Our Ultimate Goal...
A Realistic Goal for the 21st Century!!!
Steven R. Elswick, BSEE -!- Publisher/Editor of
Reprinted from: ExtraOrdinary Technology (Volume
1, Issue 3; Jul/Aug/Sep 2003)
Practical Energy Independence
Energy Independence... it has a great ring to it, but what does it mean? It depends on who you are
talking to. Our politicians have hijacked the term to mean lowering the imports of oil.... by transferring
our dependence from foreign sources to total reliance on our domestic energy barons. The term Hydrogen
Economy has been thrown in the ring as a means to achieve it... but that includes having an infrastructure
as massive as the existing petroleum-based infrastructure. It is hardly what I would consider as being
By definition, energy independence means that the consumer produces what he (or she) uses. Our
primary uses of energy at the personal level are for transportation and for household tasks. For the
purposes of this article, we are going to focus on the electric grid and typical household consumption.
Many readers of this magazine dream of being energy independent and off the grid. It’s probably the most
common desire that members have expressed to me over the years... and a desire I share. A few members have
even confided to me that they have been off the grid for years... and some have never been on it.
Although Energy Independence is a lofty, noble goal... we should take a closer look at reality BEFORE we
go out rushing to unplug ourselves from the power grid. It is important to consider the benefits provided
by the centralized power system that has been developed over the last century and a half. In order for an
independent power system to be viable, it must be as dependable as the current electrical grid. This is
no small task..
In Colorado Springs, there is over a 99% reliability rating. A decision in the 1980s to place all new
construction underground, and the implementation of a development plan that calls for all of the existing
lines to be placed underground over the next few decades, played a big part in this excellent rating. Of
course, some areas of this country are not so fortunate to have such a reliable system.
Many corporations and institutions find it necessary to have independent backup systems for those
instances when they lose grid-based power. The extremely severe weather we have been having globally, has
been causing difficulties... and sometimes fatalities when everyone... residences, businesses and
government lose their access to power for extended periods of time.
A second major area of concern is maintenance. It goes hand in hand with reliability. Once a resident
cuts himself free from the utility, he (or she) is responsible for the maintenance of the home system.
This means the user must be prepared to maintain the equipment in good working order and to repair it
if it breaks down. A good preventative maintenance program is a MUST and the user must be willing to
invest his (or her) time, effort, and money into it. The easiest way to deal with maintenance is to
design for it at the start... and remember, even though an item may be advertised to be maintenance
free... doesn’t necessarily mean it is completely true.
The third major consideration is cost. Energy independence does not equal free energy... in the economic
sense of the phrase. There will be substantial initial capital costs in equipment, and later, there will
be added on operational and maintenance costs. The biggest question the user must answer before beginning
is whether the savings is worth the cost of the investment. As many of us are on extremely tight budgets,
we make up our lack of cash through “sweat” equity... that is we do it ourselves! So one must take a hard
look at the manual labor involved in both installation and maintenance.
In short, be prepared to spend substantial cash to build and maintain a reliable home power system.
Unfortunately, even if some of the costs are offset by your labor and expertise, high reliability parts
and components can be expensive.
A Sensible Approach
Now that you have glanced at some of the consequences of disconnecting from the grid, you may want to
consider an alternative approach... a gradual migration from the grid. This can be accomplished by first
phasing in a backup system to supplement the grid. Eventually you can expand your system to a large enough
capacity to use the grid for backup power, and may end up actually feeding the grid to get some payback
for your expenses.
Such an approach allows one to spread out both costs involved and the learning curve on the equipment
involved. It has an added benefit of allowing you to decide whether to totally disconnect from the grid or
The system laid out in this, and future, articles will be designed with ease of maintenance in mind as well
as reliability. This material is provided for informational use only and the author and this magazine cannot
assume responsibility for the use of the information herein.
Having said all of the above, we can now begin to figure out how to achieve the energy independence we
desire. I prefer to use a modular approach when designing a system. By segmenting complex tasks into basic
functions, and then breaking those down further into tasks, one avoids being overwhelmed by the sheer
magnitude of the project. It further allows us to better analyze each aspect more thoroughly.
The basic power system can be broken down into three functions:
Block Diagram of Modular Home Power System
We will take a detailed look at each one of these areas as we develop our system. In this way we will be able
to make a better determination as to what is required and possible enhancements.
Of the three areas, “Consumption” is the area that defines our needs and determines the basic operating
parameters of our system. It consists of everything in the house that uses electricity. It’s entry point
is the circuit breaker box.
There are two basic systems that one can use: AC or DC. I will focus on AC because it is the one most of
us (literally everyone on the grid) already use. Although there are DC appliances available due to the
tremendous expansion of the RV community, they tend to be much pricier than AC appliances because the
general public is geared to AC. So, as a matter of practicality, and thriftiness in the long run,
one should stick to AC for most household tasks.
The choice to stick to AC allows us to make immediate improvements in our power consumption whether we
decide to stick with the grid or “go it alone”. The first step would be to do an energy audit using the
table we provided.
Consumption Table for
Some Common Appliances
Appliance (Watt Hour) x Usage = Power Used
- room (1000)
- central (2000-5000)
- electric (4000)
- gas (325)
Computer & Peripherals
- desktop (80-150)
- laptop (20-50)
- printer (100)
Dishwasher (1200-1500 )
- TV (25" color) (150 )
- TV (19" color) (70)
- TV (12" B&W) (20)
- VCR (40)
- CD player (35)
- clock radio (1)
- portable stereo (10-30)
- satellite dish (30)
- ceiling fan (10-50)
- table fan (10-25)
Freezer (14 cu ft)
- conventional (440)
- FrostFree (350)
Furnace blower (300-1000)
Garage door opener (350)
Garbage disposal (450)
Personal Care/Comfort Items
- Blow dryer (1000)
- Electric blanket (200)
- Shaver (15)
- Water Pik (100)
Sewing Machine (100)
Portable Kitchen Appliances
- Blender (300)
- Coffee pot (200)
- Coffee maker (800)
- Frying pan (1200)
- Hot plate (1200)
- Microwave (600-1500)
- Popcorn popper (250)
- Toaster (800-1500)
- Waffle iron (1200)
- 20 cubic feet (540)
- 16 cubic feet (475)
- upright (200-700)
- handheld (100)
- automatic (500)
- manual (300)
The figures in this table are approximate, and derived for typical appliances, to give us a “ballpark”
estimate for household energy requirements. The actual power consumption of your household appliances
may vary significantly. In order to get a more accurate figure than our “ballpark” figure, check the
manufacturers tags and owner manuals for accurate figures for a final load calculation.
Each figure given for Watts/Hour is for 1 full hour of operation. Many items, such as electric razors,
are used much less than 1 hour per day. To get an accurate figure, multiply any appliance’s Watts/Hour
by the fraction of hours used per day, down to 0.1 hours. (0.1 hr = 1/10 of an hour = 6 minutes)
REDUCING Consumption - Lighting
The quickest way to cut your electric bill (which also reduces your household power requirements) is to
change your lighting. Modern technology now gives a replacement for the incandescent light bulbs...
compact fluorescent lights. The table below gives a comparison for the wattage requirements for
incandescent lights (IN) versus the compact fluorescent lights (CF).
40 watt IN - 11 watt CF
60 watt IN - 16 watt CF
75 watt IN - 20 watt CF
100 watt IN - 30 watt CF
Our house has about 21 lights using the 60W bulbs. There are generally 3-4 lights on at any given time
for 12 hours. So:
4 x 60W x 12hr = 2880WHr
or about 3 kWH per day... or 90 kWH in an average month! By switching over to compact fluorescent light
4 x 16W x 12hr = 768WHr
or about .8kWH per day... or 23kWH in an average month... about a 73% savings in power consumption for
Compact fluorescent lights screw in existing sockets, so the only cost is the bulbs themselves. The
incandescent bulbs that you can buy for less than a dollar, generally burn out within 3 to 6 months.
The compacts have lifetime guarantees for 5 or more years and a three pack runs about $5. Therefore,
over time you actually save money by using compact fluorescents.... and this doesn’t even include
savings from using less energy.
We have already started the switch. About every two weeks, I purchase a 3-pack of compact fluorescents
from Home Depot or WalMart. Then when I replace a bulb, I don’t need to worry about it for another five
years. Just start with the lights you use the most.
If everyone took this simple step, there would be a dramatic decrease in energy consumption nationwide!
When you consider residential lighting accounts for at least 10-15% of our national energy
requirements... a 73% cut is a very significant reduction.
Finally, take a look at those outside yard lamps. Many solar outdoor lamps are now available and should
be seriously considered. Although there is a capital expense involved, there are offsetting attractive
features. You do not have to extend house lines to them and they cost nothing to operate. If you keep
outside lights connected to household power, then at least put a solar eye with a movement detector.
That way, you will pay for them only when they are needed.... at night when someone is around!
REDUCING Consumption -Appliances
As you look around the house, pay close attention to all of the gadgets you have. Ask yourself things
like, “Do I really need that electric shaver?” Just because an electric gadget is available to do a
job, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the best way to accomplish the task.
Another item to pay attention to is the age of your appliances.. especially big ticket items like TVs,
refrigerators, washers and dryers. The older the model, the less efficient it is. If it is financially
possible, consider getting the latest model... preferably with those that have the “Energy Star” labels.
They have passed rigorous standards for reduced energy consumption.
Given the amount of electricity required for dryers, hot water heaters and cooking, the best approach
may be natural gas, LP gas or propane.... especially if you already use it for heating. I have used
both, and actually prefer gas. All else aside, if your stove is using gas instead of electricity, you
can still cook if the electricity fails... and the oven can heat the kitchen area in a similar
Finally, be aware of “leaking electricity”. This is a “new” element of energy waste that is gaining
nationwide attention. “Leaking electricity” refers to the small current that many modern appliances
draw when they are “off”. Items such as TVs and computers have a “quick start” mode that means although
the device is off, it still draws some current to instantly spring to life on demand. More stringent
standards also refer to items like clocks on many devices (ie. microwaves, etc) that are installed
in them but do nothing to perform the appliance’s main function.
REDUCING Consumption - Heating/Cooling
The largest portion of your home energy budget is most likely for heating and air conditioning. If at
all possible, do not use electricity for heating... it is the most wasteful way of accomplishing this
task. It is far more cheaper to use natural gas or propane. However, you will still need electricity
to circulate the air.
Fireplaces and wood stoves have been used, but they tend to add far more pollution to the air than
natural gas furnaces... and in many areas they have been banned. Solar energy systems utilizing a
fluid like water to move the heat are attractive in some areas, but they require a “mass” (ie. a
huge block of concrete with pipes running through it) to hold the heat until needed. Unless you
have access to lots of sunshine and a thermal mass to store the heat for an extended period of time,
you are stuck with some type of combustion method for economical heating.
There have been great strides made in this area. There are high efficiency heaters such as pulse
furnaces available on the market. As for alternative systems, if one is inclined to experiment, there
is the GEET furnace reputed to burn anything and even generate enough gas for other purposes. Paul
Pantone claims that one portion actually gets cold enough to refrigerate.. and can be used for air
Air conditioners have made tremendous strides over the years. It may be quite economical to replace
your old unit with a new one. Although the initial cost will probably be higher, a more efficient
unit uses less energy and should save significant money over the life of the unit. For example, a new
central air-conditioner’s annual operating costs may be half of what an older model costs to run.
The energy efficiency for an air-conditioner and the cooling side of a heat pump are shown by the
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The SEER indicates how much cooling you receive from
each watt of electricity you use on a seasonal basis. The higher a unit’s SEER, the higher its efficiency.
Using the SEER, you may easily compare the efficiency of different units. For example, if Unit A’s SEER
is 10 and Unit B’s SEER is 5, Unit A is twice as efficient as Unit B and will cost approximately half as
much to operate. Manufacturers are required by law to publish the energy efficiency rating and estimated
annual operating costs of their residential air-conditioning systems. When you are buying a new air
conditioning system be sure to look for the SEER.
Air conditioners built in the 1970s generally have SEER ratings of 5, and until 1996 a 6 rating was
still common. However, the Clinton administration required SEERs of 10 or more, with SEER 13 being
the new standard in 2001. Manufacturers are now meeting the SEER 10 standard and were ready to meet
the SEER 13 standard until the Bush administration took office.
Once in office the Bush administration rolled back the SEER 13 standard to SEER 12 claiming it was
helping poor folks afford air conditioners. In reality, there is only a savings of $130 on a $2000
piece of equipment... and if you live in Arizona, that savings is quickly eaten up by higher operating
costs... and it does nothing to bring our household energy requirements down.
Although one would think air conditioning is optional (and it is in many parts of the country), in places
such as Arizona, it is a necessity. Air conditioning is a key feature in making the Southwest habitable
in what is a naturally inhospitable climate. If air conditioning were suddenly unavailable, the Phoenix
metro area would certainly face a mass exodus.
REDUCING Consumption - Passive Measures
There are other things we can do to bring our household energy costs down before we start any conversion
process. The most common measure is to upgrade the insulation. It is a very cost effective approach to
lowering heating and cooling bills. However, as you insulate, caulk, and seal your home, don’t neglect to
insure that you have enough ventilation for fresh air. ... and, if you don’t have a exhaust fan in the
attic, seriously consider putting one in there. Pulling the heat out the area above the ceiling will
make a tremendous difference in the temperature below... for pennies. If you hook it directly to a
solar cell, you will achieve tremendous temperature reductions without any operating costs.
A lot can be done with landscaping. For starters, trees that shed their leaves can be planted on the
southern exposures... thus shading in the summer when it is hot, and allowing sun to pass through during
the winter. Coniferous trees (pines) can be planted farther out providing a wind screen and a degree of
year round privacy.
Finally, a simple pipe with an intake in a shaded area, and run underground where the yard is watered,
can be fitted with a small fan and run into the house. It makes an economical and environmentally
friendly air conditioning unit. Be sure to size your pipe to the airflow you desire.
On Demand versus Storage Systems
Now that we taken the steps to reduce our power consumption, we should do a second energy audit.
This will allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of our steps to reduce the power consumption as well
as to see if more can be trimmed off. Totalling the kWH will give you an idea of what your minimum daily
energy requirements are. This energy can be provided by an on-demand system or through a stored energy
An on-demand system requires an energy source online at all times (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, day
and night) whether the energy is used not. If you were contemplating solar, you would need an additional
source for night. If you are running diesel, you will need to provide a fuel supply. On demand systems
are fine for those emergencies when power is out for a few hours or even a couple of days.. but for a
permanent system, they are illogical and far more expensive than the grid power.
A stored energy approach gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to our energy source. Stored
energy electrical systems already exist and provide continuous electrical power to thousands of
consumers who live and work far beyond the reach of power lines... and it can work for you too.
Operating Principles of
Feasible Alternative Energy Sources
These devices, in various stages of development, are either available NOW!... or expected to be
available within the next year.
Although commercially available, research into solar cells is ongoing. They are semiconductors with the
P material exposed to the sun’s photons. Each photon with enough energy will normally free exactly one
electron, and result in a free hole as well. If this happens close enough to the electric field, or if
free electron and free hole happen to wander into its range of influence, the field will send the
electron to the N side and the hole to the P side. An external current path allows the electrons to
flow through the path to their original side (the P side) to unite with holes that the electric field
sent there, doing work for us along the way. Efficiency is limited, but we believe that magnets may
provide a new method of dramatically increasing their efficiency.
Long used by NASA, they are about to burst upon the residential scene. It consists of a solid polymer
membrane sandwiched between two electrodes. As the hydrogen is released to the cell, the Hydrogen
protons migrate through the membrane to the oxygen side. The isolated electrons will then flow through
a load to rejoin the protons and form water.
Current state of the art uses natural gas (propane) for residential standalone units. Under development
is a new version which allows for direct use of methanol without reforming. Most units I checked into,
have an AC inverter built in, enabling it to be connected to the house without an external inverter.
Although GEET has been pummeled with bad publicity over the past three years, I believe the technology
works... as stated by its inventor, Paul Pantone. The key is the “reaction” chamber shown below.
Generators converted are said to run longer, and with a lot less pollution than regualr engines. It
takes 2-3 hours to do a conversion and the plans for a
small engine are FREE on our website.
Stored System Operational Overview
The very core of the stored energy system is the battery bank. Batteries play the same role in an off
grid system as a water reservoir does in a utility-scale hydroelectric system—they both store energy for
use on demand. Batteries may be emptied and refilled, and they have a measurable capacity. The capacity
of batteries is usually expressed in Amp Hours. DC electricity stored in batteries is used by an
inverter to produce household AC power when it is needed.
When any electrical load (appliances, lights, tools, etc) is required, the inverter must deliver the
power from the batteries. DC electricity stored in the batteries is converted by the inverter into
ordinary household power (AC) for use by the loads. Gradually—or quickly, depending how much power you
are using—the batteries become discharged. Like any other storage device, batteries must be replenished
so their reserve capacity (the amount of power they store) will remain available.
The simplest way to recharge a depleted battery is by utilizing the high capacity battery charger
component of a modern inverter. This is accomplished automatically when an outside source of AC power
is detected by the inverter/charger. Portable and stationary generators are often used to power the
integrated inverter/battery chargers. If a DC source, such as solar cells are used, then a “charge
controller” is used.
Solar electricity is one of the most popular options for battery charging because of its silent,
trouble-free operation. As the technology matures, different types of cells are steadily being
developed and their prices are being reduced. One of the key things to remember is that solar cells
do degrade over time and will have to be replaced in about 20 years. The good news is that every year
brings an increase in efficiency and a decrease in prices.
Although the photovoltaic effect was first noticed in 1839, they didn’t really catch on until the
development of semiconductors in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, it became possible to easily
manufacture single crystalline silicon cells. Since then advances in the manufacturing of semiconductors
such as larger “wafers” and ingot wafer sawing techniques have been carried over to the solar cell
industry. (An “ingot” is a large silicon crystal.)
Current research is proceeding on two fronts: Making cheaper versions of crystalline silicon cells that
comprise 80 percent of the solar market, and creating less expensive photovoltaic technologies with the
reliability and efficiency of crystalline silicon.
Gallium arsenide and amorphous silicon are being experimented with in order to lower manufacturing costs.
Instead of growing a single crystal in a high vacuum and then sawing it, these materials are deposited
in flexible, thin layers. It’s cheaper, but they are only about half as efficient as the crystals.
At this time, homeowners can readily purchase ready to go solar panels which require a minimum of effort
to setup. A new 120W panel can run $425, but by doing comparison shopping, I am sure one could get them
for much less. It takes 10 panels which would occupy 100 sq ft. to produce a kilowatt. This is based on
panels that are about 5’by 2’ (10sq ft). At $4000 per kilowatt, this is a significant capital expense
for any homeowner.
ExtraOrdinary Solar Cell Research
Crystal solar cells are about 15-20% efficient.... that is they convert about that much of the light
into usable electricity. One of the ways to increase the “efficiency” is to increase the amount of
light available through the use of reflectors and special lens. Researchers for space based systems
have found that sunlight can be increased 500 times using such devices.
Another approach is to be found in multi-layered cells so as to capture a greater portion of the
light spectrum. Progress has been made in this area leading to efficiencies of 30% or more using
traditional solar cell materials. Normally, a multi-layered cell requires intensive lattice matching
of each layer to keep the electrons from being trapped inside, making this approach expensive.
However, an unexpected discovery in 2002 could soon yield a full spectrum solar cell at a low cost!
Researchers at the Berkely Labs, while experimenting with LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) discovered that
indium gallium nitride had bandgaps of .07V across the entire spectrum of light. This means
that a single system of alloys incorporating indium, gallium, and nitrogen can convert virtually the
full spectrum of sunlight — from the near infrared to the far ultraviolet — into electrical current.
In reference to this astounding discovery, Lawrence Berkely researcher Wladek Walukiewicz stated, “It’s
as if nature designed this material on purpose to match the solar spectrum!”
Although research is still ongoing, first indications are positive. Indium gallium nitride crystals are
riddled with defects, hundreds of millions or even tens of billions per square centimeter. Ordinarily,
defects ruin the optical properties of a semiconductor, trapping charge carriers and dissipating their
energy as heat. But, the way indium joins with gallium in the alloy leaves indium-rich concentrations
that, remarkably, emit light efficiently. Such defect tolerance in LEDs holds out hope for similar
performance in solar cells.
If solar cells can be made with this alloy, they promise to be rugged, relatively inexpensive, and the
most efficient ever created. Multi-layer lattice matching should not be a significant factor in this
material which shows great defect tolerance.
The most futuristic approach in solar cell research involves arranging nanosize semiconductors in a
matrix of plastic-like materials that are expected to be much less expensive to produce. Nanosys is
working on nanorods that are just 7 nanometers by 60 nanometers in a polymer. Because of their
size — a nanometer is about 10,000 times narrower than a human hair — nanorods are arranged by
Nanocomposite solar cell manufacturing is similar to the production of photographic film, which is done
in extremely high volumes... with miles of precisely engineered materials per day at extremely low costs.
It is envisaged that someday the rods can simply be painted on surfaces creating a solar cell capability
in unusual areas.... for instance a car body could become its own solar array.
At this point, nanorods are 2.5% efficient, but researchers hope to achieve 10% within the next 3 years.
This efficiency is below that of crystalline silicon but given the cost and application parameters,
it could lead the way to a solar revolution. However, there are doubts over how quickly such technology
might be on the market.
Early Fuel Cell Research
Fuel cells are rapidly emerging as an alternative for off grid home power production. A fuel cell is
an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to produce electricity,
heat and water. Operating without combustion, they are virtually pollution free. Since the fuel is
converted directly to electricity, a fuel cell can operate at much higher efficiencies than internal
combustion engines, extracting more electricity from the same amount of fuel. The fuel cell itself has
no moving parts - making it an ideal, quiet and reliable source of power in today’s environment.
Sir William Robert Grove built the first fuel cell in 1839 while experimenting with electrolysis. He
reasoned that if electricity could produce hydrogen and oxygen, then combining the two (reversing the
process) should create electricity. Grove tested this theory by enclosing two platinum strips in
separate sealed bottles, one containing hydrogen and one oxygen. When these containers were immersed
in diluted sulphuric acid, a current began to flow between the two electrodes and water was formed in
the gas bottles. In order to increase the voltage produced, By linking several of these devices in
series, he increased the output voltage.
The resulting device was referred to as a ‘gas battery’. Later, the chemists Ludwig Mond and Charles
Langer in 1889 coined the term ‘fuel cell’, as they attempted to build the first practical device
using air and industrial coal gas. It soon became apparent that there were major obstacles to
overcome before the technology could become commercialized, and combined with the advent of the
internal combustion engine, interest in fuel cell development declined.
In 1932, Dr Francis Thomas Bacon resurrected the machine developed by Mond and Langer and made
significant modifications to the original design. The platinum electrodes were replaced with less
expensive nickel gauze. Instead of the sulphuric acid electrolyte, Bacon used alkali potassium
hydroxide, a substance less corrosive to the electrodes. This device which he named the ‘Bacon Cell’
was in essence the first alkaline fuel cell (AFC). However, it wasn’t until 1959 that Bacon produced a
truly workable fuel cell. At that time , he demonstrated a 5KW machine capable of powering a welding
Later that year Harry Karl Ihrig of Allis-Chalmers, a farm equipment manufacturer, demonstrated the
first fuel cell powered vehicle. Combining 1008 cells, he produced a 15KW fuel cell stack capable of
powering a 20 horsepower tractor. Allis Chalmers has always been a progressive force in energy
research and funded Nikola Tesla’s turbine work in the 1920s.
Current Fuel Cell Research
The advent of the space age propelled fuel cell research. NASA’s search for reliable spacecraft power
focused in on fuel cells after it was determined that solar cells were too expensive and that batteries
were too heavy. An added benefit was that water was a byproduct of energy production. Government
funding was the impetus for corporate research and development of fuel cells.
In 1955, General Electric (GE) researcher, Willard Grubb developed the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM),
using a sulphonated polystyrene ion-exchange membrane as the electrolyte. Within 3 years, fellow GE
researcher, Leonard Niedrach, devised a way of depositing platinum on to this membrane and this became
known as the ‘Grubb-Niedrach fuel cell’.
However, Pratt & Whitney licensed the Bacon patents for the alkaline fuel cell in the early 1960s.
Further modifications to the original design reduced the weight and increased the lifespan over that
of the GE PEM design. The improvements enabled Pratt &Whitney to win a contract from NASA to supply
these fuel cells to the Apollo spacecraft. Alkali cells have since been used on most subsequent
missions, including the Space Shuttle flights.
The 1973 Arab oil embargo renewed interest in fuel cell power for ground-based applications as
governments looked to reduce their dependence on petroleum imports. The serious research into
overcoming the obstacles to widespread commercialization of the fuel cell gained impetus as our
dependence on computers (which require a stable source of energy) grew. This huge research effort
was primarily focused on developing the materials needed, identifying the optimum fuel source and
drastically reducing the cost of this extraordinary technology.
By 1993, the Canadian company Ballard, unveiled the first fuel cell-powered vehicle. Later, in 1995
Ballard and Daimler Benz demonstrated a fuel cell stack with a power density of 1 kW per liter
setting the stage for the introduction of fuel cell cars. Due to recent intense political pressure
many of the major automotive companies have unveiled prototype fuel cell powered cars as a means to
meet pollution and mileage standards.
The gains made in automotive applications have been matched in stationary applications as well. Over
the past few years, fuel cells have been quietly installed in hospitals and schools. I expect to see
fuel cells readily available for the homeowner over the next year... with or without government
intervention. Fuel cells are here to stay, and will dramatically change our power structure as
implementation finally takes hold... 160 years after it was invented!
A GEET generator is simply a gas generator that has been retrofitted with a GEET fuel processor. You
can purchase a GEET genset from Paul Pantone at: http://www.geet.com
or build your own.
Free small engine (up to 20HP) GEET plans are
available on our website.
In simple definition, the GEET Fuel Processor could be called a new type of carburetor with a miniature
refinery built in. With it, there is no need for catalytic converters, smog pumps and many other costly
items on cars, as the GEET Fuel Processor is not just a fuel delivery system it is also a pollution
elimination unit! Your run times will be greatly increased if you are truly consuming ALL of the
available energy, from whatever fuel you may be using.
Paul Pantone began working on the original concept of better mileage over 24 years ago. During the
24 years of testing and research, he was able to achieve the goals of near ZERO Pollution, while
running internal combustion engines on fuels such as crude oil, battery acid, cleaning solvents, even
gasoline... some of the tests were done with mixtures with as much as 80% water.
The nature of the device allows it to handle methane as well as regular gasoline. If you build the
GEET device and get it to run properly, You may want to attempt a second experiment. By altering the
lid of your septic tank by inserting two pipes: one that nearly touches bottom and one that reaches
just below the lid, you create a giant bubbler. The short pipe feeds the resulting methane/air mixture
to the GEET Processor giving you a valuable energy resource from your own backyard!
Although GEET is still in the infancy stage of development, due to the nature of its construction, it
can be considered for experimental home use. If you have a problem getting it to run properly, you can
always put the carburetor back on. Then again, you may be so satisfied you may want to attempt an auto
Other Devices to Consider
We have considered just a few of the more developed alternatives to grid produced power. For the
alternative energy buff, there are a wide variety of options to experiment with. Earth batteries,
GEET, magnetic motors, Stirling engines, Peltier devices, MEG devices, and thermoelectricity are
just a few new and relatively untested technologies that can be used in conjunction with conventional
technologies to power your house.
Of the above, the Stirling Engine is drawing serious interest at NASA as a viable means of producing
energy. In 1816, a Scottish minister, Robert Stirling, invented this engine as a safe alternative to
steam engines which had a tendency to explode. It operates off of heat differentials as slight as the
heat of your hand.
Although, steam engines held their ground because of vast improvements in material and construction,
the Stirling engine is being used in specialized applications like on submarines and in space. It is
quiet, efficient, and adaptable for solar power.
Its primary weakness is the amount of time it takes to begin working, which made it unsuitable for cars
in the past. However, it may find a place in hyrbrid electric cars as an onboard generator and
would be well suited for a residential backup system.
A Pragmatic, Futuristic Approach to Home Power!
Energy independence for homeowners is achievable now and can be enhanced in the future. Although a
significant investment in a stored system is required, it will pay for itself over time if care is taken
during the planning stages.
Our dependence on others to fulfill our energy needs is an Achille’s heel that keeps us at the mercy
of our suppliers. Blackouts and brownouts are becoming increasingly common, not to mention the
detrimental effects our lifestyles have on our environment.
Many of us may be in a position now, where we cannot do anything about it. However, we can stay
informed about our options, and when the opportunity presents itself.... act on it!__SRE