What's That? (57)

Puzzle Series: What is this, or what do you want it to be?

  • sprklg 10y

  • Todd Huffman 10y

    How much NOx and CO2 have to be pushed through this thing in order to make an installation profitable? On the other end, how large can it be scaled to?

    The systems design doesnt appear to be optimized very well, any model on how improvements will affect efficiency? For instance, I think you have the tubes at an angle to decrease the speed at which the gas bubbles through the mixture. Why not put internal platforms with perforations to disperse the bubbles, giving a higher level of control.

    Then you could have the tube upright, and use a mirror system to control how much light is applied, increasing the number of productive hours per day. The mirrors could be on a circular axis, rotating to fit the sun. See below...

    Turn this ASCII on its side...


    ..\ <-mirror

    Does that make any sense? Maybe my interpretation of the function is off-base.
  • Kevin Trotman 10y

    DOH! I missed another Jurvetson Puzzle.

    Steve, what would happen if these "artificially evolved" greenies got loose into the wild?

    Good idea oddwick!
  • Todd Huffman 10y

    If the artificially evolved greenies got loose, they would probably die off pretty quickly. They have been tuned for a highly specific environment not found in the wild, and probably wouldn't get very far.

    The field of customizing microbes is starting to pick up, successes in decomposing petrochemical wastes got it a lot of popularity. If you have an organism that has a short life-cycle, you can start putting selective evolutionary pressure on it and make significant progress pretty quickly.

    Just wait a few years, you will be able to specify a biochemical task, and then custom build an organism to do it. What do you think Venter is going to do with his databases of microbial genomes from the ocean?
  • AndrewNZ 10y

    Steve, I drew this picture to the attention of the Green Party here in NZ and there's been a bit of a discussion about it on their blog.
  • Nell M 10y

    That is my daily beauty regime. The first 4 are for my hair (washing, conditioning, shine, body), the fifth one is to exfoliate and humect, the next one is an undereye cream... what, am I boring you?

    Just kidding. I would love to have this in my backyard. It would be great for Mexico city's smog. Steve, it is awesome to know you invested in this company. Hopefully, I'll soon see them everywhere!
  • Solitaire1 10y

    looks just like something I am drinking daily here in Oz..:)
  • Leino Olé 10y

    FYI - small snipit about Greenfuel, somewhere around page 35, in this months's Business 2.0
  • Steve Jurvetson 10y

    Nice. Thanks for all the thoughts, pointers, and free associations.

    Andrew: wow. There are a lot of smart people down under. Thanks for starting the thread over there. Interesting that the CO2 discussion has overshadowed the 86% NOx reduction potential.

    Oddwick: Did someone mention Venter? Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

    As to the system optimization question, let me share some optics thoughts (top of mind reaction; not an official answer): Regarding inner-tube structures, using off-the-shelf cylinders may be cheaper and more easily sourced in volume. The tilt also serves a solar alignment benefit. Going vertical and using a flat mirror does not buy a space savings. Solar collectors are often used as concentrators to put the energy conversion device at the focal point into the optimal temperature and light flux regime. If concentration is not needed here, then mirrors may only provide a solar tracking benefit, but that trades off with the cost and reliability of moving parts. The rows of cylinders, in fixed position, offer a decent one-dimensional arc to couple to daily solar cycles (but not seasonal). There are some solar concentrator designs that use fixed rows of cylinders as lenses for a linear target, so I’m guessing that they are reasonably efficient for fixed installations. Just some thoughts on the optics. Maybe the algae would prefer a mirror and a high-rise lifestyle…. ;-)
  • Todd Huffman 10y

    Steve: Good point on the cost benefits. The mirrors are mainly to provide solar tracking, increasing the number of productive units per day, and may not offset the cost of mirrors and control mechanisms.

    There might be added benefit in making production more constant. With the static tube setup, there is going to be a peak production point, as the sun is in *just* the right spot, and lead up and drop downs to the left and right. To make the system feasible, you will need to over build your system, so that at non-peak hours you are still processing reasonable amounts of waste.

    There are two ways to make production throughput better, a sun-tracking system I mentioned before, or a staggered setup. The basic principle of the tracking system is to keep all tubes at top production all day. The staggered setup would have different sets of tubes reaching peak production at different times of the day, as one drops off in production, the next tubes pick up. There would likely need to be some static mirror arrangements for early and late in the day.

    The staggered setup requires more tubes to be installed, and the tracking system requires complicated machinery. I know the costs of neither, so couldnt make a decision on which is better.

    Of course, All of these options depend on the needs of the power plants, which I have no basis to form an informed opinion. However, from the figures I am pulling out of my donkey, I am willing to bet they would pay a premium for sustained production capabilities.

    A very interesting company, I wish them well. (Though I doubt they need my wishes, they must be doing things right if you are investing in them.)
  • Todd Huffman 10y


    Just had an idea. We are all big fans of self-organizing systems around here (thats why we like social software, right?) and we could just let the waste management system optimize itself!

    Euglena envelope green algae and use it as an energy production source, and the euglena have an eyespot the use to seek out light. By using euglena, you can just have an upright tank, and they will position themselves in an optimal arrangement.

    I dont think this will actually work, because the bubbling would probably be too disruptive for the self-organizing to take place. It could work for other types of waste management, such as finding traces of highly toxic chemicals in water sources. If you replace the photoreceptor with a chemical receptor tuned to the waste, the euglena would hunt down the appropriate junk.
  • gordinha. 10y

    good question Oo" : x
  • Todd Huffman 9y

  • Jaanus Silla 9y

    What is the name of the algae?, is it genetically improved? would you think it would be feasable for Eesti Põlevkivi to put one of these on their roof to reduce emmission gasses. If so, what would they win?
  • 0.618 8y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Future Living, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.
  • More Th>n Living 8y

    Hi, thanks for publishing this photo under an attribution license.

    We just wanted to let you know that we've used it to illustrate a post on More Th>n Living - Biofuels compared.

    Hope you enjoy the article!

  • manel.loosveldt 7y

    A bioreactor...
  • Gildas 5y

    Wonderful shot.

    Really love it.
    Good evening
  • Thomas Hasper 5y

    Hi there,
    I wonder if you can give me permission to use this photo in my MSc dissertation? It will not be published in any scientific magazine and all references to the photo and name of your site will be written in the references.
    Best regards,
    Thomas Hasper
  • Sofie 5y

    hey guys, interesting topic here!
    Have borrowed your pic for a similar chat on my blog (aiming to cover some 'cliffnotes' of biofuels).
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