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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 11, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 40 THE LETHBRIDCE HERALD Wedneiday, July U, 1973 Is wind the answer to growing fuel crisis? AMHERST, Mass. (NBA) When artist Neil Welliver mov ed into a home near rural Ian- colnville, Maine, he was told it would cost to string electric power Vies to the site Refusing, Welliver devised an alternative. He purchased i generator for S800 and a wind- mill for and has lived happily ever after with Ma Nature providing all the light- ing his family needs. One nonconformist does no) a trend make, of course. But as America's fossil fuel crisis grows worse, and as the search for alternative energy sources intensifies, Wefliver's eccentri- city may become a fad or even a movement Wind power, after all, is not just something of quaint Dutch antiquity it has, according to some authorities, much in the way of modern po- tentiality. William Heronemus, profes- sor of civil engineering at the Amherst campus of the Uni- versity of Massachusetts, is the most enthisastic authority on windpower today. Though he admits even his wife ques- tions his theories at times, he is absolutely serious in advo- cating "the mighty wind" as one way man can generate re- liable, pollution free, almost limitless energy. And indeed, his thesis looks good, if confusing, on paper. He estimates "the total rate of con- version between available po- tential energy and kinetic en- ergy in the atmosphere of the Northern hemisphere" is 10 to the 14th kilowatt power. Which is a round-about way of saying there's a ben of a lot of wind going to waste. Heronemus says the harnessing of this energy could be of enormous benefit for entire regions of the coun- try. He believes the winds off the snores of New England, as illustration, is enough to gen- erate all necessary power for the area through the year 2001. His proposal, reduced to lay- man terms, is this: V2ct raills wherever energy is need- ed and windpower is sufficient. He says Middle America is blustery, so is the length of the land across the northern bor- der, and also the offshore wat- ers. He says the generators could be floated on platforms, bung from suspension bridges, lined along roads like telephone poles, and planted in cornfields and back yards from' Ypsflanti to Yahoo. Tte wind would drive the blades which would power tar- bine generators which would give alternating current to a sea water electrolyzer station. Gaseous hydrogen "an ideal, very clean fuel" would be produced, then fed to a col- lection area for transmission to a dispersed electricity generat- ing system. From there it would go out as electricity to a con- suming world Ingenious? Some say so much I -i H woTi't work The At-' Inlic Richfjfid oil company, commenting on the in a TV plug for fossil fuel, wonders be- musedly: "What happens when the wind dies Others say the windmill system would be prohibitively cumbersome to erect for any large scale use. Heronemus himself winces a bit when he says at least windmills would be needed to power New England alone, a prospect that conjures up physi- cal hazards as wen as visual blight. Yet Heronemus insists the proposal is viable. Not by itself, perhaps but in combination with other energy producing that are being considered. He says "combination is the the nation can no longer afford to rely solely on one energy source solution (nuclear power "We have to explore every possible energy idea." Such as: The ocean Thermal Dif- ference Process, first demon- ted by a Frenchman in 1920, it has been called the greatest energy resource on earth. The process uses temperature dif- ferences between ocean sur- faces and ocean depths to create power. Heronemus says that energy harnessing de- vices placed off the Florida shore could provide all U.S. energy for the next 25 years, i The conversion of riant! life to fuel elements. Wood, for instance, says Heronemus, can be converted to alcohol or me- thylate, both valuable fuel re- sources. Corn fuel is also being worked on; Sorghum and other big grasses are potentially use- ful. Heronemus envisions a na- tion "growing fueL" Just the rotting wood in present forests, he says, is immensely valuable. Solar energy farming. The thermal energy of'the sun is nearly trillion watts. Finding way to utilize the re- source is perhaps the ultimate solution, says Heronemus. Al- ready some houses in the na- tion are heated by heat-abosrb-1 ing roof pjates. The Skylab i space station is using solar i sells. Heronemus envisions so- j lar cells in housing shingles one day. But interesting though these ideas are, they have a common defect: They are years away, technically. Wind power, on the Aher hand, is not only possi-, jle now. it has been for centar- es. Windmills were functioning n Europe in the 12th century. The gawky tnpods wei'tj a major source of energy in the rural America of the 19th cen- tury. Many fanners and stuck- aways of the world still rely on this method of sucking wat- ers from the earth. So Professor Heronemus is pushing on. Using his own funds. encouraged by no one except a few like-thinking scientists, he is trying to convince the nation it should reach into the past for its future. Thus far he's not convincing many. Except wind- mill owner Neil Welliver in Maine, who may cither be oW fashioned or perhaps just a bit before his time. Sears BEST BUYS FOR EVERY PAINT JOB! PK.YHC LATEX SAVE GAL 3-way Guaranteed Acrylic Latex Wall Guaranteed Washable colourfast. Perfect paint for living and dining rooms, halls and bedrooms. 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