Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Wall. How Tall?

The Donald wants to build a wall and he wants them to pay for it.

What a pity. If they pay for it, they will own it. If they own it, they will make billions!

The Donald wants to give away all the profits that could have been destined for America. And he wants to build it 30-40 feet high. That's to be expected from a man who thinks small, but there's little profit to be made in such a limited and limiting project.

Let's be ambitious. Let's build a wall 30-40 stories tall, from Tijuana / San Diego to Matamoros / Brownsville, something like this: 

Linear City architecture by Gilles Gauthier
We're talking about 1,989 miles (3,201 kilometers) of linear city.

This is not a new idea...

"I would take the apartment house and all its conveniences and comforts
out among the farms by the aid of wires, pipes and of
rapid and noiseless transportation."
Edgar Chambless, Roadtown, 1910

And there's plenty of support for the idea, including City Mayors from around the world.

Along the Rio Grande, it could look like this...

Arcosanti
Paolo Soleri
Now what does this have to do with solar nations? Well, take a look at this ...


As you can see from the map, Mexico is south of the USA. So all the offices, shopping centers, condos, and podcar networks on the Wall will face south — from one end to the other.

... and properly sized overhangs will shade the south-facing windows
from the high summer sun.
(See more at the Windows South website.)
Now you might ask how everyone in a high rise can have south-facing windows. Aren't half of the units going to face north?

Nope, not if we take Michael Graves' approach:

Grounds for Sculpture, Michael Graves
(YouTube)

... which was modeled after Unite d' Habitation in Marseilles, the architectural scheme originally developed in 1952 by Le Corbusier:









... in which all units had both south and north fa├žades.

You can learn more by exploring the Four Donkey Method of Bioclimatic Design.
Plus there will be Solar Skyways running continuously along the entire route, eliminating the need for Mexican Oil ... or oil of any sort, for that matter.


Conclusions?

The election hasn't happened yet, so the future of "the wall" is to be determined. For now, I can say this much:
  • The expansion of a border wall is ludicrous – and an environmental disaster to boot. 
  • On the other hand, more livable border cities? Well that might be worth further consideration.
  • Solar-oriented buildings (along the border or otherwise) will bring greater comfort and reduce border tensions.
  • Solar transportation will help the energy transition (whether in linear cities or where you live now).
  • Good design can give bright, sunny, comfortable living spaces featuring functional, effective south and north facades.
  • If, in order to pass through the border, you must have dinner with someone living in the linear city, then people on both sides will become better neighbors. 
Let's build solar powered cities, along the border and beyond!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The US DOT-Advocacy or monopoly?

We have a lot to think about...
An Act in Relation to Removal of Obstructions to Navigation in the Mouth of the Mississippi River
"What a vast field would the exercise of this power open for jobbing and corruption! Members of Congress, from an honest desire to promote the interest of their constituents, would struggle for improvements within their own districts, and the body itself must necessarily be converted into an arena where each would endeavor to obtain from the Treasury as much money as possible for its own locality.  The temptation would prove irresistible."

President Buchanan's veto message, February 1860
Eight presidents have proclaimed foreign oil to be an enemy.



The US Department of Energy has a "sustainable transportation" program within its EERE Office. Is there money for sustainable transportation within that program?

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies$105 m
Bioenergy Technologies279 m
Vehicle Technologies468 m

What do you think?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Disruption is 10X – Innovation is 2X

In Silicon Valley we hear a lot about innovation. It is the mantra for entrepreneurs, managers, engineers, educators, even our local politicians.

Disruption >> Innovation

What's a little harder to see is disruption to the entire order. We are so used to change in Silicon Valley that we don't always see how fast a complete transformation shifts into place ... or what it takes for that shift to happen.

Since I first heard Bucky Fuller explain the essential discipline of doing more with less, shifting from "fossil fuels" to renewable energy has been the obvious answer for me. I still regularly encounter skepticism, but that's normal for those of us who act upon the pressing need for clean energy.

One person who has done an excellent job of articulating this need and the opportunity it represents is Tony Seba [video]. He calls it Clean Disruption [slide deck]. Clean disruption goes far beyond clean innovation. Echoing that sentiment in the context of becoming Solar Nations, it's high time for humanity to make an about-face, to abandon fossil fuels, not only because it's necessary but also because it's more effective, and more economical ... by far.

Tony sees the big picture. It's not hard, after all. Here's how he laid it out for transportation in his presentation (slide #70):

3D - Clean Disruption of [Transportation]
©2016 Tony Seba
Well, if you look closely, you will notice that he has actually drawn vehicles for a 2D world where the configuration driver is still rubber tires on asphalt (a variation on the theme of fossil fuels, a substance that breeds potholes in the end). And the Law of Conservation of Momentum still holds, dictating that sooner or later, energy efficient, asset utilizing, autonomy capable cars will still bump into things. (Ouch!) And because of that, they can't go very fast, either. They gotta watch out for people and things on the ground.

In the modern 3D city, transportation will soon become 3D too, something like this:

The Solarevolution™
Come the Solarevolution, solar-powered, automated, non-stop, elevated podcars will run on high strength steel lasting 10X longer than asphalt -- and cheaper. The pods will weigh 10X less than Teslas. (They don't have to carry lots of heavy batteries and be built like tanks to protect their occupants.) The pillars will require 1000X less land area than cars, freeing up the ground level for human activity.
4D - Clean Transportation
(with apologies to Tony Seba)
Ooops.... Excuse me while I make a little adjustment...
Ahh, that's better.
So now we have room in our cities for people, pets, pedals and petals!
4D Transportation as if people mattered

And travelers win too. Because elevated vehicles can't hit people, the passengers in podcars zooming overhead will get to where they're going much faster.

Now that's what I call disruption!

(Clean, too!)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Energy Storage Innovation

With the emergence of electric cars, much attention is being focused on battery innovation. And yet there are many other innovative energy storage technologies which have better performance than batteries, especially at small to medium (microgrid) scale and at large grid scale. Here are some of those, at various levels of innovation and commercialization.

Gravity Energy Storage

Pumped hydro, a long established energy storage technology
Gravity Power
Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES), "Gravity Train"

Compressed Air Energy Storage

LightSail
Underwater Compressed Air

Closed Cycle Heat engines

Isentropic, hot rocks
TerraJoule, hot water