Rethink Waste, and Help Save a Promising Green Technology

John Perry Barlow, left, on stage with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City

John Perry Barlow, left, in a panel discussion with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City

JohnPerryBarlowJohn Perry Barlow has been a fixture at Burning Man since 1994. That makes him a founder in my book. Recently he starred on stage with Larry Harvey in a session called The Founders Speak at Columbia University. He’s also a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (with Burning Man lawyer Terry Gross), the Grateful Dead (he brought them to Timothy Leary’s castle in 1967 and wrote 57 of their songs) and WIRED (he was on their masthead when it launched).

Burner Barlow has given a lot over many years to our communities: Burners, Techies, Deadheads, and particularly the large Venn Diagram intersection of them all. Now he could use our help in return. For the past 6 years, he has been working with a company called Algae Systems, which has developed some amazing technology. The low oil price has made their investors jittery, and so they are now in a last-ditch effort to save the company and keep their breakthrough inventions alive.

Cutting a long story short, they can turn raw sewage into clean water and fuel, without wasting energy.

If ever there was a time for Burners to come together to support a positive environmental impact, where what we give will actually make a difference, it’s here and now. Their Indiegogo fundraising campaign is open for 8 days.

Barlow says:

Become a Better Ancestor: Save Our Technologies So They Can Save Your Descendants…

For the last 6 years, my colleagues and I have pursued a dream to address the most dangerous environmental problems we believe our descendants will face: poisonous drinking water, insanely variable weather, the end of the green revolution as we run out of mineable phosphates, offshore “Dead Zones” as more and more nitrogen and phosphorous is lost to the sea. 20 million dollars later we have proved it can be done. And done in a way that is consistent with our vision of closing the loop to turn wastes into resources.

Furthermore, we developed a method of photosynthetic energy capture much more efficient than solar cells and able to stand on its own without federal subsidies and using no land currently used to grow food.
But we have reached a surprising impasse with our strategic investor, the oldest company in Japan. They believed, with good reason, that they were investing in a company that would produce a green fuel that extracted more CO2 from the atmosphere than it returned when burned. But crude oil is now so cheap that they lost faith in their investment.

Moreover, we discovered that we had developed technologies along the way that could revolutionize wastewater treatment. As I’ve said, we recognized that we had created a sewage purification process that produces more energy than it uses. In addition, our unique HTL (Hydrothermal Liquefaction) process could transform noxious sewage sludge, currently being hauled to landfills at 30 million tons a month, into fossil equivalent crute oil and a nutrient rich biochar that can restore the millions of acres of depleted topsoil our grandchildren will confront.

But our strategic investor got out of wastewater treatment a decade ago and was unwilling to get back in, no matter how game-changing the technology. Our interests no longer aligned and they decided to withdraw support.

They offered us an opportunity to buy our company, including our plant and IP, for pennies on the dollar.

We saw this coming and had three investors lined up to cover the buyout, as well as the amount necessary to jump-start our operations in Alabama and commence building HTL skids we believe we can sell to enough wastewater treatment operators to make us profitable by 2017.

But one of our prospective investors developed cold feet and withdrew. Upon which the other two did as well. So we suddenly found ourselves looking at a January 17 buyout deadline to come up with the money. We decided to go long. Yeah, it’s nuts to think that we can raise this kind of money in a week, but we’re fresh out of alternatives. It’s a real Hail Mary, but we’ve been successfully hurling Hail Mary passes into the foggy future through the history of our company.

I pray you will look at our tech and see, as we do, the genuine prospect of a planet with life-support systems sufficient to provide for 7 billion passengers as they hurtle through space. We’ve developed an integrated system that can handle that. I personally endured this Sisyphean quest because I wanted, as ever, to be a good ancestor. My devout hope is that many of you will as well.

Please support them, this is aligned to Leave No Trace, Civic Responsibility, Communal Effort, Gifting, Radical Self Expression and Immediacy. This could be an amazing example of how Burners do care, are capable, and can make a difference. I urge BMOrg to get on board and promote this campaign too, perhaps they can find it in their hearts to give something back to this Burner who has contributed so much to us all – and this beautiful, beat-up planet.

More on Algae Systems:

Official web site and Twitter

Seeing Purpose and Profit in Algae – New York Times, 2014

Pilot plant in Alabama produced exemplary results – 2015

algae systems


From Indiegogo (emphasis ours):

Planet Earth has no externalities. As Bucky Fuller told us 40 years ago, it truly is a spaceship. We need solutions that recognize that waste is either a verb or a squandered resource, since all flows are in a closed loop.

Our team spent nearly every waking moment of the last 6 years of our lives, approximately 394,200 hours, dedicated to developing our waste treatment technology.  We’ve had numerous successes and exceeded our expectations.

We figured out how to transform raw sewage into energy-positive clean water and carbon-negative, water-positive green fuels. In the process of growing biomass and turning it into fuel, we discovered something much more valuable. We can purify wastewater without wasting energy.

We are excited about the viability of our technology and the benefits it can bring to a world where millions of children are killed every year by dirty water.

However, our primary investor, a large Japanese corporation who initially funded our small startup, isn’t interested in wastewater.  They are no longer willing to provide funding to us as our interests no longer align.

The truth is, we are in a tight spot. 


We have until Jan 17th to raise enough money to buy back our company and continue operating.  If we do not raise enough capital, our technology and IP will be shelved indefinitely, its benefits never brought to light.

To our knowledge, there is no other process that can provide the benefits we can and do so at a profit.

We are in a position to invite people like you to help us continue developing our waste treatment system and deploy it at a commercial scale to bring its benefits to communities.

Let’s harness the power of the crowd to support existing technology and is so critically needed on this planet. We hope that you are inspired by our work and that you see the benefits it can provide.


In Alabama’s Mobile Bay we successfully built and tested a demonstration facility that takes a community’s raw sewage into one end, and outputs carbon-negative fuel, clean water, and fertilizers from the other end.  Unlike most water treatment strategies our system generates energy while producing clean water. A community using this method could get energy back while treating their water.

Learn more about the science behind the system here.

When Alabama Governor Robert Bentley visited our facility, he had this to say:

“This took a lot of knowledge in biochemistry and the ability to take wastewater and use natural ingredients like algae and be able to produce clean water and oil…it’s a great system.” ~ Robert Bentley

AlgaeSystems CEO Matt Atwood (left) speaks with Governor Robert Bentley (right) on a tour of our Mobile Bay facility.

It is our hope that you will decide to support our campaign and empower us to continue on this path.  Every little bit helps. Please donate and share. Together we can change the world. One city water treatment plant at a time.HOW YOU CAN HELP
With your contribution, we will be able to:

  • Obtain full control of our science and patents by buying back our company from our current investor
  • Jumpstart our Mobile Bay facility to get it running again
  • Reinstate our dedicated employees who want to contribute to the success of our waste treatment system
  • Develop existing relationships for already selected sites to deploy HTL skids + photobioreactor bag technology
  • Scale up to an economy of scale that makes our waste treatment system competitive in the marketplace


Technologies like ours that generate new solutions to climate change, ocean warming, topsoil depletion, and greenhouse gas pollution are needed immediately. The world needs more resilient and resource-efficient infrastructure. That’s what we provide.

Our cities are in need of help.  Some municipalities use up to 30-40% of total energy for water systems ( EPA). We need more energy-friendly water production.
In the United States, we use about 40% of all water for fossil fuel energy production (DOE).  Negative implications of this practice include competition for water supplies among agricultural uses and human consumption. Additionally, warmed water coming out of thermoelectric plants has adverse impacts on local aquatic habitats.
This wasteful system is ripe for innovation. We need more water-friendly energy production.

Algae Systems disrupts traditional wastewater treatment with a more resourceful, systems approach. Our technology pushes wastewater treatment and energy production into new territory that is far more beneficial for humans and other living systems than current practice.

Solar and wind have grown leaps and bounds, but they aren’t going to get us all the way there, experts say.  Bill Gates recently announced the creation of a private equity fund to invest money in 20-30 companies with existing technology that can be scaled up to become commercially viable.  Algae Systems is the type of tech Bill Gates is talking about.  It is viable technology that needs financial support to scale up. As the deadline of Jan 17th looms ahead, we are working as hard as we can to capture the attention of the crowd to meet our crowdfunding deadline.

Algae Systems is a valid solution for a more resourceful water-energy nexus. You have the power to help us create a more sustainable world for future generations.

People are excited about the potential of Algae Systems.
Visit our press room here.

We are a group of professionals united in our efforts to apply an entirely new approach to solving some of the most basic problems impacting our communities, our environment and our public utilities. We are entrepreneurs, chemists, engineers (civil, marine, and aeronautic), utility operations managers, vanguards of more sensible futures. Click here to learn more about our team.

[Source: IndieGogo campaign]


Ten Questions With Terry Gotham: Linnae Ponté – The Zendo Project

I am honored to be bringing you this chat I had with Linnae Ponté, director of The Zendo Project. This effort, funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), provides psychedelic harm reduction at Burning Man. This is one of those crucial services that can only be found at Burning Man, and nowhere else in the festival landscape. Trained professionals help people through (not out of) difficult experiences, and have probably saved someone you know from a really bad night on the playa. They’re currently raising money to have 2 locations at Black Rock City this year, and definitely need our help. If you’ve got it, they could use it. And most likely, when you’ve taken too much Saturday night, they’re going to be the ones taking care of you. CrowdRX may be in over their heads this year, so I anticipate The Zendo Project will need all the help they can get.Linnae FM 20141. How was Lightning In A Bottle & Costa Rica? Have you been anywhere else this year? Both events were awesome. Not only are both venues gorgeous in their own ways (I mean who wouldn’t want to be in a tropical paradise or amongst sacred California oaks), but we had great placement for the Zendo in centralized locations and worked in what seemed like seamless harmony with medical, rangers, security, and law enforcement. We served 83 guests at Envision and 62 at LIB, and helped countless more by providing water, electrolytes, and drug education.

We also set up services at AfrikaBurn, which is the largest regional burn, in the beautiful Tankwa Desert and served over 70 individuals. Continue reading

Re-Cycling Bike MOOP

Last year we brought you news of a program to do something useful that alsoaddresses the problem of hundreds thousands of Burner bikes that get dumped on the Playa each year.

Well, good news, Burners: it worked. They sold 400 bikes to Burners and have shipped a container full of bikes to Africa. It’s great to hear about a Burner-generated initiative that is actually making a difference in the world.

With a little more support, something lasting can now be created to support the bikes and the lifestyle they enable.

Burner Lily says:

Last year we sold 400 bikes to Burners, and now we successfully have sent a container of pre-loved Burner Loop Bikes to Namibia which is a huge achievement! But to make this a real success story we need to complete our last stage of the project by offering crucial on ground support and empowerment over in Namibia next month.
We have launched a crowd funding campaign recently to raise money to achieve some awesome bike related projects like turning the shipping container into a bike workshop, building a BMX track, working with communities to understand their needs and improve the Loop Bike, and making a documentary to expose the need for mobility in places like this.

You can check out the campaign here:


loop bike



Help Fuel the Dancetronauts

Dancetronauts are running an Indiegogo campaign to help them purchase the fuel and propane needed to bring the popular Strip Ship out to the Playa. There are 11 days left to go in the campaign, and they’re asking Burners to please give anything they can. For $20 they’ll send you their new album. Giving more will put you in the draw to win 1 of 50 tickets to Burning Man that they have available to their lucky fans.

Danctronaut’s Deep Space Embrace party will feature more than 60 art cars.

From Indiegogo:

dancetronauts strip shipDancetronauts are reaching out to our friends & fans. Need fuel to make Burning Man ’14 a reality.  Music

How You Can Make Having The Dancetronaut Art Cars At Burning Man 2014 A Reality?

To all our beloved Dancetronauts Friends, Fans & Family. The Burning Man festival is upon us once again… and we are so close to ensuring our presence there this year. However, we are falling short in just a couple areas that would have The Dancetronauts Strip Ship & Bass Station rocking the playa like you all know and love:

  • dancetronauts elevatedDiesel fuel to get the art cars there and back safely.
  • Sufficient filled propane tanks to run Fire FX.
  • Diesel fuel to run our generators.

It’s really that simple. But has come down to the fact the funds for these few items just aren’t in place as of yet to allow us to move forward with being there in full. 

What We Need & What You Get:

Since Dancetronauts conception, the project has been fully funded internally. We have poured countless hours and dollars into creating the most incredible productions for you all… but right now our time is running short. Either we reach the goal necessary… or we simply won’t be able to bring out and operate our art cars for your enjoyment this year at Burning Man.

Yet we are confident and full of positivity that with the huge network of supporters, friends, and fans both in our social media and outside of that, reaching this goal can be an easy achievement, so long as everyone does at least a small part. 

  • We have created a few unique perks for those that can & would like to help more.
  • We have carefully tallied the costs and your donations solely go to the fuel costs needed. (On avg. we burn about $500 a night just in propane for Fire FX to put things a little more in perspective for you. Add a Diesel Generator and a Diesel Truck “The Strip Ship – one of the most fun ways to cruise the playa & view The Burn from the highest vantage point.” you can see how quickly these costs are driven up.

The Impact of your donations:

dancetronauts trailer dj boothQuite simply… they will make or break Dancetronauts being at Burning Man and being able to perform for you this year. For the last 4 years Dancetronauts have been voted one of the best parties on the playa by BRC. Anyone who has experienced a Dancetronauts party or seen us set up and throwing down on the playa… we are confident you can attest to that.

We have been hit up by an enormous amount of world renowned Producers and DJs… all requesting to perform for YOU ALL at The Burn off our famous Bass Station. This years potential line-up may or may not include and is not limited to:

• Darth & Vader • Peep This (Peep’n Tom & Tyco) • Tek Freaks • Miss DVS • DJ Dan • Revolvr • Genisis • Well Groomed • Alex Mind • Sex Pixels • Peodepitte • Brett Rubin • Philthy Phil • Trav Nasty • EJ tha DJ • Skrillex • Diplo • Felguk • Chainsmokers performing “Selfie” live • ((and don’t forgot of course…. DAFT PUNK…. at the trash fence!!!)) etc. etc. etc. 

Risks & Challenges:

We are obviously on a time crunch. Time is critical right now as the days are rapidly ticking down til Burning Man. Now is the time to act. The sooner your donations are received, the sooner we can make the plans to budget and obtain the fuel necessary. 

… anything is appreciated. Especially your help in spreading the word and furthering this campaign.

The soon to be released album “Cleared For Transmission”, slated for the end of September, is going to be chalk full of original productions by Philthy Phil and other Dancetronauts producers & DJs. This full album is valued at $20 and will be yours PRIOR to Burning Man, including an unreleased exclusive track for our donaters only, that will not be available on the final release. Just our added little way of saying THANK YOU for stepping up. We are truly grateful and will look forward to partying with you ON THE PLAYA. 

PLEASE: Aside from your donations, take action and further the cause by showing your support and posting this campaign anywhere you can on your social media sites. 

Use the Indiegogo share tools! Easily made available to you straight out of our campaign. 


Thank You Thank You Thank You. 





Soul Train

cartoon by Christopher

cartoon by Christopher

Our cartoonist Christopher has graciously shared his art with us- thanks, Christopher! He’s so humble that he didn’t even ask us for help with his Indiegogo  campaign to help upgrade the Soul Train. He’s gonna get it anyway! Come on people, show some love, give back to a giver, let’s help the Soul Train.

soul-trainBurning Man is a loud place. It’s time for me to step up!

The Soul Train is my gift to the Burning Man community, and guess what?  I would like to give some more!  There’s nothing I love better then driving it around, making people happy, having instant dance parties wherever I go, and bringing Old School, R&B and Disco to the Playa.  I BRING DA FUNK!

I would like to reach more people.  This campaign is for louder speakers, as well as replacing some lights that got damaged last year.  Burning Man is a loud place, and I need to step up!I’ve been happy to have made such an impact at Burning Man, and I’d like to go further.  I’ve enjoyed adding to the experience of Burn night as well as assisting with the Critical Tit Ride After Party.  This year, I will also assist with The Soul Train World Record Attempt at The Man on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 and The Dancetronauts Deep Playa Party on Thursday night. 

Anyone whose life has been affected by Burning Man knows what it’s like to want to give the same feeling to others, and I am no different.  I’ve been told often how much I “made someone’s Burn more memorable”, and that has always been my goal.  This is a fixed funding campaign… either I do this right or everyone gets their money back.  Thanks for reading this, and I hope you can help!

Donate here.