Pond stead (likely also useful for breakwaters in the ocean)
April 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm #20257
Long before I heard of seasteading I built an island in a large fresh water pond, to grow plants on, to provide shelter for fish, and to clean the water.
The reason I figure it’s worth mentioning, despite not really being seasteading, is because the approach could actually be used as breakwaters in the open ocean. And to support plants, etc. which could be harvested. And also to provide habitat for marine critters and fish.
The approach I used was to buy a $4 bundle of cheap 13mm plastic pipe (the most commonly sold, and cheapest gardening pipe available in most hardware stores around here), 2 plugs for about 50cents each, and used some cable ties I already had.
I plugged the ends so the pipe always remained full of air, so it would float, then I laid the pipe out in a spiral and cable tied each coil to the next.
The result was a circular, tightly bound, flat spiral of pipe, which floated on the surface of the water. There were only small gaps between each layer of the spiral (the width of the thickness of the cable ties) so it became a basic circular platform.
I then threw an edible mint plant onto the top of the spiral and the roots grew through, down into the water, and because the most lush and fast growing mint plant I’ve ever seen (far better than any I’ve ever grown in pots).
Last time I saw it (I no longer live there, but saw it not long ago) you couldn’t see the pipe, and the mint was gone, but it was completely covered in other tall water plants. The plants were about as tall as me (roughly 6 foot) and it was still floating on the surface (likely with the help of gases within the plants).
The downside to this is you can’t stand on it, because there’s not enough floatation.
The up side is it has enough floatation to hold plants, and cheap and easy to do.
If we were to create a bunch of these circular spiral islands, and grow plants on them, then set them up around the edges of a seastead in an even larger circle they, and the dense roots of the plants, would dampen the waves providing a calmer water to help shelter the seastead.
I think I got some photos of it soon after it was deployed so you can see the pipe platform but I need to see if I can find them.
Considering that dealing with waves will be one of the largest hurdles of seasteading I think it’ll be worth using something like this as a break water, even though you can’t stand on them.
Also….I’m guessing if the plants get big enough, and you get enough of these connected together, the gasses within the plants would boost the boyancy to the point you may eventually be able to stand on them (though likely a bit too wobbly to build on them).
Plants naturally form tussocks which float on water, due to the gasses in the plants, so this approach might be able to act as a catalyst for floating platforms which are 99%+ made of plants and reliant on the boyancy of the plants their selves.
I think I’ll be surrounding my recycled stead with these as a protective barrier from the waves. Both directly attached to the stead, and more a few metres away circling the stead as a primary breakwater.April 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm #20260
There are “sunken islands” where ships are warned not to go. In theory one could build an island there. I think most might be protected due to coral reefs and the like. I know the UAE builds islands but much closer to shore and they are rich.April 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm #20267
Do you mean sunken islands as in kinda mountains under the water which boats might hit and sink?
So an island which didn’t quite manage to poke itself all the way up out of the water?
I chatted to a professional diver about my stead, and showed him what I’ve built so far, and he mentioned that in some places islands form almost out of nothing. Kinda like an underwater mountain which has sand regularly dumped on it, over and over again, from waves, and keeps rising up until it ends up out of the water. Then birds crap on it, drop seeds, and plants start growing. Then waves keep dumping more and more sand on them until it ends up a fully fledged island.
I need to research it more, to see if I can steal some ideas from nature.April 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm #20269
Basicly that idea yeah. I know the US claims some of them even though they are submerged in high tide and not near any other lands.
Here is an example:
Johnston Atoll is a 1.03 sq mi (2.7 km2) atoll in the North Pacific Ocean about 750 nmi (860 mi; 1,390 km) west of Hawaii. The atoll, which is located on the coral reef platform, comprises four islands. Johnston and Sand islands are both enlarged natural features, while North (Akau) and East (Hikina) are two artificial islands formed by coral dredging. Johnston Atoll is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.
For nearly 70 years, the atoll was under the control of the American military. In that time it was used as an airbase, a naval refuelling depot and a weapons testing area. In the mid 1980s, the atoll became a facility for Chemical weapons disposal. In 2004 the military base was closed; island control was handed over to civilian authorities.
(They basicly appear to have built an island out of the coralreefs there.)April 30, 2012 at 7:43 am #20275
Cool idea for a plant float. It would actually be cool just for the aesthetics of a seastead to have a bunch of floating plants surrounding it.May 4, 2012 at 4:56 am #20377
I agree. I do however think it could become far more than just an aesthetic thing. I think it could be amazingly useful to create structures which are catalysts for marine habitats.
Think about the increase in fish due to increased habitat for small critters which are their food, increased places for fish to breed (I saw a doco where fish were filmed spawning on a floating palm frond, out on the ocean, so they’re not fussy), and the corresponding increase in human food (ie. fish, crabs, etc.).
Rather than farming fish inside a net I want to just create a fish paradise, with no nets, where fish breed, and feed, and become so highly populated in surrounding areas I can catch fish easily every day using a simple rod or trap.
I think this value in increasing fish habitats, considering how humans depend on fish as food, and how we’re decimating fish stocks due to over fishing, could be an amazingly useful approach to providing us food.
Also it’s a way of getting governments off our backs. If we can show we’re doing an environmentally beneficial project which benefits everyone, then how can they interfere?
If we just build homes, maybe they’ll come up with reasons to interfere. But combining them with environmental projects such as floating plants and marine habitats I think is a good idea.
That’s how I figure my first prototype will get left alone….but starting it not as my home….but rather as an environmental project.May 4, 2012 at 5:03 am #20378
I’d even go so far as to say I think 95% of the floating structures should be for marine habitat, and 5% for our homes.
The 95% can be low level boyancy, and cheap, as it only needs to hold plants, and not structures, or humans, so the 95% could likely cost about equal that of the 5% which holds our actual stead.
Not just altruistic, and for the environment, but becaus we benefit from increased fish stocks, and ability to harvest marine plants (for construction materials, food, animal food, compost, etc.), and break waters, etc.
And of course…it’ll look nice to have a seastead surrounded by plants and animals.May 4, 2012 at 6:10 am #20381
Good idea. I mainly saw it more as having a large amount of energy generation surrounding each stead. Being an energy producer is quite beneficial.
This article http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/saltwatercrops/ shows how we could use salt water crops for food (vegetable oil) and fuel.
But it may come down to efficient use of breakwater “real estate”. I doubt that the floating plants you are talking about could thrive in 10-50 foot waves which means that they would have to be behind a breakwater where the water is more stable. But then you are giving up liveable space where someone could have their own seastead.
The first steads will be much like early homesteaders though where you need to have crops and sources of fuel, initially just for survival with the hopes of one day producing something for sale or trade.May 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm #20394
Yeah good idea about producing energy, food and fuel on the less habitable parts of the stead, including break waters.
The wave energy should be harnessed, not just seen as something to mitigate. Would be silly just block the waves and not produce power. Even simple air pressure can be directed to where it’s needed to drive pumps, etc. and then directed through simple low cost turbines as required. Rather than converting everything to electricity, then using electricity which incurs losses in energy via the conversion process.
I saw a doco about people growing and harvesting salicornia (from that article) for food (even human food), and other things.
Even some restaurants use it as a bit of a rare delicacy (rare as in not commonly eaten, not rare as in not commonly growing, as it grows all over the place).
I think the very edges of the breakwaters should be covered in oysters to take the force of the waves, as the rock oysters around here prefer to be in that location anyway.
Then just in from the oysters I think plants used to being in the tidal zone (battered by waves) should grow. The key is ensuring they have enough support to hold on and not fall over in the weather.
I do think picking the right plants, and having a decent design, should mean we can have plant based breakwaters, with oysters, etc. right at where the waves first hit, dispersing some of the energy.
I’m guessing the key is to try get stuff established and then let nature take its course and develop its own balance.
Oh and the power generation and the sun can be used to desalinate water for drinking, and for fresh water plants, and then the brine left over (the extra salty water) can be used to store heat from the sun either for cooking, or for heating water for showers, etc.
Desal plants have a bad rep for pumping the brine back into the sea, which is absurd. High salinity water is perfect for storing heat energy. That heat energy can even help distill more fresh water.
We need to focus on the holistic approach unlike many existing corporations.
Lots of experimentation is obviously required.
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