The Greenest Monster.

How to make an eco friendly machine for mining processes.

People that know me come across several facts about me. I’m a bit of a sarcastic asshole, I don’t play nice, most definitely foul mouthed, drunk, could pose as a smart person if needed, etc. I can be all these things but what I am not is a conservationist. Not a gram of any material that has crossed my path has been recycled whatsoever. Still I designed and constructed a machine that distills mercury from a stone and does it with no emissions to the environment. This might come across something good from my part but it is not. The whole thing breaks down into one simple state of mind: paranoia.

When the design process started I had to do all the research on the main material I was going to exploit. This led me into a thorough research on mercury and cinnabar over the internet. What I found was incredibly scary. If this thing was built the wrong way I was going to die, and when I was little I took this oath of not dying until it was inevitable. Some might call this moment in life self-awareness. I call it: Oh no, oh no, I don’t want to die! This is the simple feeling that has kept me collecting stupid birthday moments with really dull crowds, singing stupid and boring songs around me in a constant loop of dates that claim I haven’t died yet.

Let us round up the facts about my line of work: if you breathe vaporized mercury, it’ll deposit in your lungs, your next set of children will be born with eternal idiocy, you will get some sort of incurable cancer and you will die. If sulfur is released in its gas state around you in large quantities, you will get sick; but if this sulfur gets mixed with the right amount of water it turns into hydrogen sulfide and it can burn you. Even worse, which was my case, if you vaporize sulfur and it gets mixed with water but it doesn’t fully liquefy then you get atomized sulfuric acid released into the atmosphere that can burn your eyes and nostrils and can also kill you. There is also the fact that I was going to build a machine that would burn liquid gas at a rate of 3,000,000 BTU/H. With this heat it could transform some molecules of a rock into a high pressurized steam that would travel at high speed into a “controlled” environment that was cold enough to freeze a beer in two minutes. I just didn’t want to die.

If at one point of your life you are lucky enough to get a contract that will pay you to create something that doesn’t exist, the people that gave you this contract won’t give a flying fuck about your well-being. Therefore claiming that you need a stack of cash to make the thing safe won’t cut it. You need to do what I did: tell them that this thing you’ll build is going to be eco-friendly and that this plus will earn them more money eventually. Then you need to start thinking out of the box and actually design things that are safe for the environment while stopping the things that can kill you.

Here are my solutions:

  • I made the entire machine a closed circuit able to resist high pressures. The steel chosen for the parts that would come in contact with the mercury was carefully studied so that it could hold all the components of the reaction taking place inside it without stress. This means that materials can expand and even explode inside it without being able to escape the limits of their confinement. Then the automatic safe release system plunges the material into a contained water bay that will cool the mercury down into a form that wouldn’t kill you.
  • Aside from that there was the sulfur and all its complicated and dangerous transformations. I hate chemistry. Even though it is a core part of my studies and work, I just simply hate it. I had to come up with an idea. Trust me; this one was not easy. What I did is design a mixer that would hold water and calcium carbonate. I took the excess pressure off the system and used it to force this acid into the mix while shaking it. This would mix with the calcium and create calcium sulfide while releasing the carbon monoxide into carbon activated cells. Then I sold the calcium sulfide as an organic fertilizer that allowed me to pay for the liquid gas I was burning like crazy.
I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
-Robert Oppenheimer
  • I was boiling rocks! The heat! And — this is the fun part — I was taking this metallic steam into a cold environment 480 degrees Celsius below just two meters ahead! The kinetic energy released was off the charts and gave a very powerful kick; a blow strong enough to break or pierce the steel that contained this material very likely to kill me. What I did on this matter was purely mechanic. The pipes were rolled into a spring that allowed the material to expand and contract without any stress. An elegant solution if you let me to congratulate myself.

All of this made a safe machine. A terrible being that wanted to swallow me whole and simply couldn’t. A complex conglomerate of stainless steel components that ate rock, made lava, spat mercury and paid for its fuel voracity with hippie fertilizer, while it purrs like a kitten. I guess I tamed that beast.

See it working here!

Edited by Adriana Lemus.