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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Michigan Energy Fair

The Michigan Energy Fair is presented each year by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. It moves around the state, but was held at our country fairgrounds this year. Volunteers got a free entry and a t-shirt, so I agreed to chip in a few hours. When it was last on this side of the state I kind of wanted to go, but never made it. Here are some highlights from this year's fair.

homemade wind turbine

There were displays of both homemade and professional products. The one above was a wind turbine which powered something, but when I went over there, no one was around to explain it.

solar thermal

This system is totally new to me. These tubes are vacuum sealed and concentrate the heat from the sun. That heat is transferred to a home heating/ water heating system through a heat exchanger. It's supposed to be able to reduce those costs by 60%, even in Michigan, with a 5-year cost recovery. If we had the money, I might be interested enough to explore this one more.

vertical turbine

The open vertical column on the right is a small model of a vertical wind turbine called Windspire. These are made in the county just north of me. I've seen some full-size installations of these. They work well for small businesses and aren't as visually obtrusive as the large "propeller" towers. Each one can generate 1200 KW of power.

energy bicycleThis was clever, but it wasn't working when I was there. You could ride the bike and see how easily you could generate enough electricity to light the LED and fluorescent bulbs, and how difficult it was to light the incandescent bulb.

I tried it, and the fan comes on first- to cool you off! I was waiting for the lights when another of the helpers said that the lights weren't working. Bummer. It was a great educational demo.

Chevy Volt

Finally, GM had a big display of the Chevy Volt. It does use both electricity and gasoline, but not in the same way as a Prius. It's always powered by the electricity. If the battery runs down then the gasoline is used to power a generator which creates more electricity for the power train. They had two of them on site- one for people to look under the hood and learn about the process, and one for people to take for a test drive! That was the red one, and I took a turn. I've never driven a Prius, but have ridden in a couple. The Volt was even more quiet, if that's possible. The ride seemed very smooth and it handled fine... what can you tell in a half mile? but it was fun.

So that was my big excitement for today!

I start the paper route tomorrow morning for the next eight days. Just remember that the shark has to look harder for quality on paper route days. (translation: I will be grumpy and feel icky)

See Sun Power


rainfield61 said...

Technology always brings us excitement.

Secondary Roads said...

That must have been a fun day.

Duxbury Ramblers said...

I love to look at new technology even though I may not totally understand a lot of it.

Ann said...

Sounds like a very interesting fair. I don't think my husband would be real thrilled with the display with the bike. He makes incandescent light bulbs for a living. :)

Sharkbytes said...

rainfield- technology is fun until it breaks.

Chuck- a bit hard sell for me. I would have preferred more demo-style booths, but of course people have to sell stuff to stay in business

Carol- Yes, I like to keep up on what's available

Ann- that's pretty funny. So he's working on the new and better ones?

RNSANE said...

The fair sounds very interesting. I know there must be good ways to power our world more efficiently and much more reasonably!

Snazzy looking car!

Jean said...

Thanks for sharing the highlights of the fair. I am so interested in solar energy.

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