Sunday, October 2, 2011


By Charles E Hall

Is it time for the gerneral public to take charge of our energy development?  Or should we continue with the status quo of government supplied direction and subsidy which has delivered so much ‘low-cost, free-energy’ like we've been promised. Promises made over the last 40 years which helped to justify increased taxes to pay for the development of repeatedly failed deliveries.

The energy policies of nations, corporations, and scientific community are filled with cronyism, pet project research, and unrealistic expectations to achieve alternative power sources that can be controlled; not expanded into the marketplace of the consumer, at a reasonable cost. The same consumer who, for over four decades is still waiting for real world developments in low cost, viable, and unrestricted sources. See Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.  When looking at the funding of research and development, an unsettling theme is found; more money is spent to promote 'green', 'alternative', or 'renewable' energy than actually being used to research, build, and make it available.

In America one has only to look at the latest headlines to see proof of wasted billions on research and development that had little to no chance of becoming a source of cheap and clean energy. From G.E. to Solyndra to Enron, the focus appears to be getting energy independence stuck in a rut where the public pays for the mistakes and fraud of government subsidized waste.  Our current endeavors into Solar, Wind, Nuclear and Bio-Fuel have been disastrous. Why?

Mainly because we've believed that energy can only be produced by large scale multi-state corporations, or it's too expensive for the home consumer to build and afford for themselves. For the most part, when looking at alternative sources of energy, these would be valid assumptions. Looking at how much energy we use on a daily basis, just in our own homes, and what we can expect to use in the future as electric vehicles become more regulated, commonplace, and required, we start to see that creating our own energy, versus relying on corporations is a big deal. A very big deal.

Maybe it's time to go back to the drawing board, and take a look at old technologies, new discoveries, and energy production at the local level or residential and neighborhood size. Some technologies even offer energy production for the small scale manufacturing and farms that could help reduce the costs of produce and goods by reducing their energy costs.

So where do we look and how do we start?

Some ideas are to start looking at the past to help us develop the future. Today there are over 4000 patents on alternative energy production ideas that are being held out of the public realm. These are ideas, which if pursued, could potentially meet the needs of targeted energy-use sectors. Unfortunately, the patents have been purchased or leased by the same corporations which are providing government subsidized energy to us now, and the patents and technology are put in a closet never to see the light of day again.

Some of these ideas like hemp bio-fuels have merit worth investigating; some like cold fusion are high on research, low, or no on return. Some of these technologies show promise for a 'back-yard power package', or production plants of such a small nature that they can be used for the individual home or small scale manufacturing plant. One of these is a nuclear reactor that is no more dangerous than your local fueling station? Thorium development and it's history might surprise even the most ardent nuclear energy skeptic.  

So for a quick glance at alternative energy development sources here are some places to start looking into:

Bio-Fuels- Current development focuses on the use of ethanol based bio fuels from corn and soy. Besides being inferior to other potential sources, continued development also creates undue competition with worldwide food production and drives up the cost of corn and soy products. So what is available to take their place? 
            HEMP- Hemp is a source for bio fuel and has been looked at  for over 50 years. Henry Ford developed his first mass produced vehicle with the intention of using bio fuels made from hemp as the fuel source of choice. Rudolph Diesel worked with hemp based fuels, and his 'Diesel' engine was created with this source in mind. As hemp is not a ‘true’ producer of the Class 1 restrictive drug THC, it is only reasonable that we look at hemp as an alternative to the more expensive, and competitive to food, corn/soy based bio fuels. Hemp biodiesel has shown a high efficiency of conversion (97 percent) to bio fuel, and has passed laboratory tests showing properties that it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market. The plant’s ability to grow in infertile soils also reduces the need to grow it on primary croplands, which can then be reserved for growing food. Used in conjunction with newer engines, like the shockwave engine, and power creation is unparalleled.

            KUDZU- Kudzu, or 'the plant that ate the south', has good potential as a bio-fuel. Per the USDA- "Based on the yield and carbohydrate content, we estimate wild kudzu stands in Alabama and Georgia could produce 5-10 t ha-1 of carbohydrate, which would rival carbohydrate production from maize and sugar cane fields. If economical harvesting and processing techniques could be developed, the kudzu infesting North America has the potential to supplement existing bioethanol feedstock's, which could be of significance to the rural economy of the southeastern USA." (Rowan Sage) Kudzu, being similar to hemp in its growth patterns and bulk return is showing promise as a source of bio-fuel that rivals corn and soybean, without the competition as a food source. 

At a time when an estimated 30 million acres of farmland is being subsidized by taxpayers to NOT be planted, bio-fuel development and the sources used need to be addressed now by our Congress so we can stop paying people to stop growing food and start growing our freedom.

Wind- Wind production has began receiving a large amount of bad press. This is due to the inferiority of the materials used, the limit to height, the impact to skylines and animals, as well as the costs in subsidies. But it's not a source that's been left to blow away from our grasp. Large scale horizontal wind turbines may not be the answer, but research in other approaches may be.

            KITES- On Maui, an alternative that reaches out and touches the true power of the wind is being researched. This wind source is using our age old understanding of flight by using tethered kites which reach a much higher altitude, and leave a smaller footprint on local populations. The amount of power created is almost double the amount created from a comparably sized windmill, at less than ¼ the cost. Current detractors to the project are developing a better maneuvering system for the kites and airwings, but expectations are that this will be overcome within the next 18 months. In Italy there are companies which are aggressively addressing this issue now, and may have a usable answer within the year.

            VWT- Another source of wind power is through low-wind windmills or Vertical Wind Turbines. These vertical wind turbines can create 100 KW of energy for small business, home and municipal needs. They have smaller ‘setback’ requirements and a low wind return in a 10-12 knot flow. There is even current development showing an increase of 6 times the current single, horizontal impeller technology. (Islam)


Nuclear- With the tragedy of Fukushima fresh in the minds of people all over the world, nuclear is getting a bad rap, which is only right considering the obscene amount of subsidies paid to the companies responsible for creating a detrimentally long-term radioactive fuel that is used for such a short period in nuclear power steam generation. Is there a safer approach? How about this:

            THORIUM- Thorium is an alternative source of nuclear fuel that has no chance of a meltdown, smaller required facilities, less or no water requirements for reactor cooling which means it doesn't require huge amounts of local resources to be replenished. The best part- thorium can’t be used to make bombs, as the amount of plutonium created is at such a small level that it is obscenely expensive to refine. And thorium is plentiful in the world. One ton of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tons of uranium and 3.5 million tons of coal, according to the former director of CERN. (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard)

More Info:      

Solar- Development of solar power that can exist without subsidy by the consumer is unheard of today. This means that all the money dumped into development of poor research is wasted because in order to use the development, we still have to pay just to keep in in the public realm. What is needed is an approach or idea that once researched, can be produced at a low cost, even if it means its only application is for the home consumer's needs. Enter MIT for an answer.

                Michigan Institute of Technology has once again set a new standard in energy production research through novel approaches. Their method is using viruses genetically modified to produce structures that improve solar-cell efficiency by nearly one-third, and that are non-threatening to humans or animals. These structures can be grown in petri-dishes at room temperature and once created, separated from the virus that built them, at low cost and made into solar panels. (David L. Chandler)


Technology- Technology has been developed further and further in the ways of efficiency so that some of our founded beliefs in engines and steam creation is no longer applicable in a forward moving world. Letting go of old assumptions and a willingness to learn how these technologies work will of a greater advantage in putting them into place now for our own future needs and values. Some of these ideas which are out in the public realm are:

             STEAM/SOLAR-Using vacuum tubes for a water heating a small steam engine. These power plants have the potential of creating 30-45 percent more energy for generation at the small scale (household size) than a 2500Watt Fuel generator (close to the same size) with nothing but the sun to power them. Coupled with the use of localized heat sinks, this creates the ability for power generation at low-light situations up for up to 16 hours a day. For a home, this is a huge savings to the consumer, as well as reducing the need to rely on large scale electrical operations and resource use. The primary concept here is not using a vacuum tube filled with water, but one with copper rod cores coupled to a three stage water heating device. Steam engines have a 2000 year plus historical use, and from coal to nuclear energy; they are still in use today due to their efficiency and cost over coal and petroleum fired plants.

Other Info:

            SHOCKWAVE- Michigan researchers have built a prototype of an auto motor that does away with pistons, crankshafts and valves, replacing the old internal combustion engine with a disc-shaped shock wave generator. It could slash the weight of hybrid cars and reduce auto emissions by 90 percent. The generator is about the size of a saucepot, and would replace the 1,000-pound power train in most cars — no transmission, cooling system, emissions regulation or fluids needed. The shockwave also uses about 60 percent of its fuel for propulsion versus typical car engines, which use only 15 percent of fuel for forward movement. Besides greater fuel conversion, cars would be about 20 percent lighter, creating better fuel economy.  (Pham)

Considering the current economics of the world, the individual will see a larger negatvie impact on their ability to grow and prosper unless they take the time to research and demand change in themselves and their legislatures who are elected to promote 'We the People' not 'Wall Street over Main Street'.  The goal of this article is to ask you to take the time to look at some, one, or all of these ideas, and determine if you can see a way to make it a reality for yourself; then start letting your friends, neighbors, legislature, and congress know that the time to develop our energy needs is now. Reliance on the status quo has been proven to create turmoil and failure across a wide spectrum. Our values and the value we expect in return for our needs is the driving force for our energy development.

Think of the previous development as the ‘brute force’ method. We've used a lot of energy and manpower to get here, but now is the time to start using a more methodical, reasoned, and fine tuned approach to position our future developments in a sustainable fashion. A person doesn't rely on just 3 sets of clothes to live their entire life, and with energy, we shouldn't rely on just 3 forms of production and expect it will meet all of our needs from birth to grave. 
If we create energy in our home, for our home's use, it meets our individual and family needs. If  companies create their own energy, as well as their primary products, we see the costs of goods come down. As long as they are using smarter and more viable sources to create that energy at a lower cost. The incentives to create this is through individual and commercial need. To do this we must demand that our taxpayer money is put towards realistic goals and proven research that doesn't require subsidy after the fact. We have to demand from our leaders, the people we elect, that dollar for dollar research is spread out to alternative sources and removed from those companies who are dependent on relying on the same forms of generation, and the same source of taxpayer funding. The same companies who have not delivered anything substantial over the last 40 years.

In the process of researching for this article, the author came across a troubling issue that is hard to present outside of a personal statement:

 "I see a trend where, for every $1 used for 'research' of alternative energy (or misused for non-applicable advertisement touting the research), $3 has been used for the same 'research' into fuel sources we already have in place and 'researched' to death." 

We also need to demand that oversight of how that money is put in place is accounted for, and that those who violate responsible and accountable principals of good research and a balanced budget approach, are held criminally liable for misuse of public funds.

The White House has recently unveiled a petition program, where the stated goal is to reconnect with the public for addressing issues that we feel are important. If you find something within this article that motivates you to take action, I would suggest you start here first:

and here:

The Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2927

and here:

Only through 'We the People' can 'We effect Change' in our Energy-Needs-Values.

And, if you can, please visit the following link to our petition for change:

Once we have 20,000 signatures, we will be sending it forward for evaluation, and addressing by the White House Petition program.