Carbon King

So what happened? How did you become the king of carbon anyway? They had lab created diamonds since forever, what drove you?

Adrian smiled, waited his trademarked pause before answering and said, "I never wanted to be a farmer or rancher, but had to spend one summer on my father's ranch. Temp wise it was near an inhab zone, but there was a lot of water on the property and by keeping the animals in the shade, he was able to operate and needless to say we had plenty of land.

How much land are we talking about?

At that point it was about a 1M hectares, much of it was purchased by paying the tax due and any cleanup after those ranches had failed. Some of it was disputed by first nation daddy mostly stayed clear of that and as it hot hotter, the interest diminished.

Anyway, cattle ranching was still marginably profitable with tropical breeds if there was enough water and I spent the summer on a fencing team. One of the observations that I had was the terrible condition of the fence posts. And a lot of the fencing was Class 1 galvanized, the cheap stuff, but in the desert it could still last 25 years, so a lot of it was planning. We would work it the morning and evening until dark and in the heat of the day, we would update CAD drawings using drone to update the maps.

We wanted to start running camels, but didn't want a repeat of Australia, so the cost of upgrading the fencing to make that possible compared to camel animal products, fat, meat, leather etc was a marginable tradeoff at best.

So during the heat of the day, I would work or nap in the range tent and think about the challenge and day dream about fences.

Dude, that is is bit sick

Really? You try pulling Zephyr for eight hours a day for a summer and see what you dream about. Anyway, it wasn't like you just had to fence the perimeter 10k sq kilo s there is internal fencing. And it is not flat ground, this was range and basin.

So you were dreaming about a fence that would cost several times more than the land you would put it on.

Sure, but what it could pay its way? Carbon Dioxide contributes to climate change, a let of air blows by a fence. But that still doesn't equal money. But if the fence could contribute to sequestering CO2, could collect solar energy, could work as a weather station, an antenna, and contribute to making the property more valuable. Carbon is not only readily available, but we know we need to sequester it.

Fences are exposed and under stress. If I could develop a low cost building material for fencing, it would be useful for a variety of applications. Carbon fiber could be used to make cable of various sorts and would work well. The barbs would be a pain, but weave fencing has a number of advantages including visibility to running animals.

The posts were a bit more complex. Convention wisdom was to use epoxy resin as a  binder, there were way too many problems to use that. But maybe there was a way to weave the fibers into a post that would be flexible, but not too flexible. If it was hollow then there would be things it could be used to do. If the post is buried in the ground at least a meter there is enough thermal difference to generate electricity.

How did you make the jump from fences to 30M yachts?

The biggest lesson we learned in the fence project was to scale down the options. When we entered the market people were still used to infinite choice and throw-away products. We offered a fence. A very good fence, a long lasting fence, but a fence. And it was black. I can't tell you how many times we got requests to colorize the fence, but carbon fiber is black and any colorant will wear off long before the lifetime of the product.

I was always into boating and carbon fiber is the cream of the crop of boat building materials. It isn't perfect, but it is strong and light. Since it was a boat, we had to consider various resins. No matter how tightly you weave the product, if it sits in water, eventually the water will soak it through. One of the design decisions important decisions relates to the conductivity.

At the time we started the design, carbon fiber masts were considered non-conductive ... unless the boat was struck by lightning or hit a powerline. Most people do not know this, but my grandfather's brother was killed on a catamaran in Texas as a young teen. Scout camp, Lake O' The Pines. They struck an overhead power line, aluminum mast, they didn't have a chance. But there was already a protocol for building a carbon mast that has a chance of surviving a lightning strike, lightning rod and static dissipator on the mast head.

Boat people don't like any curtailment of options. They believe there are no two boats that are exactly the same, even charter boats. We were trying to balance safety, performance, comfort and considering the primary use of the crafts, a reasonable degree of cargo. There was simply no way we were going to be able to appeal to sailors with thirty years of experience that had owned several boats.

So what did you do?

Adrian smiled and after a minute he spoke. We created out own "boat people". The need was there. There was basically no road system on the Northern coast before all in infrastructure meltdowns. Their solution was planes with flotation pontoons that could land in the lakes. But when fuel became unreliable, so did that solution. True, our boats could only reach coastal settlements, but people tend to live on the coast even in a time of storms and rising sea level. Not sure we could call it an 80 percent solution, but it certainly worked for the majority of use cases. Since we already had an academic infrastructure, we added a sailing academy and the sailing was done on our boats. Graduates had experience fishing, hauling cargo, deepwater scientific exploration, trade and so forth, so they could make a career for themselves.


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