Victoria: Energy Ideas for Rural Alaska


Dec 14, 2009

Roland Briggs watches new technology, guess it might be the Mechanical Engineering part of his background which keeps him “tuned in”, and he wants to share some of what he sees as exciting.

As things cross his path and they look like they might have use in Alaska you will see him post on his new page in our Energy Section.

We’ll announce his updates on the main page and direct you to Roland’s page where you can join the discussion.

Roland will check in as often as he can given his busy schedule. This subject is close to his heart, finding more ways for rural Alaska to compete, thus he welcomes input and ideas.

~ Victoria


For those of you who are not aware I have lived in various villages in the Bristol Bay region most of my life.

I was lucky enough to be home schooled by a mom, Emorene (Randy)Briggs, who was a highly educated woman for her time. She was a Chemical Engineer educated in the Midwest and East coasts. She worked on the team that helped develop Styrene and over her lifetime did work with the Corp of Engineers here in Alaska, which she left as they would not let her out into the ‘field’ like they were the men at the timeJ and in our education system.

She had a great love of the fishery, people and education of all in our area. She made sure I was well prepped to head into Anchorage for high school and then onto Montana State University where I got a degree in Mechanical Engineering and was able to pursue other related areas while there.

Over my working life I have gotten to be involved with all sorts of ‘neat’ projects which you will most likely see me mention as it applies.

I am hoping that by posting occasionally on this area of interest, for at least me, I can spark more of an interest in and discussion by Alaskans who would most likely benefit from some changes in our energy structure.


Liquid Batteries

I think liquid batteries could have huge potential in Rural AK.

Recently, researchers from MIT have designed a new kind of battery that, unlike conventional batteries, is made of all-liquid active materials. Donald Sadoway, a materials chemistry professor at MIT, and his team have fabricated prototypes of the liquid battery, and have demonstrated that the materials can quickly absorb large amounts of electricity, as required for solar energy storage.

We can collect energy from wind and solar sources and store and run the village much like a large home. Our village energy needs at different times of the year can be as low as 50 KW to much higher in the summer or fall months. Of course this might well change IF we can find a economical source that allows for more competitive light industries.

VIVACE (Vortex Induced Vibrations Aquatic Clean Energy)

VIV is another promising technology…

A novel approach to extract energy from flowing water currents. It is unlike any other ocean energy or low-head hydropower concept. VIVACE is based on the extensively studied phenomenon of Vortex Induced Vibrations (VIV), which was first observed 500 years ago by Leonardo DaVinci in the form of “Aeolian Tones.” For decades, engineers have been trying to prevent VIV from damaging offshore equipment and structures. By maximizing and exploiting VIV rather than spoiling and preventing it, VIVACE takes this ‘problem’ and transforms it into a valuable resource for mankind.

Since we have so much “line cost” in Rural Alaska and yet water currents are always running, this new type of energy system might be of use at least in the summer time. Maybe even some places in AK in the winter time.  It could possibly even be used under the ice in places where there are slow moving currents.  I understand the Detroit River Project is a 15kw test system. Not sure when it is supposed to be up and running. I recently asked for an update on the status of it.  I will update as I find out.

~ Roland Briggs


We’ve turned off the comments here and ask that you leave your thoughts and comments on Roland’s thread in the energy section.  We will announce updates and post some of the more in-depth or thought provoking comments on our main page.


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