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I didn't see this anywhere else, so I thought I'd try my hand at posting something with substance for a change. My big deal is potable water. My next big deal is environmental degradation. So when I ran across this article about halophytes, or salt-tolerant plants, I realized there was something beyond shrimp farming* you could do with these plants. The people at Boeing seem convinced this would solve many of the problems associated with using low-grade fuels from tar sands and shale in their jet engines. It would have the added effect of greening the desert and acting as an additional sink for CO2.

Possibly someone with more energy and certainly talent, like.... anyone else here, could take this and do something a little more in depth.

I'm more of a self-satisfied snarky ranter and Speaker of Doom than I am a real diarist. Just see anything I've ever written...

* Your "All You Can Eat" shrimp dinner is making Mother Nature sad. And pissing ME off as well....

Originally posted to CanisMaximus on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:49 PM PST.

Also republished by Central Valley Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:49:06 PM PST

  •  Interesting article. (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting.

  •  halophytes as fuel fr wikipedia (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CanisMaximus, LinSea, samddobermann, Skyye


    Halophytes as biofuel
    Main article: Biofuel

    Some halophytes are being studied for use as "3rd generation" biofuel precursors. Halophytes such as Salicornia bigelovii can be grown in harsh environments[3] and typically do not compete with food crops for resources, making them promising sources of biodiesel[4] or bioalcohol.

    as a californian, i'm particularly interested that the
    salicornia bigelovii article in wikipedia mentions it

  native to coastal areas of the eastern and southern United States, as well as southern California and coastal Mexico. It is a plant of salt marshes, a halophyte which grows in saltwater. ...The southern part of the species range is represented by the Petenes mangroves of the Yucatán, where it is a subdominant plant associate in the mangroves.[1]


    This plant is gaining scientific attention for its potential to serve as an oil crop that can be grown in desert environments and maintained with water containing high levels of salts. It is the source of salicornia oil. The plant is up to 33% oil.[2] The oil contains up to 79% linoleic acid and is functionally similar to safflower oil.[3] It can be used as a cooking oil and a replacement for more valuable oils in chicken feed. Domestic animals can be fed the plant as a forage.[4] The plant could also be a source of biofuel.[5]

    Since the plant is a halophytic coastline species which grows in saltwater, it can be irrigated with seawater, making it a potential crop for landscapes that can support few other crop plants.[2][4] The plants can also be watered with high-salt drainage water, such as the effluent from farmland in California's Central Valley.[6] Fields of the plant have been grown in wastewater from aquaculture farms in Eritrea and harvested for animal feed.[5]

    seems to need a lot of water even if salty/effluent, and i'm not finding anything in the "halophytes" article to suggest these are drought-tolerant or desert-tolerant species.   the Masdar/Boeing article doesn't seem to address the water-supply problem, unless the pilot project is ocean-adjacent.  no time to hunt for whether there are lagoons or marshes in Abu Dhabi that are discreetly going unmentioned; tho' it may be worth noticing that there used to be [ extensive marshes in iraq/iran what with tigris & euphrates, and there's been some restoration of those since marsh-destructive water projects were eliminated in recent years, but how good an idea would it be to industrialize the marsh arab culture into a new kind of non-existence just when they're starting to recover and provide subsistence that relieves individual and familial poverty as well as documentation of cultural practices for how to survive and build in an environment that may become more prevalent as global freshwater sources become scarcer... hopefully the decision will be in the hands of the people, not the hands of corporates or rich neighboring governments (as if that happens much...)

    pretty interesting and thought-provoking stuff, though.

    •  Dude...if I were capable of embarrassment... (4+ / 0-)

      ...I would be.

      I conflated "haplotype" with halophyte.

      I don't pretend to understand genetics, but I follow it.

      YOU should have done this diary, but it seems you went ahead and finished it. Thanks. I'd rather smoke pot and kibitz....

      "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

      by CanisMaximus on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 02:22:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nah, you spelt it rite, actually. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LinSea, Skyye

        Ease up on the weed, maybe?

        I'm a better kibitzer/commenter than originator m'self -  can't really scan around the intertubes for good material, so - glad to have collaborated with you & thanks for doing the finding in the first place.

    •  Jojoba. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mettle fatigue, Wee Mama

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:48:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this? ooo, good idea! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, enhydra lutris

        jojoba has

        ... gained attention in the discussion about renewable energy... [its] oil consists of, opposed to most vegetable oils which consist of triglycerides, long straight monoesters of 22 to 44 carbon atoms, which makes it comparable to diesel in respects of energy density.  The pretreatment of jojoba oil for the use of biofuel is simpler compared to that of other mineral and bio-oils and it is expected that combustion of jojoba oil leads to smaller NOx-emissions compared to diesel and doesn't lead to SOx emissions at all.

        Light and coarse textured soils are preferred by Jojoba. Good drainage and water penetration is necessary. It tolerates... poor-nutrient soils. ...Its ability to withstand high salinity (up to 12 dS m−1 at pH 9) and the high value of jojoba products make jojoba an interesting plant for the use of desertification control, for example in India... High temperatures are tolerated ... but frost could damage or kill plants....Jojoba plants don’t need an intensive cultivation....and there is little damage by insects. Supplemental irrigation could maximize production if there is not enough rainfall of 400 mm....Jojoba is normally harvested by hand because not all seeds do mature in the same time... Plantations of jojoba have been established in a number of desert and semi-desert areas, predominantly in Argentina, Australia, Israel, Mexico, Peru and the United States. It is currently the Sonoran Desert's second most economically valuable native plant...

        Selective breeding is developing plants that produce more beans with higher wax content, as well as other characteristics that will facilitate harvesting.[2]

        breeding for higher wax content sounds as if it might also need less water?

        thanks for pointing to intriguing subject.

  •  I'm intrigued by the idea of using aquaculture (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Odysseus, mettle fatigue

    effluent to provide the fertilizer the plants need. In any case though my hunch is that at best this will work near the ocean. Shipping seawater inland to use is not practical.

    There is also the question of salinization. If you use seawater to irrigate I would think the soil would be salinized rather fast. It's true these plants are more salt tolerant than most but every plant has an upper limit.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:10:41 AM PST

  •  Aha! Boeing discovers the 60s and thinks it is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mettle fatigue, Wee Mama

    alone in do doing -

    They found that there is a class of plants that can grow in deserts on salt water and has superb biomass potential. “Nobody knew this”, says Morgan. “It is a huge discovery. A game-changer for the biofuels market.”
    dear Boeing: Jojoba. eom

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:46:03 AM PST

  •  er, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mettle fatigue, Wee Mama

    greening the desert = environmental degradation.

    •  maybe ok if desertified by humings in 1st place? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      a spreading desert degrades sahel and chapparal.

      i can't refind my links or authoritatively quote & reference book material that's not (apparently) in the intertubes yet, but in avidly following what archaeology i can (which is admittedly not a whole lot these days), i'm intrigued at how extensive is the evidence in many now-desert areas that greener conditions and better watertable seem to have been an earlier state, apparently verified by historical records of raw materials no longer much extant such as around the south rim of the mediterranean before roman, byzantine, and ottoman rule.

      i can see how, in human terms. regreening would be degradation if entire cultures have developed in the desertified environment.  have seen discussion elsewhere of exactly this problem.  the opposing argument seems to be that returning a bit better water supply & food supply might/ought to support individual lives of those cultures.

      never any simple or easy resolutions.

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