Imagine a sports car that exhausts cleaner air than the atmosphere we breathe, a lawnmower that trims grass without a carburetor and a city that uses its wastewater and garbage to power a fleet of municipal vehicles.
Is such a world possible? According to experts dedicated to the advancement of renewable resources, the practical use of non-polluting energy sources is much closer than we think.
As career and technology educators, we can see the future developing in our classrooms every day. Because our students will undoubtedly be the next generation of innovators, it is vital that they learn about and explore new technologies that can lead us into energy independence.
Hydrogen is the Answer
Today, such cutting-edge concepts are presented in a class on solar-hydrogen technologies at the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT).
EVIT--located in Mesa, Arizona--is the only technology center in the nation to offer this particular class where students learn the latest in energy technologies.
"Finding new energy sources will be critical in the future," says Roy McAlister, president of the American Hydrogen Association and a teacher in the class.
"We are using one million years' accumulation of fossil-based fuel every year. This causes economic inflation and strife between industrialized countries and oil-producing nations. It also perpetuates the pollution of our air," McAlister says.
In the EVIT "Energy Technology" class, students learn how to convert lawnmowers, generators, automobiles, boats and go-carts to operate on hydrogen fuel. The program will also include stationary and mobile fuel cells, hydrogen production technologies and renewable carbon products.
A former university professor, McAlister believes hydrogen technology will allow this country to become energy independent. It will also produce thousands of jobs to generate and distribute alternative fuels, install and maintain equipment and develop the interfaces for a smooth transition to a sustainable economy, he says.
McAlister is the inventor of Total Energy Systems for You (TESY). TESY is being used in disaster areas to produce energy and water when traditional systems are not available.
"One kilogram of hydrogen will produce nine kilograms of pure, distilled water," explains McAlister. TESY has been in use all summer in the California fire areas.
"It produces energy for cooking, water for drinking and bathing, electricity for restoring the community and provides a sanitary system to rid the site of waste and debris."
It's About Education
At EVIT, all courses are developed in conjunction with the needs of business and industry. Each course has an advisory committee of business and industry experts to help keep the class aligned with the expectations of employers. Energy Technology is no exception. As new alternative fuel automobiles become more commonplace, the automotive industry needs skilled, well-trained technicians and engineers.
"We are delighted to offer this course for the very first time in our nation on EVIT's campus," says Dr. Sally Downey, superintendent at the Institute.
"When industry and education get together, the sky is the limit," remarks Downey. "Career and technical education must be at the forefront of training for new technology."
After completing the Energy Technology class, students can attain competence certifications through the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). Certified technicians are in high demand at automotive proving grounds for testing.
According to Don Anderson of DaimlerChrysler in Arizona, production of alternative fuels is crucial.
"It is a moral imperative to develop renewable hydrogen to replace fossil fuels, and there will be much demand for engineers and technicians that have the appropriate skills," says Anderson.
Making the Future
In the EVIT program, students in the advanced engineering program rotate through the Energy Technology class to increase their knowledge of alternative fuels. …