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Guest: Dr. Daniel Tompkins; Topics: Daniel discussed his GrowMars company, the development of self-replicating passive greenhouses, the use of PEF as a bio product, markets, uses on the Moon, Mars and in free space, terrestrial uses, Insitu Resource Creation, and more.
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We welcomed Dr. Daniel Tompkins to the program to discuss his GrowMars company plans, self-replicating greenhouses, the use of PEF bioplastic, space agriculture for free space, the Moon, Mars, plastic biomass for food along with terrestrial uses. Also discussed were the commercial markets for such products at this time and in the future, along with Daniel's future plans ten years out for GrowMars. In addition, we discussed the GrowMars plan for the Google XPrize entry into the carbon removal contest. The company has a special website for their entry, see c.garden.org for more information on that project.
Our guest received many emails and a few calls regarding the technology, the space uses for their product plus the fact that the self-replicating greenhouse and plastic bio could be used for terrestrial emergency applications for disaster relief, food shortages and such. This was highlighted near the end of the program with a listener call. While much of the discussion was technical with plastics (PEF) and other considerations, our guest let us know that most of the basic research behind what they were doing originated a long time ago, some of it dating back to plastics research in the 1800s in Germany but also research done in the US in and around 1952. Our guest stressed the fact that they were using off the shelf technology making things substantially more affordable. Don't miss Daniel's related discussion about hardware. In addition, don't miss what Daniel suggested would be efficiency rates on the Moon, re O2 where Earth would be about 200% great than in space uses.
Daniel took us through the engineering, the challenges that arise due to entropy, the why behind passive without LED greenhouses and the likelihood of outpacing entropy. Several email questions came in about the idea of outpacing entropy. Don't miss these discussions. As we moved through the discussion and questions, Daniel was asked about the market and specifically who would be the customer. That is, who would buy the products he was talking about. This opened up a lengthy discussion on financing, economics, markets, customers, today's potential compared to a future potential but with difficult to predict timelines. This discussion prompted me to ask Daniel about the financing for GrowMars to date but to be specific, I asked how you secure more financing and investment when you cannot identify a strong market or even an existing market. I believe this was an important part of our discussion because of GrowMars cannot continue to raise money in the face of a questionable market, how does it survive to get to a place in time when the markets appear. For the most part I'm talking about markets with robust customers. Listen to how our guest explained how he was planning to grow and position the company to deal with these external factors as he was very much aware of them. With my questions there were no surprises for Daniel.
Marshall called wanting to know about prototypes, large city uses, sustainability, square footage per person requirements and more. Our guest talked about earlier experiments in Russia, the US and also the use of closed analogs of which there have been many and still are many. I believe the number he referenced 195. Daniel talked about SBIR money, government funding and the lab process. An email came in from Beverly asking about nitrogen which prompted our guest to go into some detail about the nitrogen cycle which he said was under looked by many speaking about space agriculture and food supplies on the Moon and mars. Listen to what he had to say about this and then post you’re your comments and ideas on our blog. Another factor that Daniel talked with us about was the technology that enabled them to turn off a plant's growth cycle because there would be constant light with their greenhouses unlike plants in a day night growth cycle as exists on Earth. He also talked about diet which might include insects along with food from plastic bio waste.
Huntsville Tim was our last caller. He wanted to know about educational outreach for GrowMars plus he brought up the Yellowstone Super Volcano and other areas where we could see Mars like conditions on Earth over a wide area due to a disaster. He asked about the emergency usage and food creation for Daniel's plan. Don't miss how Daniel responded to these questions.
Before leaving the program, Daniel had more to say about their carbon removal entry in the XPrize contest plus he had much to say about the use of 3D printers and even printing a greenhouse. Listen to what he said about plastic thermally constructed products. In summarizing the program, I asked Daniel for his ten year plan for GrowMars. He did share his plans with us in some details so be sure to listen to his summary and future plans. One more thing he stressed. His plans are for Insitu Space Resource Creation. Normally we hear about Insitu Space Resource Usage. Daniel has changed that to creating resource in space, not just using them.
Please post your comments/questions for Daniel on our blog for this show. Our guest can be reached through me or his website.