Living Green

A windmill in the process of being built in Canada near Lake Huron just east of Highway 21

Automobiles and their fuel.

My car was a 2000 Ford Contour with the Compressed Natural Gas option (a.k.a. FlexFuel option, supporting both gasoline and CNG). These were only sold through fleet sales since they were built in response to a congressional act requiring half of every fleet in America to be using alternate fuel vehicles before the end of 2000...........oops, I guess someone in Congress forgot to see about enforcement on that one. The lucky automobile manufacturers still got stuck with a multi-million dollar bill for the design, development, and production facilities for these cars of which they sold only a handful. The last production year of the Natural Gas Contour was 2000; about 2,000 cars were ordered, less than a month’s production. Where were all the environmentalists? The Ford Contour is no longer manufactured. Currently the only CNG production car that I know of is the Honda Civic. It is dedicated, not FlexFuel, so unless you install a home fueling pump this car may not be for you. Check out for a completely biased opinion. :-)

The Last Chapter

In early 2009 during rush hour, I (and many others) ran over a wheel in the middle of the expressway lane. Significant transmission damage was done and my Contour had to be laid to rest. Almost 180,000 miles, many on CNG.

Michigan’s Meijer’s gas stations have been great supporters of cleaner fuels like; natural gas, bio-diesel, and ethanol.

Michigan CNG pumps

Meijer installed CNG pumps in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Jackson. The Jackson pump failed in 2007 and has been removed. There are also CNG pumps at Pacific Pride in Grand Rapids and at Wessco in Muskegon.

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Living Green



I like windmills, but I am also not such a romantic that I am blinded to the fact that they are unable to  put a large enough dent in the energy needs of this country to make a big difference by themselves. Sure, for those who are willing to spend a chunk of their own hard earned cash to put one up, they can make economic sense. For a country with our variety of industries and uses, they will not solve our grand scale energy needs by themselves. Their service life is too short, contribution to the grid too variable, to satisfy the future American needs without other energy sources.

If you want to check out a really big windmill, you have to go to Germany, 7+ Megawatts.

Once a year the CNG pump (the big high pressure pump, not the one you drive up next to when filling up) needs to be ‘dried out’. This is usually done before winter to avoid freezing during winter from moisture in the gas.

Visit my other pages:

Electronic Design ToolsElectronics.html
Rocketry ApplicationsRocketry.html
Engineering Links for softwareLinks.html

Solar Photovoltaic

Living in Michigan makes photovoltaics a hobby, not a solution for home power. I have a 55 watt panel on the south side of the house, at an angle that is too steep for optimal sun angle, but too shallow for snow shedding (which has to be nearly vertical). This is a Seimens 55 watt panel which gives us about 33 watts on the best of days at the 43rd parallel with this mounting angle. Cloudy days are 2 to 7 watts. You can see how well you can do with NREL’s PVWatts Calculator here:

A new company, Ecofuler, has started up in Tennessee. They are offering a three wheeled roadster. See their web site for more information.

Lego StuffLego.html
Solar Power World map of U.S. installed solar farms

Interesting article on natural gas. No crystal ball for natural gas.

If you have a device that uses a USB cable for charging you should look at the Start Charge family of chargers that waste less energy than normal chargers. See:

The right most pictures show the solar output going to my youngest son’s bedroom. The electronic load on the floor measures the output and allows us to find the maximum power point.

Soitec has some very efficient PV panels. Their production panels are 30% and they have announced a developmental cell at 44%.