Solutions for Self-Reliance

Natural Gas leaks, Vertical Hydroponics and Vertical Planters

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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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