3 levels of Carbon action in order of priority
1. C emission prevention at the source
2. C emission removal with cogeneration serving multiple functions eg. biochar, power, heat, wood vinegar etc
3. C emission mitigation
All 3 need to be integrated into an adaptation response at all scales.
The Australian Gov needs to shift climate and energy policies from doing more harm than good to doing more good than harm. A complete fossil 'phase out' should be on the table. Complexity and difficulty is a challenge but not impossible to work with. The Gov can regulate, provide incentives and disincentives and tax but ultimately most climate action comes from every consumer choice that together have a collective impact on climate and the Earth's ability to survive. New fossil infrastructure and supply limits choices to 'phase out' the fossil and transition to renewables.
There's also the time problem. Although there are many drivers and sources of C emissions, fossil combustion is the main source. The time it takes converting dead species to fossil (a lot), the
time it takes to burn fossil (a little) and the time it takes to reverse/remove the inevitable C emissions from historical and new fossil combustion in the form of C removal such as pyrolysis of
biomass (somewhere in between). Fossil is a one trick pony - cheap energy, though the economics are shifting towards renewables as a cheaper and greener choice. Yes, there are other technologies
to remove C but Biochar is the safest (if tech is operated correctly), cleanest (with EBC certified tech), most affordable (at different scales with some variation between tech), most
Democratised (eg.Kon-Tiki kilns and TLUD stoves) and most useful (multiple functions) technology to remove the excess C from the atmosphere and ultimately store it for hundreds of years, to
Millennia and beyond.
Although C emission mitigation is important and shouldn't be underestimated it is usually expensive eg.cleaning up dirty industry. Divestment from fossil and investment in C removal tech producing Biochar is the best use of money/bang for buck I can possibly think of ATM (and goes well beyond dubious offsetting programs) and would give Gaia more time to heal her life support systems that are quickly breaking.
Time is key.
Biochar, a biotechnology, is a C based material produced via pyrolysis of biomass (with a limited and controlled Oxygen supply) with an enormous surface area from the nanoscale (pores) and larger that can be functionalised, determined by: the feedstock type, the pyrolysis technology and operation, biological inoculation, combination with other elements or compounds or even bio-composite requirements. In other words - 'designer biochars' are possible that can be matched to the application, possibly using a combination of an interface/autonomous lab with machine learning (ML) software and rapid material prototyping then all the way to field trials and commercialisation at different scales of manufacturing.
- What desirable properties (biological, chemical, physical) does the Biochar material need for the application eg. A specific plant/crop?
- what material/resource can be replaced with a new Biochar material?
The Mother of all biochar chemical engineering questions:
I can think of a number of applications where an autonomous lab might not be very useful:
eg1. in the case of gardening, horticulture, agriculture, agroforestry et al - biochar compost (alchemy)
The sky is the limit for how much chemistry research could be done around this but field trials with different biochar composts combined with different ingredients eg.manures, sea kelp etc. for different plants in different soils in different climates would probably be a better strategy. A lot of research has already been done in this area but there's probably a lot more to do as every growing system using biochar compost would be variable for the best results
eg2. biochar (80% w/w) combined with 'no-bake binders' (according to the 'Composite Materials Consultancy' in the UK) to produce biochar bricks. I should mention too they seem to be fire retardant.
Although understanding the chemistry is important, testing mechanical properties are presumably more important for building material research.
The 3D biochar matrix
Renewable energy technologies eg.new sunlight = no C tax
Non-renewable fossil C fuel = 'Ancient sunlight tax', at the main source of C pollution (for easy accounting). I'm predicting the 'No' vote result in the recent Oz Referendum will accelerate fossil fuel expansion if Clive Palmer, a coal man, is any indication after he made a 2 million dollar donation to the 'No-alition' kitty.
According to the UN, fossil fuels account 'for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions'.
I'm thinking start with coal (why limit it to just metallurgical coal?) and if effective, move to natural gas. Crude oil and refined products could be excluded since petrol and diesel prices are increasing (and will only further increase if the Gaza conflict becomes regional) and are a strong driver of inflation and cost of living which the Gov and RBA is trying to control and decrease.
The 'Ancient Sunlight tax' could be spent on new Industrial Ecologies (discussed in the last blog) with sustainable (hemp based) housing eg.'Tiny houses' and 'Ecovillages' and manufacturing of renewable energy machinery (and C negative technologies (CNT) produced from the machinery) for home (the houses) and abroad, accelerated with 'manufacturing credits' for CNT using a Gov design registry and a Webapp for manufacturing businesses with Measurement, Verification, Reporting and payment. These credits could possibly be linked in to the Offset credits in the Climate Safeguard Mechanism (CSM) or possibly standalone with funding from the CEFC or other Gov funding source. For eg., the credits could pay for some 'Green' 3mm HW350 weathering steel (eg. At Whyalla steelworks, using locally produced and value-added 'Green Hydrogen' for reduction of high grade Magnetite iron ore) for Kon-Tiki biochar kilns in Australia (though I am a little bit biased since I'm selling them).
The 'manufacturing credits' for CNT model could be adopted, if successful, by other countries. If an international 'Not-for-profit' (NFP)/other Gov's could subsidise CNT 'manufacturing credits' around the world, South Australian steel businesses/alliances could export affordable high quality 'Green steel' to manufacturers with limited or no access to high quality 'Green steel' at all scales of CNT manufacturing. I believe 'Green steel' has a promising future for a recarbonised world economy but the mining, processing, production and logistics with it's ultimate C footprint need to be factored in. Iron ore reduction with 'Green Hydrogen' is just one step in a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).
Raw hemp and hemp bio-composites could be used for housing (prefabbed wall panels, flooring, insulation and 'strong as steel' structural components, according to Brett Boag, Hemp Innovator and Founder of Hexcore Hemp Processing in Victoria) without using much, if any, steel, but would need to become a ginormous industry to compete with 'Green steel' exoskeletons in building structures but once again an LCA of hemp products for steel replacement would be needed for comparison. Plus it can do all the other applications just mentioned. A water usage comparison would be useful too eg.mining of iron ore using precious groundwater (or possibly desalinated seawater) V growing of hemp plants (which in many areas may not need irrigation). A higher level use case of steel could arguably be for CNTs if hemp is the more sustainable option for steel replacement in construction, given that hemp is a fast growing crop to sequester C (approximately 100 days from planting to harvesting) and could be grown regeneratively (as opposed to extractive mining of iron ore) with hemp biochar (produced with 'Green steel' based biochar kilns (CNTs)). But - it's also a question of time eg. How long would it take to establish a ginormous hemp industry for the housing plan? Maybe steel could be used initially for exoskeletons until hemp could replace it - plus, hemp has the added advantage of not being limited to a specific area eg. Whyalla, if the right strain can be found for a given location (eg.soil, rainfall, climate, heatwaves etc.) so could be grown, processed and value-added near many if not most future housing developments/Industrial Ecologies for a smaller logistics C footprint. There's also the question of existing infrastructure V the cost of establishing new infrastructure. Ultimately, both 'Green steel' and hemp would tap into existing infrastructure and require new infrastructure that would create jobs. Both industries will probably have a role to play in the future of housing in Australia but there's nothing better than a tech nerd-off. But - let's get back to the C tax...
In addition to the proposed 'Ancient sunlight tax', here's a wish list:
- stronger land rights and Cultural recognition for Indigenous/Traditional landowners eg.rights to veto fossil projects
- minimal water extraction and pollution of the Sacred future water supply in mining operations
- Zero emissions mining operations (which is independent of the product eg. coal and unnatural methane, producing loads of C emissions when combusted - which kinda takes the piss out of the idea)
-Australian Carbon Removal Credit Units (ACRCUs) (as opposed to ineffective ACCUs)
- moratorium on new and expanded fossil C projects (I call it the 'Ancient sunlight lever')
- divestment of fossil C projects (up to the shareholders of fossil companies)
- C export tax (alternative to the 'Ancient sunlight tax')
- C import taxes in Oz and overseas (which seem to be on the rise eg.EU)
Green materials acquisition, machinery/tools and manufacturing of CNTs is only half the problem. As with the Carbon Removal Marketplace (CRM) options: C source, C in supply chains, C at the destination/sink, the source of C is the easiest way to account for it. Users of the CNT to remove C is the other half of the problem and can also get paid too - from a CRM such as puro.earth or 'Carbon4Good' (being trialled in Kenya. Also, I'd love to get some 'Green' 3mm HW350 over there), in the case of the Kon-Tiki biochar kilns and get paid again if value-adding or selling the biochar.
I predict the fossil companies producing C products resulting in C pollution are creating the economic and ecological conditions for their own business case failure with eventual replacement of their C products with climate-adapted CNTs over time. Fossil-free Civilisation is already rebuilding the Planet but can't happen fast enough given the urgency of the Climate Emergency. Stronger Gov intervention, possibly with an 'Ancient sunlight tax', could accelerate this change. 😀
Some tech worth researching:
- Q5 for electrical and Q2.4 for thermal aka self-powered 24/7 with 'infinite' energy output via water fusion from water in the air/atmosphere (Atmospheric Water Harvesting eg.hydrogels with functionalised Carbon nanoparticles) or directly from water from another source. Maybe the thermal energy could be tapped with a heat exchanger linked to a thermoacoustic Stirling engine for additional electrical output.
-one for the Aussie work and play lifestyle or even 'Tiny houses'
-Atmospheric Water Harvesting (AWH) with modular panels for water insecure areas eg.Water quantity V quality, human population V per capita consumption, fracking sites ('Water trigger'), accelerated glacier melting above river basins, climates with low Relative Humidity such as expanding semi-arid and arid climate zones due to climate change, the 'Green Revolution' agricultural model polluting groundwater, river basins and oceans et al.
It's a strategy of designing, R&Ding and manufacturing renewable energy technologies with Industry 4.0 machinery, with a focus on Carbon removal in the form of biochar, initially for and eventually on Mars and future exoplanets and adapting the machinery, manufacturing and technologies to Earth conditions that are appropriate for a given location ('Spacialisation'). It's more of a design philosophy than a design system. Technologies for the future can be imagined then engineered for the present. It will take some major regearing for adaptation to the effects of climate change acceleration in the context of a climate emergency. It's a race to space but can lift more boats sustainably.
Carbon removal is urgently needed on Earth but would not be effective in stabilising the climate on Mars given the extremely high level (95%) of CO2 already in the atmosphere and predictable future small population with low biochar output but would be extremely useful, in the form of biochar, for air and water filtration, cooking and boiling water, sanitation, housing, 3D printer powder and food and medicine growing systems. In the materials world, biochar can do just about anything with a growing list of applications.
Here's the manufacturing algorithm...
Machines->Machines->More machines and other Machines->biochar Carbon removal tech + biomass->biochar->biomass->biochar...infinity. Biochar can also be used as a feedstock for some renewable energy technologies also produced by the Industry 4.0 machinery.
There are also bonus Carbon Removal Marketplace (CRM) options at the Origin of biochar produced, biochar in Supply chains and biochar at it's final sink/Destination...but - with Carbon Removal
for a Cascade of Uses (CRCU) the C sink is distributed through the supply chains, so Origin makes the most sense in my opinion for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV).
Where to start? Imported/?Australian metal 3D metal printers (which may include some robotic metal 3D printers) and associated infrastructure to print metal components of their own chassis (essentially, self-replicating) + some specialty components (which we could potentially manufacture) to build more metal 3D metal printers to produce components for the Industry 4.0 machinery eg. production line robots for technology assembly eg.biochar mills and electric biomass pelletisers; multimaterial 3D printers for Solid State Batteries (SSBs) eg.Biochar/ceramic; roll to roll printers for mesoscopic Carbon perovskite PV cells (using biochar feedstock); 2D laser cutters for the Kon-Tiki 'Essential (KTE) biochar kiln, Permastove V5 and Flat Permastove V2 TLUD stoves, TLUD kilns for CharClay bricks; 3D laser tube cutters etc. The Industry 4.0 machinery could be sold to developing countries (or any countries) for producing their own renewable energy tech and whatever else they want to manufacture and puts them on the pathway to energy independence.
The manufacturing and resultant job creation (beginning with skilled workers teaching apprentices who would get a job at the end of their training) could be integrated with the ALPs housing plan. How? 'Industrial Ecologies', perhaps starting with one pilot project. Renewable energy tech machinery built in the industrial zone could build renewable energy tech for the ecovillages to house the local workers who could initially have temporary housing while the ecovillages are being built, which they could also help build while doing their tech apprenticeship. High thermal mass in the ecovillages would be critical for climate change resilience, as well as all the usual Permaculture refinements. I'm not against a biochar concrete supercapacitor for energy storage using Sublime Systems low Carbon cement either. Or - Why not prefabricated 'hempcharcrete' wall panels with Carbon neutral lime? Some Mars prototype housing could be trialled as well. The 'Mars Society' has a couple of test sites which are worth checking out. They are also founding the 'Mars Technology Institute' which will hopefully be up and running in the near future.
I do question the effectiveness of the Gov contributing 500 million bucks per year for five years for 1.2 million houses. I learnt division and multiplication on the 'Little Professor' calculator (now available as a free and ad-free Android app with 5 levels of difficulty) when I was 5 years old attending Church. Now I have a calculator app (RealCalc). So lets do the numbers: 5*500,000,000/1,200,000 = 2083.3 recurring. I estimate this would be enough to buy a couple of doors and a few windows. If, eg., the Gov staked 100,000 per house where occupants could buy in and cash out (the UK model) and it was done over 10 years, given supply chain problems with materials and a collapsing building industry and tradie skill shortage, the numbers would be: 100,000*1,200,000 = 120,000,000,000 or 12 billion/year over 10 years. Roughly a third of the cost of AUKUS. It's a question of the opportunity cost of Military programs V Social programs. Maybe a combination of Military and Civilian tech could be built in the Industrial Ecologies just to muddy the water. And there's the Unknown Unknowns.
If building the proposed pilot project for a 'Spacialised industrial ecology' is just a money problem, maybe we need our own equivalent of the U.S. 'Inflation Reduction Act' of 2022. The 'National Reconstruction Fund' is probably the closest we have but is basically a sectoral shopping list and isn't based on ecosystem thinking. We need to build momentum for manufacturing Industry 4.0 machinery and C removal technology, jobs and housing and do it sustainably. At some point the private sector needs a financial boost to generate more investment for more industry and more tax revenue to pay off interest on debt - who knows, the Gov could even get ahead by investing in a fossil free sustainable future? We need to keep brains in Australia, beef up STEM skills and education, train highly skilled apprentices ready for Industry 4.0 and avoid the renewable energy brain drain to the U.S. eg.Engineers.
What's the alternative to manufacturing machinery, tools and consumables? Fuel exports. Selling Industry 4.0 renewable tech machinery is a more supply chain resilient, lower C footprint, accessible and ethical approach than exporting fuel, whether it be fossil, 'low C' Methanol (from CCS (if it works), Direct Ocean Capture (DOC) of CO2 to methanol; CH4 to methanol using an enzyme catalyst) or even 'C neutral' fuels such as 'Green Hydrogen'; which are all akin to selling an addictive substance and creates a dependency for other Nations' growth and development - the old Imperial business model. Industry 4.0 machinery for producing renewable energy tech would be a once off investment for punters, modular enough that printing new parts for failed parts in existing machinery is possible or new purchases could be made for better machinery without major capital expense for new infrastructure eg.grid power/expanding off-grid power and could be built to last (durability) with upgradeable free 'open source' software and firmware. It's a safer bet than betting the house on any specific fuel that will probably become outmoded in the future.
The boat just rocked in the transport industry. Solid State Batteries (SSB) for passenger EVs just exceeded 1000 mile range from 3 different companies. The UK has canned it's first Hydrogen train line citing inconvenience and cost. Twiggy's Hydrogen dump trucks are 3 times less efficient than EVs (probably not even using SSBs) though they are still trialling them. Japan's Hydrogen plan is not working. Methanol not Green Ammonia, is taking over shipping. The aviation industry is R&Ding both Hydrogen and electric models - but I bet electric will win with the next generation of energy dense and safe SSBs. An e-bike from Switzerland using a ceramic electrolyte in an SSB has just been announced. Pulsed plasma rockets will go damn fast. If you get the idea, many things are being prototyped in the transport industry so I think it's highly risky to build yet another fuel industry. Ideally transport could harvest, store and use energy independently within the system design of the vehicle.
There's also the issue of 'Economic Complexity', which we are ranked 93 in the world.
A robust manufacturing industry, with a focus on renewable energy technology for Earth and Space using Industry 4.0 tech and principles would lift our ranking and diversify the economy for greater stability. What's also bizarre is that we have one of the greatest culturally diverse people on the Planet...so why are we ranking so low? Biodiversity, biomimicry and cultural diversity can fight climate change and help adapt to an increasingly uncertain future. It may be a future of buggy firmware for system design but I/We can keep learning and improving our positions and livelihoods.
-we might need some of that cancelled space program money for the pilot project
-getting there nicely for PV printing and C usage
-possibly the last gasp for the 'unnatural gas' industry. Land and sea based gas mining are both unsustainable.
-think buildings can store their own energy possibly sourced from solar glass and rooftop PVs in the concrete structure (using biochar/other C material). Probably needs a greener acid chemistry...
-not a bad option for C negative concrete BUT could be a thermal mass problem for climate heating
-low Carbon cement
-Carbon neutral lime
-prefab hempcrete walls
-also from homeland hempcrete
-a bit of hemp action in Victoria, Australia
May need to splash some cash for the Climate Emergency. Here's an idea for budding inventors that would cost 1/150 of the AUD$1.5 billlion donated for natural gas ('Unnatural Methane') subsidies in the Beetaloo Basin.
AUD$10,000,000/40,000=250 member grants for 'Net negative' biochar 'Appropriate Technology' (apptech) startups with $40,000 grants/startup member, with a maximum of 5 team members, meeting strict technology criteria for the technology idea
eg. Affordability, Carbon removal, Sustainability, Decentralisation, Inter-operability, Modularity, Service orientation and possibly others.
The moula would be independent of cost of living expenses. Expenses would be audited for transparency in a dedicated bank account with no cash withdrawals and no cryptocurrency. This should be enough dough to set up a design studio, basic workshop, biomass processing equipment, a semi-pro (non-metal) 3D printer, materials, components, sub-contracting and get to the prototyping stage for many real and imagined biochar apptech. For a team of 2 or more, a purchase and delivery of a low-powered fiber 2D laser cutter running on solar and storage wouldn't be out of the question and could be used well beyond the grant money running out. At this stage, Pro metal 3D printing machinery would probably be too expensive, even for a team of 5 but the landscape is quickly changing. Possibly not enough cash to get through the 'Valley of Death' between prototyping and commercialisation but probably enough for a working prototype to then apply for a private sector grant, investment or prize = 'Biochar Renaissance' in the age of YouTube, cheap online education and some free TAFE courses.
I would start with an affordable small-scale '2 in 1' biochar mill (eg.air filtration->water filtration->growing systems) and pelletiser (of biochar mineral complex (BMC) for hydroponics or biomass pellet feedstock for TLUD stoves and heaters->biochar) which I would make a high priority...those damn food, water and energy bills keep getting higher!
Strategy for building a 'Just Green Economy' in a global climate emergency with a Climate Safeguard 'Swiss cheese' Mechanism (CSSCM) in the 'land of opportunity' -
Take some of the C emission offset cheese from new fossil fuel projects and expansions forced to maintain annual 'Net-Zero' C emissions for operations (not product) and build wildlife/biological/biodiversity corridors and C removal/C negative technologies and related businesses that regenerate the land and waterways and create new jobs for Earth Stewards.
Outsmart and retire the fossil industry during an orderly 'Just Green Transition' while building a C negative energy and transport system, decarbonise C emission intensive industry (with the rest of the C emission offset cheese) eg.Steel ('Helios' Sodium reactor), Nickel (currently prospected in SA) & Alumina ('Green steel' and possibly unprocessed Kaolin clay with high Alumina content for ceramic electrolytes, Nickel and Sodium (desal salty brine or saltpans) could be used to build Altech's/our own University designed 'Sodium-Alumina solid state batteries' for stationary energy storage - not a bad recipe for South Australia - no Copper or Hydrogen needed!) OR retire them eg.toxic chemical companies where 'Green chemistry' solutions exist, and build a fairer and ecologically and financially sustainable economy. But, is this even possible while C emissions go up with the CSSCM - not down, taking into account increasing fossil CO2 exports that remain untouched and could be taxed/'levied'? This could pay for 10,000 ecovillages with 10,000 microgrids and an average of 100 dwellings per ecovillage which could be flexible depending on the workforce requirements of some green industrial ecologies linked to the ecovillages ('a million houses')? It could cost AUD$275 billion or thereabouts. Why not capitalise on a dying industry and get their cut of the action? Unless of course Labor has already made backroom deals to protect the profit of fossil corporations via Clive Hamilton's 'Greenhouse mafia' from his 2007 'Scorcher' novel - if they still exist??
The impacts of climate change are spread unevenly and unfairly around the globe and CO2 is CO2 everywhere, not limited to Australia. I'm not suggesting Nationalisation of fossil - just a levy on exports. Hugo Chavez wanted to take Venezuela out of poverty with oil but I never agreed with his idea to send an oil pipeline through the Amazon rainforest to Brasil - Nationalisation gone mad.
What about that cheese full of holes? It's a classic Gov accounting trick...take cheese with one hand and give cheese with the other hand, or rather, emit billions of tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030 in the fossil sector and partly reduce CO2 emissions in other industry sectors.
I thought I was waltzing into an industrial design and building Renaissance with the last Federal election result.
What does make sense is that we need a plan to avoid climate chaos and failure and we need to learn from every other Gov around the world to do it. Labor had the perfect opportunity to transition the Country and 'Build a better future' but chose to align themselves with the fossil industry instead. Why do I care? I'm a Zen Carbon atom in the 'Carbon cycle'. I know where the C goes and where it needs to stay in order to keep the balance. The global 'Carbon cycle' is clearly out of balance.
Kick back with a bevvy knowing you are prepared for the future!