13 votes

This simple crib cost $28,885 to make—because it was made with zero fossil fuels

17 comments

  1. [17]
    SantalBlush
    Link
    It cost that much because they made extravagant design and logistic choices. Here is a good example: Any decent carpenter could have made a carbon-zero crib for much, much less, once these bad...

    It cost that much because they made extravagant design and logistic choices. Here is a good example:

    The steel industry is notorious for using large amounts of energy and can’t easily rely on traditional renewables, so the tiny piece of steel in the crib’s logo came from a lab that ran on hydrogen to make the world’s first steel without fossil fuels. Vattenfall worked with a mining company and steel producer in Sweden to test a system using hydrogen, which was successful. A new pilot plant is now under construction to make steel at a larger scale. The first small piece used in the crib was delivered from Sweden by electric train and electric car.

    Any decent carpenter could have made a carbon-zero crib for much, much less, once these bad choices are removed. This article is borderline FUD.

    29 votes
    1. patience_limited
      Link Parent
      Agreed - the cost is for prototyping, not just of the crib itself, but for every startup carbon-free process involved in its construction. This is not representative of its cost in industrial...

      Agreed - the cost is for prototyping, not just of the crib itself, but for every startup carbon-free process involved in its construction. This is not representative of its cost in industrial production at scale. Every other involved process, once established, can be utilized for hosts of other products. That's costing applicable to any standard process change, and not a surrogate for unique costs of carbon-free transition.

      13 votes
    2. [14]
      insegnamante
      Link Parent
      That's the only extravagant design choice they made, and they may have made it on purpose -- to show just how hard it is to source carbon-free items. The article is not in depth enough to be sure,...

      That's the only extravagant design choice they made, and they may have made it on purpose -- to show just how hard it is to source carbon-free items. The article is not in depth enough to be sure, though.

      I agree that a good carpenter could have done the frame completely carbon-free for a lot less, and there are quite a few people who have their own woodworking shops. The mattress would probably be harder to source because there are fewer people that just happen to weave, and fewer sources of carbon-free materials.

      I wonder what they used as a finish on the wood? What kinds of paints and oils are carbon-free? I really don't know.

      Overall I think it was a good thought experiment. If you're going to try to replace carbon-based energy sources you're going to have to do things like this to see what you need to replace.

      7 votes
      1. [7]
        facedeodorant
        Link Parent
        Linseed oil is a viable choice. It's beautiful, has been used on fine furniture for hundreds of years, and can be made by cold pressing flax seed in a rather simple but laborious process. Linseed...

        What kinds of paints and oils are carbon-free? I really don't know.

        Linseed oil is a viable choice. It's beautiful, has been used on fine furniture for hundreds of years, and can be made by cold pressing flax seed in a rather simple but laborious process. Linseed oil can also be the base for oil paints made by simply mixing the oil with natural pigments (charcoal, ocher, etc.).

        13 votes
        1. [5]
          insegnamante
          Link Parent
          Of course! I've heard of linseed oil before, just didn't remember at the moment. I didn't know that it could be used as the base for oil based paints, though.

          Of course! I've heard of linseed oil before, just didn't remember at the moment. I didn't know that it could be used as the base for oil based paints, though.

          2 votes
          1. [4]
            cfabbro
            Link Parent
            Linseed oil also smells absolutely amazing, IMO. I am probably dating myself here, but painting/varnishing with it is one of my favorite memories from wood shop. It was soooo damn satisfying using...

            Linseed oil also smells absolutely amazing, IMO. I am probably dating myself here, but painting/varnishing with it is one of my favorite memories from wood shop. It was soooo damn satisfying using it to make the wood suddenly go from dull to lustrous and glossy, especially when combined with the fantastic smell it gave off.

            6 votes
            1. [3]
              insegnamante
              Link Parent
              Stop it. You're making me want to be a woodworker.

              Stop it. You're making me want to be a woodworker.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                cfabbro
                Link Parent
                So. Damn. Satisfying! ;)
                1. insegnamante
                  Link Parent
                  That man may only be applying poly to a floor, but it's a beautiful thing to watch an expert at work! Thanks for that link!

                  That man may only be applying poly to a floor, but it's a beautiful thing to watch an expert at work! Thanks for that link!

                  1 vote
        2. gpl
          Link Parent
          Just wanted to chime in and say that video was extremely relaxing, and I learned something as well. Loved the ambient noise.

          Just wanted to chime in and say that video was extremely relaxing, and I learned something as well. Loved the ambient noise.

          1 vote
      2. [5]
        aphoenix
        Link Parent
        From the article: I think importing something by sailboat is prohibitively expensive. They also made some other strange choices, like using a chainsaw instead of a crosscut saw, which seems like...

        That's the only extravagant design choice they made

        From the article:

        Wool that normally might have come from South America or Australia came from a Dutch island called Texel via sailboat.

        I think importing something by sailboat is prohibitively expensive. They also made some other strange choices, like using a chainsaw instead of a crosscut saw, which seems like it informed the design in a strange way. A crosscut saw uses zero emissions - just two burly people - so should have been a no-brainer to use.

        They also elected to use a biolaminate board underneath the mattress for no discernible reason. If they'd used a crosscut saw, they could have cut down a bigger tree, and had thicker supports and reduced the need for the biolaminate board.

        I think that they spent almost 30K on a crib to make a statement about energy. A crib like this could be made for much less, especially if you don't consider the labour costs (which they seem to be glossing over anyways). Source: my dad made one for my kids, using joinery and local wood; the total cost was about $250CAD (plus his time). I don't know what a handmade mattress would actually cost, but I think this is clearly more about the statement of "we depend on fossil energy".

        I wonder what they used as a finish on the wood?

        Potato starch and chalk is what they used for paint (that's in the gif, which is also where I saw the bit about the biolaminate board).

        8 votes
        1. [4]
          insegnamante
          Link Parent
          My bad. I missed the wool on a sailboat part. That definitely qualifies as extravagant too. Potato starch and chalk. Learn something new every day. I wonder how durable that would be? At least it...

          My bad. I missed the wool on a sailboat part. That definitely qualifies as extravagant too.

          Potato starch and chalk. Learn something new every day. I wonder how durable that would be? At least it wouldn't be terribly toxic.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            aphoenix
            Link Parent
            I had the same questions re: starch based paints, and I found this article on paints and varnishes based on potato starch which was interesting; the tl;dr of the article was "it works fairly well".

            I had the same questions re: starch based paints, and I found this article on paints and varnishes based on potato starch which was interesting; the tl;dr of the article was "it works fairly well".

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              insegnamante
              Link Parent
              Wow. Who would have thought? That's kind of amazing, actually.

              Wow. Who would have thought? That's kind of amazing, actually.

              2 votes
              1. aphoenix
                Link Parent
                It is super amazing - it's really interesting what sorts of common things have other uses. I had a similar thing happen the other day with cream of Tartar - I saw some in my pantry and thought, "I...

                It is super amazing - it's really interesting what sorts of common things have other uses. I had a similar thing happen the other day with cream of Tartar - I saw some in my pantry and thought, "I never use this - what is it for?" and then googled it. You can do some interesting things with it mostly related to cleaning, but you can also use it to deter ants. It got me to wondering what other uses things in my spice cupboard could have... or just things in general.

                2 votes
      3. papasquat
        Link Parent
        It depends on what you mean by "carbon free". I don't know of a single finish that literally doesn't have carbon in it, but then, wood is mostly carbon by weight as well. If you mean finishes that...

        I wonder what they used as a finish on the wood? What kinds of paints and oils are carbon-free? I really don't know.

        It depends on what you mean by "carbon free". I don't know of a single finish that literally doesn't have carbon in it, but then, wood is mostly carbon by weight as well. If you mean finishes that don't require burning fossil fuel, there are a ton of different oils, waxes and varnishes that could be made without burning fossil fuel. Tung oil, boiled linseed oil, etc. I think polyurethane would be the only thing that would be out.

        1 vote
    3. Odysseus
      Link Parent
      I think that was largely intentional. They could have done it much cheaper buy using pre-industrial methods and skipping the steel, but that doesn't seem to be the point. I think that the point...

      I think that was largely intentional. They could have done it much cheaper buy using pre-industrial methods and skipping the steel, but that doesn't seem to be the point. I think that the point was to embrace these newer technologies that is going to be required to meet the output demands of today. It might not be cost effective now, but it's going to be much more scalable in the future. Plus, it also serves to highlight a lot of the challenges we still face on our path to moving on from fossil fuels. Take the sailboat, for example. That was probably an INCREDIBLY cost-ineffective way of transporting material, but it highlights our reliance on the incredibly fossil fuel dependent shipping industry. Sure, the steel nameplate for the logo was unnecessary for making the crib, but steel is an absolute must for manufacturing and construction as a whole.

      3 votes