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Modeling Alternate Approaches edit

After modeling the functions and their interactions at the system level, we can now look at alternate approaches to implement the functions as designs. Each alternative will have different numerical values for the inputs and outputs, and so result in different total spreadsheet values. In a later step we will vary sizes and selection of the alternatives to get the best result for the location as a whole. Before we can do that, in this section we have to first identify the alternatives, and then in the next section (page 5) develop them in enough detail to get the input and output values for each of them. We do this by function in the following sections, and recognize that some elements, like human labor will apply to multiple functions. We look at Habitation and Transport before Production, even though Production has lower function numbers. This is because the other major functions will require particular outputs from Production, so partly determine what the Production function needs to produce.

Developing alternatives cannot be done in a single pass because of the complexity of this design. Instead, pieces will be identified and defined individually, then examined to see how they interact. This leads to refinement of the pieces in an iterative way. Continued refinement of the design options can continue forever, so we need to know when to stop. In this study we are limited by staff and time and the desire to answer the questions in the initial study goal. So we intend to stop when we can answer the questions and it becomes clear if we can meet the performance goals for the system. This is sufficient for a concept-level study such as this. Despite having a stopping point, these section are liable to be the longest part of study due to the multiple options for each function, and in early stages will have many missing alternatives and values.

Habitation Alternatives edit

The design of the Habitation part of the location can in general be divided into conventional and unconventional alternatives. Each of these can be examined for how much can be made locally and how automated they can be. The conventional versions are easiest to define, as construction is a major industry and large amounts of data are available. We will not reproduce all of that data, but point to sources, and extract values to use in our modeling. For unconventional alternatives, we first look at existing ideas in the literature and try to assess them against our performance goals. If nothing suitable is found, then we can try to imagine new alternatives.

F. Provide Habitation Capacity edit

At the higher main function level, there are several design alternatives to consider:

  • The choice of consolidated apartment-type buildings vs separate single family dwellings or a mix.
  • The choice of mixed-use buildings with office, hospitality, or sales space along with residence space, or mixing production and transport in with habitation.
  • The general level of modularity and flexibility of the habitation space.
  • The distribution of land as far as number and size of parcels, and their physical distances.
  • The visibility of automation - leave them in plain view or attempt to hide them for aesthetic reasons.
  • The arrangement and type of public indoor and outdoor space, and private outdoor space.

For unconventional options there is underground or domed construction.

F. Protect from External Environment edit

Conventional thought is to treat the following items as separate. An alternative is to think of ways to combine multiple elements into a single item.

  • Land - We assigned Habitation land to this function because protective elements like roofs and siding need structural support, and foundations in turn need land to rest on. The vast majority of humans live on land, so the Temperate range is assumed to require solid land. Making more land is only feasible in very limited circumstances, so we also assume as a conventional alternative that we buy existing land and adapt it to our needs. An alternate approach would be to lease land, and use modular and mobile habitation. This would lower initial land cost, but raise issues of transport, safety, and quality. Undeveloped land close enough to populated areas to get outside supplies may cost US $0.50/m2 or more, but this is highly variable by location.
  • Foundations - Conventional foundations include concrete slab, concrete footer and block, and treated poles. Alternate foundations might include gravel trench, pilings, mortared stone.
  • Structural Frames - Conventional framing includes light lumber and plywood, heavy timber and bolts, steel tubing and structural shapes, and reinforced concrete. Part of environment protection would be for extreme conditions of wind, hail, earthquake, and flood. Alternative framing includes stabilized rammed earth, and insulated concrete blocks or panels. A single building may use a mixture of structural elements
  • Moisture Protection - Different materials are usually used for roofs and siding, since overhangs can protect the siding, and the exposure is less severe on vertical surfaces. Conventional roofing includes composition, wood, slate, and metal shingles, clay and concrete tile, plus secondary water barriers under the exposed roofing. Conventional siding includes vinyl, brick, wood shingle or siding boards (often painted), and mortared stone. Foundation waterproofing includes sealants and drainage where needed. Alternative roofing includes...
  • Thermal Insulation - Conventional insulation includes fiberglass and styrene foam beads (ie Styrofoam). The beads may be in rigid panels or dispersed within other media like concrete. Wood across the grain is a moderately good insulator. Thermal barriers to reflect heat are also conventional items, as well as vapor and infiltration barriers.
  • Protective Clothing - Conventional items are outer clothing for warmth, abrasion, and precipitation. Unconventional items are TBD.

F. Control Internal Environment edit

This includes managing the internal environment in terms of temperature, humidity, lighting and acoustics. Traditionally these are separate items. A modern alternative is to have a central controller for all internal functions.

  • Electrical Power - Temperature control and artificial lighting require power, so we include all the power supply for Habitation under this function, including for other sub-functions.
  • Temperature and Humidity - Conventional modern design is an electric air heat pump with supplemental heat for very cold days. Alternate designs might include ground-source heat pump, passive solar design, and active solar collection for heating. For summer cooling, a deep rock thermal mass might provide partial or full cooling.
  • Lighting - Windows and window shades are the conventional way to provide natural lighting, with an assortment of artificial lights for areas that need extra lighting or at night. An alternative is to use light pipes or fiber optics to add natural lighting to areas which otherwise do not get it.
  • Acoustics - This includes passive sound insulation, for which the standard method is to use fiberglass insulation between rooms, in addition to external insulation. An alternative would be self-made rock wool or other acoustic dampers. Active noise cancellation is a modern alternative. Acoustics includes generating desired sounds (typically music) and controlling the distribution of such sound vs objects and walls in the inside environment. There are a variety of sound systems available, from portable to built-in.

F. Provide Food and Drink edit

This includes providing the actual food and drink materials, local storage in the Habitation area, food preparation, serving, and disposal of food and drink wastes (not including human wastes).

  • Food and Drink Supply - One alternative is having some food production locally within the Habitation area, in the form of gardens, attached greenhouses, green roofs, and food-bearing trees. Alternately it can all be assigned to the production function. It is a location goal to provide 85% of total material and energy needs internally, so we set an initial target of providing 85% of food and drink from the location, split between production and habitation. The remainder is obtained from outside sources.
  • Potable Water Supply - Alternate sources include collecting runoff, wells if this does not deplete ground water levels, or recycled water from production. Whatever the source, it needs to be purified and sampled to ensure safe use.
  • Kitchen and Dining Equipment - The conventional alternative is to use standard purchased kitchen and dining equipment. An option is to make some or all of this equipment internally, especially furniture and cabinetry, but possibly ceramic and metal wares. Appliances are the least likely to be made locally. Other options are the level of centralized vs. individual food preparation, and whether kitchen automation is worth designing (central or local for residents). Centralized does not mean institutional, people often prefer to eat out for social and time reasons, so the goal is high quality and not cafeteria grade output.

F. Maintain Health edit

This includes the basic functions that humans need to sustain themselves in a healthy condition, aside from food and drink. Items here include sleep, sanitation, exercise, cleaning and filtering the body and the environment, health monitoring, first aid, and local examination and treatment.

  • Provide Sleep Environment - There are a variety of bed types available, and information on the proper room conditions. We don't expect to invent new sleeping arrangements, but may include alternatives in terms of ease of local manufacture.
  • Provide Sanitation - This function covers collection and disposal of human waste products. Alternatives include how the wastes are recycled and whether wet, dry, or vacuum systems are used to transport it. Wet flush systems are the conventional option.
  • Provide Exercise Equipment - Recent research indicates the health benefits of standing rather than a percentage of sitting time. One alternative to dedicated exercise equipment is to provide more upright design for daily tasks. Another is to integrate some walking and physical activity such as walking from home to production areas, or pedal-powered short-range transport. Obviously for heavy tasks powered devices are needed, but making everything powered and the people sedentary has negative effects. Also, we cannot force people to have an active lifestyle if they do not want it, but we can encourage it by design.
  • Provide Body Cleaning - The conventional methods include bathing, hand washing, oral hygiene, and personal grooming.
  • Provide Environment Cleaning and Filtering - Conventional household cleaning is well understood. This function includes laundry. An alternative is to use higher levels of automation for daily cleaning tasks. Filtering removes air and water contaminants and reduces the need for cleaning in the first place, but then requires filter management. It includes active control of insects, mold, and other living infestations.
  • Health Monitoring - Conventional methods include periodic self-examination, and self-testing if needed.
  • First Aid - Although the location design will try to minimize risks, some accidents are liable to happen anyway. This function provides immediate care for smaller risks and stabilization for more major ones. The conventional method includes placing aid kits in visible locations, and training for residents. In more severe cases outside aid and transport would be called.
  • Local Examination and Treatment - The location may support the equivalent of a nurse or physician, especially in later growth years, otherwise outside medical services would be needed. Group purchase of a medical plan may make sense. Alternatives include telemedicine or automated diagnosis and treatment.

F. Provide Personal Items edit

This includes personal living space, storage, community space, furniture, decorations, and non-protective clothing. The amount of personal living space, plus that required for the previous two functions (.3 and .4), determines the volume which the Protect (.1) and Control (.2) environment functions need to operate over.

  • Provide Personal Space - We include all the non-specialized interior finishes (floors, walls, ceiling) and access ways (halls and stairs) to this function, including those for Food and Drink and Maintain Health. Specialized finishes are accounted for under the respective functions. There are a wide variety of conventional designs for interior spaces and we don't expect to create new ones. Rather, we look at self-producing items like wood flooring or tile. One modest alternative is to use modular interiors to allow easy changes to the layout.
  • Provide Personal Storage - This includes closets, shelves, cabinets, and similar built-in storage. For easy access, these are integrated into private living space. For longer term, modular community storage can be provided as needed. Alternatives to conventional closets and shelving, which are static storage, is to provide mobile/rotating storage units that are more volumetrically efficient. An example would be attic storage with a 2D module grid, and vertical delivery through a ceiling hatch. Retrieval then is by selecting the item from a tablet and waiting for the system to shuffle that module into place, and lower it down.
  • Provide Community Space - We assume 20% of total Habitation space is used for community, rather than private, use. This is meeting rooms, dining areas, recreational facilities, office, and retail areas, and any other public areas where people can choose to spend time. Conventionally these are separated from private living space, but mixed use buildings are an alternative, as is modular space that can be re-assigned as needs change.
  • Provide Furniture and Decorations - We include all movable items not covered under other functions. Since these are personal preference, we will assume they are chosen by the residents, or brought with them, and bought with surplus funds or made by Production. They are too potentially diverse to give detailed design, but we can specify mass and volume limits for planning production capacity.
  • Provide Non-Protective Clothing - This is clothing chosen for personal, rather than protective reasons. The conventional choice is to buy clothing from existing suppliers. Production of materials for clothing is highly mechanized, and assembly uses low cost labor, so attempting to improve on this will be difficult. In addition the materials are flexible, making automation a challenge. We will consider alternate ideas, but the default will be to buy them.

F. Provide Information edit

This includes education, entertainment, and general information (i.e. News, weather, etc.). Modern computers and networks are very capable, so we assume a shared IT system for the location, to provide the information function, design, and production control, rather than dedicated devices for each purpose. Design of custom IT equipment for the Habitation part is not likely to be cost effective, so we will assume those are bought. The conventional approach would be to get a commercial-grade connection to the outside, and build a wired and wireless network internally. The system should be capable of hosting custom software for the location, but this can be met with almost any modern IT hardware.

Transport Alternatives edit

The main division of transport is according to type of item being delivered, since each type has different handling requirements. Transport can also be generally divided into conventional and unconventional alternatives. It is also divided into external transport to and from the location and internal transport within the location. The reason for the division is we cannot modify the external transport infrastructure, such as roads, while the internal transport can be designed and built as we select.

F. Provide Transport Capacity edit

One general option is whether to have generic transport vehicles for multiple purposes, specialized vehicles, or modular ones that can be adapted to different tasks. For example, conventional pickup trucks and farm tractors with towed trailers can serve multiple cargo types. The power sources for the vehicles (ie fuel or electric) is another group of options, with ramifications for the source of power. Finally, make or buy is an option for transport - how much of the vehicles to make locally, from none, to partly make and partly buy parts, to full local production.

Internal to locations how much conventional vs custom fixed transport infrastructure to build is another option. Since we have control over the location design, we can use standard roads, pipes, and conveyors, or consider overhead, rail, or underground transport networks instead. These can reduce land impact and area requirements. We can also consider electric or wireless power for transport rather than fuel power.

  • Mobile Transport

A modular system would include a frame, drive wheels/legs, a power system, and various attachments. Conventional farm tractors integrate the frame and power system into a single unit, but we can consider integrated vs separate units. One key attachment would be a cart pulled behind the main unit. Since load size and mass will vary across different tasks, our design will likely have several sizes. Larger loads can be managed by ganging two units together, either as two in front, or front and back of longer cargo sizes. A major option is to combine the base transport unit with robotic attachments (sensors, computer, communications, and powered manipulators). This can then serve some of the Production functions, like fabrication, assembly, and storage.

For electric options we can consider modular battery packs to extend range or swap when needed, rail or overhead power contacts with extension cords, and portable charging/power stations which use solar or wireless sources. Wind likely requires too much anchoring to be portable. For fuel options we need a fuel supply either carried along, brought to the vehicle as needed, or the vehicle returns to a fueling station. For all options, prepared roads vs open fields and forests can withstand different contact pressures, and have different roughness, so wheels vs tracked vs legged drive systems may be swapped as needed in a modular design.

  • Fixed Transport

The conventional option is to use roads in conjunction with mobile vehicles to do local transport up to the doors of buildings, and sometimes inside them. This consumes a considerable amount of space and cost to construct. One alternative is to use an overhead cable or rail system to reduce the ground footprint, and leave it available for other purposes, including green space for nicer views. This may be combined with main power distribution and possibly solar panels above or below the transport path to further reduce ground footprint. Another alternative is light rail, which can use a lot less ground area than a road, though it may need more site preparation locally. Steep routes would need geared or other assist to avoid sliding. Again, other uses can be combined over the same route to reduce footprint. As with conventional roads, overhead or rail systems can continue into buildings as needed. The final alternative is to place transport paths and utility lines underground. Conventional water and sewer lines are fixed pipes, but at a given distance transport by mobile tanks may make sense if combined with an underground transport tunnel for physical items. Burying the roads has visual appeal, but it limits physical dimensions and has considerable excavation and installation cost.

F. Transport Bulk Cargo edit

This includes bulk supplies transported to and from the location, the latter being production output destined for sale or to set up new locations. Bulk items are those which need large volume, and low levels of protection from the environment and the effects of the transportation itself. If the needs for bulk transport are not high, it may not be worth having dedicated equipment, so an option is to hire bulk transport as needed. Conversely, since the location has manufacturing capacity, and bulk carriers can be simple designs, making such items may be fairly economical.

F. Transport Discrete Cargo edit

This includes non-human cargo which need higher levels of protection from weather, shock or vibration, and other extreme conditions. The protection can be provided by adding coverings, containers, and padding to bulk transport, or by using the same vehicle types as for humans.

F. Transport Humans edit

The obvious starting approach is to use existing conventional vehicles to deliver humans to and from the location, since most people already have access to such vehicles. The options then revolve around when and how much to transition to some other vehicle type.

F. Transport Energy edit

F. Transport Fluids and Gases edit

These items required closed containers or fixed piping for delivery. Typical examples include water, natural gas, and liquid fuels like gasoline and diesel.

F. Transport Data edit

This includes all types of data in all forms, electronic and non-electronic. Legal rights and money are delivered via data so they are included here.

Production Technologies edit

We will first look at advanced production technologies in general, before modeling specific production functions and alternate design options to meet out requirements goals. These technologies are not completely new, but the degree and scope are higher than generally used in developing new locations, and integrating them together is novel. The design challenge is how best to combine these technologies into a growing location. One way to meet that challenge is to consider each technology area for all the functions in the hierarchy of the location, and the flows linking them. This is tedious, but ensures that opportunities are not missed.

Self Expansion: edit

In our initial Discussion on page 1 we presented the concept of self-expansion from a starter kit, also known as a Seed Factory. Since manufacturing on Earth is diverse, with many production processes, and a nearly infinite number of possible combinations of them, what to use for a starter kit is not obvious. We can identify several approaches to selecting such a set:

Reverse Engineering:

This approach works backwards from the completed location to the production elements needed to build and sustain the location. In turn, those production elements are examined to identify what is needed to build them, recursively identifying precursor elements and outside supply to reach a reasonable starting point. We will use this as our primary approach, since we know our desired end point is to support a given number of humans with identified performance goals.

Common Materials as Outputs - An alternate approach is to work back from known common materials that are used in civilization, such as wood, basic metals, ceramics, concrete, bulk rock, glass, and plastics, plus electrical and thermal energy.

Forward Engineering:

Another approach is to work forwards from an assumed starting point, see if it can grow adequately to our completed location, and then refine the starting point in the light of any missing or surplus items discovered on the growth path. For the forward approach, the question then becomes what starting point do you assume? Possible starting points include the farm and the machine shop. Both are known for making more of their own kind - plants and animals can make more of themselves, and so can machine tools. Other starting points are to maximize output rate, or minimize starting size, as these relate to evaluation criteria. Yet another is to start with pure investments and buy equipment over time, which minimizes starter complexity. All these various approaches can result in one or more design concepts, which then get optimized and compared.

We will use this as a secondary approach because any given starting point may not lead to the desired end goals, and thus can represent wasted effort. However, once certain production elements, like for food or energy, are identified by the reverse approach, we can then consider what else they can be used for in the forward direction. Since we already have determined they meet at least of the end goals, working forward from them is less likely to be wasted effort. Despite the uncertainties of the forward method, we list a number of possible starting points, and recognize you can use a mixture of them in a given design:

Farm as Starting Point - This approach is biological, since living things are able to copy themselves (i.e. additional equipment) and able to provide finished output (i.e. lumber from trees) We will generalize the idea of farm to include not just row crops, but all biological products, including animals, timber, and modern biotech products using microorganisms. One question is whether the biological production can leverage the non-biological technology. Even the simplest farm requires tools, and modern farms use quite sophisticated equipment, which puts you closer to the machine shop than the garden. A biological option worth considering is timber. A sawmill can itself be mostly made from timber, though a power source and some metal parts are required to process the logs.

Machine Shop as Starting Point - Since a machine shop can make more machines, this approach starts with the inventory of a well-equipped machine shop and scrubs that down to a starter set of machines for each function. Large shops often have multiple machines for similar tasks, for reasons of part scale, specialization, or total output. As a starting point you can assume you only need one type for each function. With computer control of the axes of motion, automatic tool changers, and pallets, a given machine can do quite complex jobs. This includes making shapes they are not optimally designed for. Accessories added to a basic machine can also widen the range of jobs it can do.

History as Starting Point - In the development of civilization, technologies appeared in a certain order. This approach starts with early technologies and adds more modern ones in sequence.

Output Rate as Starting Point - Another approach is to consider what starter kit items can produce the largest amount of output relative to their size. This approach attempts to maximize the early growth rate, and reserve diversity of output for later stages.

Minimum Size as Starting Point - This approach attempts to minimize the initial cost by starting with smaller equipment, and assumes you can make copies or larger units to grow to needed capacity.

Money as Starting Point - Although investments may not seem to fit the idea of a seed factory, income from such can support human needs, and the income ultimately comes from some sort of productive activity in the general economy. It may be thought of as a proxy for generic existing factory ownership. In other words, rather than build a new factory, buy an existing one or an equivalent through investing. We will use it primarily as a comparison point. If we cannot design a hardware oriented seed factory that scores better than investing, then the optimal path is to invest first, and use the fruits of that to grow by buying expansion equipment. Starting with money has the virtue of simplicity.

Our initial comparison point for the money approach is a brokerage account at Trading Direct with an investment of $75,000 placed into a margin account with 25% leverage ($100,000 total invested) and buying shares of Helios High Income Fund. This yields 8% return as of mid-2012, or $8,000 per year on the amount invested. Margin interest is 3.75% on a $25,000 margin balance, or $937.50 per year. This leaves a net income of $7,062.50, for a total return of 9.42% on the initial investment. Later we can vary that initial point across a range of options to compare it to our other design approaches.

Synthesis of Approaches:

In the synthetic approach, we consider each of the above methods as offering candidates for a starter kit and then expansion kits, then we compare the candidates and select the best ones.

Modular Design: edit

The concept of modularity has several aspects. One is replication - of structural elements or production machines so that growth can be incremental. Another is standard interfaces - so flexible combinations of elements are possible. A third is flexibility - designing machines and other elements for extension, attachments, and upgrades over time.

Replication edit

The replication of parts and end products is a common feature of modern production since about 1800. In building construction, for example, standard framing lumber, plywood, and concrete blocks allows general specification of building dimensions without having to define each piece individually. Replication is not typically applied at a factory level, however. Factory processes are usually custom designed for a given product and production rate. We will look for areas to apply replication in our production design. Some ideas include:

  • Modular foundations and floor slabs so that buildings can be expanded more easily
  • Replication of solar concentrators or wind turbines for power supply
  • Machine tools which share a common frame and motor design

Interfaces edit

For our building design and internal layout we will assume base scales of 0.25, 0.50, and 1.00 meters, with module sizes up to 1.25, 2.50, and 6.00 meters in increments of the base scale. There will be some overlap in the module sizes. The largest modules are used for placing building locations and entrances, while the smallest are used for things like positioning storage and aisles.

Multimachines edit

Considering design for flexibility raises the possibility of having a few very general starter machines with flexible attachments so they can do multiple tasks. This makes them modular in design, and can grow by replication, building larger versions, or building more specialized machines. Such general purpose machines may be less efficient at a given task than specialized ones, but it can result in fewer devices to start with. The full set of attachments may not be available at first, and you can expand by making parts for them internally. Some candidates for this purpose are:

Multi-Axis CNC Setup - The general shop machinery listed below under F. Fabricate Parts have a number of similar characteristics, consisting of controlled linear and rotary motion about several axes. There is the possibility of combining their functions into a single general purpose CNC machine. An example configuration would be a bridge mill with a swappable table or pallet. For milling operation a plain table is used to hold work pieces. For lathe operation a table with rotary mounts and motor would be used. By adding swappable heads, the device can change from milling to 3D printer type extrusion, composite layup, plasma torch, or other tasks. Such multi-machines have been made commercially in the past for hobbyists because they save on number of motors and mass of the frame. Commercial shops tend to use specialized machines for higher accuracy or size capacity, and the ability to do multiple tasks in parallel.

Solar Furnace Facility - The solar furnace described under F. Supply Power is another potential multi-purpose device, enabling both power generation and other high temperature processes by changing what is at the focus. In areas with significant clouds it would need to be supplemented with wind or solar panels for times when concentrated sunlight is not adequate.

Modular Production Building - Buildings are not often thought of as machines, but if a modular design with flexible locations is used, industrial processes could be set up, rearranged, and disassembled as needed, perhaps even under automated control. Robust materials handling is needed for such a building, such as modular carts or two-axis bridge crane systems (multiple parallel rails). Given such a design a building can help build itself, with the existing part supporting expansion.

Flexible Vehicles/Robots - The standard farm tractor is an existing example of a flexible vehicle. By swapping attachments, they can perform a wide variety of tasks. We extend this idea in several ways. One is to use a wider range of size and load capacity. Farm tractors are on the large end of the size scale, utility vehicles and carts can get similar treatment in multiple attachments. Another extension is by adding robotic and remote control functions, in addition to manual human operators.

Generalized Chemical Plant - Large commercial chemical plants are very specialized and permanently set up to do particular processes. The possibility here is a semi-industrial version of a laboratory, where setups and processes are easily changed. This would be enabled by modules that perform single tasks, that can be swapped or re-connected as needed. Because of the wide variety of chemicals and what containers they are compatible with, a good database will be needed for safe operation.

Generalized Resources: edit

As noted in the initial discussion for the study, we would like to use less rare and concentrated resources and more generalized and distributed sources. This avoids transport costs from distant and unique mining locations, and scarcity costs of things which are running out. Examples of widely distributed resources include sea water, ordinary rocks of the types found all over the world, local soil and plants, air and water, and solar and wind energy. For a given Temperate location, a subset of these will be available locally. General design of the production processes and end products can take this into account by selecting options that are more local and fitted to the local supplies.

High grade ores are typically processed for a single or a few products. One way to reduce the energy cost of using the lower grade sources is to process them to multiple products, thus distributing the fixed mining cost, and to some degree recycling the processing energy where possible. It is still likely we will need more than average energy, so abundant power supply should be a design goal. In addition, we should design for flexible materials processing to account for variations in local sources as the location expands. Since our initial Temperate location is expected to be near existing developed areas, we can consider scrap, trash, and waste as a local resource and see if using it is economic.

The particular resources we will consider at first include:

  • Local Rock Types - This includes common types such as limestone and granite. When selecting land for our location, we would prefer a diversity of geology in the area, and ideally several operating mines or pits. Crushed or dimension stone can serve as building materials without further processing, but processes like calcination and carbothermal reduction shown under F. can derive more valuable outputs. The exact processes will depend on the source rocks.
  • Local Soil and Plants - This is first used for growing organics. Local lumber can often be obtained at low cost as standing timber, so selecting well stocked stands is preferred. Initial construction is likely to need more wood than later, so after harvesting some of the stands, that land can be used for other tasks, and the remainder allowed to continue growing for later. Some farmland can be used for early food production, until more advanced methods like automated greenhouses and engineered microbes are installed. Strong consideration should be given to upgrading soil using biochar, rock dust, and outside supplies of treated sludge. Another use for subsoil is for stabilized rammed earth construction.
  • Air and Water - These may often be overlooked as resources, but besides their obvious uses, they can supply Nitrogen, Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Carbon Dioxide for chemical processes.
  • Solar and Wind - The key to using lower grade resources is abundant energy to power the processing. We will look at a combination of solar thermal, solar electric, biofuel, and wind generators, with sufficient storage to bridge low output periods. Wind towers, which reach above local forest and carry multiple smaller turbines, are an option to get multiple use out of given land.

Cyclic Flows: edit

One way to approach design for recycling is to consider output flows by mass from each function, and consider how they can be returned to earlier production stages. Another is to consider the disposal costs of wastes, examine the highest cost ones first, and compare to the costs of recycling, counting avoided inputs as a cost benefit. A third is to modify the design of an item to convert a non-recyclable output into one that can be recycled. The incremental design change will be balanced against the savings from recycling. We will adopt a combination of these methods to try and identify good opportunities. Particular flows to look at include:

  • Water - Used water flows are a large volume output from human activity. We will consider split flows, putting kitchen and sanitation wastes in one flow, and laundry and chemical wastes in another. The first can be more easily directed to organic production, and the second will require different processing to provide clean water and a possible chemical resource.
  • Carbon Dioxide - Any substantial CO2 outputs should be examined for capture to use in chemical processes or augmenting growing organics.
  • Repair and Remodeling - A certain percentage of machines and habitation elements will need to be repaired, replaced, or upgraded and changed by preference. To the extent they can be recycled, it reduces waste flows.
  • Outside Wastes - An overlap between generalized resources and recycling is to use the scrap, trash, and waste from nearby developed areas as inputs for various processes. The potential is there for cheap sources of relatively high grade resources, so it should at least be investigated. It would also reduce the net waste flow from the location. Metal scrap, landfill waste, and treated sludge are examples.

Distributed Operations: edit

As noted in the initial discussion on page 1, distribution of production and control is not required, but is an option enabled by modern communications and transport. To what extent it should be used for our location will depend on a number of factors that need to be weighed:

  • Personal Preference - The project participants and location residents should have a say in how the location is designed and operated. This was identified as one of the overall program objectives: 1.3 Choice. Some people will prefer to work on-site, while others may want to avoid the time and cost of commuting to work, or live in a different location for various reasons.
  • Capacity - A new location under construction may not have the capacity to support enough people nearby.
  • Safety - Many production tasks are potentially hazardous, such as logging to obtain wood. Remote operation of the logging equipment reduces personal risk.
  • Economic Positives - Ability of remote operators to shift tasks more easily between locations, and to operate equipment more hours per day because they live in different time zones. Reduced need for site infrastructure, heating, and cooling with fewer humans on location. Placing production closer to sources of supply so only finished items rather than bulk materials are transported. Ability to obtain land in smaller increments as needed.
  • Economic Negatives - Smaller buildings have more surface area than large ones for the same total space. This requires more materials to build and more energy to heat and cool. Increased transport time and cost between separated functions.

An early scenario for using distributed operations is before construction of the location is started, where project participants are not yet residents because the Habitation is not yet built. Project equipment like design software and construction tools can be distributed at individual homes. Larger items could be located at previous Phase 0 Technology Development locations. A temporary staging and production location, such as a leased building, could be used while the permanent location is being built. Thus operations are distributed because there is not yet a single location where things can all be placed.

In this scenario, people get together as time permits, on an ad-hoc basis, and communicate via existing internet and wireless means to plan work. Custom software may allow some remote and semi-automated operation of the equipment. Distant participants may contribute funds or completed items, and deliver them to the permanent new location once construction starts. Use of existing equipment to make items for sale can help fund later acquisitions. As the location evolves and people start to become residents, the amount of remote and automated work will shift incrementally to a final state. This scenario has the advantage of not requiring a master plan ahead of time. Computers and networking are still evolving rapidly, so any long term plan will likely get obsolete before fully implemented. It seems to make more sense to understand the benefits and negatives for level of distribution vs centralization, and apply that understanding as the project evolves.

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