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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(Judging from the comments below I should have chosen a different name for this post. Consider the title to be "The world ended and I've had to run away from my preps and/or BOL, now what?")

If you've been following my posts you'll notice that I have covered several topics these past few months.

These include making medicine, paper, batteries, gasoline, wood gas, building a tribal society with goodwill and living with diabetes (making insulin and monitoring blood sugar levels) as well as a few other things.

A few days ago I was out and about and I had the sudden realization that my own preps which include substantial food storage as well as a small urban farming operation and a BOL, may one day prove insufficient.

The question boiled down to what if there was a situation where we had to run and keep running to stay alive. Maybe not continuously, but what if for a time we had to go hunter gatherer style and basically move camp every few weeks. Say for instance yellowstone erupted, or there was a significant natural disaster, or long term supply disruption that resulted in frequent issues with raiders?

So I broke down the needs of my family into 4 items that we would need if we needed to run and keep running for awhile.
These items, are food, shelter, water and gas.

Water can generally be solved with a large drum or barrel left open to catch the rain, or failing that a stream or other source of ready water. However we are desert creatures here and having lived in the desert our whole lives, our water needs are pretty minimal compared to others, so I assume that sufficient water can be readily found.

I also found a diesel truck that a neighbor is getting rid of to use as a bug out vehicle and I've got a line on a small trailer with propane stoves and a gasoline generator for heat etc.

At this point in my life I know how to make fire and cook with it, so the propane for the stove is irrelevant, but what is relevant is gasoline for the generator and diesel fuel to keep on trucking.

Obviously there is only so much food, gas & diesel that can be packed into a trailer and hauled around with you, so this limits the amount of travel possible by simply stocking up and having these things at the ready.

With this in mind I started doing serious research into nutritious food items that can be easily grown even on the road and that are readily converted into fuel.

In the case of diesel there are about 10,000 different food items that can be turned into fuel. but only a handful of those are readily grown and one of them (hemp) is illegal to possess.

In the case of gasoline just about anything with sugar in it can be converted into ethanol, but ethanol isn't a long term substitute for gas. In many cases you have to retool things like the carburetor and fuel system to get it to burn properly and the water content can still damage things so you have to be very careful. IMHO a better solution would be butanol which is more like gas than alcohol.

Fortunately I did stumble on a possible answer to all three problems simultaneously.

The solution is algae, but not just any algae. The particular algae is called Spirulina and it's a "super food'. While not the tastiest food in the world it's incredibly nutritionally dense and possesses all of the nutrients needed to sustain life (with the notable exception of B12).

It's also dead simple to cultivate, very high yielding and can be used as fuel with very little modification, here's how.

First off you need to grow it. I'm not going to go into excessive detail on this because there is information literally everywhere. The recent Make Magazine issue #26 has a great setup for doing it in home, however my setup is completely different and uses several seal-able 5 gallon buckets which I have modified with lighting in the lids to provide light for growth and cheap aquarium pumps to provide for aeration. Specifically these Amazon.com: Elite A790 Battery Operated Air Pump: Kitchen & Dining

This seems to be adequate and moderately spill proof. You need 10 gallons for each adult and 5 gallons for each child, this will produce enough to keep you alive and nourished. I have a total of 10 of these 5 gallon buckets or 50 gallons. I'm guessing a 50 gallon drum would do basically the same thing. Also I use wood ash as the nutrient base for the algae.

Once you have your spirulina growing and have harvested it, you need to first dry it and weigh it. According to my math you need to consume about 10g (roughly a tablespoon) per day at a minimum if this is your primary source of nutrition. That's not very much but I've found that just a few grams signals my body that it's full, so no worries about going hungry.

I've seen recommendations as high as 30g. I'm still working it out on my end, but you are likely to be better off with a higher amount than a lower amount, so figure 10g per serving with 3 servings per day or 30g per person per day.

Since it takes 2 weeks to fully develop a harvest that means 420g or in round figures 500g per person per harvest should be set aside for food.

Post harvest, make sure to fill the tank back up with water and add 1/2 cup of wood ash to replenish the nutrient base. This step will also keep the pH in check.

The rest needs to be processed into fuel.

Spirulina is really high in oils.
If you heat it up a little and roll it with a roller you will express lots and lots of oil. In my experiment I took 10g of sundried spirulina and got 5g of oil. I'm sure you could do better especially if you have an oil press like this one http://goo.gl/xYdA8.

At the rate I was able to get, the yield for 8kg of material would get you 4000g of oil or just over a gallon. Obviously if you have a 50 gallon gas tank then you will need to harvest 400kg dry weight to fill the tank, that's about 880 lbs.

Clearly not realistic from a single harvest. But a single harvest might be enough to get you a few more miles down the road or you could use the technique to store up extra fuel and help make the fuel you do have last a bit longer.

If you have a diesel engine modified for SVO that's all you have to do. However if you don't, then you are going to need to make your own biodiesel, using one of the many, many processes for SVO to biodiesel conversion. http://www.biodieselmake.com/

In my opinion it might be better to just convert the vehicle to SVO ahead of time since complete kits only run about $1500 and you don't want to be bouncing around in the woods with biodiesel making supplies which contain several dangerous chemicals.

The next process would be to convert the remaining biomass, the stuff you just pressed the oil out of, into gasoline. Turns out that's actually the easiest part. You see butanol is made from butyric acid (the stuff that gives vomit it's lovely smell) by bacteria that occur pretty much everywhere in nature.

Butyric Acid can be made by acid digestion of the algae, but unlike my earlier post about butanol from cellolosic sources, this doesn't need the long digestion times required to break down cellulose since of course it's algae and doesn't have any cellulose.

If you want to be fancy you can order a supply of Clostridium Acetobutylicum from a supplier such as Carolina.com. I'm still using my first batch of bacteria after having made about 40 batches or so of ABE fuels, but I'm running a culture and have experience keeping cultures alive so YMMV.

(I no longer recommend dirt or rusty wire as a source for the bacteria, unless you have no other options, however it is ubiquitous in dirt).

After 7 to 10 days you will have something that no longer smells like vomit or death, but instead smells a bit like nail polish remover and whiskey. This is Acetone, Butanol, Ethanol, or ABE fuel.

Pass the ABE fuel through some zeolite (found at your local petshop) to remove the water content and then distill off the acetone. You now have a suitable gasoline replacement.

As a final note, butanol isn't the only thing you can do here.
For those who insist on running their engines on EverClear or 190+ proof ethanol, instead of trying to use the butanol, just stick the yeast in the can with the biomass and add water in a few weeks you will have ethanol same as if you had used ground corn flour or starch.

That's about it, I hope you find this information useful.
 

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First I would hazard to say that if TSHHTF and you have been living solely on your supplies and not working on creating/developing other means to survive during the period that the end has occurred and you run out of suplies then your prepping was a failure to begin with......

If you have prepped in the manner which so many seem to be on here you would have seeds to plant a garden, and would be continually harvesting seeds from the plants you are growing to start more plants next year......

I am not sure what the driving need for gasoline or diesel is for transportation since if TSHHTF I personally will want to stay as close as possible to my own residence so as to limit exposure to possible problems..........

Heat is a serious concern but as always firewood will be gathered during the warmer months by all members of the group and burned during the winter months.... everything done on the property will involve bringing back some form of winter fuel...... even small sticks and branches will be valuable come winter heating seasons.....
 

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knowledge is power
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Thanks man. That IS useful information. That sounds like the manna that kept moses and the Israelites alive in the desert for forty years. God gave him a machine that produced it, I think. Im not sure of the details. But thanks for the fuel info too! Good stuff man.
 

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Locked and Stocked
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First I would hazard to say that if TSHTF and you have been living solely on your supplies and not working on creating/developing other means to survive during the period that the end has occurred and you run out of supplies then your prepping was a failure to begin with......
What he said!
 

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Back to square 1, skills developed far in advance of need . Foxfire skills would save the day most likely
Hard to run carrying a barrel or pushing a truck and trailer .
 

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Deus exsisto laus
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At one point, I almost became obsessed with "survival" to the point it was running me ragged, emotionally. Finally, I realized what I was doing. In essence, I was trying to "recreate" an industrial microcosm in which to continue living as close to how I do now. It bordered on the ridiculous. I took a deep breath, walked away for awhile, and came back to reevaluate. First, I don't believe in a "The Road/ Mad Max scenario." If a comet hits the earth, if yellowstone erupts, if there is a full on nuclear exchange, I will do what I can. I'll endure, adapt,and overcome, and /or die. Realistically, economic collapse or a second Great Depression are much more likely, along with the associated increase in crime. A societal reset would entail a over reacting government, food shortages, rolling or long term electrical brown/ blackouts,ect. My point is, it is very easy to spend so much time and money preparing for the "end of the world" that you miss out on living your life NOW . Just something to think about. TP
 

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Stay the Course
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Store up some fish, live for a month. Learn how to fish, live for a lifetime.

Well a play on words there, but you all get my point. If you plan on living off of your preps alone, you will be the first to die. Well maybe not the first, but you will be the second.
 

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Living on your preps, and now they are gone?

What are you doing or have been doing for self-sufficiency-fruit trees, gardening, hunting, fishing?
 

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Never Give up
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If you ran out of preps you didnt prep very well. Anything in life you have to work to keep sustaining your production. Not just live on what you have. You lose your drive and it will all crumble in a matter of time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If you ran out of preps you didnt prep very well. Anything in life you have to work to keep sustaining your production. Not just live on what you have. You lose your drive and it will all crumble in a matter of time.
I think you may have missed the part where it says "what if you have to run and keep running for awhile."

You can't take all your preps with you and if your BOL were compromised all your carefully laid up stores are now in the hands of raiders.

The point was to show a simple food/fuel combo that could keep you going until you could make it somewhere safe and may buy you time to setup farming again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Spirulina requires milling to crack the shell of the algae before it can be digested. I doubt any of our grain mills can grind fine enough to do that. I also looked into it and that was my stalling point.
Can you find a source for that?

I only ask because that statement concerns me.
I've read tons on it and not read anything about cracking a shell on the algae. My understanding is that it was a significant contributor to ancient Aztec diets and I'm pretty sure they didn't mill it at all, just cooked it into cakes. I've tried eating little else but the Spirulina for a week and I haven't felt nutritionally deficient or even very hungry.

Also are you sure it's Spirulina you are talking about, because there have been many, many "food craze" organisms over the years and I seem to remember a different algae that was going to end world hunger and make us all hold hands and sing kumbiya, but it turned out there was a problem in processing it. But that organism wasn't Spirulina.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
you can go ahead and eat algae or even make fual out of it if you want but next time do your research and post a link with the side effects and the complications of taking /eating it if you have certain diseses ...................http://www.spirulina-benefits-health.com/spirulina_nutrition.html
That paper is a marketing document written by a veterinarian from Ethiopia, working for a nutritional supplement company. Not what I would call a reliable source but even that paper is overwhelmingly positive. I do agree with the conclusion that you shouldn't get it from a polluted or contaminated water source since it does act like a sponge to mop up contaminants, but that's true of any food including fish, mammals and plants.

Still I wouldn't trust it if I hadn't done my own research on it.

The National Institute for Health performed an independent study on it and the results are here. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/923.html

In a nutshell, if you have an autoimmune disorder, suffer from phenylketonuria or are pregnant or breast feeding then you probably shouldn't be using it.

In the case of autoimmune disorders it activates the immune system possibly making symptoms worse.

It contains phenylalanine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenylalanine which can aggravate phenylketonuria so you shouldn't use it (or chew gum since it's a component of gum too), if that's an issue for you.

And to date there has been no research on pregnant or breast feeding women, ergo they have no idea what it's effects are and so you should avoid it out of an abundance of caution.

Wikipedia does go quite into depth on it and if you are interested in reading further I recommend this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirulina_(dietary_supplement) as a starting point.

More info...

The United Nations is putting serious backing into the idea of using it to help feed the worlds poorest and hungriest http://iimsam.org/

Also NASA and the ESA have done significant research on it and have made plans to use it as a primary food stuff on long term space missions.

Hope that clarifies it for you. But I do agree that I should have mentioned these things earlier, my apologies.
 

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Go take some until you get your own going. Worst case that isn't possible for a variety of reasons. Scavenging isn't very hospitable so you are probably going to die, slowly and gradually from lack of nutrition and energy and associated illnesses.

Keep in mind people never got up to any quantitative numbers when they were foragers/hunters. Only when they figured how to make/grow their food did our species actually began to grow in numbers.

Many don't talk about that now, but you are as good as dead if you can't facilitate food production at some point.
 
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