TF Right Now

Beach in Kabik (Jacmel)

Mini Outline/Task List as of Jan 3 2012

Terra Fantastica

Goal: Factory Up and Running in 5 months

Right now this project has dual/complementary entities. The longer-term objective is the creation and operation of a trash collection center that performs biomass separation from other inorganic materials, and processing. The biomass is passed into a burner for pyrolysis (decomposition or composting brought about by high temperatures) wherein it is half burned between 300 & 800 Celsius degrees in absence of oxygen to create biochar (biological charcoal). The neat trick is that the burning process also gives off heat energy, which can be recaptured and used to run the factory, making for a sustainable and efficient plant. The resultant biochar is an especially porous material that helps retain water molecules, as well as the microbial organisms aka Efficient Micro-Organisms (a Japanese invention) that will be added to the soil to increase its overall health and propensity for vegetable growth. Additionally the biochar acts as a carbon sink as the pores sequester carbon molecules from the air and traps them for thousands of years, aiding the planet’s ongoing fight against global warming greenhouse gas effects. The rest of the recipe is a bit stuffy jargon-wise…I’ll spare you for now.

As utterly “Green” and contemporary these dimensions of the soil’s post production uses are, the core idea of using charred organic trash to fertilize land is an ancient Amazonian technique known as Terra Preta. Google it. It is always makes me wince when I find an idea or product that appears, sounds and feels 100% modern, but is thousands of years your senior. Helplessly I imagine the countless hours (+ barrels of oil) burned, the improvements that could have progressed within the strides of global technology, and the opportunities missed to globalize the technique and remove innumerable tons of trash in gainful ways. Nevertheless, we are here today and have the chance to explore and employ this process to the best of our ability.

The near term goal is to begin creation of TF without large-scale communal collection or fancy imported equipment. Manual labor creates the same exact product, but requires more time. This latter goal is meant to jump start the business sector of the TF umbrella. This is partly perforce since the plant cannot be built without the entirety of the $2.6 million target amount reached, and many of the investments are inactive until then. Currently we are at or above half. Of course creating TF manually is more time consuming, and will therefore encounter difficulties connecting the initial order with its shipment date. From then on, however, there should be a healthy workflow, meaning orders can be shipped out quickly and efficiently. The knot in the manual process comes from composting, which, as any farm-oriented person knows, is a process demanding patience. Aside from the biological demands this project also needs its own funding – about $600K worth. I believe we have some promising prospects, and as always contact me if you or someone you know is interested.

Otherwise there are varied portions of this project Lydia and I will be tending to. One is following up with a pair of Haitian Universities that have been given TF for laboratory and field-testing. Another is to investigate the rules and regs for European import. Yet another will be proposing the outreach program for galvanizing Haitians to engage this product, and a plan to encourage Haitians to follow a type trash program that they have never had.

All tremendously challenging, and yet all work I could never pass up. This is a project in which I see enormous opportunity, and cornily enough a bit of nobility. This venture has the ability to help people on so many levels, and is inspirational and cool at the same time. The Haitian circumstance’s particular brand of chaos may provide major friction against the mission, yet ultimately that specifically Haitian energy needs to be integral to the plant’s survival and success. My personal hope is to develop inside this adventure, and help to form a matrix for social, environmental and economic prosperity that blends into the Haitian mindset and flourishes in the global perception of Haiti’s future.