Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Growing Homes From Seawater

In the natural world, an astonishing miracle is accomplished all over the world – both on land and in the oceans – when a microscopic organelle – powered by the sun - transforms a gas and a liquid into a solid. The process is, of course, photosynthesis within the chloroplast, converting carbon dioxide gas and water into a solid sugar polymer called cellulose, a chain inverted matrix of the simple sugar of glucose (C6 H12 O6). Nature binds this soluble sugar into an insoluble form, or plants would melt during each rain. Through this process, all wood products are created and from these we build homes, furniture and countless other creations.

There is another, equally astonishing feat that may be accomplished in the oceans by the hand of man using what nature has handily supplied. It is called accretion. This process was discovered by Wolf Hilbertz in the early 80’s. By this process, a current conducting grid (think wire mesh) is lowered into the ocean. A low power, direct current is applied to the grid (it can be the power created by a solar cell) and a fascinating thing begins to happen. Many dissolved solids on the ocean begin to cling to the wire mesh in solid form (called precipitation). But these solids cling to the mesh and one another with the consistency and strength of concrete! Over the course of weeks and months, the solids “grow together” and form a solid sheet of solid material that resembles concrete so much it has been called “Seacrete”.

With just a little imagination, one can see where this process has astonishing potential. For example, of the shape of the mesh was in the shape of a habitation structure, then the structures of an undersea colony can be literally “grown” undersea from dissolved elements in the ocean itself. After all, there are an estimated 200 million tons of dissolved solids in every cubic mile of ocean water – more than enough to build as many structures as one would ever need. The secret is, of course, to harvest enough power and build with the greatest process efficiency.

In the photos above, you can see two views of an accreted material that was created undersea at the Marine Resources Development Foundation at Key Largo, Florida. Note it has an uneven surface and it can be formed around any shape. It can be machined just like concrete.

The Atlantica Undersea Colony Project is already at work finding the answers to all those questions. The topic is also covered in my book, UNDERSEA COLONIES. In the next few months we will be launching a set of investigations determining such things as mesh sizes, densities, power densities, etc to work out the most efficient accretion processes. It is our plan that when Atlantica is stated, on the very first day we will begin “growing” the next generation of habitats from the sea using solar power from the surface.