Thursday, June 19, 2008

Meet the power utilities' Freddy Krueger

Mike Strizki is an electric utility CEO's living nightmare. And what he's up to isn't likely to help the brass at the gas or oil companies count their sheep either.

That's because Strizki, a former New Jersey Department of Transportation employee and tinkerer extraordinaire, is off the grid--way off.

Above, Freddy Krueger
Below, Mike Strizki

Here's how David Biello explains it in his article in Scientific American:

"Mike Strizki has not paid an electric, oil or gas bill—nor has he spent a nickel to fill up his Mercury Sable—in nearly two years. Instead, the 51-year-old civil engineer makes all the fuel he needs using a system he built in the capacious garage of his home, which employs photovoltaic (PV) panels to turn sunlight into electricity that is harnessed in turn to extract hydrogen from tap water.

"Strizki's two-story colonial on an 11-acre (4.5 hectare) plot 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of Trenton is the nation's first private hydrogen-powered house, which he now shares with his wife, two dogs and a cat. (His two daughters and son, all in their 20s, have left the nest.) It has been running entirely on electricity generated from the sun and stored hydrogen since October 2006, when Strizki—in a project that his wife Ann fully supports—built an off-grid energy system with $100,000 of his own cash and $400,000 in grants from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, along with technology from companies such as Sharp, Swagelok and Proton Energy Systems."

In his back yard, at left, Mike Strizki stores 19,000 cubic feet (538 cubic meters) of hydrogen--the energy equivalent of 40 gallons (150 liters) of gasoline--in these used propane tanks from the 1970s. What? You mean you don't have a few of these in your yard?

Catch the entire story here. As a bonus, the Biello added a slide show illustrating Strizki's fascinating projects.

Want more? Strizki has formed a non-profit to raise public awareness about his alternative energy research. (And yes, it will accept your contribution). The organization's attractive and media-savvy website explains all the facets of The Hopewell Project

UPDATE: Philadelphia's Action News 6 aired Hydrogen solution to energy costs on June 25.

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