Project to make electricity from
Detroit River's flow
Nov 9, 2007 - Kathleen Gray -Detroit Free Press
- McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
The power of moving water has long been harnessed
by hydroelectric dams, but an Ann Arbor company has
a new idea to use the flow of the Detroit River to
Vortex Hydro Energy would anchor rows of cylinders
to the bottom of the Detroit River and let the current
push the cylinders up and down to generate electricity.
The company is working with the Detroit/Wayne County
Port Authority on a pilot project near Hart Plaza
with recently patented technology.
"At the lowest level, I'd like to see it light one
lightbulb," said John Kerr of the Port Authority.
"But it's probably more likely that this type of pilot
project would generate enough electricity to power
just our project. In a perfect world, it would become
a larger part of the waterfront development."
The Port Authority is developing a public dock in
the river between Hart Plaza and the Renaissance Center
in downtown Detroit. If feasibility studies support
it, the Vortex project would power lights on the dock.
The technology, invented and patented by University
of Michigan professor Michael Bernitsas, uses brackets
that allow the cylinders to move up and down as the
current passes over them.
Unlike a turbine, the device won't affect the flow
of a stream or the migration of fish, said James MacBain,
president of Vortex. Although the technology has potential
for streams, lakes and oceans, MacBain acknowledged
it's not the full answer to global energy concerns.
"Wind isn't going to do it alone. Solar isn't going
to do it alone," MacBain said.
Vortex was among nine companies in Detroit on Thursday
as a part of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's push to expand
the alternative energy business.
John Rakolta Jr., chairman of the Detroit-based Walbridge
Aldinger construction company, said the company's
new headquarters was built with materials that came
from within 300 miles of downtown Detroit, in order
to save on fuel. Walbridge has hired 25 people to
work on alternative energy.
Granholm said the alternative energy field provides
the best opportunity for the state to create jobs.
Contact KATHLEEN GRAY at 313-223-4407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.