Solar Kitchen, Alternative Energy Products, and Other Energy News

A report on one man's design for a solar kitchen and one company's plans to offer a range of alternative energy products are among the topics covered in this installment of an ongoing energy news feature.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
July/August 1974

C.J. Swet's plan for a universal solar kitchen would capture and pipe the sun's heat to its intended point of use.

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The following energy news briefs were drawn from multiple sources. 

Universal Solar Kitchen

C.J. Swet of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University has designed quite an interesting apparatus he calls a Universal Solar Kitchen. Very simply, his "kitchen" has been calculated to efficiently collect the sun's energy, pipe the heat to a convenient point of use, and do it in a manner compatible with the existing ethnic and regional domestic practices of widely varying cultures. Swet figures that his unit can be constructed for less than $100. 

Alternative Energy Products

Another school gets an alternative source of power! Environmental Energies, Inc, has installed a windplant for a grade school in the Detroit, Michigan area. The unit is running and is supplying all the electricity used in one classroom and part of the "juice" consumed by a second. Al O'Shea, of EEI, is currently hard at work on a store that will handle alternative living products ... and which will be lit, heated, cooled, etc., by sun, wind, and other "soft technology" systems. 

Energy Crisis Skepticism

Oil Industry Officials, mining spokesmen, heads of government agencies, consumer groups, environmentalists and others continue to fill the air so full of claims and counterclaims that it's difficult to get a fix on the real status of the world's "conventional" energy sources. To make matters worse, Joe Public increasingly seems to feel that the paper tiger nature of the recent energy "crisis" proves that there's really no problem at all. Not so! Look for steadily climbing electric bills and spot shortages of fuel oil and natural gas again during the coming winter. And beyond that? Nobody knows, but some smart money is already betting that a real energy crisis is lurking somewhere just over the horizon.

Solar Heating Installation

Solar energy is suddenly "in" as dozens of huge corporations and government agencies thrash about in search of a replacement for fossil fuels. Many of the hastily conceived crash programs are wasteful and hardly worth the time and money going into thern, but one notable exception seems to be "the first solar heating system to be installed in a high school in the United States." InterTechnology Corporation designed, fabricated and installed what a company spokesman calls "a completely automated, self-operated system which serves 100% of the space we were directed to heat. The collector is 126' X 26' and has been operating at efficiencies from 53 to 63%." Perhaps most impressive of all, the entire assembly was started January 22, 1974 and completed just 57 calendar days later!

Methane Generation

L. John Fry—the man who, for six years, ran a 1,000-head South African pig farm almost entirely on methane made from the hogs' droppings—will soon publish a definitive book about the anaerobic digestion process and its by-products. Fry is a storehouse of information on the subject and methane experimenters in all parts of the world are sure to find his manual both interesting and informative. The book will sell for $12.00 a copy (ouch!) but is sure to be worth the price. Look for its release by no later than mid-August. MOTHER EARTH NEWS will review the handbook.

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