I was reading the Open Source Ecology (OSE) website and it got me thinking about what industrial machines a small-scale Lunar Homestead could use.
The mission of OSE (www.opensourceecology.org) is to create an open source economy where everyone has access to the knowledge on how to build anything themselves. Their current project is to develop a set of open source blueprints for the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) – a “modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts”. This sounds like a fantastic idea. Some of the GVCS could be applicable for Lunar Homesteads.
The GVCS concept is very similar to my idea of Lunar Homestead Kits. Future Homesteaders purchase a “Kit” containing all the tools, materials, and designs they will need to build and expand their Homestead. They do all the hard work of making it happen.
The OSE GVCS includes:
- MicroHouse – Well, we obviously can’t use this. It does use compressed earth as the key structural element which makes me wonder about the strength of sintered powdered basalt (the stuff left after we’ve extracted oxygen, iron, etc.). I don’t think compressed powdered basalt will work but we should look into it before discarding it.
- Microcombine – Maybe sometime in the future when Homesteaders have enough space to grow large fields of grain? I’m having a hard time picturing that but it’s not impossible. We’ll pass on this for now.
- Electric motor/generator – Now we’re talking! Homesteads are going to need lots of these. The trick is to figure out how to make them locally using Lunar materials. I’ve started thinking about running a joint LH/Moon Society design contest for a small Lunar motor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like OSE has started work on this yet.
- 50 kW wind turbine – Nope. We are going to have to develop multiple ways to produce electricity though.
- Well-drilling rig – Luna doesn’t have groundwater so we’ll pass on this.
- Open source welder – We’ll definitely need iron, aluminum, and titanium welding tech. Probably electric arc but we can’t rule anything out yet. OSE hasn’t started on this yet.
- Universal rotor – Homesteaders are going to need something like this. Lots of tools and machines can be built around the rotor. And OSE has already started working on this so we should build off of what they’ve already accomplished.
- Universal power supply – I want to say that this would be useful but I’m not sure. I envision the Homestead running off of DC instead of AC. I’ll have to do more research on this.
- Open source truck – I want one! A neat idea but not applicable to LH.
- Heat exchanger – A critical bit of tech. Homestead activities will generate a lot of “waste” thermal energy. Converting that to something useful will be mandatory. OSE hasn’t started work on this yet but I don’t think it will help us anyway. LH heat exchangers will probably be a completely different animal.
- Modern steam engine – Steampunk! Seriously, I see steam having a large presence in Lunar Homesteads. They are simple make and operate. And they work. This is one OSE design that would be very useful. Unfortunately, their website doesn’t have any info on it.
- Spader – Another agricultural machine that wouldn’t be used on Luna.
- Linear solar concentrator – LH is absolutely going to work on this. I think electricity generated from solar thermal sources is preferable to photovoltaic. But we’ll look into all possible options. OSE hasn’t started work on this yet.
- Universal seeder – Homestead agriculture just won’t operate in a way that requires this.
- Dimensional sawmill – No Lunar forests so no need for a sawmill. Even when Homesteads are large enough to have trees, I just don’t see them cutting them down to make stuff. That carbon is just too valuable to take out of the biosphere.
- Rod and wire mill – Yes please! Homesteads will definitely need the capability to make metal rods and wire. In the beginning they can do it the old-fashioned way, casting rods and drawing wire by hand. At some point they’ll want to build a machine to do it. OSE hasn’t worked on this yet but LH will eventually.
- Press forge – Again, another machine that will be very useful in any Homestead. It would be very expensive to ship from Earth so they will have to build it on site. Until then, old school metal working will be just fine (blacksmithing, casting, grinding, etc.). Still in the conceptual stage at OSE.
- Plasma cutter – Great for cutting metal but I don’t know enough about it to say how useful it would be to Homesteaders. I do know it’s a bit too high-tech for early Homesteads.
- Pelletizer – Maybe? It’s “a device that compresses shredded pieces of biomass or other substances to compact, flowable pellets”. Sounds like it might be useful but I’m not sure how yet.
- Nickel-Iron Batteries – Homesteads are going to need reliable, long-life batteries made exclusively from local materials. These might fill this need. OSE hasn’t started building these yet but LH will eventually look into them.
- CNC Precision Machine – Definitely! Not in the beginning, of course. But it would be a high priority machine to build. Think of all the metal parts this machine could build. And it could build the parts for another CNC machine! Nothing yet from OSE on this but I’ll keep watching.
- Metal rolling – Critical for large-scale industry. I’m not sure about a small Homestead. It sure wouldn’t hurt though!
- Industrial robot – I’m sure these would be useful at some point but I don’t see them being a priority. LH should eventually come up with Lunar-specific designs when they are.
- Induction furnace – We might need something like this to melt basalt, glass, and various metals. My research just isn’t there yet.
- Hydraulic motor – This could be a very useful machine early on. We use hydraulics for a lot of tools and equipment here on Earth so Homesteaders may want it as well.
- Hay rake – Not applicable.
- Hay cutter – Not applicable.
- Gasifier burner – This could be critical depending on how we go about reusing our biological waste. Or it could be worthless. LH just isn’t there with the research yet.
- Dairy milker – It’s going to be a long time before Homesteads raise animals for milk. Guaranteed that someone will though because… cheese.
- CNC circuit mill – Lunar Homesteaders are going to need something like this eventually. Printed circuits are the backbone of modern (and not so modern) technology. However, Homesteaders will need to use something other than copper for their circuit boards. Maybe aluminum?
- Chipper/hammermill – Maybe eventually, when Homesteads are producing a lot of biological waste that needs to be broken into small particles.
- Cement mixer – It’s unknown whether Lunar cement is a viable option. Binding rare hydrogen up in cement may not be our best option. I’m sure a Lunar cement mixer will be substantially different than an Earth one. Or maybe not.
- Open source automobile – A great idea. I would build one! Not going to work on Luna until big cities are built. And maybe not even then.
- Bulldozer – A Lunar surface bulldozer is a completely different animal. Maybe large, underground excavation projects could use one but that’s not something we’re working on.
- Bioplastic extruder – Yep. If we want plastic (and we do) then our best bet is to use bioplastic instead of trying to make conventional plastic. And once we have that bioplastic, we’re going want to make it into various shapes. An extruder sounds like a step in that process. OSE doesn’t have info yet but I’m sure they will in time.
- Bailer – Another agricultural machine Homesteaders won’t need.
- Bakery oven – Probably only needed for large settlements. LH will have to eventually design a Lunar oven but it will be multi-purpose, not just for baked goods. Although I do love bread.
- 3D scanner – A “device that can generate a 3D digital scan from a real-life object, where the file can be used to reproduce the object in 3D with a device such as the 3D printer or CNC Precision Multimachine”. I’d say this will eventually be a piece of critical tech. Not for early stage Homesteads but definitely for more mature ones.
- Aluminum extractor from clay – No naturally occurring clay on Luna. We’ll have to get our aluminum the hard way, by chemically processing Lunar rocks.
- Micro-tractor – Maybe in the future Lunar farmers will ride their Lunar-built micro-tractor inside large underground habitats. That’s a cool image.
- Power cube – I like this idea. LH will definitely develop different Lunar versions. They can contain various power sources: biofuel, oxygen/metal fuels, etc.
- Laser cutter – Another high-tech manufacturing option for more advanced Homesteads.
- 3D printer – 3D printing is all the rage these days. I see it as a high-tech option for more developed Homesteads. I could be wrong though and OSE’s designs could prove invaluable in creating Lunar-built ones.
- Trencher – Probably not needed for Homesteads. At least I can’t think of a use.
- CNC torch/router table – Very useful. Also, very high-tech. Something a Homestead might want after everything else is squared away.
- Backhoe – Maybe this would be useful for large SPORE operations. Maybe. Definitely a long-term item.
- Ironworker machine – “A device that can instantly cut steel and punch holes in metal thicknesses of 1 inch”. This machine sounds really useful. But I’m not sure it’s necessary for early Homesteads. Once a Homestead starts supporting heavy industry it will be though. OSE doesn’t have plans yet.
- Rototiller and soil pulverizer – Homestead soil beds will already be well worked and a
- CEB press – A compressed earth brick press probably won’t be very useful for Lunar Homesteaders. Good to know OSE already had working machines we can modify.
- Tractor – Lunar Homestead agriculture is going to be smaller scale. A tractor won’t be necessary for a very long time.
Wow. There’s more overlap than I had originally thought. I’ve added these to the list of things we need to develop.
Open Source Ecology is doing interesting and valuable work; and some of it could directly benefit Lunar Homestead. I’ll definitely keep an eye on their progress. Maybe there is a possibility for some future collaboration.
I recommend poking around their website. It’s full of interesting stuff. You might even be inspired to join, donate, attend a workshop, or build something.