DRP #3: Surface area trade-offs
December 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm #769
Surface area on a seastead is going to be at a premium. The question arises what are the right trade-offs on surface area usage? We can use surface area for 1) recreation, 2) agriculture, 3) solar-voltaic, 4) wind energy collection, 5) solar heating, 6) solar distilling, 7) light collection to be sent to the interior of the seastead, and surely a some others that I have not thought of.
Let’s assume that we have two levels on top. The top most surface is entirely exposed to sun light. The second level is mostly shaded. Lets work with 100 meters2, which works out to be a circular area of radius 5.65 meters. We can play games like have the wind turbines and rotors hanging down from the top surface, since they just need to be exposed to the wind and not the sun. (Remember, most solar voltaic systems perform poorly in the presense of partial shadows.)
So, using comercially available technology, what kind of power per square meter can we get and at what cost? How much area needs to be allocated to power collection vs. argiculture and recreation. Can we do double duty on some surface area — for example, using agricultural area for recreational area as well.December 8, 2008 at 9:35 pm #4436
You could cover the area between the legs on the Water Walker and have lots of surface area for one family. If you have 3 legs of 80 or 100 feet each the space beween them is rather large. You might cover the top part where people lived with solar and then use lower parts for plants. I think it would be fun to string rope loops over pulleys (like people do with a clothes line) between the legs. Then clip on potted plants (like people clip on clothes to dry) and pull the rope so they moved out between the legs. You could have lots of these rope/pulley things between each pair of legs. Would be a cheap way to have plenty of sunlight for plants. A farmer would just stay on the legs with the plants coming to him. Could do a hydroponic system too.
— VinceDecember 8, 2008 at 10:20 pm #4437
I ran across the http://www.omegagarden.com vertical hydroponics systems on the net. What is interesting is that these systems use artificial light so they do not have to compete for sunlight. With modern LED lighting, the energy cost for the lights need not be very great.December 9, 2008 at 11:36 am #4444
Should surface necessarily be in such a short supply on a seastead ? The ocean is the vastest place on Earth, it’s not gonna run out of place before LONG. Building there should take advantage of this fact. A lot of problems faced by seasteaders may be solvable by the application of more useable surface. There are a few ideas on the Wiki that go against the premise of artificial floating land being necessarily small and expensive: Joep’s Disposable land and Mud curtain, for example. Even temporary extension of land using, say, a large roll of thick bubblewrap that can be deployed and retracted as needed, may be very doable, and at slightly higher scales hard breakwaters may turn those from temporary to permanent. For example the inhabitants of Lake Titicaca in South America went with this solution.
Lately I’ve been thinking about building more basic seasteads at higher scales, extending horizontally instead of vertically, and it just seems to make sense. Or maybe I’m just trading the infrastructure problems you mention (concentrating power and food source and robustness into small surfaces) for structure problems (cost of raw material in such vast amounts, mobility) ? I understand you and Patri already have a preferred design and that the marine expertise bought from professionals should not be wasted, but I just don’t think we should prematurely close any door at that point. Unless there’s a good reason I’m missing (as usual ) ?December 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm #4445
There’s also the idea of moving the agriculture to small floating buoys, considering that plants may not suffer as much from sea motion as humans. As long as there is temporary storage for those during severe storms, the use of surface for growing crops can be “outsourced” to the surrounding sea, leaving more surface for other uses.December 9, 2008 at 7:27 pm #4451
If you think a Seastead is like an oil platform, with a couple hundred people within a couple hundred feet of each other, then Surface Area is in short supply. If you think a Seastead is a single family dwelling, then surface area is probably abundant. One more argument in favor of single-family-seasteads.
— VinceDecember 10, 2008 at 5:48 am #4455
Maybe you are right. How much area do you think a single family seastead will have? Let us back that up with some numbers.December 10, 2008 at 7:02 am #4456
Also, a couple of hundred people in close proximity, most likely with communal ownership of the seastead, recreates the same undesirable land-based situation which many of us want to escape by building seasteads; i.e. one size fits all communal decisions, impracticability of moving due to distributed ownership etc..December 10, 2008 at 8:36 am #4457
How much area do you think a single family seastead will have?
How much area can a single family afford ? What are they buying a seastead for ? How many square meters will they get from other existing solutions for this ? The problem with estimating a surface for a given occupancy is the same problem as with selecting technology based on their power/efficiency/cost per square meter occupied: it’s a bit of a shot in the dark. Here I’m objecting to the process of designing a seastead after some assumptions about the design are already chosen. The engineer in me would rather find out the minimal set of constraints pertinent to the case, and only those, for absolute delimitation, then unroll as many possible choices out of any other design assumption, and see how that floats. But then, it rises the question of what exactly is the case at hand: I need to know what the seastead will be used for – in which market it will be, in a sense.
You may be perfectly justified, for all (the little) I know: maybe the building techniques reasonably applicable to seasteading all have a high cost to useable surface, so assuming we’re to optimize area use is a given in every case, and the sooner we get this question rolling the better ? Or maybe some specific solutions to infrastructure requirements can make use of the temporary/cheap surface techniques or alternate design assumptions, and we’re missing on entire potential seasteading roads by selecting against surface from the beginning ?
Maybe TSI cannot (yet ?) afford developping a tree of every potential design solution that may work within all the explored market constraints – and I’m asking for way too much all at once.
An average first-world family like mine may be in the seasteading market for a 500-900 square feet housing solution that fits in a traditional port because they’ll be commuting from there just like they would if they inhabited on land in the same place, and chose seasteading because it lowers their cost of moving to another port – and then they don’t mind drawing on the existing power grid and water/sanitation infrastructure around. Maybe they are seasonal workers and plan to move back and forth between different places and seasonal opportunities (this market already exists, with areas ranging 200-450 square feet). Or maybe they don’t plan to move at all but building new houses on water is cheaper than the developed land (this market exists too, especially in Paris) and can get more square meters this way: 1200 to 3000 square feet. Maybe they value the liveaboard lifestyle but don’t mind travelling very slowly for long periods of time, so they’ll be happy with 200-600 square feet in while crossing oceans or circling the planet, then hook back to the shore for some time until they get enough funding to start the cycle again (this market needs specific development).
Seasteading comes as an alternative, it creates some brand new niches and fills some existing others. The point of developping seasteading, in my opinion, should be to make it an attractive alternative. So my answer to your question would thus be: double the area they’d get without seasteading.December 10, 2008 at 10:08 am #4459
>Maybe you are right. How much area do you think a single family seastead will have? Let us back that up with some numbers.
A 4 legged water walker could cover an ocean area about 100 feet by 100 feet with legs 71 feet long. This is 10,000 sq-feet for a family. If we say 4 people that is 2,500 sq-feet per person.
A 200 person oil-platform seastead that is 200 feet by 200 feet covers 40,000 sq-feet of ocean but only 200 sq-feet per person.
So in this comparison the single-family Water Walker has 12.5 times the surface area per person.
– VinceDecember 10, 2008 at 11:51 am #4463
But as I understand it, the water walker does not enable us to use all the surface area it covers. The living space is either fixed atop the apex or is suspended from it. It might be possible to suspend a net or web between the legs,but it does not seem equivalent to a covered secure area.December 10, 2008 at 11:59 am #4464
Right. Those numbers were looking at surface area that might be used for solar panels or farming. That was not living space.December 10, 2008 at 2:04 pm #4465
My home is 96 square meters, say about 1000 sq feet, with my wife and I. And we’ll need a slightly bigger space once we have children,about 1500 sq feet. Apart from living quarters I’ll need working space, about another 500 sq feet, to a total of 2000 sq feet for 4-6 people. Actually that’s just 200 sq meters which Wayne mentioned.
In addition, we need to keep in mind that too low a space availability will turn people, especially families, off seasteading.
And since you can’t get mortgages or insurance for this sort of thing, it’ll have to cost less than what a typical young family can afford to save and lose without going under, my guess is about 20,000 or 30,000 US$.
Ok did I just make a fool of myself with these numbers???
edit: From my power bill of about 60-70 $ and the tariff of 23cents/kWhr, I use about 300 KWhr per month. This does not include power consumed at work, which includes central air-conditioning, basic computers, and small electrical equipment, the same again for my wife.December 11, 2008 at 12:38 pm #4468
That 71 for the legs is too short. I calculated thinking of a triangle with a base of 50 feet, but that is sort of a 2D solution, really in 3D it will be about 100 feet. Might be a bit less if it was at less than 45 degrees.December 30, 2009 at 8:39 am #9061
There’s also the idea of moving the agriculture to small floating buoys,…
Jesrad the link above to my small floating buoys is dead. Here’s a replacement:
Please amend the links so its easy to find. We don’t want to many cofused new comers.
For everyone’s information I was involved with the original Oceania Project in a small way. I’m also in several space organisations. And I have a Degree in sustainable Development, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy,water and sewerage.
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Written by Wayne-Gramlich