May 21, 2008 at 12:48 pm #2170
I’m not opposed to composting. I just think that an added processing step for safety is not a bad idea. There is very little space on board any kind of floating vessel or even a small island. Additionally, the consequences of contamination are pretty high- far from medical help or food security if your habitat becomes tainted. If I can guarantee the death of any human-specific pathogens and THEN compost the remainder, then I believe an adequate level of safety is achieved. In fact, once the waste matter is safe, it can be quite useful even aside from making soil- methane digesters would seem practical for use. Both products- methane and soil, could be useful both on the seastead and in trade with Pacific Islands.May 21, 2008 at 1:20 pm #2171
I saw somewhere on the site someone mentioned that a Seasteader might find packaging materials to be an annoyance that perhaps would be eliminated or reduced by re-packing from “manufacturers ridiculous amounts” and leaving the crap behind.
- Here’s another take on that. It’s quite likely that a Seassteader would be choosy about the method of packing goods. Just perhaps not in quite the way that poster thinks.
- Most manufacturers don’t add extra packaging except for small, one-off retail items.
- Packaging costs are significant in manufacturing and nobody wants to spend ewaste money.
- So packaging is designed to make sure that contents arrive where they need to be intact. That’s a good thing. In fact, Seasteaders could possibly have higher standards for packing delicate or costly items, because of the difficulty and expense of replacing items damaged in shipping.
- Plus, the packaging itself could be useful to a Seastead where it’s just more landfill material to most people. Wooden pallets have become a valued commodity in recent years, where they were conssidered too cheap to bother re-using a few decades ago. Cardboard has a lot of uses, and can typically be used over and over again. I’ve recently seen boxes printed from the manufacturer with the advice “Use this box at least 5 times before discarding. Do Not Cut.” Even styrofoam can make a good insulator.
I imagine the wise seasteader would tend towards preferring items made of glass, metal, and wood over plastic anyway, simply for the ability to reuse or remanufacture the item when broken. Or failing that, items and packaging that may be safely and soundly incinerated at relatively low temperatures without too much specialized equipment.May 21, 2008 at 4:25 pm #2184
If you have a steam turbine or just a oil burner you can burn the packaging and get electricity/heat out of it. In fact the packaging might offset the energy consumed by burning human waste. Most packaging today is made to be burned without adverse effects on nature so it´s hardly an environmental problem.May 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm #2187
Any steam turbine that is made to be able to feed any size of any conceivably burnable material in as fuel is not likely to be very efficient. Consistent fuel feeding is a necessity for any kind of power generation. And many types of materials for packaging require more energy to burn than they release, particularly at lower tempreatures, and high-temp incinerators require considerably more design work than a simple burn barrel.May 21, 2008 at 5:52 pm #2190
I really dislike the forums. I totally missed this great discussion thread until now.
I don’t really know what we are going to do about human waste. As someone who used to own an RV, I can tell you it is not as awful to handle as everybody treats it. It is just gross. I would prefer to do something useful with it (like use it to grow food, ewww….) However, in the worst case, we may just put into containers and ship it back to the mainland for disposal. Not an imaginative solution, but it would work.
For other forms of garbage, that can be to be sent back to the mainland to enter the standard waste disposal stream. Aluminum and metal cans will be recycled, paper will be shredded, etc.
notwant to be viewed as polluters. That would be very bad public relations.May 21, 2008 at 6:23 pm #2192May 21, 2008 at 9:07 pm #2197
You’re not going to be incinerating tons of municipal waste every day. The particular mix of waste you have on a seastead will be much more limited and will likely include far less that is naturally combustible without treatment: feces can be burned, but must be either very dry or have fuel added. Think about the cost of adding a steam turbine to your incinerator which then recovers (as electricity) a small portion of the waste heat generated by forcing trash and feces to burn at a temperature hot enough to completely consume it without generating nxious clouds of stench and noxious fumes.
May 21, 2008 at 9:13 pm #2198
- Many things are possible, fewer are feasible, and even less are worth the expense and bother of doing.
Pollution is often in the eye of the beholder.
- There is so much stuff dumped in the ocean every day that causes no harm because the ocean is such a large system that it can handle a lot of it.
- Volume has a lot to do with it. Smoke from a campfire is not pollution but smoke from a million industrial smokestacks is.
- Dumping non-toxic things which don’t float into the ocean will piss off some people, but not most reasonable people.
- On the other hand, if you plan to spend decades inone place, you don’t want the ocean floor under you to get clutterred and untidy.
Th ebiggest problem with dumping metal stuff over the side is that it is wasteful. Materials have awhole new value when they become scarcer and more expesnive to transport. When we finally make it to the moon, we won’t have to worry much about trash being strewn across the place because every BIT of processed material will find its way into use over and over again. I would bet on tons of extremely innovative recycling techniques coming out of the seastead movement, because necessity is the mother of invention.May 22, 2008 at 12:59 pm #2240
Never sh1t on your own doorstep is how the old saying go’s. And in the case of seasteading its probably not good to do it on your neighbours doorstep either
“I would bet on tons of extremely innovative recycling techniques coming out of the seastead movement, because necessity is the mother of invention.”
Thats the spirit that we should be following. Not only would innovative recycling be the healthy option for a seastead but also a good example for the world. The amount of waste we create every day is insane. Some days when I take out the trash I wonder how much longer we can get away with it. Its that sinking feeling you get when you take out a volume of garbage that is not much smaller than your own body. Even the largest system will eventually be bogged down by garbage, floating or not. Improved recycling techniques will also be beneficial for future space colonisation efforts.
I see seasteads as being very similar in nature to off planet bases with some obvious exceptions. An underground moonbase wouldnt be growing shrimp and algae. Thinking of Shrimp, crabs and crayfish it just occured to me that any excess of sterilized human excretia and food waste that doesnt get composted would do well to be used as food for crayfish and shrimp farming. Before you scream cries of EEEEW and Gross! you should remember that these animals thrive on that sort of waste and we would have a decent method of sterilisation before any such feeding occured.May 23, 2008 at 7:31 am #2277
“Setting up a regular sewage treatment plant could perhaps be possible of course. “
May 23, 2008 at 8:53 am #2279
- Probably not practical, if by “regular” you mean a conventional land-based sewage treatment facilty as practiced in the United States. That is a very large facility, with various settling, holding, and aerating tanks, additives to increase precipitation of solid wastes, and it takes time to process. Then the solid waste disposal becomes another issue, because it’s still not entirely “safe”. Even on land, that type of system has its critics for being expensive, wasteful in terms of energy, space, and cost, when there are other more natural options.
- Regular wastewater treatment plants also have infrastructure problems relating to greywater/blackwater systems all feeding into it. Storm water run-off tends to overwhelm the facilities, and really doesn’t need “treatment” anyway. A seastead should probably seperate and re-use greywater before adding it to blackwater treatment. In addition, you’ll have seawater systems. I don’t know what effect seawater will have on treating your wastes biologically, when it comes to composting etc.
- More than just biological inputs accrete in municipal sewer systems. There are still alot of dumb-asses that dump used motoroil down the drain, and other toxic crap. Waste water treatment plants have to deal with that, which they sometimes do quite poorly, but still, it’s a design consideration. If a seastead fdoes this kind of thing, they will quickly poison themselves. There just won’t be the redundancy built into the system to handle that.
This thread got me thinking about using mushrooms to sterilize/compost the waste. I know many mushrooms have antimicrobial properties, so perhaps a strain could be grown in a septic tank type of system which would digest the waste.
May 23, 2008 at 9:41 am #2280
- I started doing research on it, but it seems little has been done using mushrooms to treat human waste. But I did find this article: http://wmr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/9/1/453 which fits in with the mention of possibilities for space travel. It’s highly likely that methods for waste disposal have already been researched by the various space exploring/settling agencies. We could borrow from, and then contribute to, their body of knowledge.
I had a few thoughts about using mushrooms as well. I think its quite possible (I have a fair bit of shroom cultivation experience.) My only concern would be infections, mycelium is quite easily infected and could render the mushrooms inedible. Commercial mushroom substrate is almost always sterilized in a large pressure cooking drum. Mushrooms would probably do quite well on sterile precomposted waste.
I think that an efficient eco/bio friendly waste disposal system is something that will not only benefit seasteaders but land dwellers and space travellers.May 23, 2008 at 10:02 am #2282
- What kind of space would that require?
- Could you do stacks of long trays, a few inches high, sort of a mushroom version of hydroponics?
- Presupposing that the waste was sterilized and pre-composted, how much bulk do you need for mushrooms to grow?
- A couple centimeters depth? A handspan? Half meter?
I still think irradiation as the most efficient form of sterilization…May 23, 2008 at 10:38 am #2284
If you were growing shrooms using liquid faeces you might be able to grow them on a perlite substrate in trays 2 to 3 inches deep the liquid sewerage could flow at a depth of maybe one inch through the bottom of the perlite. This is just a theory and a proper mycologist should be consulted.May 23, 2008 at 12:49 pm #2294
Apparently: -the phosphorus and nitrogen in sewage from one person is worth approximately 50 Swedish kronor annually-
This is according to the aquaponics specialists at http://rainbow.konto.itv.se/mailgroup/f499.htm
It would be interesting to see what sort of growing systems can be created using aquaponic principles and human waste.
This company specialises in bioponics and already has tried and tested solutions for the sustainable management of sewerage: http://www.aquaponicsglobal.com/capacity.htm
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