From Scientific American–
Can Soil Replace Oil as a Source of Energy? [Excerpt]
William McDonough and Michael Braungart suggest moving beyond sustainability and into practical design that can result in energy abundance
by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
Excerpted from The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Copyright © April 16, 2013, North Point Press.
Food as a battery—that is what we would like you now to consider. But before we get to the full expression of that proposal, we need to review exactly how batteries function, so you can appreciate the beauty, and potential innovation, made possible by thinking through this metaphor.
Batteries are not storage containers for electricity, as one might assume. They don’t provide power because somehow someone pumped in the electricity and locked it in, and now it’s ready for use. Instead, they contain the potential for an electromagnetic reaction, which, if engaged, creates power. The battery consists of a negative solution (the anode) and a positive solution (the cathode) separated by the ions of the electrolyte. The extra electrons in the anode want to move to the cathode, but there is no path through the electrolyte between them. …
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William McDonough + Partners is the architecture practice founded by William McDonough; he is also active with Cradle to Cradle® consulting through MBDC and provides CEO and governmental advising through McDonough Advisors.