Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 28, 2012.

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This is a bio-mechanical robot that grows marine biomass internally and converts it into biofuel

This is an animation of the finished robot. It is 26 feet long by 14 feet wide. Between the wind turbine, the radial blades on the top, and its PV panel, it generates 12 kilowatts. This is enough to power the thermal depolymerization, biomass cultivation and biomass extraction.

The robot cultivates its own biomass internally by using solar and wind power to maintain ideal growth conditions 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. No biomass is removed from the food chain that maintains the marine eco-system.

The biomass is collected and processed mechanically, NO TRANSESTERIFICATION, into a bio-diesel. The waste products are used as fertilizer in the biomass growth tanks. Nothing is wasted or discharged into the sea.

FAQ

  • When this is done I intend to market plans, kits and finished robots. I also will develop new applications for the technology. I believe that regular people deserve a chance to earn a good living. I also think we don't have to destroy the planet, or our fellow humans to do it. This design is a fusion of Rachel Carson and Adam Smith. We are doing good for the planet by doing good for ourselves. This is not only one of the cleanest ways to make energy, it is one of the cheapest. This is price competitive with fossil fuels without any tax breaks or subsidies. That is revolutionary.

    I could have sold this patent to a big company but they would have just used it to make rich people richer. This way, everyone benefits and I expect I will do OK as well. Political Democracy without Economic Democracy is a half effort.

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  • This is a semi-closed ecosystem. Carbon dioxide and water come in to the system periodically. The atmospheric CO2 is augmented via decomposition of the biomass. The synfuel is collected in a separate tank and pumped out from time to time. Removing the fuel represents a net loss of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen from the system but it is replaced by atmospheric CO2 and water. The other elements needed for plant growth, such as calcium or phosporous, are in the original biomass used to start the process. They are not consumed when the biomass is converted to lipids and so are returned to the growth cycle. The other major nutrient, nitrogen, is in the atmosphere and converted to nitrate fertilizer by natural microbes living in the system.

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  • Yes, it works in both fresh or salt water.

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  • No, we convert the lipids into synfuel by a process call thermal depolymerization which uses heat and pressure instead of chemicals.

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  • NO!! We would never do anything like that. The robots use wind and sunshine to GROW ITS OWN biomass internally; completely separate from the outside water. It does not consume any food at all. The only things it takes in are some water and some air.

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  • The chemicals used in transesterification are alcohol and sodium hydroxide. These are toxic chemicals and the wastes they produce can also be toxic. They are also wasteful in that it takes considerable energy to make the alcohol and the glycerides that are discarded are 1/3 of the fuel value of the oil. That process doesn't make sense environmentally or economically. That is why we use Thermal Depolymerization.

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  • The robots operate at sea because thermal depolymerization requires a lot of energy to convert vegetable oils to fuels. The energy needed is greater than 60% of the total heating value of the oil. This is uneconomic. However, wind and sunshine are abundant at sea, more than enough to drive our conversion process. This way ALL the oil becomes MARKETABLE fuel. The oil is valuable, the wind at sea is almost worthless-- except to us.

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  • Yes, they can but it is dull, repetitive work. Also, an unmanned vessel is much cheaper to build than a manned vessel. Where a manned vessel capable of doing this might cost $100,000 (we know that because we looked into it first) the robot will cost around $1200 in parts and materials and 140 man-hours. ( you can value your time any way you like)

    We see our robots as a human-scale technology; something the average person can do for themselves. We all need to take control of our economic destiny. Here is a way that is within the means and capabilities of most people.

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  • Yes, you can. The fuel tests out to a blend of ethanated esters (biodiesel) and methanated esters (diesel). Even the vegetable oil produced could be sold without conversion to conventional bio-diesel producers for $1.50 to $2.00 per gallon USD.

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  • It is for materials and some special tools to finish the prototype.

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  • Yes, it does. I explained earlier that Thermal Depolymerization uses a lot of energy to drive the process. In my design I use wind and solar power to provide the conversion energy rather than consume the feedstock itself. I did not mean to imply we do not use much energy. We do not use the fuel being produced but we use a lot of energy, 288 kilowatt-hours daily. This is 982656 btu to make 5 gallons of fuel, which is 635000 btu. It does take more energy to make than we get but the conversion energy is from wind blowing miles at sea, where it isn't helping anyone.

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  • The robots move so they can always operate with sufficient sun and wind to make the fuel. Also, to avoid the disruptions to local ecosystems a stationary platform might cause. Also a fixed platform may require permits or licenses.

    The artificial intelligence that controls the robot is specifically designed to avoid other vessels. It has been reviewed and approved by the US Coast Guard. The design was analyzed by a naval architecture firm and was found to be able to handle a sea state 7 storm.

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166
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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    115 backers

    You will receive a complete set of blueprints and the operating software, and a list of materials so you can construct your own robot. This robot will make 5 gallons of biofuel per day and will do it without any supervision. Construction cost will be around $1200 for materials and around 140 hours of your time. The Artificial Intelligence software will be provided as well as complete design and fabrication drawings in Solidworks, AutoCAD and Sketch-Up formats.

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    4 backers

    You will receive a project T-shirt with a photo of the robot in operation on the front and "I helped revolutionize green energy and all I got was a lousy T-shirt" on the back.

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    33 backers

    You will receive a set of plans and full construction drawings for the land-based version of the system. This is more expensive to construct, costing around $3500 in materials and you will need a space of around 100 feet by 100 feet with a southerly exposure to set it up. This is a duplicate of the test system I have already made.

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    3 backers

    If the backer will buy the materials, I will be the labor and build a robot or land-based system for them. If they will pay for the travel, I will come to their location and assemble the land-based system for them.

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    I will build a second operating robot for that backer.

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Funding period

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