Electric cars, vertical wind turbines on display

February 15, 2012 8:04:57 PM PST
The future was on full display at Crissy Field in San Francisco on Wednesday. There is a huge collection of electric cars as part of a demonstration of where we are headed in the years ahead, but among the experts-- some students-- are lending a hand.

Clustered together in a corner of the parking lot, it may be the biggest gathering of electric cars Crissy Field has ever seen. There was everything from a Tesla roadster to a Nissan Leaf. All here for one reason -- free electricity.

"It's basically like getting free gas," said August Goers, the Luminalt Engineering vice president.

Except, without the gas, or any fossil fuel for that matter. On a sunny, breezy day like this one all the power running through these cables is literally coming out of thin air.

"Right through the Golden Gate there, a very steady wind comes in, especially when the fog's blowing in or out, so it's an ideal situation to generate power," said Goers.

Goers is one of the engineers behind some quiet, vertical wind turbines that, along with a few solar panels, will charge cars and provide half the power for Crissy Field Center. It's only fitting that the power to lift them into place didn't come from fossil fuel either. It came from a group of students, who took turns at the helm of a pulley system to start what's now their science project.

Just inside, high school students from Galileo Academy are monitoring the power generated by the wind and reporting their findings back to Luminalt, which makes the new, experimental turbines. They'll also study the impact on wildlife.

The windmills' vertical design is meant to protect birds. A fact not lost on these sixth graders.

"Instead of it moving this way, it moved that way, so that means that the birds won't get sucked into it and die," said Sincere Jackson, a sixth grader.

Generating teachable moments as they generate electricity is the whole reason the National Park Service put the turbines there.

"To be a true exemplar in sustainability, and use that to educate the public," said Jonathan Jarvis, the National Park Service director.


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