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  • #24973
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    Scott
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    I’m looking to build an area of land large enough that (in conjunction with other similar units) would be entirely self sufficent. I’m hoping to ultimatly use it to provide homes and jobs to the homeless and refugees etc.

    In return, it needs to be able to produce enough excess food (both from fishing and farming) that it can be sold for enough profit to continue to expand. While I don’t envision this “competing with iowa” or solving world hunger, it should be at a minimum profitable.

    Because of the target audience, the cost has to be extremely low. I’m hoping to be able to offer people a home at no cost and allow them to work it off instead of outright buying it- this in turn gives more resources which can be used to build more modules.

    If going with an above-water solution, I was looking to design multiple “types” of modules with variable pricing depending on need. Something along the range of $50,000 – $100,000 /acre – with an ultimate goal to get the price of the lower end (mostly concrete) modules down to the $25,000 USD/acre range once the process is refined – you wouldn’t be able to do much with it at that price, but it could be an option for someone in dire straits.

    #24970
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    Scott
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    Ok than….. I am open to ideas here….. Pure concrete is too expensive – $4 million an acre is laughably expensive (and that is ellmers “poor mans” option) ….. every other option I’ve thrown at you guys you say won’t work…It almost feels as if you guys are invested in this NOT working (I’m not saying that is the case) but it quite simply has to be possible – every test i’ve done (with both designs) shows it will work…. but all i’m hearing from everyone here is “this doesn’t work, and that doesn’t work and don’t even bother we’re smarter than you and we can’t do it” I can accept that for the first design because it was quite a bit of cement and if you say it will cost that much i’ll take your word – but I can’t believe you that there is simply no way to do what i’m looking to do and dismissing every idea I bring out of hand doesn’t make for a very productive discussion – all you are doing there is discouraging people.

    So lets try this a different way…. WHY won’t that work – is it the position of the Helium – should the Airloy be moved to the bottom of the structure instead?

    Instead of telling me “as it is now it won’t work” tell me WHY it won’t work and what I can do to MAKE it work. The numbers add up with this approach, the little miniature I threw together (obviously without the graphene) held quite a bit more weight than the cement did alone or with just air in the tank….

    EDIT: These are not just ideas that i’m just “coming up with” – I’ve been researching this stuff for years in my spare time and rigorously since 2013. I’m only posting about them now because I’ve finally got the resources together to start prototyping and construction and i’m looking for the best option to accomplish my goal. I have over 10 designs which should work and another hundred or so (of god knows how many) that almost worked or otherwise had some potential for revision. It all comes down to cost – most of them were too expensive- I picked the one this go with the least material because it’s cheap to build….

    I’m anxious to get started as I’m hoping for a project completion date no later than January of 2017, so I apologize if I’m a little flustered, but I can’t accept “no” for an answer here – it’s simply not an option – so I need a way to do this and i’m on a time table. I’m asking for your help because you guys are the closest thing to an expert in the field there is, but it’s extremly frustrating and unhelpful when you say things like “it doesn’t work ’cause I said it doesn’t”

    Also just thought to add – the 1/8 inch of cement isn’t to hold ANYTHING – I could just as well leave the helium tank exposed to the ocean and not have it at all – i just added a small layer (it doesn’t have to be 1/8th an inch – that was just a rough estimate) of concrete to seal it up. Would it be better to use plastic or something else?

    #24968
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    Scott
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    Uhhh what? Go take a balloon filled with air out to the swimming pool and try to drag it under. Now do the same thing with a helium filled balloon. Hellium is lighter than air and thus more buoyant. You can repeat the same experiment if you put the balloon in a small lightweight plastic box. You can sit on the box with the helium, but the one filled with air you’ll sink a ways first.

    From the very article you pointed me at:

    If the weight of an object is less than the weight of the displaced fluid when fully submerged, then the object has an average density that is less than the fluid and when fully submerged will experience a buoyancy force greater than its own weight. If the fluid has a surface, such as water in a lake or the sea, the object will float and settle at a level where it displaces the same weight of fluid as the weight of the object. If the object is immersed in the fluid, such as a submerged submarine or air in a balloon, it will tend to rise. If the object has exactly the same density as the fluid, then its buoyancy equals its weight. It will remain submerged in the fluid, but it will neither sink nor float, although a disturbance in either direction will cause it to drift away from its position. An object with a higher average density than the fluid will never experience more buoyancy than weight and it will sink. A ship will float even though it may be made of steel (which is much denser than water), because it encloses a volume of air (which is much less dense than water), and the resulting shape has an average density less than that of the water.

    Also the 1/8th inch of cement at the bottom isn’t really meant to hold anything besides the tank which is pretty much weightless. It’s more of a seal against the water and to give it a bottom. The rest of the weight is being held by the airloy above the tank.

    #24964
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    Scott
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    The problem with doing a fully concrete barge is it’s weight bearing capacity vs cost. If you put 110 tons of soil on concrete it would sink like a stone unless the barge was absolutely huge. Even the newer concrete mixes that are designed for floating have a maximum weight they’ll bear before they sink and none of them can carry that much weight in any kind of reasonable dimension.

    The reason for the Helium is two fold:

    #1 – While it’s an expensive gas (relative to other gases like oxygen and hydrogen), filling a tank of helium is a heck of a lot cheaper than filling that same space with concrete and you get a lot more boyency out of it. The Graphene keeps the tank from losing any of the helium so it never (or super rarely) needs to be refilled or replaced.

    #2 – All the extra boyency from the helium adds a lot of upwards pressure resulting in the ability to carry much greater loads. Also, if you make the “tank” able to carry more helium than you initially use, if you need to add a large amount of weight to the module you can add additional helium to counteract the additional weight.

    #24960
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    Scott
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    Hi @spark – did I do something wrong with my formula above? I had already figured it to be about 11k Metric Tons per acre for 6 feet of soil.

    That being said, I think I might have to curtail my soil expectations for cost purposes……

    You could grow grass with a good foot and 1/2 of soil, and most crops with 2-3 feet. I had originally wanted 10 feet to allow for larger plants like trees to grow over time, but that is obviously asking too much for starts.

    So using my calculation (until you can confirm what I did wrong above?) I could get away with about 6,500 metric tons of soil for a “light” farming “module”, and even less for “living modules” that could contain housing, commercial space, whathaveyou. This would still allow for grass (or you could use artificial) while allowing the soil to help disperse the weight on the airloy.

    I was also thinking a bit further ahead (I do that) and was thinking of how these would be “linked” to one another. What I think would work best is to configure them in a “square”. I’ll establish a standard rectangular “module” size at ~1 acre in size. 20 modules would line up in a row to form a “side” – on each end of the “side” a smaller, and more square “Connector” platform can be erected. these act as connectors for each side, and some light temporary structures could be placed on them as well (they are essentially just a big block of concrete) for commercial use etc. – they don’t have to be particularly strong – their primary purpose is to connect the sides and create a barrier around the interior.

    Once a square is completed, you’ll have something that looks something sorta like this (forgive the terribly crude drawing)

    Obviously not to scale in the slightest, the red squares are just concrete blocks, the green are modules (rows of 20), while the blues are water. The concrete block on the interior is for desalination and providing fresh water to the entire colony. A radio/wifi tower could be erected here as well for communications. Later versions could also include a “shelter” here in the case of a natural (or unnatural) disaster- because it’s central to the square it should be relatively easy to find and reach from anywhere in the colony.

    #24947
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    Scott
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    How much would 6 feet of soil weigh per acre?

    Found the formula….

    Acre An acre furrow slice is the volume or soil in an acre of topsoil 6-7 inches deep.
    The estimated weight of soil in an acre furrow slice is 2,000,000#.
    Area Furrow Slice
    1 acre 43,560 ft2 2,000,000 lbs

    So using 6 inches as a furrow, 6 feet of soil will weigh approximately 24,000,000 lbs or 10886.21688 metric tons (10 714.2857 imperial tons).

    That is a LOT of weight…. the airloys should be strong enough to hold that based on the tables I linked to above right?

    #24942
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    Scott
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    @ellmer – I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday and today doing just that. Spent the entire day doing research on ballons, helium construction, aerogels and airloys, etc. etc. etc.

    As far as I can tell, no one has ever considered building on top of a giant helium bubble. The reasoning being that until VERY recently, it would have been nearly impossible without frequently replacing the helium (which is an expensive gas) in the tank. Helium is such a small atom that it passes through almost everything – the few things that it doesn’t pass through are generally so heavy that they would defeat the purpose of the helium bubble. In 2004, Graphene was discovered. Almost all of the research around it has been on either it’s thermal and conductive properties, or around making an actual balloon out of it. As I’m not looking to use the Helium to fly like most of the research has been around, I can use much thicker layers making the cost lower and application significantly easier – in fact you can purchase sheets of graphene for pretty cheap which I think would do the trick (I’ll need to order some for testing) – https://graphene-supermarket.com/Conductive-Graphene-Sheets.html

    As for the Airloys, they have only been commercially available for a short time, take a while to make, and are primarily being sold for the thermal protection they offer, rather than their weight bearing properties. I have already contacted them with questions although any others you guys can suggest to ask would be helpful as well.

    @spark – I have the resources to begin a prototype, and could complete it over time. Once I have the base theories proven (essentially what @ellmer said above – feasibility testing etc.) I can also look for investments, maybe even see about doing some crowd funding – that’s all a bit down the line however…. before I can even begin feasibility testing I need to determine that there is no fundamental flaw in the physics of the project, or that something is not a lot more expensive than I think it is going to be – hence why I am posting here in hopes that if there is something fundamentally wrong someone will point it out to me before I waste enormous amounts of money.

    As for “would I be happy” living on a thing like that, that’s a matter of perspective. The kinds of settlers I’d be looking to attract aren’t exactly the picky sort…

    As for financially sustainable, I think it would be although that will all come to light while testing. There are really only a few basic materials: The airloys, the Cement, the “tank”, Helium, Graphene, and possibly a small ammount of a hydrophobic aerogel (which is essentially a powder). None of these materials is outrageously expensive, and the basic design is mechanically simple and should be able to be maintained with unskilled to lightly skilled (apprentice-level) labor.

    #24917
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    Scott
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    I did the rough math as best I could and if I’m right that would actually be light enough to float (with a balloon – not from the helium in the “tank”) if you removed the soil (or didn’t add it until after it was at its destination) – that would mean you could build this on land and than move it to the water for next to nothing……

    This would be for a 1 acre “section” – 20 of these would be 20 acres etc.

    #24916
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    Scott
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    What about something like this?

    You’d be able to carry a lot of weight with very little material this way.

    Graphene is impenetrable by helium – thus no air dispersion – worst case if the seal isn’t 100%, you’d have to add a little helium every few decades….

    The airloy material is a commercially available aerogel (expensive, but you’d need FAR less of it) hardened to carry obscene amounts of weight – http://www.airloy.com/category/productlines/ – thus you’d only need a relatively thin layer to support the weight of several feet of soil along with structures etc.

    The bottom layer of cement can be lined with a hydrophobic aerogel (This stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12QJKET1Dq8) in order to be guaranteed to keep salt water from the helium “tank” if needed (to prevent corrosion of the tank which could lead to helium leakage).

    Thoughts?

    #24909
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    Scott
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    Thanks for the info guys…. looks like I’m going to have to rethink this – I need to make those numbers work (or get as close as possible), so if Cement won’t do it I need to find something that will…

    #24790
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    Scott
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    That’s because you are comparing it to the most expensive desirable real estate (and yachts? the hell?) in the country. You need to compare it to the CHEAPEST possible land you can buy anywhere (in the country or not), because for the average person living anywhere on land is more desirable than living out at sea and people aren’t going to move out there unless there is an economic reason to do so.

    Think about it this way – you are building a Hyundai, and trying to sell it for the same price as a Ferrari- yeah you CAN try to sell it for that price, but even if it has some neat new novel feature, you are not likely to get a lot of sales because no one really wants to drive a Hyundai when they can get a Ferrari for the same price. You have two choices at that point – build a Ferrari which is going to cost you a lot more and you aren’t likely to find as many buyers, or find a way to make that Hyundai at a price point that people will pay for it- comparative to other low-end cars- or in this case compared to other undesirable locations like land in the desert etc.

    #24788
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    Scott
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    Yeah you keep pointing me to that thread, but the numbers in there are bogus. Due to the extreme costs listed there, none of those options are feasible, which again is why I am looking into alternative methods.

    The only reasons people would voluntarily move to a seastead or underwater platform are:

    A.) They are rich and want to try something “new” – this is your only viable candidate based on the numbers you listed.
    B.) They are poor or are trying to get away from an oppressive/progressive government etc. – This is the vast majority of potential candidates and who I am trying to target.

    At an absolute maximum, 10 people should be able to split the cost of a platform and pay no more than $50,000 a piece – and that is an extremely high cost for the value. If you can’t find a way to create a platform for that much cash ($500,000 for 20 acres is a LOT) to START (once you have tooling etc. that price should me much lower) than you need to throw away the book and try something new.

    Keep in mind that that “Nebraska” land you mentioned is too expensive for most of these people – the ONLY way seasteading will ever take off is if it is significantly less than that….

    #24783
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    Scott
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    What if instead of concrete you used a hydrophobic aerogel encased in hard plastic or something similar? (to prevent it from being “crushed”)

    The downside is that would make a highly boyent structure at a much lower cost I think…. I’d need to crunch those numbers (pun intended), but I think it would run pretty low…. the stuff is stronger than the cement as long as you don’t put severely uneven pressure on it, floats like a dream, and can be made pretty flexible at a higher cost (SEAgel).

    You’d need a heavier anchor and it would certainly float like in your pictures – this might actually be a better process for a floating structure than a sunken one…. :(

    #24782
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    Scott
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    Yeah…. I think the difference here is both in application and expectation. I am looking to essentially make a large underwater “field” that can be used for things such as farming. That 20 Acre plot of land would have maybe 5 small structures, 6 if you included a barn or granary/storehouse. It flat out couldn’t cost that much because you wouldn’t be able to attract the low wage workers you would need to run the place. Total population? Maybe 8-10 people who would be GIVEN ‘land’ in exchange for a % of their farming output (which would than be sold and re-invested into more domes) or something along those lines (maybe not given but sold at cost?).

    You on the other hand seem to be looking to make a city-like structure with a much denser population where you can split it up into “real estate units” to sell piecemeal.

    #24780
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    Scott
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    Still isn’t going to work with those numbers….. even using the “poor mans island” technique described there, you are still looking at about $4,000,000 for a 20 acre piece of land….. for that price you might as well just buy regular every day land – you can buy a 20 acre plot for $100,000 in some parts of the US…..including a house! My goal is to actually make something that is affordable, and none of those techniques are for any but the richest of people.

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