Folding Bicycles, Home Weatherization, and Other Energy News

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Two Massachusetts men have patented a new folding bicycles design that might be strong enough to get around a ban imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The following energy news stories were drawn from multiple sources.

Folding Bicycles

“Power” in you pocket! Folding bicycles were banned from the U.S. marketplace two years ago, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission ruled that the clamps used to secure the hinges on these “breakdown” bikes were hazardous. Now, however, a new design is being patented in Massachusetts that could sidestep that ban. The “Pocket Bicycle,” a 23-pound, 5-speed collapsible touring model invented by two Newton, Massachusetts men, doesn’t have a hinge. Instead, the little velocipede is designed like a suspension bridge, with struts and cables that form a diamond around a collapsible seat post and the main frame tube. If the design can be economically produced, the “Pocket Bicycle” could be on the market later this year.

Home Weatherization

The home weatherization champion of the nation is Pennsylvania, whose Department of Community Affairs has already weatherproofed 35,000 homes and is continuing this winterizing program at a rate of 1,500 houses a month. Over 800 people have been trained for the job, many of whom have learned new job skills ranging from basic construction to energy auditing. As of last January, the program had saved Pennsylvanians $2.4 million, the equivalent of 114,285 barrels of oil or $100 per household per year.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Screw-in fluorescent light bulbs–which can be used in ordinary incandescent bulb sockets–have been developed by Thomas LoGiudice, a Manhattan engineer-inventor. LoGiudice’s invention, dubbed the Fluro-bulb, is about the size of a regular 60-watt bulb and–best of all–it produces the same amount of light as the standard bulb, while only using 20 watts of power.

New Energy Magazine

New Energy Magazine, a new, ultra-slick, bi-monthly publication, will hit the newsstands in late January. It plans to help its readers “save money with energy-wise hints, do-it-yourself projects, and honest evaluations of new products … and make the planet’s life force its business.” It’s brought to you by Thor Anders, publisher of High Times magazine.

Wood Waste Power

Frank Angelo of Jonesboro, Arkansas was about to be fined $10,000 a day for burning 200 tons of bark, chips, sawdust, and shavings a week–leftovers from the chicken coops that he manufactures. So, Angelo invented a 70-ton rotary furnace from an abandoned railroad car, an afterburner, and recycled conveyor belts and pipes. The furnace is now generating up to 20 million Btu’s an hour, enough energy to power 750 Jonesboro homes. Activated carbon, by-product of Frank’s invention, is sold as a filter to remove cancer-causing agents from air and water.

Geothermal Reservoir

The Department of Energy is in hot water. Geologists from Virginia Polytechnic Institute have told federal officials that tappable reservoirs of geothermically heated water exist under the eastern coastal waters of the U.S. The Energy Department plans a “prospecting expedition”–which will include 60 new offshore wells–to locate these sources of heat.

Nuclear Sites Map

A wall poster that pinpoints all nuclear weapon facilities (manufacturers, deployment, storage),, all nuclear power plants (operating, as well as planned), and miscellaneous facilities such as mining, milling, processing, reprocessing, and waste disposal sites is available for 75¢ from the War Resisters League.

Bio-Conversion Plant

Jobs, power,a nd protein supplements will be the result of the nation’s largest bio-conversion plant, which is under construction at Lamar, Colorado. The facility will convert 350 tons of manure from feedlot cattle into a million cubic feet of methane gas per day, and is expected to reduce the Lamar power plant’s natural gas use by 50%, produce 130 tons of protein supplement from the residue, and provide 70 new jobs.

Solar Food Dryers

Free plans for solar food dryers are being given away by the Utah Energy Office. Each of the two designs offered can dry any fruit, vegetable, meat, or spice in one day, and will cost less than $50 to build.

In Brief…

“How to pass a solar property tax exemption” is a good tax-tool published by the Connecticut Citizens’ Action Group…. If things go as planned, Husks, shells, and leaves from the Philippine’s huge coconut industry will fuel that country’s new 1,500-kilowatt generating station …. The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant was shut down yet another time when cracks appeared in a reactor safety mechanism, and the shutdown costs Vermont utilities and consumers $125,000 a day …. In the valley of ten thousand windmills on the island of Crete, thousands of wind generators–a method used for centuries–pump water into the fields …. Forty-two gasohol stations (10% alcohol and 90% gas) are now in operation in the country …. The Florida Savings & Loan Office in Lakeland, Florida offers loans on the installation of solar water heaters, with a set payment of $25 a month (roughly equal to the energy savings on the system) regardless of the total loan amount …. Solar photoelectric panels power the aircraft warning lights on the mountaintop approaches to Saudi Arabia’s Medina airport …. R. Buckminster Fuller said it: “Real wealth is knowing what to do with energy.”