Natural Gas leaks, Vertical Hydroponics and Vertical Planters

Here are a couple of the things I found interesting this week.  Thought you would find them interesting too.

Natural Gas leaks

Here’s something disturbing.  The natural gas pipeline system that supplies 65 million customers in the US is not only old, it’s poorly maintained.   Some of the pipes in the Boston area are over a century old and made with cast iron and (even) wood.

The problem is that a financially strapped US simply doesn’t invest in infrastructure anymore.

How badly are these pipes leaking?  A recent study by Boston University found 3,000 leaks at the street level in the Boston area.   A handful of these leaks were large enough to be explosive.

There are even some civil suits underway against gas companies for the damage natural gas leaks have caused to trees/vegetation (there’s $133 m in property damage a year from leaks).  This suggests that it can’t be healthy for the people living there.

What to do?

A community can minimize the risk if they drive around neighborhoods regularly and check for leaks (like the BU team did).  It would be great if it was possible to rent a version of the “cavity-ring-down mobile CH4 analyzer” they used.

It’s important to remember:  a squeaky wheel gets the grease (in this case, the repairs).

Vertical Hydroponics

I’m always on the look out for ways to make it easy to produce lots of food in small areas with the least possible effort.  One way to do that is via wall mounted hydroponics systems that use the nutrient film technique (NFT).

NFT is simply a hydroponics system that flows an aerated nutrient solution (compost tea) across the roots of plants.  Usually, this is the technique used in big commercial hydroponics systems.

Here’s an example of a kit from a New Zealand company called Grower Technology in a smaller, vertical application.

If you have other examples, please send them to me.

Vertical Planters

I also found another couple of interesting vertical planters this week.  This pyramid planter from a small Danish company called Triolife is interesting.   Would like to see an open hardware design for this.

Here’s another, more conventional design.  I can’t find the designer.  It’s also begging for an open hardware design.

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  • Stephen Clay McGehee

    The Vertigro system – – is a commercial system that has been very successful. I have a friend who uses it both commercially and for his own vegetable gardening. There is also a community garden near here when people buy shares of the garden produce, and that also uses the Vertigro system. I’ve seen small Vertigro systems in use on very small suburban lots in town. It is definitely a system worth considering.

    • John Robb

      Thanks Stephen.

  • different clue

    Natural gas (methane) is also a very powerful infra-red radiation re-reflector gas, which makes it 20 times more powerful a global warming gas . . . molecule for molecule . . . than carbon dioxide. All that leaking methane goes into the atmosphere, spreads out, mixes in, and helps warm the global.

    Plus, I just almost betcha that the gas companies measurestimate how much methane is leaking out of their pipelines and figure out how to divide and spread the “lost value” out over the bills of all the gas buyers.

    • Jan Woodman

      How do you propose we eliminate the methane currently released by cattle??

  • d. fish

    this is exactly why natgas should not be considered “resilient” by any stretch longer than the very short term. we should be considering alternatives to wean us all off it as quickly as possible.

    • John Robb

      d., It’s just another source of energy. Use it when it’s available and inexpensive, switch away from it when it’s not. The key to resilience is being able to switch when needed — i.e. be omnivorous in your consumption of energy — rather than finding a “safe” source of energy.


    Hi!, Patrons Of Resilient Communities Et Al:

    We’re all familiar with the dictum: if it ain’t broke; then don’t fix it but in this case we have the opposite: it’s broken so fix it!! For the amount of risk involved where these gas leaks are occuring, there’s absolutely no excuse not to fix the real problems. We spend hundreds of millions a year of taxpayer’s earnings just to conduct idiotic experiments about which no one actually cares that much to know their outcomes and so why can’t the wasted funds be spent on legitimate concerns is way beyond my mortal comprehension and how about yours’ dear reader(s)? Where are the conscientious insurers in these important concerns, in order to maintain the disciplines of prevention before there are massive insurance claims they could be called upon to honor or is this condition just plain uninsurable? How many small children & their pets could be living in death traps under these unsound conditions without proper surveillance regards prevention? Are these conditions just one humiliating/bad incident away from changing peopes’s thinking and their coarse of actions regards these gas leaks?

    RUSS SMITH, CALIFORNIA (One Of Our Broke Staets Going Broker Daily)

  • Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin

    I just came across your site! Great stuff, my wife and I are really making a big push to finally start hydroponics in the new year. We will be using this post and your site as a starting point. Thank you and I look forward to following you!

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