5. Case Study: POC21


POC21 is an international innovation community. They work on open source manufacturing projects to create a proof of concept for a truly sustainable society. Faced with the paucity of establishment-led solutions to climate change and resource scarcity, the organizers of P0C21 decided to fill the void by creating practical solutions toward a low-carbon, low-resource economy.

The name POC21 is a reaction to the ultimately insufficient “Conference of Parties”, or COP21, climate conference in Paris. “POC” stands for proof of concept, the concept being the impact of design global/manufacture local, open source, and collaborative production.

In the summer of 2015, the POC21 community organized a 5-week innovation camp to prototype projects in areas such as energy, food production, housing, transportation, communications and water conservation. These prototype ideas for a sustainable society extended to the camp’s own daily dynamics. More than a hundred makers, designers, engineers and experts lived communally in a shared space, organizing their activities and the camp’s upkeep through non-hierarchical and consensus mechanisms.

The camp developed 12 open source hardware projects:

POC21 | Factory – Think Global, Make Local from POC21 cc on Vimeo.

  • $30 Wind Turbine is a low-cost wind turbine built from reclaimed materials and off-the-shelf parts. It takes under six hours for two people to assemble, and can generate 80W in 25 km/h wind, or 1000W in a 60 km/h wind.
  • Aker is a kit-based modular system for urban food production. Kits include beehives, plant beds, vermi composters and chicken coops and can be quickly assembled, no special skills required.
  • Kitchen B is a modular, low energy, low waste kitchen system. The modules reduce the need for electrical appliances in the kitchen, allowing users to preserve food without electric refrigeration or to cut, chop and knead food using a mechanical mixer. Food waste is turned into natural fertilizer.
  • Bicitractor is an affordable, pedal driven tractor for small and medium sized farms. It can be built with standard farm tools and materials in less than a week and for a total cost of around 1000 €. The bicitractor can sow, weed, harvest and more.
  • Faircap is a 3-D printed, open source, antibacterial water filter. The small filter can be directly screwed into bottles, allowing safe consumption from any source. The long term plan is to fabricate filters in regions with scarce access to clean water.
  • Nautile is an energy saving 3-D printed electric kettle. It was designed along biomimicry principles with elements derived from polar bear insulation, toucan beaks, and termite hills. Its interior design distributes heat more evenly than industrial kettles, resulting in 80% electricity savings.
  • Open Energy Monitor is an open source system for visualizing domestic energy consumption. It monitors electricity usage, temperature and humidity in real time, which is then relayed to a computer, tablet or phone.
  • Ownfood is a permaculture and aquaponics automated greenhouse. The open source kit minimizes upkeep and uses 90% less water than a traditional garden. Additionally, it doesn’t require pesticides or fertilizers and is designed to provide vegetables for a family of four in only 24 square metres.
  • SolarOSE is an open source solar concentrator that provides thermal energy for a variety of applications. The cost-effective and light concentrator is able to produce steam at 150-200º, while its 5kw peak capacity can provide cooking energy for ten households.
  • Showerloop is a real-time shower looping system that minimises water and energy use. Its antibacterial filtration system collects and cleans water from the drain to immediately pump it back up to the showerhead. The mechanism can reduce the energy needed to heat water up to a factor of ten. It is estimated that widespread use of a Showerloop would save 33.000 liters of water and 650 kWh of energy per person and year, compared to a normal shower.
  • Sunzilla is a system of easy to use, modular and portable solar-powered generators. Designed to provide an alternative to dirty diesel generators, Sunzilla can easily bring electricity to power remote areas. In fact, its plug and play system can be moved by a single person on top of a standard pallet.
  • Velo M2 is a multi-functional cargo bicycle capsule system. Fitting all standardized cargo bikes, the system draws energy from solar and pedal power combined. Its inherent portability makes it an excellent option for powering mobile projects and pop-up events.

Designs and blueprints for these projects, along with easy-to-follow instructions, are available on the PoC21 website to be downloaded, modified and improved. Long term plans include building permanent spaces for further open source prototyping, and a functioning marketplace to buy, build or upgrade the projects.