Thu

13

Jan

2022

COVID-19 and permaculture

Though the current supply chain economic contingency in Oz could have been planned for months ago...a highly infectious variant of Covid-19, Omicron, beat AdBlue shortages to it - empty supermarket shelves started appearing in the second week of January in Oz as Omicron took hold of the economy.  Food supply chains are under threat everywhere now due to staff falling ill to Covid-19 or self-isolating due to the new 'close contact' rule we have in place (which in my mind is too limited anyway).
So, we have a food supply chain for supermarkets:
food production (growing, harvesting, processing)->transport-> warehouses->supermarkets.
In some trucking companies, only 50% of truckies are on board and allowed to work - their Union doesn't want 'close contact' exemptions for 'essential workers' (see REFERENCES). In warehouses, the Union cautiously wants the exemptions but wants to 'risk mitigate' (or 'risk manage') - which could be the best approach across the supply chain. In supermarkets, exemptions for retail workers are not wanted. Maybe a software approach for 'risk management' without breaking WHS regulations could be used for greater business certainty in the context of COVID-19, such as FoodLogiQ used by 'Whole Foods Market' (see REFERENCES). Reusable COVID-19 test kits  (if they could be built) could be deployed to each link of the supply chain (see the blog 'COVID-19 testing idea') and used for symptomatic workers - it would possibly be overreach to do random testing keeping in mind people can be asymptomatic and still pass on the virus or even worse - testing everyone at the start of a shift. Would it be unethical to test for COVID-19  at Oz workplaces (or any workplaces)? I don't have legal training, but I see potential WHS lawsuits/legal quandary for workplace COVID-19 testing and asking potentially infected 'asymptomatic' workers/people to 'voluntarily' go to work - no pressure! It's not an easy one to manage uncertainty in an emergency - especially if the law takes time to change.
So, what do you do? What should anyone do? Grow microgreens eg.wheatgrass (see 'Microgreens' page)? Drink and be merry eg.homebrew (assuming those supply chains don't buckle as well)? I don't know. Maybe time to get back to the seasons with seasonal market produce from indy growers but even the seasons are changing with climate change - time to go 'Carbon negative'. Perhaps it's time to go down the energy descent pathway aptly described by David Holmgren in "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability" (2002) and do a bit of the ol' "RetroSuburbia"(2018)?We can always reneg food export contracts if we have to - but I doubt any farmer would be happy to do it. It's a great time to start localising the food system Permaculture style - start with the self (Zone 0)->household (Zone 1) and work outwards... It's possibly the best security (other than vaccinating) you will ever have during COVID-19 and beyond.
Maybe there will be enough AdBlue after all (see the blog 'AdBlue - A coming crisis?') since there will be less trucks on the road? Just not enough fresh food - or worse - essentials too. And that's just supermarkets..but - I don't think many of us, or even any of us are going to starve in Oz. Supermarket culture is here to stay so we might as well 'get the right balance' with WHS and build a new food system outside of the main food system supply chains as an insurance policy, the way we want it for the future.
Somehow, we need to find a balance to live with the virus but not allow it to destroy our morale, WHS regulations, workers rights and supply chains which most of us have become so dependent on.
REFERENCES
  • Essential worker list in Oz: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-13/national-cabinet-workers-covid-isolation-exemption-expanded/100753788
  • A Proactive, Digital Response to COVID-19 Challenges:
  • https://blog.foodlogiq.com/whole-foods-market-a-proactive-digital-response-to-covid-19-challenges
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Fri

07

Jan

2022

COVID-19 testing idea

Here's a COVID-19 thought experiment...Maybe the 'Holy Grail' of COVID-19 testing is a free, reusable (less cost and a lot less medical waste landfill) Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) (or something else) with an accuracy of 90%+ for 'self-testing' ('voluntary compliance', volunteering, Citizen science et al).

The following SciFi test kit system could be rapidly prototyped with the right team and funding and sold by a theoretical manufacturer at cost price to the Government for distribution to their network (including pharmacies):

Disposable Swab->Swab->RNA 'biometric' sensor/'biosensor' (needs more research)->Raspberry Pi Pico ($4) with software, using Micropython programming language and blockchaining the test event (time:date stamped-can't be modified) ->USB->smartphone->smartphone app, that could operate the test and send data collected/receive test result data via Medicare and myGov. The cool thing is, it would be possible to program in new 'virus signatures' as required in a cloud database eg.mongoDB 'Atlas' with AWS/Google Cloud/Microsoft Azure hosting for pattern recognition on the RNA biosensor which would future proof the test kit - a bit like virus scanning software on a PC updating 'virus signatures' for newly discovered viruses - but done in the cloud to reduce the data and data processing needed on a smartphone which may only have low spare storage, slow storage, low RAM, a slow CPU and wouldn't involve virus signature updates. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the RNA biosensor could be improved over time with firmware updates (with a small data footprint) delivered via the smartphone app to the RP Pico. Maybe the RNA biosensor could be standardised for more reliable dataset comparison? The database would be a treasure trove of data for virologists' and epidemiologists' research. Another bonus is new COVID-19 variants or even other viruses could be detected early which could provide intel for researchers and GPs via telehealth - but - I don't want a 'Gattaca' scenario though it seems at times we're not far from it! Geek out - and yes, the tests could be faked like in the movie but why would you need to fake it in a real-life situation unless you were desperate to get back to work and infect other people?

The following test algorithm could be used which involves a lot of testing for a rich data set and hopefully not too annoying for the patient:

If symptomatic and test negative, test again. If second test is positive, self-isolate. If negative, then maybe you've got a different virus which could be picked up by the virus scan in the cloud - may not need to self-isolate. Or, it could be symptoms of a different medical condition - not even a virus! If positive twice, self-isolation for 7 days.

A patient could test again after 7 days, if positive twice, self-isolate for 2 more days and test again. If negative and positive, keep self-isolating. Could keep testing every 2 days, twice per day, until the result was negative 2 tests on the same day, 2 days apart THEN...freedom?

If the tech is too complicated for some people, particularly the older generation, then it's RAT time, when they become widely available.

If you're asymptomatic but exposed to a 'close contact' who is infected with COVID-19, a definition that seems to be updated on a regular basis and falls within a very specific scenario of 4 hours in a house, health or aged care setting, then use a RAT according to current wisdom.  I mean, surely 5 minutes would be long enough to catch it in almost any indoor setting but imagine all the RAT packs for that definition - or use one testing kit as proposed! And besides, there aren't enough RATs available for the 5 minute definition though apparently there will be many more available in the coming weeks - just disposable ones with variable sensitivities (see REFERENCES) - another data comparison nightmare and supports the argument for a standardised RNA biosensor which could provide increasing sensitivity for accurate data collection over time (as previoiusly mentioned) for the researchers so we have an increasingly more accurate picture of the virus and where we are and need to be going.

As an aside, I never understood why we only sign in to businesses and not sign out? Still might be handy for 'close contact' determination but contact tracing may soon be a thing of the past anyway. We're not even near peaking Omicron yet - could be a month, a couple of months, or even longer...many new cases to come and how confusing will that be for 'close contact' rules. Literally, a ?quarter of the economy could shut down :(

On a positive note, I'm predicting Omicron will be the last dominant variant of COVID-19...it will literally run out of hosts and our backup T-cell response may help protect many people who were only double-vaxxed or not able to access any vaccines (or controversially worse, didn't want them) for protection from Omicron and future possibly weaker variants too - but I may be wrong. If you can access the third vaccine booster, as a 'Citizen scientist', problem solver and futurist, I would highly recommend getting it as it might provide around 97% protection/immunity to Omicron variant after 2 weeks following the booster (but there probably isn't enough data yet to say with high confidence).  Muchos loco times we live in!

Any comments welcome!

 

REFERENCES

https://www.tga.gov.au/covid-19-rapid-antigen-self-tests-are-approved-australia

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Thu

09

Dec

2021

AdBlue - a coming crisis?

There's an interesting development happening around the world right now with an incoming shortage of AdBlue, which is a fuel exhaust system additive used by diesel powered vehicles and machinery from roughly 2015 and onwards that meet European emission standards by breaking down Nitrogen Oxide emissions in the exhaust system.  Without AdBlue, the vehicles don't operate according to one source or might operate, via a technical override and broken emission laws, according to another source - so it might as well be a diesel shortage.  Interestingly, despite the abundance of natural gas in Australia, there is a urea CO(NH2)2 (produced from ammonia NH3) shortage. The urea + deionised water is used to produce generic AdBlue, which is needed by roughly 50% of Australian trucks and by many tractors, combine harvesters and other machinery on Australian farms. Some tradies could be affected too.  Who knows how other diesel powered transport could be affected? Hyzon Motors have made a start (https://hyzonmotors.com/) for (?Green) Hydrogen powered trucks. H2X is looking at (?Green) Hydrogen powered machinery which could include agricultural machinery in the future. There's also the 'new material' (see previous blog) possibility for integrated solar/massless battery EVs.

 

So, I did some digging and it turns out we were importing 80% of our urea from China (but can't seem to find a primary source anywhere), which has temporarily stopped exporting it now due to rising worldwide N fertiliser costs (natural gas cost increases, coal shortages to run fertiliser plants leading to shutdowns, Covid-19 supply chain issues etc.) and the need to guarantee affordable supply to farmers within China.  Russia, also a major ammonia and urea exporter has done the same thing. According to a World Bank Group blog (see REFERENCES), the cost of urea is rising exponentially in 2021. Consequently, the price of AdBlue has skyrocketed and some industry experts are saying we could run out of AdBlue by February 2022 or even earlier. 

 

Maybe in the short-term the Government could procure AdBlue from other countries eg.Indonesia (at an inflated rate as they are one of the world's largest importers of fertilizer, mainly from China, Russia and Canada) but over the mid to long term this approach would help leave those countries high and dry without it and create an artificial or 'synthetic' sense of security in Australia. Maybe Canada could help? We should start producing green urea ASAP, which could take a while to build the infrastructure (see 'The HR seedball machine' later in the blog), if we are going to survive the potential shock in the medium to long term. Incitec Pivot Limited, with 'Twiggy's 'Green Ammonia' retrofit on the East coast and Yaru Pilbara (bound to Chinese export contracts...but maybe could be renegotiated since they stopped exporting to us) on the West coast could buffer us with AdBlue supply.

 

Strike Energy in Geraldton, WA is trying to get approval to manufacture 3/4 of Australia's ammonia needs for the near future but they rely on fracking to get the non-renewable gas which is a dirty process - toxic fracking fluid gets in the groundwater supply and it is a Carbon intensive operation. There are probably Traditional Owner issues too. That's not even taking into account the CO2 released into the atmosphere from the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process (1909) using air-captured Nitrogen (N2) and natural gas for Hydrogen extraction (from methane CH4) to produce the ammonia (N2 + 3H2 -> 2NH3). Strike Energy claims they can reuse waste CO2 from the ammonia production to produce the urea. They have greenwashed themselves saying they will be Carbon neutral by 2030.

 

Expansion of natural gas infrastructure to drive down the cost of N fertiliser (and AdBlue) isn't the answer. A maintenance and expansion of 'Green Revolution' agriculture (which began in the 1950s) 'to feed the world' isn't the answer either. This is Fritjof Capra's (and John Newcombe's) 'Turning point' in my opinion. 'The Turning Point' book, by Capra, was written in 1982. His main message, I understand, was 'No ecology no economy' but it's open to interpretation. So, we've had almost 40 years to think about it - and a growing body of recorded Indigenous knowledge around the world though it's only a fraction of what people knew or still know about living sustainably within the limits of ecosystems. The 'Green Revolution' has been destroying ecosystems all around the world (often with Government support) and how many Oz farmers are in debt as the scale of farms perpetually increase as are many inputs, often with more needed each year in order to get a reasonable yield? How many Indian farmers have suicided because they couldn't pay the bills, ironically often drinking Monsanto pesticides? That's what I call a 'slow' emergency but many farmers would probably disagree as it's happening right now!  The 'Green Revolution' has failed. It's hard to imagine many Ozzie broadacre farmers would change their systems but there are some modifications that could be made that may hopefully interest some of them...

 

For eg., I looked into a greener chemistry for producing ammonia and it turns out that Jupiter Ionics, a spin-off company from Monash Uni have developed a fossil free process to produce ammonia from Nitrogen air capture (N2), water electrolysis (H2) and renewable energy plus a regenerative catalyst -> Ammonia (NH3). I asked them if they also had a green process to convert ammonia to urea but they haven't replied. Maybe there are alternatives to using CO2? Or, maybe CO2 from direct air capture (DAC) could be used (some tech just pumps it into underground aquifers/wells for no economic use - maybe make some Vodka as a bit of side hustle too?)? Maybe a machine could be built to collect H2O (water vapor), N2 and CO2 via DAC in a 3 step process that could be used just about anywhere? The technology exists for capturing each molecule independently - just need to integrate the technologies. That would cover all feedstocks for urea production. So, potentially future ammonia production and conversion to urea may have zero C emissions and negate the need for fossil fuel inputs as a feedstock source and energy supply. Maybe in the future, a renewable energy powered and mostly open source machine (possibly powered from pyrolysis eg.ECHO2 with integrated battery eg.CO2, Iron redox flow, saltwater etc.) could integrate DAC of feedstocks, ammonia production (using the Jupiter Ionics process), conversion of ammonia to urea (for AdBlue, as a value added product) and more importantly, combine the (liquid) urea with milled biochar (fed in from ECHO2 and mill) for slow-release and 'Carbon negative' fertiliser granules/pellets/'Fertiliser balls' (reducing agricultural fertiliser inputs; reducing NOx, N2O emissions over time, 'removing' C from the atmosphere and building soil C) + all the other benefits of biochar in soil eg. once the ammonia is mineralised by urease found in the soil to ammonium NH4+, bacteria via doping of the 3D biochar matrix could break down the NH4+ into nitrates NO3- for plant bioavailability.

 

Alternatively, seeds could be added to the 'Fertiliser balls' to make 'Seedballs' (see REFERENCES). There's a biochar 'intersection' for broadacre farming (which could become no-till and 'regenerative', which is happening all around the world, with the bonus of C removal credits issued on some C removal marketplaces), regenerative agroforestry and bushland regeneration. For eg., regen agroforestry could be integrated with bushland regeneration (after the climate-caused bushfires). Biochar/charcoal could be collected from the bush or made with a kiln eg.Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' to produce biochar-containing seedballs to grow the economic species needed eg. native bush foods and medicines or permaculture plants (as long as they're not 'weeds' for a given ecosystem)...It can be done on small-scale eg. Kenyan approach, or on larger-scales with drones eg.Airseed Technologies. More research needed...

 

It's a question now as to how fast the technology can be scaled up for AdBlue and fertiliser production and whether the Government is serious about the emergency who were initially just 'aware' of and 'monitoring' it but now there is action. While our Deputy PM and Minister for Transport (Barnaby!) is locked in quarantine with Covid-19 in the US, the Minister for Industry, Energy and ?Emissions reduction Angus Taylor has picked up the ball with an 'emergency taskforce' and will hopefully run with a sense of urgency as we are approaching the Summer holiday season - or we could be looking at empty supermarket shelves or at least hyperinflated food prices in the near future...There could be some weird and wonderful dishes on the menu in the next 6 months or so - just like the old days.  It's a good time to be thinking about growing your own food (eg.help crack the code of Regenerative Agroforestry) to supplement your diet and wallet!

 

However it plays out, in my opinion, the AdBlue shortage (a sprint) is a symptom of an ageing and unsustainable fossil economy which is a challenge for most of the planet - not just for Australia. The AdBlue crisis/emergency is nested within a 'food system emergency' nested within a global 'climate emergency'.  The logistics of world trade has a massive C footprint though there are increasingly more clever and sustainable transport energy sources at all scales and application eg.Green ammonia, Green Hydrogen etc. Small-scale food and medicine production/buffers/'Shields' eg.community gardens, 'Victory gardens', aquaponics etc. probably need to be everywhere in order to hedge our bets, diversify and word up & skill up the people. The list goes on and even if the Government plans ahead for future economic shocks like AdBlue, what matters is how we tackle the underlying sustainability problem (a marathon) - largely with greentech, reduce our impact on the climate and wherever it's possible to 'Go Greener' and build more resilience into our systems.

But - you can't plan for every economic contingency.
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Fri

29

Oct

2021

A new material for the transport industry

Here's a science fiction idea to 'roll the dice' for a 'Decentralised Carbon Industrial Ecology' (DCIE)
...here goes:
Overview of DCIE
The idea is that you could customise the ecology with whatever tools/machines and resources you needed to produce a chosen number of C-negative technologies with as many resource and design synergies as possible between them via permaculture ecological design science plus a healthy dose of engineering. Elements supporting many functions and functions supported by many elements.
THE PROBLEM
The ultimate biocomposite for transport - What does the biocomposite material need to do?
*avoid fuel dependency eg.fossil fuels, Grey Hydrogen or even Green Hydrogen when it's not made onboard
*acts as a 'C negative' sink
*Photon absorption ('solar harvesting')
*Energy storage ('solid state' 'massless battery')
*Energy transmission to onboard electronics and electric engine (electron transport)
*Lightweight, durable, rigid, shock absorptive, and UV resistant chassis
*The chassis matrix would need to be able to charge & discharge simultaneously with discharge on demand as the electronics & engine demand power
*Reusable at the end of it's lifetime eg.Carbon Removal for a Cascade of Uses' (CRCU)
HYPOTHESIS
There are 3 main approaches for (green) materials discovery: empiricism-driven experiments, database-driven high-throughput screening, and data informatics-driven machine learning.
1 - 'Solar' Carbon-based nanocrystals (possibly from kelp) that absorb photons (solar harvesting), store energy (massless battery) and release electrons into a circuit (electron transport)->transmission of power to onboard electronics and an easily maintained electric engine. Maybe doped fullerenes with Silicon could work...
2 - Blended (like 'Homebrew' beer) and not laminated (points of weakness between the layers) biocomposite, possibly into molds.
3 - Hemp fibre->pyrolysis->biochar, in possibly a new clean process->C fibre->coated with 'Solar' nanocrystals (from 1) + hemp fibre + hemp bioresin
OR
4 - with discovered technology, only 2 laminated layers could be needed.  The outer layer of the chassis could use something similar to the referenced woven C fibre massless battery but with 'Green chemistry' (green battery chemistry, solar harvesting, energy storage and strength) and adhered to an inner layer of  blended C fibre evenly coated with cellulose derived C nanotubes for additional strength (referenced) +  hemp fibre + hemp bioresin. Taking a 'barebones' approach to the chassis inner layer could work as the nanocrystals may not increase the rigidity and durability much and would have less efficient solar harvesting and storage than a dedicated outer massless battery layer. Then, as the outer massless battery layer tech improves (which could come from a variety of companies), subsequent massless battery designs could be adhered to the inner layer chassis (which could be perfected earlier than the massless battery) for incremental improvement of solar harvesting, energy storage and strength.
Could be an interesting starting point while the hunt for the C-based 'solar' nanocrystal goes on...
APPLICATIONS
  • cars eg. 4WD 'Adventure' vehicle (see previous blog), which could be a 'barebones' design with a drivetrain/chassis + customised 'modules' eg.engine, wheels, dashboard, seats etc.
  • buses
  • trucks
  • trains
  • boats
  • planes
  • space

 

BONUS POINTS

Solar glass (not science fiction) used in the windows could be used for additional solar harvesting and energy storage, connected to a separate 'solid state' hybrid C-based battery/supercapacitor (high energy density with fast recharge and discharge) which could be used as a backup power supply for the vehicle

 

LEARNING ISSUES

  1. So, if a perovskite can absorb photons, store them as energy and release photons as light, is it possible for a C-based nanocrystal to do the same but instead of releasing photons, releasing electrons into a circuit?
  2. How do you coat 'Solar' C-based nanocrystals on C fibre?
  3. More broadly, how do you control the behaviour of energy in nanocrystals?
  4. What is the mechanism of photon trapping in C-based nanocrystals? (which may vary between structures)
  5. What is the mechanism of electron trapping in C-based nanocrystals? (which may vary between structures)

 

UPDATE

Looks like I designed in principle a quantum superabsorptive material (see last reference) for the outer layer/'discovered material' in Hypothesis 4.

Quote: "A battery that is capable of harvesting and storing light energy simultaneously would provide significant cost reduction while reducing the unpredictability of energy from solar technologies." What's also very cool is the more molecules there are, the faster the material will 'charge'.

 

REFERENCES

  • Composite glass breakthrough: https://amp.abc.net.au/article/100578398
  • ClearVue PV: https://www.clearvuepv.com/products/how-it-works/
  • The Hemp plastic company: https://hempplastic.com/
  • Hemp composite V C fibre: https://westernstateshemp.com/hemp-composite-vs-carbon-fiber/
  • Nanocrystals from waste: https://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=301072
  • Massless battery breakthrough: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/03/25/massless-battery-breakthrough-for-lightweight-evs/
  • Mesoporous Carbon perovskites: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/11/15/mesoporous-carbon-for-a-20-year-stable-perovskite-solar-cell/
  • Lithography-free carbon nanotube arrays: https://phys.org/news/2021-11-lithography-free-carbon-nanotube-arrays-simple.amp
  • Quantum superabsorption: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/newsroom/news/list/2022/01/17/superabsorption-unlocks-key-to-next-generation-quantum-batteries
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Thu

23

Sep

2021

Off-grid/Micro-grid Building + Transport 'Green Hydrogen'/Electric hybrid 'Tech decision tree'

0 Comments

Sat

05

Jun

2021

Carbon offset V Carbon reduction

In my opinion, offsetting and removal are often mixed up or interchangeable words. Offsetting is Carbon emissions neutrality. Removal is Carbon-negative. In the case of puro.earth, they are using, and I don't like the acronym, called CORC (similarly named like Nori's 'CRC'), which stands for Carbon dioxide (CO2) removal certificates. This is good for businesses eg.tech giants like Microsoft because you can be removing Carbon while you're using your production line to do whatever you want to do with it. In the case of ECHO2/'Holla Fresh' herb production greenhouse, it was providing services (heat/power) while producing biochar (another service), which not only offsets Carbon pollution from the fossil fueled system, it is also removing the Carbon from the atmosphere/climate via woody waste. So it's both offsetting and removing CO2 equivalent emissions.

 

In the case of the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls', although there are less cogeneration opportunities than the ECHO2 at this stage (I'm waiting for TEGs to go down in price), the biochar produced when used in a growing system is still offsetting Carbon by reducing the amount of fossil used in the system, which may include no-till agriculture (using compressed air biochar injection), less pesticides and herbicides and less fertiliser (most of these use fossil in their production eg. Natural gas to produce fertiliser). Carbon reduction is definitely happening since the biochar is taking Carbon indirectly from the atmosphere via biomass feedstock and locking into a supply chain or directly into soil. I'd be interested to learn what people think about any of this!

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Wed

10

Feb

2021

This is a 'mind map' of an 'open source' 'climate plan' for a 'climate emergency' with 'targets'

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Fri

30

Oct

2020

Aussie wish list for the future

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Sat

17

Oct

2020

Production line scaleability

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

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Fri

02

Oct

2020

A new greentech start-up funding model

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.

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