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Re-engineer urban driveways/roads to provide CO2 negative energy conversion/storage, on-site sewage management and water reclamation.



Re-engineering the sub-surface areas of a city may offer a number of solutions related to climate change mitigation/adaptation. The technology is straight forward and revolves around the creative use of HDPE dual walled culvert based cisterns and a well established biomass production method. 

The cisterns can be used for organic flow batteries or bacterial fuel cells and other energy storage methods as well as dark bio-reactors.

Chemosynthetic technology, which allows for a non-photosynthetic based sewage-to-algae-to-biofuel/biochar processing, is available. Please read: 


The above is an advanced 'Dark Cultivation' form of:

Alabama Gets First-In-World Carbon-Negative Algae Biofuel


NASA's Omega Project

In summary, a sewage fed water, energy, nutrient nexus (WENN) management system, using a large number of driveway/road cisterns as dark bio-reactors and large scale batteries, may prove to be valuable at the urban environmental level while being achievable at the technical level and fundable through many emerging environmentally focused bond market instruments. 

This proposal is aimed at the general urban scenario as opposed to being specific to Summerville's needs as the WENN Protocol is envisioned as being applicable to urban areas of all sizes. Also, the WENN technology is applicable to most rural and marine environments.

Thus, the WENN Protocol may be viewed as a global scale plan which may achieve multiple critical climate change mitigation and adaptation goals, such as:

- Establishment of a standardized global scale biofuel/biochar based carbon negative emission scenario.

- Utilize atypical nutrient streams, such as sewage and marine nutrients, as the primary nutrient streams within a global scale carbon negative emissions scenario. 

- Reclamation of water from waste streams or production of freshwater from the marine environment.

The WENN Protocol allows everyone, including the planet, to win.

What actions do you propose?

"Today we need a global Apollo programme to tackle climate change; but this time the effort needs to be international. We need a major international scientific and technological effort, funded by both public and private money.". (Excerpt from: A GLOBAL APOLLO PROGRAMME TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE)

The above advocates for massive international concentration of political and capital strength on deployment of solar energy means and methods to achieve the needed CO2 reductions. This position is understandable and supportable.

However, carbon neutral energy means and methods, such as solar energy conversion, are no longer adequate to forestall drastic climate change. At this time, the full spectrum of the water, carbon negative energy and nutrient nexus management needs must be factored into any form of 'Global Apollo Programme to Combat Climate Change'. 

Primary actions being proposed: Vast scale use of chemosynthetic cultivation of biomass as a means for urban, rural, marine and overall global scale water, energy and nutrient nexus (WENN) management.

Funding for this WENN management regimen can be achieved through the use of environmentally focused intergovernmental agreements, market based funding instruments and/or non-profit funding programs such as:

1) The most forward leaning intergovernmental climate change mitigation/adaptation funding agreement is summarized by the US Department of StateIn part:

  • Commitment by developed countries to the goal of mobilizing jointly USD $100 billion per year by 2020 from public and private sources, to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation


The Green Climate Fund (a):

"..the Fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.".

"The wheels of climate finance are turning: the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will soon start distributing funds through 7 institutions.".

"The accredited institutions include the following:

  • Centre de suivi écologique (CSE) from Senegal, which focuses on combating desertification and protecting coastal areas. In 2010, CSE was the first national institution to be accredited and to implement a project through the Adaptation Fund , the first international climate fund to take the pioneering step of accrediting developing country institutions.
  • Fondo de Promoción de las Áreas Naturales Protegidas del Péru (PROFONANPE) that specializes in funding biodiversity conservation and managing protected areas. Like CSE, PROFONANPE is also accredited to the Adaptation Fund.
  • the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), an intergovernmental organization of Pacific Island countries and territories, based in Samoa, which focuses on protection and sustainable development of the Pacific region’s environment
  • the Acumen Fund, Inc. (Acumen), a well-respected private venture capital fund that invests in developing country entrepreneurs and businesses working to alleviate poverty and advance sustainable development. The social impact investment fund works on improving the lives of low income communities in Africa and Asia, especially in healthcare, agriculture and clean energy.


Three international organizations were also accredited: the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).".

Many developing nations' urban areas are going through extremely rapid and massive scale expansions and will be for decades to come. The WENN Protocol and technology suite, if applied to those areas, would help prevent massive amounts of water, energy and waste nutrient management problems.

In the non-intergovernmental space, a growing number of important market based funding paths are being developed. Such as:

2) Green Bond Principles 2014: Voluntary Process Guidelines for Issuing Green Bonds:

The WENN Protocol can help address the Green Bond Principal need for the standardization of technology across multiple environmental sectors.  

3) World Bank Green Bond

"Funding for new technologies that permit significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions"

4) Homeland Security Grants

"Strengthen national preparedness and resilience, building a ready and resilient Nation, with the ability to plan, prepare for, and respond to disasters. Proposals for climate resilience coupled with a restructured DHS grant program will help create robust national preparedness capabilities.".

Any city or region which adopts the WENN Protocol and moves forward with the conversion work will be significantly up-grading the resiliency of their infrastructure. The DHS grants for up-grading infrastructure would seem applicable.

5) "Transforming the Traditional Municipal Bond Market to Finance Environment-Friendly Green Projects"

"In 2013 Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. municipal bond market to issue these so-called green bonds.  The offering was so successful that Massachusetts tripled the volume of green bonds offered in 2014, selling $350 million in bonds to individual and institutional investors this month. According to Massachusetts Treasury officials, the demand for green bonds far outpaced the supply.  The Treasury reportedly received $1 billion in buy orders for the $350 million bonds offered. billion in buy orders for the $350 million bonds offered.".

Investing in climate change mitigation and adaptation is simply good business and the WENN Protocol can help establish broad based technical standards usable by a multitude of cities if not entire nations.

6) ‘Conservation Bonds’ Take Green Financing to the Next Level

"Green bonds, as described by the World Bank, “are fixed income, liquid financial instruments that are used to raise funds dedicated to climate-mitigation, adaptation, and other environment-friendly projects.” When issued by multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, or agencies of national governments such as the German Development Bank, such bonds may carry low, or even concessionary interest rates. Furthermore, a number of private financial institutions, attracted by the reliable returns on projects financed by green bonds, have entered the marketplace.

The Green Bond market is rapidly growing. First issued by the World Bank in 2007, the green bond market grew to $11 billion in 2013. As reported by the World Bank, some $32 billion of green bonds have been issued by multilateral, governments and corporate issuers from January through October 2014, and could surpass $40 billion for the year.". 

7) Climate Bond Initiative:

"Green bonds were created to fund projects that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits. The majority of the green bonds issued are green “use of proceeds” or asset-linked bonds. Proceeds from these bonds are earmarked for green projects but are backed by the issuer’s entire balance sheet. There have also been green "use of proceeds" revenue bonds, green project bonds and green securitized bonds.".

Again, the above work would benefit from a standardization of the highly synergistic technologies which will eventually be used by the bond seller. The WENN suite of technologies may be offering the broadest and most synergistic suit of technologies which can be offered.   

8) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Investment in Local Solutions for Global Water Benefits:

"GEF is a largest investor in collaboration on shared surface and aquifer water systems globally with GEF is a largest investor in collaboration on shared surface and aquifer water systems globally with $1.1 billion in grants accompanied by $7 billion in co-financing. 149 countries have been beneficiaries. While GEF catalyzes transboundary cooperation, projects also implement water-related measures at the small national basin level for IWRM along with local demonstrations. GEF supports many types of water quality improvement measures, installation of cost-effective wetland treatment technology, institutional development for basin IWRM and aquifer management, energy-from livestock waste pollution demos, and satellite technology for reducing irrigation demand by improved water conservation. The session will include the presentation of local demonstrations piloting innovative technological and integrated management approaches in basins, aquifers, and communities that help balance competing uses of water resources, save water and energy, and sustain food production..1 billion in grants accompanied by $7 billion in co-financing. 149 countries have been beneficiaries....GEF supports many types of water quality improvement measures, installation of cost-effective wetland treatment technology, institutional development for basin IWRM and aquifer management, energy-from livestock waste pollution demos, and satellite technology for reducing irrigation demand by improved water conservation. The session will include the presentation of local demonstrations piloting innovative technological and integrated management approaches in basins, aquifers, and communities that help balance competing uses of water resources, save water and energy, and sustain food production.".

The WENN technology suite addresses an important urban water issue in that waste water can be reclaimed and re-purposed for non-potable uses. At the rural level, the WENN technology can be transformative to the more arid farming areas.

The above list of funding paths is not exhaustive and many existing and future environmental focused funding programs can be coupled together to provide a comprehensive list of funding options for all WENN management scenarios ranging from the smallest rural communities; the largest of metropolitan cities; rural areas and/or entire nations/global regions. 

This proposal also calls for the creation of a Benefit Corporation (B Corp), with an international scope and benefit mission which can lead the way in the establishing global technology standards and practices associated with WENN local/regional STEM management, funding and policy development.

The B Corp mission statement can use modified language found in many bio-energy development related agencies, such as the Department of Energy's Office of Bioenergy Technologywhile employing an international perspective.

The mission of the Office of Bioenergy Technology is stated as follows:

"Develop and transform our renewable biomass resources into commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower through targeted research, development, and demonstration supported through public and private partnerships."

The goal of the Office is to develop commercially viable bioenergy and bioproduct technologies to:

·        Enable sustainable, nationwide production of biofuels that are compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum-derived fuels, and can displace a share of petroleum-derived fuels to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

·        Encourage the creation of a new domestic bioenergy and bioproduct industry.


Once the B Corp is established and the WENN specific funding matrix is customized per specific locations (i.e. cities, rural, marine, regional etc.), multiple on-the-ground projects can be initiated simultaneously around the planet.

In summary: The WENN suite of technologies can help any city, state or nation achieve carbon negative emission status while also solving a number of important related issues such as sewage waste discharge reduction and water reclamation. The deployment of the WENN technology also represents a significant up-grade to critical infrastructure and 'Green' funding can be attracted to WENN projects. 


Who will take these actions?

This proposal recommends the formation of a 'Benefit Corporation' (B Corp.) as the primary agent of change. The Board of Directors of the B Corp. should be populated by actors within the IPCC class of science communities as well as actors from other more specifically focused science based groups.

Many of the working groups within intergovernmental treaty groups, such as the IMOCBD etc. also offers relevant and robust knowledge bases needed by the Board of Directors of the WENN B Corporation. 

Further, the civil society class of organizations, specifically organizations like Cities for Climate Protection program and institutional investment leaders should be equally represented on the board. 

The WENN B Corporation may possibly be able to establish a global standard in such dual fiduciary responsibilities. The overall use of the B Corp structure should be encouraged as such dual responsibilities needs to become the new norm. 

As to Somerville specific actors, working within the established socioeconomic networks would greatly help in the initial organizing phase of the WENN B Corporation.

Further and more specifically, recruiting interested parties for the starting Board of Directors from the Public Works Department, the Mayors office, local start-up experts such as Green Labs etc. would establish the initial WENN B Corporation as a locally controlled actor with sensitivity to specific issues related to Somerville's current and future environmental needs.





What are the key challenges?

The carbon negative energy aspect of the WENN technology suite creates a scenario in which the more WENN generated bio-energy that is used by the city and or it's population the greater amount of carbon sequestration occurs.

The primary path which this carbon will be sequestered is through the use of sewage/algae derived biochar either in the city of Somerville or other local cities and or sold into the local agriculture market. 

In brief, the more extensive the WENN technology is deployed and the more biofuel and biochar is produced and used, the greater the amount of carbon reduction occurs.

What are the key benefits?

In simple words, as long as there is sewage being produced and is available in a sector of the city, so will there be carbon negative energy available to that city sector. This represents a significant improvement to the resiliency of that particular neighborhood.

Also, the re-engineering of the roadways provides an opportunity to bring to the project ancillary technologies such as in-road electrical induction loops to power urban traffic (which conceptually dates back 100+ years!).

Further, during this rework of the roads, Somerville may wish to install pneumatic tubes imbedded alongside the WENN reactors and batteries for use as underground bulk cargo transport. The use of such transport tubes have a long history of use in many other cities.

As to what effect the WENN effort will have on the local economy, after the initial flush of construction jobs have finished, the sale of the many potential products which can be made from sewage based algae would provide the city with a new revenue stream which can support further environmental mediation/adaptation work in the city.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Efforts such as The Climate Bond Inititive (CBI) offers a relatively standard financing path for cities/regions/nations/corporations to afford this aggressive degree of critical infrastructure up-grade and protection.  

In brief, like most climate friendly energy systems, the up-front cost will be high yet the long term economic benefits being highly positive. 

I would recommend that a small neighborhood be selected for an initial effort and the cost v. benefit analysis be carried out using the empirical data generated by that effort. 

Such an analysis could be important for the structuring of future green bond activity.

Time line

The entire technology suite called for in this proposal is extant and thus this proposal can be initiated today.

The 5-15 year time frame can see vast scale deployment and thus significant advancement toward the goal of achieving a carbon negative emissions scenario (i.e. RCP 2.6).

In brief, the core technology (chemosynthesis) can be used on land or sea and only requires closed tanks and a source of raw nutrients such as sewage, animal solid waste and/or marine nutrients. As such, the core technology can be used at all levels of communities. Even the smallest village can set up this system with off-the-shelf HDPE tanks and a relatively simple compilation of ancillary components.

The larger towns and cities can incorporate this suite of technology during routine road repairs or initial road construction or undertake coordinated/preemptive conversion to the WENN tech package in association with other communities (see below).

The WENN suite of technologies are rather simplistic on their own as well as when they are used in unison which creates the desired synergistic effect of the carbon negative  WENN concept.

Thus, the technology is not the limiting factor to implantation. The primary limiting factor is found within the economic spectrum. And, there is currently a flush of long-term 'Green' funding/grant opportunities available or being developed.

The primary benefit of this proposal is that it is offering not just the core technology but also the insight into these new 'Green' funding paths.

With this WENN tech package, which meets the climate mitigation and adaptation objectives of the 'Green' bonds/grants etc. coupled with a multi-community cooperative purchasing power, such as we find in the Cities for Climate Protection program, a critical mass of momentum might be able to be reached within a relative few years.

Within the 15-50 year time frame, global scale critical mass acceptance of the WENN suite of technologies and funding paths may be universally established. 


Related proposals

Global Scale: Chemosynthetic Management of the Water/Energy/Nutrient Nexus-WENN


Please watch this NASA video while noting the primary point source of vast scale CO2 emissions from highly urbanized regions.

Methane Hydrates: Natural Hazard or Natural Resource? - Perspectives on Ocean Science: "Explore naturally occurring frozen methane deposits under the sea with renowned geochemist Miriam Kastner and discover whether or not they are a hazard to climate change". This 1 hr. presentation is a critical reality check for all involved in the climate change mitigation/adaptation problem sets as it shows just how vulnerable we are to radical, even catastrophic, climate change. This video is what has motivated me to work towards large/vast scale solutions.


Cities for Climate Protection program

Marine Biomass

Energy–nutrients–water nexus: Integrated resource recovery in municipal wastewater treatment plants

Chemosynthesis/Oxyhydrogen Reaction in Algae

The Intergovernmental Marine Bio-Energy with Carbon Utilization and Sequestration (IMBECUS) Protocol: Environmental and Political Risk Reduction of Global Carbon Management

algal hydrogenase

NASA's OMEGA Project

Hydrothermal conversion of biomass to fuels and energetic materials

AVA-CO2 Achieves a Breakthrough in Phosphorus Recovery and Introduces the "AVA cleanphos" Process

The Blue Biochar Initiative (BBI) website

Grace Mariculture Project

Gigantic Ocean Vortices Seen From Space Could Change Climate Models

The Effect of Biochar Application in Microalgal Culture on the Biomass Yield and Cellular Lipidsof Chlorella vulgaris:

Biochar production from freshwater algae by slow pyrolysis:

Fast pyrolysis of microalgae remnants in a fluidized bed reactor for bio-oil and biochar production

Bio-oil and bio-char characterization from microalgal biomass:

Algal biochar – production and properties:

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative

"Proposed multifunctional OTEC plant

benthic hydro-thermal

Mission Blue

Advances and Innovations in Biochar Production and Utilization for Improving Environmental Quality

An Engineered Microbial Platform for Direct Biofuel Production from Brown Macroalgae

Establishing offshore autonomous communities:current choices and their proposed evolution

seaweed energy projects