Possibly Radical Concepts That You Might Not Have Considered
August 19, 2012 at 8:36 pm #20960
Hilbertz Seal, Rustproof & Coat:
Okay, I got the message that power requirements for Hilbertz’ electro-accretion-deposited synthetic limestone from seawater, (Biorock), are prohibitive when compared to Portland cement-based concrete. In some ways, the Hilbertz method isn’t too far removed from existing anodic protection techniques, electroplating techniques, etc. So maybe it isn’t very good for volumetric structure, steel being four or five times as strong at least, but if it can render steel useable, when it had been previously rejected by some because of its susceptibility to rust and corrosion, and its high long-term maintenance cost, then why not use Hilbertz Biorock to seal the seams, protect from corrosion and eliminate the need to paint all in a single step?
Other Uses for Hilbertz:
Right now, Portland cement concrete is less expensive than Hilbertz Biorock. How long do you think that you will have a choice? A hundred fifty years ago or so, sociologists commented on what kind of social disaster they expected when the Frontier was finally settled and American Society no longer had a border to push undesirables across. What did we get? A thriving prison industry? There is no cause or movement so perfect that it won’t eventually attract the wrong people, and to me seasteading seems more likely than most causes to attract misogynists and misanthropes, if not sociopaths and misotheists. Financially successful? Most will be, but that guy who won a seastead in a game of no-limit poker last week is anybody’s guess. What kind of people seek to become international ex-patriots? Something tells me that they’re not all exactly “Flavor of the Month”, and that eventually some of them will do some things that will be egregious enough that you’ll all be tarred with the same broad brush, and no one else anywhere will be caught selling you anything at any price. Then, instead of approaching an international community of thousands or millions online, looking for the next award-winning seastead design, you’ll be approaching a seasteading community of dozens or hundreds, looking for a seastead-building shipyard design that you can implement from the materials you have at hand, to build seasteads at 200nm in international waters. Spools of wire, cable, rolls of chicken wire, solar panels, air pumps and carbon anodes shouldn’t be too hard to get, but how will you get shiploads of cement, or long-term access to a shipyard without being found out? I’m confident that Hilbertz Biorock, if necessary, could indeed be implemented at 200nm from shore in international waters, and at a depth of a hundred feet. You just have to get the power down to it. I do not claim that Biorock or concrete are capable of doing what can be accomplished with steel, but I will claim that acceptable small-scale results should be reachable using segregated depth pressurization and similar techniques. What won’t be reliably achievable is large-scale results, as Biorock probably won’t have the strength required to resist the bending loads in large, aquatic structures.
I don’t know why, but my mind turned immediately to thoughts of hollow spheres of Biorock in a closest-packed array when I first thought of designing a seastead, the second thought to confirming adequate buoyancy and strength for Biorock to be used in such fashion, and the third to the idea that every element should be pressurized for its intended depth, to minimize hydrostatic loads. Is this a natural way to approach such problems? We don’t normally design ships with internal airlocks and graduated pressures based on depth, but there you have it. I know it probably seems odd, the idea of dividing a facility into volumes vertically and using internal airlocks so that they can all be individually maintained near depth pressure, but that’s what may be required to attempt deep submergence, especially of something like a semi-submersible design, if it is done without high-strength materials. The good news is that it could be done if necessary, and such low-strength craft could be taken quite deep. It would not be capable of rapid changes in depth, as collecting and compressing the air required takes time, but then you can also think of the compressed air itself as currency or a kind of potential energy, and compressed air in a lower chamber, if channeled into upper chambers, could blow the ballast water out of over twice its former volume very reliably, (and for the benefit gained, to eliminate the risk of collapsing the lower chamber, let it flood, the return is worth it). Another factor that will slow this all down is heat exchange. A good deal of this compression and expansion is adiabatic, which means that the air expanding or being compressed will come through at a different temperature, and things won’t stabilize until their temperatures equalize.
How do you manage station-keeping at depth? A system that adjusts your ballast load by measuring depth pressure must necessarily expend energy to work. A Depth Anchor will accomplish this without the continuous energy expenditure. A depth anchor is massive and high density, as it is designed to make up the difference between positive and negative buoyancy for its target craft. A depth anchor will typically depend from a long cable, not a chain, long enough to reach bottom in the open sea. Once the ballast load in balanced and the depth anchor has reached bottom, adjusting the cable is all that is necessary for vertical maneuvering while submerged, and any specific depth can be held indefinitely without energy expenditure for ballast adjustments.
Think of it as a parking lot for smaller seasteads, this would be a large, massive platform of slight, positive buoyancy, tethered at a convenient depth for attachment, (maybe 200 – 300 feet), in open sea of inconvenient depth, (1,000 – 10,000 feet). Attachments would be triangulated for stability, both of the platform to the bottom, and of most seasteads to the platform. Site chosen would be a reasonable distance from shipping lanes, and adding a lighthouse pillar would probably be a good idea. Floating dock-work should also be included, both for the seasteads that would rather float, and for boats and ships of all sizes.
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Written by Theodore Schultz