailer (see below)
More info about the technology...
-vehicle covered with flexible graphene/buckyballs/Perovskite PV cells embedded into a lightweight UV resistant biochar-based biocomposite for the vehicle body (biochar could be produced from a
local sustainable feedstock source with a Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' biochar kiln)
*When it's sunny/moonlit, Hydrogen is made (and when the tanks are filled, supercapacitor charging)
*When it's overcast/raining, power is drawn from supercapacitor
*Can directly charge the supercapacitor from PV cells if the H2 system fails
-onboard water tank for micro-electrolysis/emergency water
-onboard (extremely stable) micro-electrolysis using biochar (?suitable feedstock) as a catalyst for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER)
-onboard H2 tanks, filled with seaweed eg.kelp biochar (with hydrothermal activation) with modified surface chemistry) for increased H2 binding sites resulting in higher storage energy
-HFC (including bamboo biochar (with hydrothermal activation) electrodes doped with Si from bamboo leaves) that can either charge the supercapacitor or directly power the engine
Additional power for the supercapacitor
*Regenerative braking and suspension eg.coil (H2x IP)
-Desert-proof electronics (rugged IP69K eg. shock, temperature, dust, water resistant), made in Oz eg. Bloody reliable graphene sensors and terminal welds
-Kick arse basic AI to monitor the vehicle (Raspberry Pi 4 with 'CarPiHat' running on a 8" touchscreen with 'UBPorts', which is at the experimental stage), eg. make H2 from the PVs; discharge the supercapacitor when H2 is running low and not enough PV electricity for micro-electrolysis
-if the Raspberry Pi 4/CarPiHat fries (it's only getting hotter out there), should be able to remove it from the dashboard and slot in a spare Raspberry Pi 4/CarPiHat (found in the box of joy)
-Navigation? Probably the 7" Garmin "Overlander" (colour, touchscreen, rugged) for on-road and off-road navigation, from Johnny Appleseed (currently on sale). They also sell the Garmin InReach "Mini" that can be paired to the "Overlander" for messaging and SOS distress calls over the Iridium network - just need to sign up to a plan, which will vary depending on what your needs are...
-extremely reliable electric engines with 2WD and 4WD options, Low range and high range
-Aircon and heating
-Bang & Olufsen sound system
-an electric engine that can be maintained as easily as a Troopy diesel engine
-a box of (joy) spare electronics (eg.spare graphene sensors, wires, Raspberry Pi 4) that can easily replace faulty electronics in the energy systems
A non-exhaustive list of what to consider for 'Appropriate Technology' design. Note that it's difficult to prioritise design principles as emphasis on each principle will vary depending on the technology. It's hard to imagine that any single technology would tick all the boxes:
The 12 Permaculture Principles
'Small is beautiful' (big can be beautiful too...)
STEM (?'Fact' eg. How long is a piece of string?)
Ethics (?'Faith' eg. 1987 Brundtland Report definition for Sustainability)
Creates green collar jobs ('Green Economics')
Local supply chains, production and deployment
High standards eg.Solar Impulse Foundation
Ease of maintenance
Ease of operation
Transparency (eg.political, corporate, dashboards for sensors et al)
Rugged (depending on the application)
Lightweight (good for mobile applications and also good for logistics)
'Green' materials (eg. 'Green steel', biochar-based biocomposites, bamboo, hemp et al)
High energy density (for energy carriers/fuels and storage)
Solid state (no moving parts...moving parts add to wear and tear and maintenance. Also shortens life cycle eg. liquid electrolytes in batteries)
Minimal use of electronics (often difficult to analyse and fix - also need a power source. The Unpowered Measured Irrigation Controller (UMIC) is a great example of using no electronics to irrigate)
Recyclability/Reusability at the end of life cycle
We need to turn the 'possible' into the 'probable'...just need to commit to R&D, rebates, VC and many, if not all, of the principles mentioned above...
Using Permaculturist Tim Winton's 80/20 principle (The first 80% of work for 20% of the effort, the last 20% of work for 80% of the effort):
80% renewables by 2025 (the low hanging fruit)
90% renewables by 2030
100% renewables by 2035
Overall 'average' mix at the 2035 'End Game', could look approximately like this:
NOTE: These percentages will vary when comparing 'Stationary Power' and mobile/'Non-Stationary' power
35% 'Green Hydrogen' (+ ideally 'Green Ammonia' combined with biochar for agronomy applications) - via Solar electrolysis/micro-electrolysis (or via Cyanobacteria, (synthetic) micro-algae, Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs))-> Hydrogen storage and Hydrogen fuel cells = stationary and mobile power.
Also see previous blogs 'An appropriate technology Renaissance?', 'A 'Green economics' for the future?' and 'Micro-electrolysis for Hydrogen fuel production'.
30% solar PV with solid state batteries when they're commercially available eg. Samsung, ?Ozzie designed and manufactured (without needing precious elements such as Silver for the electrodes), for hybrid ('Virtual Power Plants') or standalone (for remote application/energy sovereignty/freedom). Stationary and mobile power.
15% wind (where available in abundance - we're almost up to 10% of total power supply in Australia - there's probably more sites out there but moving parts
increase wear and tear and maintenance) - stationary power.
10% biomass (can use various sustainable feedstocks resulting in biochar production as cogeneration which can plug into the rest of the economy to de/re-carbonise it - see 'The biochar economy' page. Can be used for combined heat and power (CHAP or CHP) eg.Power Pallet PP30, ECHO2, primary power or backup generation. Stationary and mobile power. Possible cogen options with TLUD stoves and the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' too. 50 million bucks seed funding for biomass technologies from ARENA maybe?
5% Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) with Ammonia/Molten salt/other storage. Stationary power.
5% Other. The mind boggles. Some already commercialised eg.Stirling engines (external combustion engines), some at the prototype stage eg. micro-hydro
HELLIOGREEN tech, Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), some (maybe) at the lab stage of R&D eg.air batteries, biophotovoltaics (eg.Cyanobacteria, micro-algae) and some
completely unknown/undiscovered. In reality, this percentage could be much higher in the future. Maybe we'll discover an even 'greener' solar/? energy source that ticks all the boxes of
What shouldn't have a future...'Faith' in the Principle of 'Technology Neutrality'...
choice of technology should at least be based on 'Faith' of the less politically biased principles outlined above for Apptech. Note also that choice of guiding design principles will always be a
compromise...who said technology design was politically neutral? Reality should be a choice.
-Natural gas: Never going to be ecologically sustainable. We don't need new natural gas infrastructure eg. Fracking, large pipelines, backup generators
-Coal...brown coal H2 gasification, CCS (WTF! Time wasting and expensive - don't even bother with microalgae. Rebranded coal is still ecologically unsustainable), metallurgical coal (can use Hydrogen for Iron Ore reduction)
-Oil (with the classic car and motorbike exemption - of course) - we're beyond 'Peak Oil' - get over it. Replacing the last remaining petrol or diesel combustion engines will probably fall in the last 10% of work.
Maybe use bio substitution with biodiesel made from seawater microalgae (lipids) fed with CO2 from cement factories in situ and the remaining microalgae biomass is biocharred (with CHP for the
factory) and added to concrete along with the cement, (less) crushed stone and sand (See 'Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth' book for more info). Not sure about petrol other than ethanol
addition made from, say, sugarcane bagasse or microalgae. The debate is still out about what is a safe level of ethanol in petrol that doesn't damage the engine.
-Large-scale hydroelectric dams eg. Snowy Hydro 2.0 (read the final 'World Commission on Dams' report - link provided below)
-Nuclear - small reactors...like that will reduce the toxic waste and 'security' issue
Goodbye 20th century Second Industrial Revolution!
Hello 21st Century Third Industrial Revolution...distributed, decentralised and local peer-to-peer power production on demand...
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).
16) Solar oven
Vacuum tube with reflectors eg. GoSun 'Sport' solar oven (if you add one to your cart and wait 12 hours you get a discount code that results in free shipping to Australia (or anywhere else)). Good for camping/surfing in the fire season when you can't have a fire. Or if you can't access feedstock for cooking or if you're feeling lazy and don't want to build a fire. Much more energy efficient than electric/gas ovens. Can use to bake bread, reheat food, cook meat and veg etc.
These 'Top 16' 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...
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
Serving suggestion...How to dismantle the 'Carbon bomb' with a modded 'industrial ecology'? Globally available sunlight harvesting - not the Ancient sunlight stuff
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
Here's a better idea...a hybrid electric/Hydrogen vehicle with electric engine:
-onboard STABLE micro-electrolysis
-vehicle covered with flexible Carbon-based PV cells
-when it's sunny or partly sunny or moonlit Hydrogen is made (+power for the battery if the tanks are full)
-when it's overcast/raining, power is drawn from a solid electrolyte battery (ceramic coated with graphene electrolyte, Cu/Carbon anode/cathode)
So, basically the solar micro-electrolysis would produce Hydrogen which would be stored in Hydrogen tanks. The tanks would supply the Hydrogen fuel cell on demand which would charge the battery that would provide power to the electric engine.
Backup battery charging and/or Hydrogen filling could be done if access points are available.
NOTE: This would probably be only worth building while the energy density of Hydrogen is higher than the battery. If batteries in the future have equal or higher energy density than Hydrogen then it makes sense to go with just battery storage
UPDATE - looks like people at H2x are working on something similar already:
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 solargis.com 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...