Monday, 5 May 2014

Self-sufficiency solutions

So, I was talking to a friend today, who has very similar interests to me. What was supposed to be, maybe, a half hour chat, turned into four hours on Skype batting ideas around for a better world. 
There’s something that’s been kicking about in my head for a while now, and, after talking to him, he’s advised me to come up with a pitch, so to speak.
I should point out that, at heart, we’re both old hippies who want to save the world. We’re also both IT bods and a tad geeky when it comes to technology. So the conversation started off with me introducing my friend to the world of cryptocurrencies. He lives in Scotland and Scotcoin is about to announce its virtual IPO before distributing coins to applicants.
I began by introducing him to an episode Max Keiser (who hates everything to do with the banking system) singing the praises of Bitcoin.  Needless to say, he was grabbed straight away, and, seeing as he’s running a server at home, went and spent £50 on Blackcoin and Dogecoin from

After that, I introduced him to the technology that he needs, most of which he is already running. Again, something else to do with being a techy type, what I’m loving about the emergence of the cryptocurrencies is the technology that it's innovating behind it.

It was at that moment that I had a one of those 'holy shit/eureka'-type moments. Now, this might sound really simple, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. If there’s something that modern society could with less of, it’s complications.

If you know anything about cryptocurrencies, then you know the safest place to keep them is on your own rig than save at some vault! It didn’t work out too well for those at MT Gox. That’s the beauty of the system though, there’s no 'too big to fail'. No bail outs. Your money is sovereign to you, and you make more as you contribute and improve the technology you’re running.
So, if each of us can be sovereign monetarily, how else could we incorporate that technology into our everyday lives? This got me wondering about how we could incorporate that technology into something like smart homes. But what do you consider a truly smart home for the 21st century? I’ve had an idea mulling over in my head, drawn from hours of research, that I think could make the best option for affordable, sustainable housing.
For me, the first thing we need to do is introduce hemp farming on an industrial scale. Hemp is proving to be one of the boom industries of the 21st century, if the reports are to be believed.
Earlier today, Hemp, Inc. released it’s sales figures for the first quarter of 2014. After an outstanding end of 2013, many expected a good first quarter, but an increase of 1,182% over the the same period of time of last year was not in the forecast.
So, as a start off, we have a multimillion dollar industry that can grow into other things. This brings us back to the smart homes. Hempcrete is being touted as the building material of the future.
Doesn’t it make sense to grow a crop that we can use to build homes rather than go mining or quarrying for materials? Also, this material could be used in the same 3d printers that have just been used in china to build ten houses in 24 hours, making healthy homes for all.
The next problem was the windows. Well as it turns out, hemp has that covered too.
We already have the technology for plastics from hemp. If we can develop it to make something along the lines of PVC windows, then they’re also solved.

But if this is going to be a truly smart home then surely it should be off-grid, right? Well. that was my thinking, and I’m going with the flow here. Yes, hemp can cover this too. However it will take some bright little techy type out there to help me with that bit. The majority of it I think I have already.
Ok, how many of you have heard of the wonder material of the age: graphene? Well here’s an intro for you:
So hemp can provide graphene with massive storage for capacitors. How can that be exploited?
So, now we have a super-efficient energy conversion material coupled with a super-efficient storage system. Supplying it to household goods, I’ll leave to someone smarter than me, who may have already seen something that could be implemented with this technology.
Can we make these systems without panels? If the house is made of materials, conducive to using an outer covering such as this, then yes.

Now comes the part that you techy types are going to love. Incorporate all of the above technologies into 3d printing. These kind of homes could be made anywhere all from one plant.
This would also have a massive impact on the shell fish industry as, rather than going strip mining for limestone, we could use oyster shells to create lime.
Any pollution caused would be negated by the fact that there would be hemp growing all around.
CO2 Absorbed per tonne of hemp stem 1.37t
CO2 Absorbed per hectare (stem) (UK) 7.47 to 11.25t
CO2 Absorbed per hectare (root and leaf) UK) 1.40 to 2.06t
Any pollution that did make it to the sea would again be absorbed by the shell fish.
This method seems to me to be entirely sustainable.

So, now we have our materials sourced and applied, our 3d printed home that we each designed ourselves, being maintained by our mining rig computer looking after our own money. We have a completely energy-efficient system proposed and a way to be financially sovereign from any government or centralised organisation and, finally, we’re free of the system. Free from the corporatocracy and the fossil fuel age.

If this appeals to you, please run with it. Develop the tech, make it open source, let everyone have a bit of this and come together as one, in the interest of all.