Farewell Concrete

Here are some great ideas for getting free of our reliance on concrete-an industrial process which creates a great deal of CO2 pollution. Fly ash from gassification is one of these ideas.

Would you live in a house made of sand and bacteria? It’s a surprisingly good idea

<strong>Had enough of concrete blocks?</strong> The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Had enough of concrete blocks? The hugely useful (but harmfully polluting) material responsible for the rise and rise of the modern city can no longer claim to be the only material available to architects.

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. <strong><a href='http://petertrimble.co.uk/microbial-manufacture' target='_blank'>Dupe</a></strong> is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble's system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders...

Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble has created a possible solution using little more than sand and urea. Dupe is almost as structurally strong as concrete but produces no greenhouse gasses. Trimble’s system is not yet ready for production, but similar concrete alternatives are already available to builders…

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower -- the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles' tallest building -- <a href='http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140217005645/en/Headwaters-Fly-Ash-Record-Setting-Los-Angeles#.UyhZevl_uDl' target='_blank'>substituted a quarter of the cement </a>with
Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Builders laying the concrete foundations of the Wilshire Grand Tower — the skyscraper set to become Los Angeles’ tallest building — substituted a quarter of the cement with “Fly Ash” The waste ash from coal combustion at power plants in Utah and Arizona increases the durability of concrete while offsetting the CO2 cost of cement production.

Japanese firm TIS & Partners have created a new building material called “CO2 Structure,” dreamed-up in the aftermath of the March 2011 Japanese Tsunami as an emergency rebuilding material than can be put in place quicker than slow-drying concrete. By injecting carbon dioxide into a silica (sand and quartz), they managed to developed a carbon-negative building material with twice the tensile strength of brick.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while <strong><a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/hempcrete-hemp-house_n_1506662.html' target='_blank'>Hempcrete</a></strong> (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

Natural building materials are a popular choice for those looking to cut CO2 emissions. Making bricks from hemp results in a net decrease in carbon dioxide levels, as the growing plant takes in CO2. These bricks are made of hemp combined with clay, while Hempcrete (a mixture of hemp and lime) is sold internationally as a thermal walling material.

<strong><a href='http://www.ecovativedesign.com/' target='_blank'>Ecovative</a></strong><strong> </strong>already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom

Ecovative is already make packaging from agricultural waste and mushroom “mycelium” — and their next project is building materials. Founder Eben Bayer describes mycelium as “essentially the ‘roots’ of mushrooms” and says it is very good at binding together organic materials, which could one day make building blocks.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America's
Straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Another natural material with carbon negative production: lowly straw is making a return to construction. In America’s “Nebraska Method” homes, straw bales are used as a both a structural and insulating material. Companies such as UK’s ModCell manufacture pre-fabricated wall and roof panels from straw.

Traditional building materials such as mud and <strong><a href='http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513154/Farmer-builds-house-just-150-using-materials-skips--current-tenant-pays-rent-MILK.html' target='_blank'>cob</a></strong> -- a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth -- have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One <a href='http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenerliving/10478442/Michael-Bucks-cob-house-Does-the-answer-to-the-housing-crisis-lie-within-a-150-cottage.html' target='_blank'>man from Oxford</a>, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Traditional building materials such as mud and cob — a mixture of sand, clay, straw and earth — have been proposed as a non-polluting alternative building material for small buildings, such as households. One man from Oxford, UK claims to have built a Hobbit-like home from cob for less than $250.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks. <strong><a href='http://www.aggregate.com/products-and-services/blocks/enviroblock/' target='_blank'>Enviroblocks</a></strong> are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while <strong><a href='http://www.durisol.net/pdfs/Durisol%20Flyer.pdf' target='_blank'>Durisol</a></strong> units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Recycled materials are making up an increasing part of building blocks.Enviroblocks are made from over 70% recycled aggregates, bound with cement, while Durisol units contain 80% recycled woodchip, which is wrapped around steel bars for strength.

Clay blocks with

Clay blocks with “honeycomb” structured cross-sections — often known asZiegel Blocks — have been common in some parts of Europe for decades, but are now spreading far beyond. Manufacturing blocks from clay rather than concrete means less CO2 emissions from production, while the blocks insulating characteristics can cut a building’s energy costs.

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled <strong><a href='http://www.gizmag.com/infiniski-shipping-container-architecture/22365/' target='_blank'>shipping containers</a></strong> has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

Cutting concrete pollution could mean rethinking our approach to construction from start to finish. Housing made from recycled shipping containers has popped up all over the world and provides one low-cost, low-emission solution. Are there others?

— Peter Trimble found his formula through trial and error. A design student at the University of Edinburgh, he was aiming to produce an artistic exhibition for a module on sustainability, when he stumbled on “Dupe,” a living alternative to concrete.

A lab technician introduced Trimble to Sporosarcina pasteurii, a bacterium with binding qualities, sometimes used to solidify soil to hold road signs in place. The student tested it with one of the world’s most abundant resources – sand. Pumping bacterial solution into a sand-filled mould, he added nutrients, urea derived from urine as fertilizer and calcium. After a year, and hundreds of failed experiments, this process manufactured a stool around 70% the compression strength of concrete.

The process requires less than one-sixth of the energy used in concrete production, and is completely biodegradable. Crucially, Trimble believes his mechanism has the added benefit that it could be employed by anyone, anywhere.

“Once you have the basic framework it should be transferable. Imagine a Tsunami-hit farm in Indonesia that is not getting supplies. You could use sand and bacteria on site, practically free, and have shelter housing that is far more permanent.”

Trimble is working with NGOs to apply Dupe to Aboriginal settlements and insecure regions of Morocco. But while the applications are new and experimental, the concept of growing the material for our built environment is increasingly regarded as not merely interesting, but essential.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the construction industry accounts for 40% of the world’s C02 emissions, 40% of U.S. landfill and has been uniquely resistant to change. Concrete, bricks and cement have remained the dominant materials since the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, and as pressure mounts on resources and climate, scientists and architects are looking to the natural world for solutions.


Bacteria have been at the center of alternative methods. North Carolina start-upBiomason is growing bricks on an industrial scale, cultivated from sand by microorganisms. The company has won major prizes and funding for the bricks, which will be used in a structure for the first time this year in a pedestrian walkway, ahead of building projects across the world.

Similar processes are being developed to build in the most challenging environments. British architects see an opportunity to cultivate new life in deserts, while NASA believe bacteria could allow the construction of bases on other planets without the headache of ferrying the material there.

While bacterial processes save heavily on carbon, there are concerns that by-products could be poisonous. But another living brick — made from mushrooms — has no such problems.

Functional fungus

New York firm Ecovative are producing materials that combine agricultural waste products such as corn stock with mushroom mycelium — the roots of the vegetable. Over five days the mycelium binds the waste to create a block with a stronger compressive strength than concrete, with none of the heat or energy required by regular bricks.

The product is in commercial use for packaging, producing thousands of units a month, and the company is expanding into construction. Ecovative believe that in addition to being renewable and decomposable, natural properties give them a performance advantage.

“It has great insulation properties”, says Sam Harrington, Ecovative Director of Sustainability. “A key benefit is flame resistance — without adding any chemicals we were able to achieve a Class A fire rating”.

There is scope for development. Mycelium effectively dies once its growth is complete, but Harrington is looking ahead to material that does not. “We are exploring ideas of living materials, perhaps that are self-healing or respond to leaks with indicators.”

Ecovative are in dialogue with major construction companies, and the material will soon be tested on a historic scale. A collaboration with architects The Living won the prestigious MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) PS-1 competition, and their creation will be installed in the museum courtyard this summer.

Growing for gold

“Hy-Fi” will be the largest ever grown structure, and first large building to claim zero carbon emissions. It will be formed of three 40-foot spiral towers constructed from the mushroom material, with varying properties of brick to maximise light and ventilation.

The material’s versatility offers unique design opportunities, says David Benjamin, lead architect of the project.

“You can dial in almost any performance you want. You can mix and match a variety of properties such as water resistance or UV resistance, lightness or durability. You can grow the bricks in almost any shape”

Benjamin says the bio-bricks could be made to last as long as traditional materials, but believes architecture must embrace temporary structures.

“It’s essential to recognize that not all materials should last for centuries. A lot of the steel in our buildings will last longer than we need. Our idea is a building that be made locally and quickly, and then have a plan for when the life of the building is over.”

Future applications would include pop-up stores, festival “tents” and emergency shelters, says Benjamin, but there are greater hopes for the material within the industry.

Stronger than concrete

“I could imagine every structure you would built out of bricks”, says Dirk Hebel, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Construction at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. “No high-rises, but smaller scale structures and houses. The material is stronger than concrete, with better insulation capacities”.

The challenge will come in commercializing the products, Hebel feels. “There is huge demand for alternative materials. The question is how easy it is to penetrate the existing market. This needs time and a couple of buildings to show the possibilities”.

Stealing from nature

Another, more radical approach takes the material from nature but also allows it to build the structure. Michael Pawlyn, director of Exploration Architecture, is a leading figure in biomimicry, having previously applied natural processes to create man-made forests in England and the Sahara Desert. His latest project to grow a “small venue for spoken word performances” from undersea biorock was recently unveiled at the Architecture Foundation in London.

“In biology, complex structures achieve resource efficiency by putting things in exactly the right place, which is very difficult with made materials”, says Pawlyn. “Our ways should deliver significant resource savings.”

Drawing on the natural accumulation of coral reefs, his team would install a steel frame in the deep ocean and leave it to attract material. Growth would be focused on specific areas of need using an electrical current.

“We’re interested in looking at its structural growth patterns. We have stress gauges on the structure to measure force in particular areas. If one is highly stressed, we can input more current so the rate of deposition matches the force.”

Pawlyn believes the structure could be built within two years, for consideration at scale. As with Ecovative, a key challenge ahead is to integrate still-living material to allow intelligent biosensors that respond to the building occupants.

Innovators in this space acknowledge the ongoing barriers presented in an industry that has resisted modernization. But from rock to fungus, sand to space dust, the use of materials and processes designed by nature herself offer both a solution to the sustainability crisis, and a glimpse of our new built environment: clean, efficient, and alive.


Farmers who have made a difference: Paul Willis

Paul WillisPaul Willis. Returning the family farm to an earlier model.


What Humanely-Raised Pork Looks and Tastes Like

October 19, 2011 by Amelia




There’s a long-running joke that Iowa is the “fly-over” state in the U.S. – nothing but a wash of cornfields and pork-producing confinement buildings that looks like a rectangular checkerboard from planes overhead. I’ve even heard the joke come from the mouths of Iowans themselves.  But I saw and experienced something completely different on a recent trip to Des Moines, the heart of the pork-producing state.

I came up-close to a curious mother sow and her black-and-white speckled piglets; snacked on chorizo-green chile-stuffed tacos made with homemade corn tortillas; bought a hand-carved, hand-smoothed chunk of rusty-colored wood that now holds fruit on my dining table; tasted raw, juicy slices of 20 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes; trail-blazed through the tall, clover-spiked purple, yellow and green grasses of natural Midwestern prairie; savored every bite of 18-hour, slow-roasted whole pork immediately after “pulling” alongside pork belly, glistening with its hearty layer of fat cut-through by a meaty underside and crispy-caramel skin; and, most importantly, met some of thekindest farmers and ranchers who care deeply about their families, their animals, and the earth.

This was my trip to the pork “division” of Niman Ranch, and more specifically, to the birthplace and working farm of Paul Willis, founder of the Niman Ranch Pork Company who has been crowned by Alice Waters and other chefs, food-lovers and other as the “godfather of pork.”

Paul has weathered, tan skin and some wrinkling around the eyes – evidence of a life as a happy, constantly smiling and outdoor living farmer. Donned in his staple blue overalls, which he once refused to sell for a hefty price to an affluent visitor, Paul speaks softly but knowledgeable, being a living legend among chefs and culinarians. And, apparently Chipotle as well.

Niman Ranch is known as the answer for sustainable, humanely-raised meat that’s produced around the country, but distributed like local food. Niman’s business strategy differs from the big distribution companies that focus on grand-scale, cross-country trucking and commercial animal production, otherwise known as factory farms, as a way to meet those big demands. Instead, Niman’s program is the opposite: it’s a network of small farms that pool their resources and products as way to keep things small-scale and sustainable while meeting the needs of customers around the country. It’s a business philosophy that’s started the “slow food” concept of transforming this country’s food system completely – for the better.

When Bill Niman decided to get into the pork business, he first searched around his state of California for producers, but failed to find the right match. Through Alice Waters, he learned about Paul, who was one of the only pork producers in the country raising their pigs completely outdoors. Immediately, Niman loved Paul’s pork. “He told me to send him 30 more chops,” Paul said. “I had to figure out how was I going to get those to him? Do I put them on a plane? Or do I send the animals on a train and have them processed in California?” Paul ended up doing the latter and the rest was history.

During the eighties, Paul explained during the trip to his ranch, pork began being bred for a leaner product that could compete with the popularity of chicken breast. The pork board added further pressure in this regard, and many farmers found they didn’t have as much use for the fattier parts or lard byproduct as more consumers switched from lard to oil. The new breed of pork was a leaner one, and that meant the pigs couldn’t withstand the cold temperatures and harsh winters that of the Iowan, Midwestern climate without that important layer of fatback they once had. On top of that, pigs use that layer of fat like sweat glands since they don’t have any. This meant the hot, Midwestern summers were just as unbearable.

The solution for this was to move the pigs indoors. But Paul refused to do so. As a result, he became part of the less than 5 percent of pork producers that, to this day, still raise their animals completely in confinement operations. More often than not in these operations, pigs have little, if any, room to move around and very little care or attention, as many of the production companies have “outsourced” management of these facilities to poorly paid workers, including illegal workers, who literally come in to check temperatures and remove dead animals. This is also precisely why antibiotics became infused in feed and water as a way to prevent stress-induced illness before it happened.

Paul’s pigs are Berkshire, Duroc and Chester White, three of the types of pork that are known for their generous fat layer so they can remain outdoors, and juicy, tender meat. In fact, Paul’s breed standards are extraordinarily intense. Interested farmers must apply and ensure their raising and production processes are in line with the at least eight pages of standards outlined in the Niman Ranch application. They also have to go through a few rounds of farm visits, tasting and pH testing. During a demonstration of the difference between commodity and Niman pork chops, Niman’s field operations manager Lori Lyon explained that the company’s standards for pH is 5.7 or above. Most commodity pork, on the other hand, has a pH as low as 2 or 3, meaning these chops are highly acidic. And you can tell from looking at it, too. Ever seen a package of pork chops from the grocery store “swimming” in what looks like a pool of water? That’s actually the juices of the pork running out as it breaks down from its own acidity.

Lactic acid is the culprit, and that acid builds up if the animal is stressed just before slaughter. The most lactic-acid preventing and also humane slaughter method, used by Niman and increasing numbers of even commodity producers these days, is to group the animals together according to their age and “pack,” then gas the animals so they fall asleep. At that point they are killed and processed. This method has increasingly replaced the stunning method, during which workers can “miss” an animal and have to repeat the stunning, twice, even three times. Pigs are intelligent so when they see others of their kind in distress, it causes them to be distressed. The horror stories of the sounds and smells coming from those slaughter houses became too much for a lot of those workers, including one who spoke about his experiences during the Niman ranch trip.

On the farm, Paul’s pigs are happy. They run around, play, snort, root, sleep, eat and cuddle together. Contrary to the cartoons and sayings, pigs actually don’t enjoy sitting in their own you know what, though they do enjoy a cool mud patch from time to time. They also enjoy hanging with other pigs in general, but mostly those their age. Sows are kept separate with their black and white speckled piglets who curiously peer out from inside the small shed shelters scattered about the field. The “adolescents” look like a pack of deer running back and forth from a nearby predator, though they’re really just “exercising,” Paul said. Other curious potbellied creatures were braver to approach us and say hello. We smiled and said hello back.

Later that evening for dinner, our group gathered around an indoor-outdoor shed of sorts where the Willis family and friends had set up an enormous buffet of foods, from caprese salads with heirloom tomatoes, corn salsas, homemade bread and fresh churned butter, hot, crispy jalapeno poppers, and home-cured salamis paired with fresh cheeses and picked vegetables. But the star of the show was the whole hog, head, apple-stuffed mouth and all, that had been smoked for 18 hours in a massive smoker at the Niman specialty meats processing center nearby. The meat was a mixture of tender, pulled pork layered with fattier bits that barely needed the bread, let alone a sauce. And then the finale: huge pork belly chunks with all their layers perfectly intact: tender-braised meat on bottom, succulent fat in the middle, and a crisp, seared top. Just like the French make it. Just like a sustainable Iowa farmer makes it.

After dinner, a few of us got off an over-packed hay ride to walk with Paul through his prairie and wildlife preserve, a experimental project with the state of Iowa. As we walked through the tall, yellow and purple flower-spiked grasses, Paul ran his hands along the trunks of the stems, pointing out the different species and birds that flew in and out. Crickets purred softly. At one point, a hummingbird hummed by. Downhill, just beyond the little pond at the center of the field, the sun began to set and cast a purple hue across the sky. Though he doesn’t raise any pigs on this particular property, this is where Paul’s family lives, cooks, eats and gathers. He calls it “Dream Farm.” One can see why.

Medicinal Plants and their Benefits

13 Medicinal Plants Worth Planting

May 13 • Articles, Edible Yards, Grow It Yourself, Herbs • 37021 Views • 10 Comments

I have got to grow more of all of these. Aloe is an inside plant here.

  • Aloe Vera

The aloe vera grows only under the sun with well drained dry or moist soil. Although the plant tastes like turd, it’s still edible. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing and reducing the risk of infections for :

  • wounds
  • cuts
  • burns
  • eczema
  • reducing inflammation

Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera is also taken internally in the treatment of :

  • ulcerative colitis (drinking aloe vera juice)
  • chronic constipation
  • poor appetite
  • digestive problems
  • Marsh Mallow

The plant of which marshmallows are made of. The root is taken internally to treat :

  • inflammations and irritations of the urinary and respiratory mucus membranes
  • counter excess stomach acid
  • peptic ulceration
  • gastritis

Externally, the root is applied to :

  • bruises
  • sprains
  • aching muscles
  • insect bites
  • skin inflammations
  • splinters

The leaves are very edible, unlike the aloe vera. They can be added to salads, boiled, or fried. It is known to help out in the area of cystitis and frequent urination.

  • Great Burdock

It requires moist soil and can grow shadeless. The great burdock is the pretty famous in the area of detoxification in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. The root is is used to treat ‘toxic overload’ that result in throat infections and skin diseases like :

  • boils
  • rashes
  • burns
  • bruises
  • herpes
  • eczema
  • acne
  • impetigo
  • ringworm
  • bites

The leaves and seeds can be crushed to poultice it to bruises, burns, ulcers and sores.

  • Pot Marigold

It grows in almost any type of soil condition. It has no problem with nutritionally poor, very acidic or very alkaline soils, just as long as it’s moist. Well known as a remedy for skin problems, the deep-orange flowered pot marigold variety is applied externally to :

Internally it is used to treat fevers and chronic infections.

The tea of the petals tones up circulation and, taken regularly, eases varicose veins.

Applying the crushed stems of the pot marigold to corns and warts will soon have them easily removable.

  • Gotu Kola

The gotu kola acts on various phases of connective tissue development and stimulates healing of :

  • ulcers
  • skin injuries
  • decreasing capillary fragility
  • stimulation of the lipids and protein necessary for healthy skin

Leaves are thought to maintain youthfulness. Crushed leaves are poulticed to treat open sores. The gotu kola can also be used to :

  • treat leprosy
  • revitalize the brain and nervous system
  • increase attention span and concentration
  • treat venous insufficiency
  • Camomile

With a sweet, crisp, fruity and herbaceous fragrance, has long been used medicinally as a remedy for problems regarding the digestive system. It has a soothing and calming effect in the area of aromatherapy, used to end stress and aid in sleep. The entire herb is used to treat common aches like toothache, earache, shoulder pain and neuralgia.

  • Globe Artichoke

A bitter tasting plant that requires a lot of sun, the cardoon has become important as a medicinal herb in recent years following the discovery of cynarin. The cardoon leaves, best harvested before flowering, helps to :

  • improve liver and gall bladder function
  • stimulate the secretion of digestive juices
  • lower blood cholesterol levels
  • treat chronic liver and gall bladder diseases
  • jaundice
  • hepatitis
  • asteriosclerosis
  • early stages of late-onset diabetes
  • Chinese Yam

A type of yam that can be eaten raw, the chinese yam can be easily grown, succeeding in fertile, well drained soil in a sunny position. It is sweet and soothing to the stomach, spleen and has a tonic effect on the lungs and kidneys. It is used internally to treat :

  • tiredness
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • poor digestion
  • chronic diarrhea
  • asthma
  • dry coughs
  • uncontrollable urination
  • diabetes
  • emotional instability

Externally, it is applied to :

The leaf, on the other hand, is used to treat snakebites and scorpion stings.

  • Echinacea

One of the world’s most important medicinal herbs, the echinacea has the capacity to raise the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections by stimulating the immune system. It also has antibiotic properties that helps relieve allergies. Basically, the roots are beneficial in the treatment of sores, wounds and burns. It was once used by Native Americans as an application for insect bites, stings and snakebites. The echinacea grows on any well drained soil, as long as it gets sunlight.

  • Siberian Ginseng

The siberian ginseng has a wide range of health benefits, mostly as a powerful tonic herb that maintains good health. It’s medicinal properties are used for :

  • menopausal problems
  • geriatric debility
  • physical and mental stress
  • treat bone marrow suppression caused by chemotherapy or radiation
  • angina
  • hypercholesterolemia and neurasthenia with headache
  • insomnia
  • poor appetite
  • increasing endurance
  • memory improvement
  • anti-inflammatory purposes
  • immunogenic purposes
  • chemoprotective purposes
  • radiological protection
  • Great Yellow Gentian

The great yellow gentian root is a bitter herb used to treat digestive disorders and states of exhaustion from chronic diseases. It stimulates the liver, gal bladder and digestive system, strengthening the overall human body. Internally, it is taken to treat :

  • liver complaints
  • indigestion
  • gastric infections
  • aneroxia
  • Sea Buckthorn

The sea-buckthorn has been used throughout the centuries in China to relieve cough, aid digestion, invigorate blood circulation and alleviate pain. The branches and leaves are used in Mongolia to treat gastrointestinal distress in humans and animals.

The bark and leaves are used for treating diarrhea, gastrointestinal, dermatological disorders and topical compressions for rheumatoid arthritis. Even the flowers are used as skin softeners.

The berries on the other hand are used together with other medications for pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiac, blood and metabolic disorders. Fresh sea buckthorn berry juice is known to be taken in the event of :

  • colds
  • fever
  • exhaustion
  • stomach ulcers
  • cancer
  • metabolic disorders
  • liver diseases
  • inflammation
  • peptic ulcer
  • gastritis
  • eczema
  • canker sores
  • general ulcerative disorders
  • karatitis
  • trachoma
  • Tea Tree

Even the aborigines have been using the tea tree leaves for medicinal purposes, like chewing on young leaves to relieve headaches. The paperbark itself is extremely useful to them as it serves to line coolamons when used as cradles, as a bandage, as a sleeping mat, as material for building humpies, as an aluminum foil, as a disposable rain coat and for tamping holes in canoes.

The leaves and twigs, eventaully made into tea tree oil, is anti fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and deserves a place in every household medicine box. Tea tree oil can be used to treat :

MORE: 14 More Plants HERE

Hemp: Decorticator etcetra

  Hemp has great potential as an industrial raw material.

france-hemp block

Hemp is one of the faster growing biomasses known,[4] producing up to 25 tonnes of dry matter per hectare per year.[5] A typical average yield in large scale modern agriculture is about 2.5–3.5 t/ac (air dry stem yields of dry, retted stalks per acre at 12% moisture). Approximately one tonne of bast fiber and 2–3 tonnes of core material can be decorticated from 3–4 tonnes of good quality, dry retted straw.[6][7]

Hempcrete is made from the hurds (inner portion).

Hemp is perhaps best known for its Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids that make it a great addition to a healthy diet, and as a cotton substitute in ecologically-sound clothing and bedding. But it is also a versatile, environmentally-sound building material.

A hemp crop can be grown without the use of herbicides or insecticides and produces up to four tonnes of material per acre per year. Hemp is categorized as a bast fiber crop. It has a stem consisting of an outer skin containing long, strong fibers and a hollow wood-like core or pith. Processing the stems results in two materials: hurds and fibers, both of which have properties that make them extremely useful in building construction.

A variety of wood-like products, such as fiberboard, roofing tiles, wallboard, paneling, insulation and bricks, can be made from the compressed hurds. The fibers can also be used like straw in bale wall construction or with mud in a sort of modified cob style of building.

Foundations can be made out of hemp hurds (shiv). A hemp plywood frame is filled with a hemp hurds combined with lime, sand, plaster, some cement and enough water to dampen, and then let to set for a day and to harden for a week. A sixth century hemp-reinforced bridge in France is testimony to the stone-like strength and durability of this material, which has come to be known as “hempcrete”.

Hemp building boosters claim that hempcrete foundation walls are up to seven times stronger than other walls.

Low-impact Living has a good summary. http://www.lowimpact.org/factsheet_hemp_building.htm

it’s very versatile – it can be  used as a replacement for bricks and mortar, plaster or plasterboard; it can be  used as a breathable solid floor; as solid walls that can be internally clad or  plastered; a solid roof / loft insulation; or as a plaster. English Heritage  recommend it for old timber frame infills. It has mainly been used in  historical building restoration, but it is increasingly being used in new builds

Germany is doing a good job of showing that modern industrialproduction is practical.

Hempflax is a major player, with about 6,000 acres in production. It has designed and patented its own machines.

See:  http://hempflax.com/en/dealer-locator

Manitoba has a new plant, capable of processing 5,000 acres.


What happened in North America. DRUGS!!!

  In 1917, the world was battling World War I. In this country, industrialists, just beset with the minimum wage and graduated income tax, were sent into a tailspin. Progressive ideals were lost as the United States took its place on the world stage in the struggle for commercial supremacy.

    It is against this backdrop that the first 20th Century hemp drama was played.

    The story begins soon after the release of Bulletin 404 (see Bulletin 404). Near San Diego, California, a 50-year-old German immigrant named George Schlichten had been working on a simple yet brilliant invention. Schlichten had spent 18 years and $400,000 on the decorticator, a machine that could strip the fiber from nearly any plant, leaving the pulp behind. To build it, he had developed an encyclopedic knowledge of fibers and paper making. His desire was to stop the felling of forests for paper, which he believed to be a crime. His native Germany was well advanced in forestry and Schlichten knew that destroying forests meant destroying needed watersheds.

    Henry Timken, a wealth industrialist and inventor of the roller bearing, got wind of Schlichten’s invention and went to meet the inventor in February of 1917. Timken saw the decorticator as a revolutionary discovery that would improve conditions for mankind. Timken offered Schlichten to grow 100 acres of hemp on his ranch in the fertile farmlands of Imperial Valley, California, just east of San Diego, so that Schlichten could test his invention.

    Shortly thereafter, Timken met with the newspaper giant E.W. Scripps, and his long-time associate Milton McRae, at Miramar, Scripps’ home in San Diego. Scripps, then 63, had accumulated the largest chain of newspapers in the country. Timken hoped to interest Scripps in making newsprint from hemp hurds.

    Turn-of-the-century newspaper barons needed huge amounts of paper to deliver their swelling circulations. Nearly 30 percent of the four million tons of paper manufactured in 1909 was newsprint; by 1914 the circulation of daily newspapers had increased by 17% over 1909 figures to more than 28 million copies.1

    1. World Almanac, 1914, p. 235; 1917

    By 1917, the price of newsprint was rapidly rising, and McRae, who had been investigating owning a paper mill since 1904,2 was concerned.

    2. Forty Years in Newspaperdom, Milton McRae, 1924, Bretano’s NY

    In May, after further meetings with Timken, Scripps asked McRae to investigate the possibility of using the decorticator in the manufacture of newsprint.

    McRae quickly became excited about the plan. He called the decorticator “a great invention…[which] will not only render great service to this country, but it will be very profitable financially…[it] may revolutionize existing conditions.” On August 3rd, as harvest time neared, a meeting was arranged between Schlichten, McRae, and newspaper manager Ed Chase.

    Without Schlichten’s knowledge, McRae had his secretary record the three-hour meeting stenographically. The resulting document, the only record of Schlichten’s voluminous knowledge found to date, is reprinted fully in Appendix I of the paper version of this book.

    Schlichten had thoroughly studied many kinds of plants for paper, among them corn, cotton, yucca, and Espana baccata. Hemp seemed to be his favorite:

    “The hemp hurd is a practical success and will make paper of a higher quality than ordinary news stock,” he said.

    His hemp paper was even better than that produced for USDA Bulletin 404, he claimed, because the decorticator eliminated the retting process, leaving behind short fibers and a natural glue that held the paper together.

    At 1917 levels of hemp production Schlichten anticipated making 50,000 tons of paper yearly at a retail price of $25 a ton. This was less than 50% of the price of newsprint at the time! And every acre of hemp turned to paper, Schlichten added, would preserve five acres of forest.

    McRae was very impressed by Schlichten. The man who dined with presidents and captains of industry wrote to Timken, “I was to say without equivocation that Mr. Schlichten impressed me as being a man of great intellectuality and ability; and so far as I can see, he has created and constructed a wonderful machine.” He assigned Chase to spend as much time as he could with Schlichten and prepare a report.

    By August, after only three months of growth, Timken’s hemp crop had grown to its full height—14 feet!—and he was highly optimistic about its prospects. He hoped to travel to California to watch the crop being decorticated, seeing himself as a benefactor to mankind who would enable people to work shorter hours and have more time for “spiritual development.”

    Scripps, on the other hand, was not in an optimistic frame of mind. He had lost faith in a government that he believed was leading the country to financial ruin over the war, and that would take 40% of his profits in income tax. In an August 14 letter to his sister, Ellen, he said:

    “When Mr. McRae was talking to me about the increase in the price of white paper that was pending, I told him I was just fool enough not to be worried about a thing of that kind.” The price of paper was expected to rise 50%, costing Scripps his entire year’s profit of $1,125,00! Rather than develop a new technology, he took the easy way out: The Penny Press Lord simply planned to raise the price of his papers from one cent to two cents.

    On August 28, Ed Chase sent his full report to Scripps and McRae. The younger man also was taken with the process: “I have seen a wonderful, yet simple, invention. I believe it will revolutionize many of the processes of feeding, clothing, and supplying other wants of mankind.”

    Chase witnessed the decorticator produce seven tons of hemp hurds in two days. At full production, Schlichten anticipated each machine would produce five tons per day. Chase figured hemp could easily supply Scripps’ west coast papers, with leftover pulp for side businesses. He estimated the newsprint would cost between $25 an $35 a ton, and proposed asking an east-coast paper mill to experiment for them.

An early hemp processing machine, c. 1930. Its many fluted rollers crushed the stalks separating the hemp fiber from the woody portion of the plants.

hemp machine

    McRae, however, seems to have gotten the message that his boss was no longer very interested in making paper from hemp. His response to Chase’s report is cautions: “Much will be determined as to the practicability by the cost of transportation, manufacture, etc., etc., which we cannot ascertain without due investigation.” Perhaps when his ideals met with the hard work of developing them, the semi-retired McRae backed off.

    By September, Timken’s crop was producing one ton of fibre and four tons of hurds per acre, and he was trying to interest Scripps in opening a paper mill in San Diego. McRae and Chase traveled to Cleveland and spent two hours convincing Timken that, while hemp hurds were usable for other types of paper, they could not be made into newsprint cheaply enough. Perhaps the eastern mill at which they experimented wasn’t encouraging-after all, they were set up to make wood pulp paper.

    By this time Timken, too, was hurt by the wartime economy. He expected to pay 54% income tax and was trying to borrow $2 million at 10% interest to retool for war machines. The man who a few weeks earlier could not wait to get to California no longer expected to go West at all that winter. He told McRae, “I think I will be too damn busy in this section of the country looking after business.”

    The decorticator resurfaced in the thirties, when it was touted as the machine that would make hemp a “Billion Dollar Crop” in articles in Mechanical Engineering and Popular Mechanics.* (Until the ninth edition of The Emperor, the decorticator was believed to be a new discovery at that time.) Once again, the burgeoning hemp industry was halted, this time by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.


1995 summary article from Ontario.


includes lots of cost analysis.  Bahmer Company are going into operation in June, each having an hourly
processing capacity of two tonnes of flax and/or hemp fibre. Two of the lines
are intended to process flax into a fine short fibre for the textile industry,
but will likely also process hemp. The third unit is combined with a detergent
processing step which produces a very fine, cotton-like flax fibre

1998 article from Oregon.


Net Projected Return



Hempflax: German Company

In production. http://hempflax.com/en/about-hempflax

Optimum use of this renewable resource
Today HempFlax harvests and processes 2400 hectares (5930 acres) of fibre hemp per annum. The crop is converted into a flexible combination of products. The processing, manufacturing, application and marketing chain is aimed at optimizing the application of this sustainable resource. Hemp wood is used as stable litter and in small pets’ cages. Hemp fibre serves as a raw material in the production of special paper. The automobile industry uses the fibre in its pressed form for manufacturing parts such as door panels and dash boards. Together, hemp fibre and hemp wood are turned into paper and construction material. All these products can be re-used several times and/or composted after use. Dust, a residual product, is already being used as compost and has great prospects as a plastic granules filler. In future the complete hemp plant may be utilized as biomass.

Another very through summary: with lots of historical references.


Good harvesting images from Romania.


Old mill but making silky hemp. Very complex.


Living Lamps

This is what I need for the cava.

Pierre Calleja’s Microalgae Street Lamps Light the Way to Cleaner Air

May 02, 2012


French biochemist Pierre Calleja poses the question, “who will save our suffocating world?” Given the scientist’s area of expertise, the answer may not surprise you, for in his formulation the crucial ingredient of our salvation is not the out-sized brains of homo sapiens, but rather the singular cells of a phosphorescent micro organism.

Microalgae Street Lamps. Designed by Pierre Calleja.


Scientist Pierre Calleja Has Designed A Bio-Powered Lamp

Microalgae Street Lamps. Designed by Pierre Calleja.

Calleja’s creation is a lamp like no other. Though slightly familiar from the photovoltaic paradigm of energy collection, Calleja’s Microalgae Powered Lamps depart from pv cells in many ways. Just for starters, the crucial components are not made by man at considerable effort and expense, but rather bestowed as a gift of nature—prone to reside at the mucky surface of a Louisiana swamp, or deep in the gardens of the dark-green sea.

Microalgae Street Lamps. Designed by Pierre Calleja.

For the last 20 years, Calleja has focused his attentions on species of mixotropic algae, versatile little buggers that generate electricity not only from the preferred source of most plant life—sunlight—but also by absorbing CO2: “the lamps are composed of a tube containing microalgae, as well as a battery… during the day, the batteries are charged via photosynthesis of the algae, using both solar power and CO2.”

Microalgae Street Lamps. Designed by Pierre Calleja.

This means that Calleja’s microalgae not only suck those pesky carbon molecules from the air, they also convert them into a ready source of energy to power his street lamps. The lamps, for their part, contain a murky mix of the greenish algae and a growth medium (water). This, together with the emitted light, makes for a Frankenstein meets Tim Burton type of aesthetic, which will be most intriguing once Calleja perfects the concept and the lamps begin to purify the air on foggy roadways and cloud-enshrouded bridges from Paris to Prague, from Bangladesh to Budapest.

Microalgae Street Lamps. Designed by Pierre Calleja.

Remarking that car exhaust accounts for around 25% of global CO2 emissions, Calleja suggests that the Microalgae Lamps will address two social problems at once: “absorbing an estimated ton of emissions per year,  the lamps represent a viable electricity-free lighting solution even for locations where there is no or little natural light, such as underground parking garages—at night, the stored power is used for lighting.”

Via DesignBoom.

About the Designer: French Biochemist Pierre Calleja has dedicated 20+ years of research to the microscopic wunderkind called mixotropic algae. These single-celled organisms feed on sunlight and carbon dioxide with equal facility, thus not only harboring tremendous potential to diminish global warming, but also to create usable electricity. Currently in the prototype stage, Calleja’s Mircoalgae Street Lamps may one day be a fixture in high-density municipalities, shops, and private homes.