Alas, not another one…

I would appreciate it if these green fashionista inventors would AT LEAST do their research and learn from the mistakes of others. Case in point –the Portland, OR, USA Trimet Light Rail Station pole mounted small, kinetic architecture’ installation, er AKA Oregon Wind Revolution small wind turbine generators.

…will include 22 wind turbines mounted on top of the light-rail catenary poles. The turbines will provide 275 watts of power.

===> 12.5 watts per turbine. Who signs off on this kind of nonsense?!

You can’t read the rest of the aforementioned article, because it no longer exists. I wonder why…

And I have so many questions about this design:

  • Output voltage (VDC)?
  • Maximum wind speed  a single unit and wind tree can withstand?
  • Ballasting? How is this addressed for a veritable plethora of mounting scenarios? Roof parapet? Roof top? Near building?
  • What is the material of the rotor and blades?
  • Optimal gap between the blades?
  • Cp,max? [For a Hybrid = 0.24, this is the theoretical max power (called  Cp,max–maximum coefficient of power) available in the free stream of wind converted to mechanical power at the rotor axis for this configuration.]

As wind sage Paul Gipe said about this wind tree, “Darrieus himself would be embarrassed. c’est la vie.

The Oregon Wind Revolution [in the image below] is known as a Savonius design. The highest Cp,max [maximum coefficient of performance] is found w/a 2-bladed design w/a gap between the turning bodies of 0.1-0.15. Savonius rotor gap is higher than a drag-driven rotor, and uses high material.


Crimey! MORE Green Going Wrong | Ford to install wind and solar energy at dealerships


I just caught this today.

Ford to install wind and solar energy at dealerships

I couldn’t let this one go. Another installation of kinetic architecture. And so, blatted out the following on this post…

[POST #1]

I’m fairly certain the PV arrays will be the stars of producing the flow of electrons. And unless the wind turbines have been sited correctly, they will only be kinetic architecture ==> another green gone wrong installation by green fashionistas Wind Energy Corporation.

[POST #2]

As someone who performed post-graduate research of the performance of small wind turbines in the built environment, this installation is questionable at best. And just based on the photo, I’m pretty sure this installation was not sited well, which only gives small wind a bad name.

I also went to the vendor’s,  Wind Energy Corporation’s web site, and all I could locate was a single landing page. Red flag #1. I also searched for Jack Phillips on Linkedin and his background is only in accounting and int’l business, NOT computational fluid dynamics or mechanical engineering. Red flag #2.

Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) like the ones here, are NOT immune to turbulence. Rapid, turbulent low-level wind increases the fatigue on a VAWT just like an Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs). HAWTs are just as sensitive to changing wind direction and turbulence as VAWTs, especially if the turbine is installed on too short a tower.

Readers to this post should also know:

  • VAWTs perform better if they too are mounted higher in smoothest, strongest wind, not near to the ground or close to the tops of buildings or other structures, natural canopies.
  • VAWTs blades are prone to fatigue created by centrifugal forces as the blades spin around the central axis –> they are less reliable  than HAWTs.
  • VAWTs require large bearings at the tower top to permit the shaft to rotate and thick steel cable to supper them –> more costly, especially when repairs and maintenance are needed.
  • VAWTs are less reliable and less efficient that HAWTs, and made worse if they are mounted at ground level or on top of buildings. And the ones in this photo are clearly close to ground level.

Reference: Power from the Wind by Dan Chiras with contributions from Mick Sagrillo and Ian Woofenden.

It is a well-known fact that, by seasoned professional small wind turbine experts, VAWTs, like these are less efficient than HAWTs  and made worse by being mounted closer to ground level boundary level–the few advantages they offer cannot counter the many, fatal disadvantages sited so close to ground level.

Small wind turbine installations are not advised that do not meet the  best practices recommendation of at least 30 feet above the closest obstacle, er trees included, within 500 feet, and are well inside the turbulence bubble (vertically ~2xs the height of the obstruction/house(s) and downwind ~15x – 20x the height of the obstruction/house(s)). Raising a wind turbine, be it HAWT or VAWT,  into the smoothest, strongest wind ensures greater electrical production and longer machine life.

I would also encourage readers to focus more on the performance data vs power curve information. I realize that rated power of wind turbines/power curves was devised to provide customers a way to compare wind turbines. I think folks need to understand that its usefulness has been limited. After taking another look (since it was back in 2009 that I looked into performance data from the results of the Warwick Wind Trials), I see updated standards in the wind industry for determining rated power has been established for comparison across models i.e. 5 m/s [11 mph].

Perhaps the editor, James Murray will revisit this read and ensure the truth is told about this well-intended offering. Not holding my breath, especially because they keep deleting my posts. Yeah, well, you know…Fleh.



How to hire good people instead of nice people

I wished everyone hired like this. Someone who believes ‘attitude and aptitude trump education and experience.’ And someone who prefers to have a conversation vs. a formulaic interview.

I’m not sure why employers make job seekers win a bad game i.e. interviews, before they will consider hiring them.

It’s refreshing when I cross paths with a prospective employer who is open to a conversational dialogue exchange when we are both discerning if the job being presented will be mutually beneficial–a company that ‘serves a much broader slice of humanity.’ My kind of establishment. And so it goes…

…I had an opportunity to commence developing this opportunity at Staffup SF on 1 Nov. My posse and I are going for the A grade and working on a schema. Our ‘business card’, which is a part of the Wiggly World Wide Web is here.


Manifesto v2.0 | REST needs a MEME

Back in January of this year, I chortled out a manifesto of sorts. That we are at a unique juncture in history where it’s time to:

  • Become more rational about emotions and values.
  • Be more co-collaborators, co-creative partners.
  • Be open to shifting our focus to address renewable energy systems technologies [RESTs] with multiple applications.
  • Become greener using fossil fuels by continuing to use them wisely and appropriately

But I am convinced, this is NOT enough. So…

I went back to my [punk rock] roots, searching for an inspiration on how to turn this notion of ‘out thinking the box’ on its head to make an impact that resonates with the general audience, to reawaken a sense of wonder about hybrid renewable energy systems technologies [HRES]. Ja, ja, no doubt about it, the industry requires a MEME. And so…

…the best example I could think of for a tactical approach was the Andre the Giant OBEY sticker I have had affixed to my Specialized TriCross Bicycle since 2006, and affixed to my day planner envelope/holder since 1996.

Amusing aside: I’ve had this bicycle longer than all of my other bicycles. Pretty sure my OBEY sticker has something to do with this. Ah hee, hee…

I can’t thank Shepard Fairey, the progenitor of the OBEY campaign enough–for I was first awakened back in 1996 during my ‘tenure’ in the dot-com(edy) when I saw my first OBEY wheat pasting underneath a highway underpass in San Francisco.

In the spirit of the OBEY Manifesto:

The OBEY campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. The first aim of Phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The OBEY campaign attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the campaign and their relationship to their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with OBEY provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. To catalyze a thoughtful dialogue deconstructing the process of image absorbtion is the ultimate goal. All in the name of tun and observation. The medium is the message.

The idea of phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation.

And so, I am off to work on creating my next installation of some MAD! scientific REST message MEME to bring to the visual masses! Somehow I aim to make PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT. a MEME that provokes, evokes. Game on… OBEY, indeed.




My favorite quotes

The following fortify me and keep me going…

— Laurel Thatcher Ulrich —

  • Well behaved women seldom make history. 

— Paul Hawken —

  • Change comes from the margins. And, I encourage you to stay there.

— Randy Pausch —

  • Don’t bail. The best gold is at the bottom of the barrels of crap. 

— Nikola Tesla —

  • I don’t care that they stole my idea . . . I care that they don’t have any of their own.
  • The scientific (wo)man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter — for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. He lives and labors and hopes.
  • But instinct is something which transcends knowledge. We have, undoubtedly, certain finer fibers that enable us to perceive truths when logical deduction, or any other willful effort of the brain, is futile.
  • I feel convinced that my preservation was not altogether accidental, but was indeed the work of divine power. An inventor’s endeavor is essentially life saving. Whether [s/]he harnesses forces, improves devices, or provides new comforts and conveniences, [s/]he is adding to the safety of our existence. [S/]He is also better qualified than the average individual to protect himself in peril, for [s/]he is observant and resourceful.

— Albert Einstein —

  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
  • The only real valuable thing is intuition.
  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
  • The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
  • Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
  • Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
NB: Albert Einstein was on the outside looking in. Nobody in the establishment would even hire him.

— Chief Seattle  [1854] —

  • The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth. We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

— Apple Computer —

  • Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

— Michael Jordan —

  • I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

— Linus Pauling —

  • Facts are the air of scientists; without them, you can never fly.

— Kimberly’s Kingdom  —

  • Quality takes time.
  • Out think the box.
  • Rule #1 – Keep moving. Rule #2 – Keep moving. Rule #3 – Keep moving.
  • Consumerism will be the bane of human beings’ existence.
  • Itiswhatitis…
  • Use what’s in front of you; it’s there, staring right at you…
  • It’s good to be the KING!
  • The ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature requires us to PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT.

Goldie Blox to the rescue for innovators, because…

…we’re still mostly ‘invisible’…

In my entire academic and professional career, I’ve known of three, but only met TWO, female African American mechanical engineers.

NB: Altho my post-graduate degree in Renewable Energy Engineering is an amalgam of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and sustainable development, I think of myself of as that of the mechanical engineering ilk–fluid mechanics and heat transfer are my comfort zones.

In 1991, I met Dr. Carolyn Meyers at the GA Institute of Technology. At last check, Dr. Meyer’s was the President of Norfolk State University.

In 2006, I met Kayin Talton, who was a member of NSBE [National Society of Black Engineers] and finishing up her BSc at Portland State University. She didn’t take work as a mechanical engineer. She’s a mom, with two young children, and an entrepreneur where she practices industrial design with her business, Soapbox Theory. When I need some graphic design work, she’s my first contact.

The last woman I met remotely only last year from a brainstorming session as a splinter group from the Local Clean Energy Alliance, Linda Barrera. She received her BSc in mechanical engineering, but practices law.

But why is this? I’l tell you why. The engineering discipline, especially the mechanical engineering discipline, can be ‘hostile’. I can attest.

During my time as an undergraduate mathematics-engineering student, from differential equations on, I was usually only one of two women in the engineering classes–but on many occasions, the only one. Nope, STEM [Science Technology Engineering Mathematics] programs weren’t around then. Most of the time I felt invisible. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman affirmed my sentiments back in 2010 in this NY Times article. I lost count him many times the following happened to me:
Bias Called Persistent Hurdle for Women in Sciences

Many in the Bayer survey, also being released Monday, said they had been discouraged from going into their field in college, most often by a professor.

“My professors were not that excited to see me in their classes,” said Mae C. Jemison, a chemical engineer and the first African-American female astronaut, who works with Bayer’s science literacy project. “When I would ask a question, they would just look at me like, ‘Why are you asking that?’ But when a white boy down the row would ask the very same question, they’d say ‘astute observation.’ ”

There was a study performed in the UK a few years ago, that cited ~70% of the women who study undergraduate engineering, do not go into their respective engineering professions. Why? Hostility.

More recently, I caught this:

New Commercial Exposes The Sneaky Ways We Discourage Girls From Pursuing Science

Several months ago, I discovered the Goldie Blox company thanks to one of my female machining classmates hipping me to them. Their commercial was featured during the last SuperBowl. In one of their ‘toys for future innovators’ video advertisements, this statistic pops up:

“…only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.”

When I was attending ugrad school it was more like 2%-3%.

What we need are more spots like this.

This is your brain on engineering.

And then there was my recent interaction with my pal, who has a five year old daughter. Just this past week, this young five year old girl told me she wanted to be an engineer like me when she grew up. She tends to soak up my geeky offerings more than her brothers when I present all of them with a word of the day, e.g. innovator, copacetic, onerous, or demonstrate how to tune a bicycle derailleur. The boys could care less most of the time.

Mom, doesn’t want her to exclude her brothers from also playing with Goldie Blox for an all girls play date with another five year old up the street who actually owns the pinkified Goldie Blox ‘erector set. What’s sad, is the boys often exclude their sister for ‘boys only’ activities. I pointed out to mom that I thought she was being contradictory, because she often has a ‘girls night out’, too.

But I’ve witnessed this on the playgrounds, as well—and it’s not always about gender, but more about physical prowess or ‘belonging’ to a cadre, the pack. It’s just human/animal nature, right? I NEVER felt excluded when playing games with my siblings. I thank my mom for this. Most of the time, I was off in my own little world, creating, inventing, taking care of them, so no time to play games. Anomaly. But when I did play with the boys e.g. Cops & Robbers, Cowboys & Indians, soccer, kickball, I can’t help think they embraced me because of my physical abilities to hang in and sometimes become the King of the Hill; it’s good to be the King.

Seriously, because of my own seemingly in-perpetuity exclusions, I really don’t have a problem with the current trend in the toy industry that is trying to take areas of play traditionally reserved for boys and marketing them to girls—mainly because I continue to live this disparity in being excluded. Seriously, I don’t think it’s impossible to make a product solely directed at either girls or boys without excluding the other group, but it’s not they way things are. I think a cause a mom should champion is for toy manufacturers stop marketing exclusively blue for boys and pink for girls, then society might get somewhere.

However, a great deal of little girls want to wear pink, obsess about princesses. When they do this, are they really making their own choices? I think we know the answer to this. “No. They are not.”

Aside: I didn’t like wearing pink or obsessing about princess, and made clear pronouncements to my mom when she tried to force me to wear lacy pink clothes, and put black patten leather shoes on me, which I immediately scuffed up on donning. She stopped trying after that. I was five years old. Before my mom passed away several years ago, she told me, as early as the age of two that I liked playing with building blocks, and flushing them down the toilet to see how stuff worked. Thankfully, my mom did not stifle me and always encouraged me to out think the box—she was, after all, a scientist.

Girls are only conforming to a market-driven view of femininity that has been designed quite deliberately to limit their choices, both in the short term and in the long term—they are being trained to associate their identity with marketized femininity, consisting of a few highly defined elements: fashion, dieting, housework, ‘caring’ roles and professions. Change this, make gender neutral toys a norm, and them perhaps there won’t be a need to pinkify an erector set, Goldie Blox, to make them appeal to girls or their parents.

Right, kids are kids, and they should be allowed to play with whatever they want. I sure also hope that parents who believe this are consistent in managing the diminishing, exclusionary chirps ‘not for girls’ and with their own behavior. So when young girls like my pal’s daughter try to assert their agency to be included, but are instead diminished, banished and told to ‘get lost’, then we wonder why they don’t embrace the sciences/engineering.

I told mom, if this young girl eventually chooses a profession that is (still) dominated by men, er e.g. engineering, neurosurgery, garnering experience and learning how to assert her agency, or come up with her own creative work-arounds, like finding Ms. Kim to come up with a more way-best, geeked-out activity or playing with Goldie Blox, is going to be a life long ‘vocation’–so she might as well start preparing for it now.

Whoa there’s some psychology. Fleh.



Kicking Down the Door to the Hidden Job Market

About two weeks ago, this nugget came into my LinkedIn Articles queue. Really good tactics and some sobering realities in this read:

 Kicking Down the Door to the Hidden Job Market

NB: Since 2006, all of my contract work has come either via folks contacting me in the matrix,  from direct/personal referrals or via networking.

REST in Urban Agriculture

As the ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, er climate instability continues intensifying, and when the price of petrol gets prohibitively expensive for foodstuffs to make their way to the markets, folks will be wishing for an achievable, sustainability developed schema like REST in Urban Agriculture  that includes:

  • hybrid renewable energy systems technology [HREST] for energy generation and capturing moisture from the air via atmospheric water generation
  • water resource management
  • waste management
  • affordable housing
  • access to fresh produce
  • employment opportunities
  • the 5 R’s – resiliency, redundancy, robustness, reliability, repair


Here’s the BIG PROBLEM | Energy literacy is the energy industry’s BIGGEST obstacle

This one is for all the VCs out there.

It’s taken me the better part of a month to draw the following conclusions and reconcile my latest position as a renewable energy ‘evangelist’…

For about ten years now, I have been searching for the lowest common denominators why MASSIVE deployment of renewable energy systems technologies is still not taking place. I have found over this past year that there are a great many empathetic scientists, engineers and economists echoing my sentiments about having a discussion about making fundamental changes in consumption of fossil fuels. And more importantly, that this needs to happen in tandem with deployment of renewable energy systems technologies.

The majority of (Wo)Men want it all, and has hubris that I find utterly confounding, expecting Mother Nature to acquiesce to certain quality of life expectations we have been accustomed w/o having to make sacrifices or change behavior. Indeed, we should do everything what we can to reduce CO2 emissions while implementing more Earth-friendly energy systems technologies. I, however, don’t think we’ll see the change required on a massive scale until everything breaks, HARD.  Hubris and greed are furtive ‘beasts.’ And so…

POINT ONE. I think until energy literacy is heightened, invoking renewable energy systems engineering proactivity on a massive scale is highly unlikely. Right, to foment this change, for at least ten years now, I’ve been suggesting we need guerrilla marketing–because, quite frankly the public’s complete and utter lack of energy literacy is the renewable energy industry’s, and for that matter, conventional energy of CONG’s [coal oil nuclear natural gas] biggest obstacle. The level of ignorance that almost everyone has about energy, such as how electricity gets to their house, or how gasoline gets into their automobile tank, is on par with children who don’t know where a Chicken McNugget comes from, or that manure from grazing animals can be used as fertilizer/compost.

And because governments have a difficult time developing effective policies, voters don’t understand the issues. These issues are exploited for partisan gain, experts are discredited, and so, terrible, terrible decisions are made. Water and power are taken for granted. And so they are considered entitlements, basic human rights–and as I have tried to raise, any heavily regulated company providing these services are despised when they don’t measure up to a certain entitlement expectation.

It’s interesting how some services are glorified (firefighters) and the ones we can’t live without (power linesmen) are ignored, taken for granted–that is, until the power goes out, then customers are angry. I think this is one area where the examination needs to occur, so this shift can evolve in a more pragmatic and prudent direction.

POINT TWO. Another problem is those who don’t understand thermodynamics don’t understand a physical system dealing with kilojoules or kilograms makes things way more difficult than say, working in the infinite space of the internet. And what’s unfortunate is a great deal of the venture capitalists  assumed energy was like the computer science industry. The laws of physics don’t allow the speedy progress we see and have seen in information technology. I was a participant contributing to the development of the web realm back of the days of the dot-com(edy).  The gains in the energy sector, however, come about incrementally. Energy has to be converted to a useful form, er usually electricity or heat, and the amount that can be obtained is limited, set by the laws of thermodynamics.

But let’s not forget the efficiency issue. Gasoline, diesel, LPG (liquified petroleum gas) and natural gas (NG) are efficient, they also contain an energy rich density no single renewable energy systems technology posses, are relatively easy to transport, store in large quantities and use in vehicles or power buildings/processes. I therefore think energy innovation will come about with revolutionary changes in energy extraction, storage, distribution and application. And so…

…at this juncture in time, I see a game changer being the glut of natural gas from tracking shale deposits in the USA. IF, HOWEVER THE GAS CAN BE EXTRACTED WITHOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, THIS COULD BE THE CLOSEST DISRUPTOR FOR THE NEAR TERM FUTURE. 

And so for now, the inertia of fossil fuel dependence continues, as do the escalations of ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, er climate instability.

Energy is all around us and we consume copious quantities of it. We only question it when it’s expensive or not there. – Energy Abundance vs. the Poverty of Energy Literacy



2014 MIT Climate CoLab Competition | Ethane as a green(er) transportation fuel opportunity

My colleague, Lindsay Leveen and I, entered the 2014 MIT Climate CoLab ‘How can CO2 emissions from the transportation sector be reduced?‘ Competition.

Modern transportation has become an enabler of the global, connected economy. However, the increase in activity has caused transportation energy demand to rise, and due to this sector’s oil dependence, CO2 emissions from transportation are growing at the highest rate among those from all end-use sectors. This contest seeks proposals that offer innovative ideas, or build upon existing ones, to reduce CO2 emissions in transportation.

Our feeling is, since the world does not need more plastics, abundant ethane (C2H6), instead of methane (CH4), can be the greener fuel transportation opportunity. And I also think, until the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure can be fully realized, this optimizing energy use in low-emission vehicles is the way to go.

I tried to engage my right brain last month and came up with the following info graphic.

Ethane as a Green(er) Transportation Fuel Opportunity


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What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

Content © 2009-2017 by Kimberly King