A Makezine blog has a call for questions for Scott Kellogg, founder of Austin’s Rhizome Collective regarding the book “A do-it-ourselves guide for Sustainable City Living“
I included the following in a response:
One thing we all need is a way of keeping food and medicines cooled or frozen. Root cellars provide an almost forgotten way to store foods but in an urban area it’s not always practical to build one.
In the 1920′s electric refrigerators won out over ammonia absorption refrigerators primarily because of the big money put into advertising by well funded companies. The absorption style refrigerators couldn’t compete.
Today, refrigerators used in typical recreational vehicles and kerosene refrigerators used by Amish are based on the absorption technology. Very few companies build these refrigerators and are not particularly user-friendly toward individuals making home repairs. The gases are under pressure and the ammonia can be lethal without proper handling.
How are you addressing the universal need for refrigeration when electricty may not be available? Are you aware of any open-source efforts to provide plans for do-it-yourself methods to build refrigeration systems?
When looking to the future sometimes we should look at the past. As with refrigeration system technologies sometimes great potential becomes abandoned because of public perception, costs of resources at the time and hazards. One technology that seems to be gaining attention is steam energy. Water and heat provide an incredible power source.
As with the refrigeration comments, I’m interested in open-source technology for building steam powered equipment. I believe that sustainability should include the ability to build the tools and systems you need.
Are you working to capture waste heat from other systems and appliances at your facility? Do you see steam power playing a role in your facility as a power source for generating electricity, mechanical power to operate tools and machinery, distillation of safe drinking water or heating living spaces?