Domes & Embedded Energy

Off the keyboard of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 13, 2014

monolithic-dome

Discuss this article at the SUN Table inside the Diner

Interview: Monolithic Domes Founder David South

SAMSUNG CSCEddie did some chronicling of the daily learning that went on at Monolithic Domes, in retrospect now that the Workshop is over I thought I might take some time tonight to look at the Bigger Picture with respect to Domes in general, and the Monolithic Method in particular.

Wednesday’s workshopp was particularly rich in information of sorts I did not have specific knowledge of before, parameters for building ferrocement domes and making them solid and resilient on the engineering level. A remarkably few people are expert in this stuff, and David South has more experience with more Domes up globally than anybody else. If you want to know domes of this type, this is the go-to guy. Not just for Doomers, but for everyone from the United Nations to various Saudi Sheiks and the NASCAR folks too.

The Monolithics though are quite energy intensive in the building, and at least for the larger scale domes need quite a bit of high tech materials and equipment to put up. Not outrageous when you consider the scale of some of these domes and the fact a crew of 5-10 people can put one up, but still quite a bit of stuff that will be hard if not impossible to come by in the not too distant future. That includes particularly the polyurethane foam that forms the initial dome structure, the Dome Balloon Vinyl skin, the Basalt rebar and the pumps used for spraying the Foam and the Shotcrete.

The fact construction of the larger domes depends on these materials and equipment does not diminish their utility NOW though, while they still can be constructed at a reasonable price. The ferrocement structure itself can last a very long time, providing good shelter for years to come. So it makes sense to build such structures now while you can, embedding the energy into the structure, as opposed to burning it simply for the purpose of willy-nilly Happy Motoring.

Such large Open structures have a multitude of uses as well, and given they are resistant to disasters such as Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Earthquakes and Wildfires they make a lot of sense where Climate Change is a preeminent problem. They are quite airtight as well, which could be important in scenarios where Nuclear Fallout is a problem. The structures can be purposed for indoor intensive food production through Hydroponics, Aquaponics and Aquaculture; in fact in the next year the Monolithic folks are planning on putting up a Commercial Facility for just this sort of production on the campus of the Monolithic Institute.

The inability to acquire and use some of the tools and materials that enable the construction of the really BIG DOMES does not eliminate the potential for building quite similar domes on a somewhat smaller scale utilizing similar methods, and during the week here the Diners attending the course have been Brainstorming on ways to adapt the building techniques to more locally available materials, renewable structural components like Bamboo, and substituting Human Labor for operations currently done with the aid of fossil fuel powered machines. Although the 100’+ Domes possible with the Monolithic Method aren’t possible with such materials, it is probable you could construct Domes in the 50′ range utililiIng natural fibers, adobe or cobb, and finishing with concrete reinforced with various materials either scavenged or grown. Such smaller domes would be quite capable of doing the same things the larger ones do, you would just need to construct more of them. We hope to begin experimenting with some of these ideas over the months to come and we will report more on this on the SUN Website.

A primary area we are looking at in terms of utilizing the Monolithic methods for Housing in the near future is for providing Affordable Rental Housing in the $150/week range. With many people descending from the Middle Class into the ranks of the Working Poor, the need for this type of housing is apparent, and the Domes provide a means to build this up in a modular fashion without taking on a lot of debt.

The fundamental weakness as far as the Monolithic method is concerned is its dependence on the high tech material used for creating the Balloon used as a framework/scaffold for spraying polyurethane foam and hanging rebar and either spraying “shotcrete” or trowling on concrete by hand. The high tech materials are likely to become unavailable as the economic system further deteriorates, so the ability to build the domes using these items will eventually disappear.

http://www.technobasalt.com/i/products/439_241/s6tdJfs2.jpgThe loss of the high tech materials doesn’t make the construction of ferrocement domes impossible, there are other methods available for doing this, at least on the small-medium scale. The largest domes in the 100’+ category likely become impossible to build without access to these materials. However, the basic construction materials of aggregate and rebar will likely be available a good deal longer, and can be used to construct both smaller domes as well as other types of structures.

Given these parameters, the sooner we get to building the larger domes the better, and constructed with Basalt Rebar (another high tech product), these domes will have an extremely long lifespan before they fail. Because concrete is porous to water, eventually using Steel Rebar for reinforcement this will rust and fail, after which the concrete will eventually crack and begin to collapse. Once the integrity of the Dome structure is compromised, the rest of the dome becomes rubble shortly after that.

Why is it important to get the domes up now while we still can? First, because of their utility and efficiency right now, second because as shelter, they will last a whole lot longer than the current McMansions we are using for shelter. They are also multi-purpose, with the open space of the interior useful for indoor growing methods, which will likely become increasingly important as climate change continues to wreak havoc with conventional farming methods.

While the largest domes built using the Monolithic techniques are quite impressive, such large structures really aren’t necessary, and in some cases actually counter-productive. In the case of using them as grow domes for hydroponics or aquaculture, if at some point the water system becomes contaminated you lose an enormous amount of the produce in one shot. On the other hand, if you grow a similar amount through smaller distributed and independent domes, an infection in one system doesn’t affect the other ones, so such a system is more resilient.

In the long term, the domes in the typical size range of 20′ to 60′ in diameter, not all dependent on the high tech materials and equipment that the Monolithic domes depend on. These domes are the most easily constructed by individuals at relatively inexpensive costs, with a variety of materials possible to use in reinforcement as both basalt and steel rebar become less available. Far as Cement and Aggregate are concerned for making Concrete, the limestone is available locally and there is no shortage of sand. What will be difficult of course is moving such heavy stuff around without fuel to run the trucks.

Although the Monolithic Domes once constructed are an extremely energy efficient structure, the materials and methods used to create them represent Embedded Energy which is available right now, but is unlikely to be available as we move forward into a low available energy world in the future.

Realization that this is the medium to long term case first means that it is worthwhile to build as many of these types of domes as possible now, and make them as long lasting as possible. For this purpose, the “Ecoshell” construction method using just Concrete in conjunction with Basalt Rebar that doesn’t rust can create a dome with the potential of lasting Centuries with no maintenance, and the vinyl balloons used to scaffold the ecoshells can be reused many times. Although these structures lack the insulation values of the Monolithic Domes, alternative means of Insulation can be applied later which may not be as long lasting as polyurethane, but can be periodically renewed from locally available materials. Given the cost of the balloons also, the ability to reuse them many times substantially decreases the cost per building as the number of buildings created w ith it increases.

Monolithic Domes dependence on high tech materials presents a weakness as a long term solution, but are very useful now in the preparation phase and transition to a lower per capita energy world.  Moreover,  many of the techniques can be adapted to more locally available and renewable materials.  Embedding available energy now into these structures can go a long way toward easing the transition off the Fossil Fuel Jones.

3 Responses to Domes & Embedded Energy

  • monsta666 says:

    For people that have not attended the course what would be your recommendations in trying to get up to speed in building a monolithic dome?

  • RE says:

    I’ll be posting up some of the pics and videos from Monolithic next Sunday.

    Really, the whole proceedure is very simple, the main problem is the equipment you need to do it the way they do. You need the foam sprayer, the concrete mixer and concrete pump and shotcrete gun, utility vehicle for moving loads of concrete, blowers to keep the balloon inflated and assorted other tools.

    The special equipment comes in at such a cost that it only makes sense to buy it if you are going to build numerous domes, and then you still are dependent on Monolithic to make the balloons for the Monolithic domes, since they are one shot deals and stay on the dome once constructed. You can re-use the ecoshell balloons though.

    I think it is possible at least with smaller domes to do the same thing without the specialized equipment they have or the balloons. I hope to be able to experiment with that at some point, although convincing somebody to try the ideas I have would be pretty hard. 😆

    If you just want a dome of your own, you probably do better to contract out parts of the project to local people who spray foam insulation and have shotcrete equipment.

    RE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Support the Diner
Search the Diner
Surveys & Podcasts

NEW SURVEY

Renewable Energy

VISIT AND FOLLOW US ON DINER SOUNDCLOUD

" As a daily reader of all of the doomsday blogs, e.g. the Diner, Nature Bats Last, Zerohedge, Scribbler, etc… I must say that I most look forward to your “off the microphone” rants. Your analysis, insights, and conclusions are always logical, well supported, and clearly articulated – a trifecta not frequently achieved."- Joe D
Archives
Global Diners

View Full Diner Stats

Global Population Stats

Enter a Country Name for full Population & Demographic Statistics

Lake Mead Watch

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BX686_LakeMe_G_20130816175615.jpg

loading

Inside the Diner

Recording attached. Sorry for the mouth noises. I think it's because of somewhat recent dental implants. Not sure I can adjust. Maybe it's because I'm a noob. Learned how hard it was to improvise a recording. I said "you know" several times for example...

WTI Crude at $43.01. In a band $44 - $52 in last 2 months.http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-23/demand-oil-pipeline-capacity-hits-6-year-low[size=1...

http://thesaker.is/the-latest-escalation-in-syria-what-is-really-going-on/The latest escalation in Syria – what is really going on? The Sak...

Agelbert NOTE: I just found this. It was of interest to me and I'm sure you will find it of interest as well.  What happens when Tesla Model S's battery is full[/colo...

Diner Twitter feed
Knarf’s Knewz

France’s star environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, [...]

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have succe [...]

Saudi Arabia and its allies presented Qatar with a [...]

Less than a month after his election and aching to [...]

Diner Newz Feeds
  • Surly
  • Agelbert
  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

This space will be empty for the next couple of da [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily[html] [...]

Quote from: K-Dog on June 20, 2017, 04:04:05 PMNic [...]

[img width=160]http://www.emofaces.com/png/200/emo [...]

Nice commercial but;Call me crazy I don't thi [...]

France’s star environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, [...]

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have succe [...]

Saudi Arabia and its allies presented Qatar with a [...]

Less than a month after his election and aching to [...]

Liens Filed Against the Federal Reserve: The Key t [...]

All this sabre rattling & the best gold can do [...]

The whole nuclear war thing must be a deliberate s [...]

Quote from: azozeo on April 25, 2017, 01:59:58 PMT [...]

There may not be a banking system after next week. [...]

 Science & EnvironmentHow cats conquered the a [...]

There is an very old aphorism that says " It [...]

Alternate Perspectives
  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

SkyNet is Sentient and Will Destroy Your Investments and Pension By Cognitive Dissonance     Do you [...]

Poo Be Gone…Please! By Cognitive Dissonance (And now for a little humor.) For countless millions of [...]

I don't normally publish my rants. By  definition they are an excess of emotion regardless of h [...]

Imperial Conditioning Fear…the Controlling Meme By Cognitive Dissonance   Admittedly we are a bit is [...]

Seeing…and Being Seen By Cognitive Dissonance   While I suspect western culture has always been affl [...]

Event Update For 2017-06-21http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-06-20http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-06-19http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-06-18http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-06-17http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Now it's data that makes the world go round? It's comfortably accepted by many that what w [...]

I left off last week's post – "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, Industrial-Scale Renewabl [...]

When you wish upon a star the Blue Fairy sends Tinker Bell, who plants a magic seed, which grows int [...]

Wendell Berry: "What I stand for is what I stand on"; Fanfare Ciocărlia: "What we pla [...]

The sounds of the Romanian countryside, unleashed by Fanfare Ciocărlia for twenty years and counting [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability
  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Ground Up" This is where biochar is today in agriculture. Its a better mousetrap in the midst of a huge [...]

Paleofuturism"We haven’t hit the temperature levels we can expect from current CO2 levels, and by the time w [...]

The Way"Patterns of regenerative thinking augur regenerative patterns of living and the reverse is als [...]

Rollerblading the Halls of Power"This is what solutions look like. Some are very large. Some are very small. They are all impor [...]

Atlantic Crossing"There are some black swans in aviation’s future that could tip its economic balance. The three [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Democracy and politics would be messy business even if all participants were saints. But America doe [...]

A new book argues that, in order to survive climate change and peak oil, the global money economy ne [...]

Top Commentariats
  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will al [...]

That doesn't sound good. And a day or two ago we saw this report about falling demand from Chin [...]

With better outcomes, I am afraid. There are a lot of things affecting US health--too much wage disp [...]

Interesting comments bellow the article: https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/99- [...]

I guess that is how dolph sees the world. We are the car that crashes into the wall, and he is just [...]

Welcome to new day, added 's' to 'http' so everyone should feel more secure ... [...]

Just to be clear about all the different administrations mentioned; All the while not one thing that [...]

Clintons job was to keep the party going, BJs under the desk for all! Bushs job was to tell jokes an [...]

Hey Steve, why don't you look into becoming REs neighbor. After the great power down, you can l [...]

Think Vermont. All you need is a wood stove and an internet connection. I'll bet you have a lot [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

Off the Keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Merry Doomy Christmas

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Collapse Fiction
Useful Links
Technical Journals

Implementation of greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement strategies often ends up as the responsibility of m [...]

While there exists extensive assessment of urban heat, we observe myriad methods for describing ther [...]

Usnic acid contents in acetone extracts of 31 samples of lichen Parmelia flexilis collected from dif [...]

The SWATDRAIN model was developed by incorporating the subsurface flow model, DRAINMOD, into a water [...]

Follow on our http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/forum/