Overview: This project proposes development of recycling capacities (or: reuse, repurposing, and recycling capacities). The long-term vision is that these capacities would allow an independent tech-tree that is based on commonly available waste products. The medium-term vision is that these capacities may create opportunities for outreach, upskilling, and revenue/grants, while synergising with plans for makerspace/workshop facilities.
Goal: Become able to utilise common waste products for greater technological independence. Document what works, offering it as a model for other small communities.
Benefits: This would ultimately allow for elements of a technological culture (electricity, motorised transport, fabrication of useful objects) that flourishes on the monumental waste and excess of current material culture. In the meanwhile, it should also reduce the environmental load caused by this waste, by preventing some of it from going to landfills.
Possible initial project directions:
- Explore the possibility of repurposing common alternators/generators for power generation (general resource: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1175&context=eesp ). This is contingent on renewable ways of turning the alternators and storing their output. Some possibilities for this include:
- Exercise bikes or other recreational devices making use of human movement--this could even be something intentionally gamified, to make power generation a fun cohesion-building activity.
- Windmills (vertical axis windmills should be very easy to make out of any decently-sized round metal drums, for example)
- Stirling engines--These engines basically turn a shaft based on cycles of internal convection currents from temperature differentials--even small ones. The reason to consider these as a possibility is that well-construed housing will automatically create these temperature differentials throughout the day. On a hot day, it should be cooler inside. On a cold night, it should be warmer inside. These temperature differentials should already exist and are desirable, and thus it would be reasonable to incorporate stirling engines into house design if it is viable.
- Gravity-based gear turning systems, like: https://youtu.be/6vwcIO9M-uE
- Recycling of plastics. There is a great deal of potential in recycling of plastics, though it may be more desirable still to find biological means to safely break it down quickly. A great deal can be done with plastics, but ideal recycling scenarios would be things like sequestering it in bricks used for housing, so that it stays away from the natural environment for a period of time measured (hopefully) in hundreds of years, rather than, say, becoming a phone case that someone will turn back into waste when they upgrade next year.
- inspiration: https://community.preciousplastic.com/how-to/make-extruded-plastic-bricks
- inspiration: https://community.preciousplastic.com/how-to/extrude-into-a-closed-mould
- inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=787VpNLjpmY&ab_channel=Make%3A
- inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUR6_bQLU-E&ab_channel=PeterBrown
- inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvARvzMErnk
- Recycling of metals. This project may be one of the most straightforward to pursue, because the creation of a Solar Forge is an obvious choice. Creating a solar forge would allow re-casting of metals, and may also allow limited re-differentiation of metals (i.e., through something like a fractional melting process, if we can develop appropriate temperature controls). If we can melt copper, we can find ways to re-make wiring. If we can re-make copper wiring and keep permanent magnets from waste objects, we can re-make simple generators. Re-forging of iron and steel should be possible as well (see solar forge wiki page for more detail). A working solar forge should mean that the marginal cost for creating more of any given metal object would be measured in available scrap and time. Adjunct projects include:
- a system for Moulding metals
- a system for creation of wires
- a system for creation of sheets
- Recycling of glass. Finely crushed glass can be used in a number of ways:
- standard glass works/glass blowing
- melting into moulds
- incorporation into building materials
- Reuse of electronic components. We all love electronics, but the simple fact is that with our current practices, creating electronics is environmentally problematic, and disposing of them is a catastrophe. Places like Substation 33 are potential models for an approach to repurposing of e-waste. It would be desirable to find ways to extract electronic components from old circuits by de-soldering. Circuit bending and finding formulas for turning common components into something else that would be more useful are both desirable.
Proposed next steps:
- Select material projects to work toward (a guess: the solar forge and reuse of alternators could be logical places to start), and get crackin'.
- Investigate organisational possibilities (i.e., what should be set up where, and what supports can we get from councils or other organisations? should there be an out-facing recycling facility? can we get university engineering programs on-board and maybe get dedicated work from people who can use it for credits toward their degree?)