April 14, 2006 – Volume 10, Issue 3
I N · T H I S · I S S U E


Grease Cars?

A few weeks ago I hit the road in New England with my college-bound daughter Skye. We hit eleven universities in eight days. Along the way, we were exposed to activism of all kinds: Students in Middlebury are fighting the International Paper Mill in upstate New York; students at Hampshire put out the Vegetarian News. (I struggled through an article titled: “the life of a cow.”) And in the hills of Western Massachusetts I met a grease car driver. “So what’s up with that?”

Turns out there are a number of grease car die-hards who collect used oil and grease from the back allies of fast food restaurants in the dead of night. Like stealth fighters they glean this fuel source in clandestine activity for their converted diesel engines. The result? Free fuel and cars and trucks whose emissions smell like French fries!

With gas prices soaring and projected to rise through the summer, more people will be looking for alternatives. Want a “grease car”? See www.greasecar.com. Now it turns out that the idea of grease cars is going global! The Shanghai Daily reports a new company there plans to purify 40 tons of vegetable oil collected from restaurants each day, creating 17 tons of fuel that will be mixed with diesel for sale to gas stations to fuel vehicles.

So each of us carries a different stone. I commute by train, she drives a hybrid, he collects his sink water to water the garden, my mom gets the prize for micro-recycling -- and they drive grease cars! There are countless options for making the world a better place, and there are lots of different opinions. “That’s what makes horse races!”

Thanks so much to each of you who signed on as Charter Members. We’re on a roll!

Reader Response On Water Heaters

“Great newsletter. Especially liked the article on instant water heaters because I used to have an instantaneous electric water heater on my dishwasher in my old house in Santa Ana where we did a lot of electric appliance testing.

It was really great because it was just a booster. You could keep the water heater temp lower (we had a heat pump water heater for the main unit) and still have water hot enough for dishwashing.

The trouble with electric instantaneous WH is that they take so much electricity when they are on. Sort of like what your article says about needing 3/4 inch gas for a gas IWH. We needed a 240V circuit to the kitchen just for the WH. We also put them in the pool house of another employee. Since they seldom used the shower it was a great application. But when you turned on the shower the lights dimmed, even though we had rewired the pool house with hefty wires. I guess not hefty enough.

But the heaters are cool. I still see them often in gas station restrooms, an ideal location, since just a little sink can get by with a 4000-W (20A) unit and have water hot enough to wash hands. Unlike gas units, the electric ones just sit right on the wall and need no ventilation since they have no exhaust fumes. See, the old Edison employee still comes out when talking about appliances!”

Mark Shirilau, President Aloha Systems

"I've almost got enough information to convert my Bus and my Beetle to 100% Biodiesel. When I'm done I will cruise over in the "Blue Bio" or "Bio Silver," my trusty steeds."
Kirk Aronstam (EcoMotion Charter Member)

Denmark and Iceland: EcoMotion's 2006 International Study Tour

EcoMotion is planning a trip for 12-15 professionals on an International Study Tour to Denmark and Iceland. Want to get on board? The tour will take an in-depth look at the remarkable accomplishments of two countries taking dramatic steps to “kick the greenhouse gas habit,” shifting from near complete dependence on imported, carbon-based fuels to renewable energy developments. And in addition to energy independence, these countries have found ingenious ways to profit from their steps.

The EcoMotion group will travel from July 25 through August 2, 2006, first to Denmark and then in Iceland.

In Denmark, the tour will focus on community-owned wind generation in Copenhagen and in the Danish countryside. In Iceland, the group will take an in- depth look at the country’s remarkable transition to renewable energy,with geothermal utilized for power generation, heating, and now even transportation fuel.

Prior to departure, participants will be given briefing binders. Upon return they will be given custom power point presentations to share with business colleagues. The cost of the trip – including airfare, first-class hotels, and most meals – is $8,250.

Ted Flanigan, EcoMotion’s President, will be leading the tour. He has extensive experience traveling in foreign countries and has worked in nearly 30 countries on energy and environmental issues. Ted has traveled to Denmark several times and just this past summer led his first study tour to Iceland. He will be assisted by Virginia Nicols, EcoMotion’s Communications Director.

For more information on the 2006 EcoMotion International Study Tour to Denmark and Iceland, check out the EcoMotion website at www.ecomotion.us, contact Ted Flanigan at (949) 450-7155 or via e-mail at tflanigan@ecomotion.us

Danish Community-Owned Wind Systems

Denmark is one of the world’s smallest countries – about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined -- but has a large track record with wind generation, being the fifth most prolific wind generator in 2005 with 3,122 MW of installed capacity. But beyond its wind capacity, Denmark has experienced fascinating developments in energy policy and ownership structure.

In the United States, energy systems are centrally owned and operated. In Denmark, The Danish Wind Turbine Owner’s Association has some 6,000 members representing about 60,000 people, making it the world’s largest wind association.

EcoMotion’s 2006 International Study Tour will focus on community-owned wind systems.

In Copenhagen, we’ll explore the remarkable Mittelgrunden wind farm [photo above], the biggest cooperatively owned wind project in the world. Its 20 turbines, prominently located in the “middle grounds” of the Copenhagen harbor (actually 2-6 metre shoals 3 kilometers offshore), have now become featured landmarks of the Copenhagen cityscape.

The offshore wind farm was the brainchild of Jens Larsen of Copenhagen Environment and Energy Office, and represents a remarkable and world-class energy development. Ten of the 2,000 kW turbines are cooperatively owned with 40,500 shares are owned by individuals. Another ten turbines were built by Energi 2 and now are owned by Copenhagen Energy. All told, Mittelgrunden produces about 4% of the electricity requirements of the City of Copenhagen.

Village-owned systems present another intriguing model, and as we travel by train through the Danish countryside the tour will witness countless village installations with one, two, or three wind turbines. The study tour will examine this form of distributed wind generation, how it came about, and how successful it has been thanks to presentations by officials with Copenhagen Agency for Environmental Protection and the Danish National Energy Agency. .

Iceland’s Geothermal Energy Economy

In the mid-1950s, Iceland, like many other Scandinavian countries, was completely dependent on foreign coal and oil. (Early Viking explorers used up its limited wood and peat resources.) Its energy economy was based on an import strategy, until visionary Icelanders had the idea of tapping the country’s geothermal resources.

They have developed an extraordinary expertise. Based on the country’s unique position straddling the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, geothermal has redefined the country’s energy economy.

Local geothermal resources were first used for district heating at a Reykjavik school in the 1930s. Today the country has become hugely sophisticated, utilizing the full potential of both high and low- temperature resources. Thanks to leading research, Icelanders use high temperatures for power generation, and lower temperatures for district heating, drying fish, industrial processes and then ultimately for snow melt. With the addition of tons of trucked-in sand, they have created a warm water beach called Nautholsvik in the chilly Atlantic!

Iceland now boasts more use of renewable energy than any other country in the world –- 74% (56% geothermal and 18% hydro) -- and is now largely independent in terms of energy use. Furthermore, rather than importing fossil fuels, Iceland is exporting its know-how on geothermal development worldwide, both low temperature geothermal (less than 150 degrees C at 1,000 meters) and high temperature applications.

In Iceland, the study tour will see it all, beginning with a soak in the effluent of the Svartsengi geothermal power plant, a lovely spa called the Blue Lagoon. We’ll also tour fumeroles and geysers, hike though lava fields, explore geothermal power plants including the Nesjavelli and Husavik stations, follow district heating pipelines, visit localized geothermal bore holes and wells, and even dine on top of the massive Reykjavik geothermal storage tanks!

Throughout the tour, we’ll evaluate the degree to which a low-carbon emission lifestyle – less than half that in the United States despite 41 degree mean annual temperatures – has caused an enviable quality of life.

First U.S. Wind-Powered Hydrogen Fueling Station

In plain language: Hydrogen is produced when water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. The easiest way to do the splitting is to “zap” water with electricity. [See and refer to Hydrogen, The Invisible Fire!]

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy began its Wind Hydrogen Project to explore the efficacy of linking wind energy and hydrogen production. The electrolyzer-based hydrogen refueling station slated to be built in Minot, North Dakota will be among the first United States- based hydrogen fueling stations to use wind-powered electricity to produce hydrogen from water, demonstrating the ability and practicality of making hydrogen energy for vehicle fuels with zero carbon emissions.

One of the key challenges of this process is the intermittency and variable output of wind generation, making sophisticated electrolyzer control schemes essential for optimal fuel output.

In Iceland, excess geothermal electricity is now being used to electrolyze water and to “prime the pump” at a number of hydrogen refueling stations in Reykjavik.

EcoMotion President Ted Flanigan with Magnus Johannesson, Chief Executive Office of Icelandic America Energy, are pictured above showing such a station to Palm Desert city officials in the Summer of 2005. Palm Desert has been a leader in hydrogen fuel development, incubating and utilizing environmentally benign fuels for the SunLine Bus Company in the Coachella Valley.

Member Story: Artist Michael B. Wilson

"Hi. My name is Michael Wilson, and I am an artist living in the suburbs of Boston. After 20 years of studying, traveling, exhibiting and teaching in Colorado, California, Greece, New Mexico, and New England, I can now say that I am a professional artist.

At the same time, I feel like I’m just beginning to understand painting: how to place objects in space, the poetic properties of color, the interplay between the physical world and the interior spirit world of the subconscious.

Knowing Ted and wanting to do my bit for our Earth, this past winter I finally switched over the lighting in my studio from incandescent lights to compact fluorescent bulbs in 11 light fixtures, plus 2 pair of 4- foot daylight fluorescents.

I often work late into the night and need strong light, so I’d had 120 watt bulbs in each of the lamps. Now I’ve switched over to 20 watt bulbs which give me the intensity and quality of light that I need, and I've gone from 1,320 watts at a time to 220 watts.

My studio electricity cost dropped by 30%."

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