Feeds

Forget solar panels, it's time for rooftop slime-tanks

And offshore 'artificial tree' forests. Apparently

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Rip the solar panels down, we're going to put slime-tanks up there instead

The next brilliant plan is "algae on buildings", or "the large scale introduction of algae into the built environment".

The rough plan would be to fix sealed tanks of algae known as "photobioreactors" (PBRs) to "available vertical and horizontal surfaces" - ie walls and roofs. You need a sealed unit, apparently, as it "guards against infestations" - whether of or by the algae inside isn't clear.

The PBR-clad buildings would seemingly yield a rich crop of algal biofuel as well as "biochar" which is excellent fertiliser, while extracting CO2 from the atmosphere in fine style.

Bottom line, then? Would having our cities clad in bottled scum be better or worse than covering them in solar panels? Which would cost more? Is it, in fact, the time for slime?

At this juncture, this geo-engineering solution is very much at a conceptual stage [no shit] and has attracted little if any assessment of its technical feasibility [not even from us at the engineering institution] ... implementation on a large scale is a plausible outcome.

Oh really.

Finally, the report suggests that it could be a good notion to use more reflective materials to build - or at least cover - our cities. At present, there's a known "urban heat island" issue whereby roads, buildings etc. get hot on sunny days and further heat the air above them. If they reflected heat rather than absorbing it, this effect could be lessened.

But it seems that this idea isn't actually much use in a saving-the-planet context.

It is clear that ... urban albedo modification does not produce a large enough effect to contribute significantly to balancing global warming.

However, in hot places where air conditioning gets used a lot, like Los Angeles, shiny roofs might cut cooling demand by up 60 per cent. Again, you have to wonder if there might not be some argument from people wanting to put solar panels there instead, or maybe algae PBRs. The IMechE offers no comparison of the various plans.

To sum up, then. Option one is a £60bn plan for huge fields of roadside or offshore carbon-sequestering machines which would consume colossal amounts of energy on top of what we now use. Option two is a vague suggestion that it might be nice to cover our cities in biofuel slime tanks instead of solar panels. Option three is to cover them in infrared-reflective paint instead, though this last would apparently have very little effect.

Frankly, it seems difficult to see how the IMechE's original objections to more conventional green plans - that the tech isn't ready, that the skills don't exist, that the market isn't interested - don't apply with hugely increased force to these plans.

Even by the standards of summer news-drought barrelscrape notionry reports, this is poor stuff. Those interested can read the whole report here (warning - troublesome image pdf). ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.