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Keeping you informed about TecEco sustainability projects.  Issue 63, 18th December 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from John Harrison

It's that time of years again. Happy Christmas to you all. It's also a great time to thank the 60 or so thousand who visit our web site every month, the researchers testing Tec and Eco-Cements around the world and all who support us for their encouragement. Long live independent and lateral thinking!

Happy Christmas and New Year (According to the Law)

From John Harrison ("the wishor") to you the reader ("the wishee")

Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all .

We wish you a semi-financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects, and having regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms that:-

This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal
This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged.

This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes.

This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishor.

This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.

The wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishor.

Any references in this greeting to "the Lord", "Father Christmas", "Our Saviour", "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer" or any other festive figures, whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.

Web Site Updates

We are updating the web site to reflect our core thinking expressed in our latest presentations. It will be a gradual process and there will be more information on Gaia Engineering and the chemistry behind it.

Geomimicry[1]

I was prompted to add material to our web site about geomimicry as it is an important concept for survival and what both Greensols and TecEco Eco-cements do. I have coined the term to describe processes and technologies that mimic long term geological processes. Please do not hesitate to find out more by clicking Sustainability on our web site menu.

During earth's geological history, large tonnages of carbon were put away as limestone and coal by the activity of plants and animals. Shellfish build shells from it and trees turned it into wood. These same plants and animals wasted nothing, the waste from one was the food or home for another.

Because of the huge size of the flows involved the answer to the problems of greenhouse gas and waste is to use them both in building materials. Such a paradigm shift in resource usage will not occur because it is the right thing to do. It can only happen economically.
We must put an economic value on carbon to solve global warming by inventing new technical paradigms such as offered by the Global Engineering Alliance.

By using carbon dioxide and other wastes as a building materials we could economically reduce their concentration in the global commons.

The Geological Incidence of Global Warming

Climate changes over geological time due to the influence of many factors including mainly changes in the composition of the atmosphere.

Since the Achaean there has been a feedback system between carbon dioxide consumers and oxygen producers resulting in an atmospheric and climate equilibrium. There is no doubt that we are rapidly changing atmospheric composition increasing the CO2 content and reducing the O2 content thus altering this equilibrium. Are we now the most relevant factor and planetary engineers or “Weathermakers” ? (Tim Flannery)?

The present rate of change suggests this may be so. Can we learn from the past to modify our impact ? Can we mimic geological sequestration in the past but at a much more rapid rate?

Geological history provides some dire warnings about precedents for Greenhouse Gas driven warming.

Gaia theory describes a model in which life and the planet interact to control climate and which greenhouse gases are reduced by photosynthesis but increased by respiration, volcanic activity etc. and during the glacial/interglacial cycles, CO2 concentrations and temperatures show a remarkable correlation.

There are documented events in geological history where global warming has been caused by atmospheric change.

Correlation Between Temperature and Rainfall over Geological Time [2]

More and more the evidence is mounting (Pollen studies, ice core studies, foraminifera, isotope studies etc.) for previous rapid climate change correlated with CO2 change even during the relatively stable quaternary period.

Correlation between Temperature and CO2 over Geological Time [3]

The lesson from climate history seems to be that small changes can trigger big effects that can be quite rapid and that it all could happen again. We are rapidly changing the atmosphere and will this trigger another massive climatic change? Consider two events from the past

The Deccan Traps Eruptions and the Extinction of the Dinosaurs

The Deccan Traps formed between 60 and 68 million years ago at the very end of the Cretaceous period. The bulk of the volcanic eruption occurred at the Western Ghats (near Mumbai) some 66 million years ago and may have lasted less than 30,000 years in total. These massive and sustained volcanic episodes in India altered the atmospheric chemistry of the period and caused a drastic climate change which may have played a role in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum

Roughly 55 million years ago during the very early Tertiary epoch, ocean pH levels dropped drastically and global temperatures rapidly rose 5C. The resolution of proxy records that are available indicate that this happened in a period of time no longer than 5K years. (It is not possible to know if it happened even faster)

The likely cause of this event was massive feedback systems such as releases of methane from the ocean floors as methane clathrates melted or releases of methane from the arctic tundra triggered by a smaller warming or changes in sea level.

It took over 100 thousand years for the ocean, atmosphere and temperatures to return to their previous state. The result was a mass extinction event that took millions of years to recover from.

[1] John Harrison invented the word geomimicry in the same tradition of biomimicry to describe the way in which both Greensols and TecEco Eco-Cement mimic geological processes depositing CO2 as solid carbonate and using wastes as aggregate.

[2] From Mager S. and Fitzsimons S for the Department of Geography/Te Ihowhenua, University of Otago at http://geography.otago.ac.nz/Courses/283_389/Lectures/283lect03.html. Accessed Dec 2006

[3] From http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html#anchor147264 (Plant Fossils of West Virginia maintained by Monte Hieb. Accessed 2 Dec 2006

The Death of Common Sense

Tilt Ups Test TecEco Tec-Cement Concretes

In October 2006 John Higgins, the immediate past president of the Tasmanian branch of the Concrete Institute of Australia was having trouble with the supply of quality 32 MPa concrete. What was being delivered was difficult to work with and bled profusely.
John went around to the plant concerned, added MgO to the mix to our specifications and the quality that resulted is easy to see from the pictures below.

In all some 200 tonnes of tilt up were made with Tec-Cement concretes and the balance of about the same amount were made using conventional cement concretes.

Our Tec-Cement concrete tilt ups can be seen to be free of cracking, obvious bleed marking and other defects. Although no samples were taken for strength testing, when hit with a hammer they had a healthy ring about them!

John Higgins Pointing out the Bleed Marking in a non Tec-Cement Tilt-Up.
Tec-Cement Concrete can be seen to the Left.

The above photo shows a Tec-Cement concrete tilt ups either side of what is an inferior normal concrete from a major supplier.

Nuclear Power Could Turn Switch on Kyoto

In Australia some of the big end of town seem to be backing nuclear energy and the interesting twist is that because they are doing so they are also now starting to support carbon trading.

The Australian Uranium mining, processing and nuclear energy draft report indicates that nuclear power can possibly be competitive as a source of base load power in the event of a moderately low carbon price. Otherwise, nuclear power could be 20 – 50% more costly to produce than coal or gas-fired power. The report states that “Cost additions to fossil fuel-based generation in the (low to moderate) range of $15-$40 per tonne of CO2e would make nuclear electricity competitive in Australia”.

The report recognised that nuclear power and renewable sources would only become competitive if there was a system where costs of greenhouse gas emissions were "explicitly recognised" I wonder how the power play between the oil and nuclear industries will pan out in the USA!

The Death of Common Sense

Thanks to Simon Ensor my cousin for pointing out this pearl to me.

Written by Wayne Crow, Busselton, W.A. Australia
and Published in The Weekly Times, The Mail, 29 November 2006.

TODAY we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Mr. Common Sense.

Mr. Sense had been with us for many years.

No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such value lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm and that life isn't always fair.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge).

His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Mr. Sense declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student; but, could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live as churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, she spilled a bit in her lap, and was awarded a huge financial settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

He is survived by two stepbrothers; My Rights and Ima Whiner.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone.

I am saddened by his passing.

Did Common Sense Die with the idea of Geosequestration?

Recently the Federal Government committed to providing $60 million in funding to help develop carbon sequestration technology in Western Australia that could allow the $11 billion Gorgon Gas project to go ahead.

With that amount of money TecEco could have solved the global water, CO2 and waste problems for the world.

The funding, from the Government’s $500 million Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund, provides for a demonstration project liquefying the carbon dioxide so it can be injected 2.5km underground.

We dispute that "It is one of the key technologies that the world will need if we are to address climate change" and that "This is a life and death technology we must find, we must develop, and to have the biggest injection project happening off the coast of WA is an incredibly exciting thing." which is apparently what the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Ian Campbell said.

The crust was not designed to hold carbon dioxide. It is moving all the time and could be compared to a very cracked terra cotta pot. The scientists involved should know that CO2 is preferably a gas in the upper geosphere and biosphere and every mole of an ideal gas (most gases at normal temperatures and pressures including CO2) want to occupy 22.4 litres

In the Environmental Impact Assessment document prepared by the Gorgon developers, eight out of 20 potential failure scenarios, resulting in the unplanned release of carbon dioxide, were assessed as "possible" or "likely". This is correct. Gas leakage is very likely and even though the area is somewhat isolated could result in mass death to animals and birds similar to the 1986 Cameroon disaster that killed some 1700 people.

According to the WWF previous wells have been drilled around the formation, and there is a major fault running through the area, both of which may cause the carbon dioxide to leak with potentially disastrous consequences.

The project has been granted the go ahead by the WA environment minister.