The Founding of the Institute

Its been a long, slow process getting from Northern California to
Austin (texas) where I plan to make my home for a while. I’ve had lots
of time to think and scrutinize my intentions. So much time that I
decided to make a website to help focus my intention and share it with
others who might be interested. Marcin has always been asking me if
I’ve been posting my ideas anywhere. Finally there is a place for
that.

Though I dream about fancy technology, the place to begin is with
something simple and useful, with something that will open up
possibilities and enable more complex contraptions. The simplest and
most useful piece of technology I can think of is a methane digester.
Kitchen scraps, live stock poop (not from people yet though), and
non-liginous garden waste become cooking gas to displace imported
natural gas, propane or (heaven forbid) an electric stove top. The
gas is stored over water in an upsidedown barrel, and pressure
regulation for your stove is handled by heavy rocks. I helped my good
friend Arvo with this at his haven in northern new mexico.

There are many possible steps and directions after this. First in my
mind is using a molecular sieve or pressure swing adsorbtion to remove
the carbon dioxide and get higher quality gas. These two closely
related technologies are simple, useful and highly effective in a wide
variety of situations. PSA is commonly used industrially to give %95
pure oxygen with %5 argon, and it is a simple process. And from
there, I expect to refine the digestion process, incorporating fungus
and/or dilute acids (produced on site from combustion) to increase the
yield and range of useable feedstocks.

The excess carbon dioxide, conviently clinging to the adsorbant, then
can likely be fed to algae. Perhaps in a closed system, the algae’s
oxygen will enrich the adsorbant in place of carbon dioxide, and the
adsorbant can enrich some combustion air before being returned to the
methane tank. Just educated speculation. Then press the algae for oil
and return the carcases to the methane digester. Or, perhaps
experimenting with oxidative coupling of the methane to form higher
carbon chains and eventually liquid fuels will be more interesting
than algae tanks.

Depending on what is interesting and useful to the community, there
are many routes. And the community in Austin is interested. Of all
the towns I’ve been to, Austin has the most vibrant and active radical
community I’ve seen. From a handful of anarchist communes who have
put me up for months to the radical urban sustainability of the
rhizome collective, who are now driven
from their warehouse by the feds and into 7 acres of reclaimed land in
east austin. Also, accion zapatista got their start there and the
yellow bike project is in full swing,
helping people build/maintain bicycles and bicycle based machinery on
a scale I haven’t seen anywhere else. I ran into someone from Mayapedal there and a wandering freegan jesus like character on his way to south america.