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Alternative Energy Blog

The Alternative Energy division of the Pantanal Partnership is a five person team devoted to bettering people’s lives through the introduction of a cheap source of electricity.  The current project is a cheap wind turbine that, if possible, can be built entirely out of scavenged parts.  The team (listed below) is currently in its first year of practice with an energetic and dedicated cast of students ranging from freshman to graduate students with expected degrees in many different types of engineering as well as other non-engineering disciplines.  

- Cassio Faria
- Simon Trask
- Grant Miars
- Ethan Shirley
- Elizabeth Perez

posted Jun 9, 2013, 6:22 AM by greg ewing

Grant Miars, Elizabeth Perez, and Simon Trask

Bom Dia from Brasil!

Today marks our sixth day in the Pantanal, and the views have been stunning. With the wildlife sounding our morning alarm shortly after sunrise we´ve learned to enjoy the early morning atmosphere, and of course Greg´s french toast.

With the Kombi taking a hit on Sunday morning in Pocone, becoming a very large paper weight that led to our materials being stranded at Nazare (a local orphanage outside of Pocone), we´ve learned a lot about how to relax at the PCER; between sightseeing and swimming we manage to get through the day. About 50 meters down the road from the PCER the Trans Pantanal crosses a small river that is usually awash with wildlife. From macaws and jacare to pirana, giant river otters, and mosquitos. The ponchi (that´s what everyone calls this spot, it´s Portuguese for bridge) is quite a serene place. Well that is when there are jacare or giant river otters in the water, if not the water under the ponchi becomes flooded with U of M students. The water is deep and warm with a light current and is tons of fun, until you want to get out, in which case it´s still fun, but climbing up the side of the bridge is one hell of a workout! Swimming is a nice supplement to the PCER´s workout facilities and it´s nice to pound out a few sets with our paint can barbells.

With the majority of our materials being temporarily unavailable, we have managed to do what we can to prepare for when we get them. We have already removed two sections of roof. Greg, Grant, and I have been up and down moving around clay tiles, and our tambours are cut and waiting to be bolted to the turbine axle as soon as possible. After some deliberation we moved away from our initial three turbines, which all used tambours, to build three different turbines that will each act differenly when supplied with wind. One is still the initial two tambour savonious vertical axis design that we came down to build, but the second will use a tarp and bamboo structure that will be much lighter and spin faster while slowing faster in sparse wind conditions. The third is still on the drawing board. We aren´t sure whether we want to stick with savonious or to switch to a horizontal axis design.

We all spent our first few days in Brazil a little confused and wide eyed as we were lead around by Ethan and the Water Systems team. we helped them to finish their project a little bit earlier while growing accustomed to our new month long home. In addition, we had our lives filmed by our intrepid documentor (check out the College of Engineering´s website to see some articles and pictures of the group).

With the electricity in the PCER out for the time being, I need to keep this short so that the laptop doesn´t die, and there are plenty of things to do before we leave.


Simon Trask

Grant Miars

Elizabeth Perez

Blog Post 3

posted Mar 16, 2013, 3:32 PM by Simon Trask

Blog Post 2

posted Feb 10, 2013, 1:44 PM by Simon Trask

Blog Post 2

Blog Post 1

posted Feb 10, 2013, 1:42 PM by Simon Trask

Blog post 1

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