Inventions Thomas Edison Would Love: Biomass Conversion

Solar energy applications are not just the solar electric panels that convert sunlight to electricity, or the majestic large, spinning, wind turbines we see on the great plains or in offshore clusters. Solar applications also include the use of biomass…..organic materials grown and then processed into fuel or useful products.

Here is what the National Renewable Energy Laboratory [NREL] has to say about biomass applications:

  • Biofuels — Converting biomass into liquid fuels for transportation
  • Biopower — Burning biomass directly, or converting it into gaseous or liquid fuels that burn more efficiently, to generate electricity
  • Bioproducts — Converting biomass into chemicals for making plastics and other products that typically are made from petroleum

Biofuels can be used to supplement our energy sources, replace existing petrochemical energy sources, reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy, and reduce the environmental impact/greenhouse gas emissions of petrochemical energy use.

Every time the price of a barrel of oil goes up a dollar, it costs the Navy $31 million in extra fuel costs. The U.S. military is very interested in alternative fuels — in particular, the wood-based biofuels being researched and produced at the University of Maine. Check out this amazing process.

Professor Clayton Wheeler of U of Maine

Professor Clayton Wheeler of U of Maine

Professor Clayton Wheeler of U of Maine holding a bottle of biofuel made from wood materials. This biofuel can be used as is as a substitute for heating oil or refined a bit more for use as a premium transportation fuel/jet fuel.

It is fascinating to remember Thomas Edison experimented with biomass back in the late 1920s, trying to find common plant materials that could be processed to become a viable substitute for rubber. In his painstaking years of work, Edison and his staff evaluated about 17,000 candidate plant species, to develop a giant cross-bred goldenrod plant that could grow as tall as 12 feet; and whose structure contained about 12% rubber. In 1927, Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation of Fort Myers. Plants were collected in Florida and throughout the southern United States by field collectors. Plants were grown under controlled conditions in Florida and at Edison’s laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey.

Edison in Fort Myers

Edison in Fort Myers in 1931, along with his giant goldenrod plant, later named after him, Solidago edisoniana.

The plant processing equipment Edison used in his West Orange Chemistry Lab to facilitate the extraction of latex rubber from his goldenrod and other candidate plants.

The plant processing equipment Edison used in his West Orange Chemistry Lab to facilitate the extraction of latex rubber from his goldenrod and other candidate plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Deep Dive:

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Christmas at Glenmont -Thomas Edison’s Historic Home

Season’s Greetings from Glenmont. This 1882, 29 ½ room, Queen Ann Victorian mansion is the historic home of the Edison family; and this time of year, it is decked out in all the Christmas trimmings.

Christmas at Glenmont -Thomas Edison’s Historic Home

Check out the big, ten-foot Christmas tree in the first floor den. 

Christmas at Glenmont -Thomas Edison’s Historic Home

Stockings are hung by the chimney with care …

 

Christmas at Glenmont - Thomas Edison’s Historic Home
Found in the second floor living room

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays –  the Trustees and Staff at the Charles Edison Fund and the Edison Innovation Foundation,  from our offices in Newark , NJ.

Christmas at Glenmont - Thomas Edison’s Historic Home

 

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Help Restore the Edison Electric Cars

An historic treasure of Edison’s electric cars from the 1900-1914 period are awaiting restoration in the Edison garage. Check out this article, and suggested levels of giving below. Be a part of this restoration!

It was built in 1908, and to this day houses one of the earliest electric vehicle charging stations….testimony to Edison’s vision about the importance of electric vehicles and the ability to charge them at one’s residence. Energy savvy folks and writers opine today about electric vehicles being charged in one’s own garage, while Edison was doing it every day … four generations ago. The Edison garage remains home to a variety of the great inventor’s personal cars as well as his wife’s vehicles. This stately structure is on the grounds of his historic home Glenmont.

Front view of garage

Front view of garage

Mina Edison’s Personal Electric Vehicle

Mina Edison’s Personal Electric Vehicle

The Edison Innovation Foundation is busy developing plans to conserve this structure; and inaugurate a new education center for teachers and students on the second floor where visitors will learn about Mr. Edison, the Glenmont site, electric vehicles, practice STEM principles, do special design/invention challenges, and delve into the use and application of alternate energy technologies. The first floor of the structure can hold six vehicles. Special features of its construction include poured concrete walls, a vehicle turntable, a revolving overhead washing system with hose, a battery charging station and a gasoline pump. The second floor of the building once housed the Edison family live-in chauffer and his family.

Edison Battery charging station

Edison Battery charging station

Famous Edison Nickel-Iron Storage Batteries

Famous Edison Nickel-Iron Storage Batteries

Today, the building houses a:

  • 1908 Locomobile
  • 1911 Detroit Electric Model L-1
  • 1914 Detroit Electric Model 47
  • 1922 Ford Model T
  • 1936 Brewster (once belonged to Edison’s son- former. Gov. of NJ 1941-44)

These cars will be conserved, as well as the interior of the garage itself which will be cleaned and re-painted.

Ford Model T, a gift from Henry Ford

Ford Model T, a gift from Henry Ford

1936 Brewster, vehicle owned by Charles Edison

1936 Brewster, vehicle owned by Charles Edison

To show the immense advances in electric vehicles since Edison’s pioneering work, several new state-of-the-art electric vehicles will be obtained and displayed near the original vehicles; and have their own re-charging station. These vehicles will be used for transportation duties, visitor demonstrations, and educational purposes within the Thomas Edison National Historical Park [TENHP], which includes the Glenmont estate and garage.

Readers are encouraged to make a donation to underwrite this projected $2.5 million historic restoration effort-see suggested levels of giving below. We hope you will contribute to making this restoration project a success. Use the “Donate” button on this page, or directly contact the:

Edison Innovation Foundation
Riverfront Plaza
1037 Raymond Blvd.
STE #340
Newark, NJ 07102
973-648-0500

 

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

We thank you on behalf of the 70,000 visitors who come every year to see the home of the world’s greatest inventor.

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

Garage Restoration – Suggested Levels of Giving

Level 1: $1 – $999

  • Recognition of gift on website.
  • Commemorative “Thank You” letter.

Level 2: $1000 – $9999

  • Photograph of Donor with any Edison electric vintage car.
  • Recognition of gift on appropriate signage at the Edison Garage.

Level 3: $10,000 – $99,999

  • Photograph with any Edison electric vintage car.
  • Photograph at Edison’s original desk in his Library.
  • Your name/organization listed on www.edisonmuckers.org.
  • Recognition of gift on appropriate signage at the Edison Garage.

Level 4: $100,000 – $999,999

  • Photograph with any Edison electric vintage car.
  • Photograph at Edison’s original desk in his Library.
  • Your name/organization listed on www.edisonmuckers.org.
  • Recognition of gift on appropriate signage at the Edison Garage.
  • Cocktail party for ten (10) people chosen by you at the Edison Garage on the Edison home lawn including tent.  Drive and display your vintage car.

Level 5: $1 Million and above

  • All of the above.
  • Naming recognition of the Edison Garage with appropriate signage.
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