Montana Clean Energy Fair Features Biodiesel, Solar

John Davis

MTCleanEnergyFair1Montana might be known as Big Sky country, but this past weekend, it could certainly also take on the Clean Sky moniker. The Billings (MT) Gazette reports a couple of small projects featuring biodiesel and solar were part of Saturday’s Montana Clean Energy Fair at the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

[Matt] Elsaesser is the executive director of the S.A.V.E. Foundation, a nonprofit conservation group based in Helena. On Saturday, he gave a demonstration on how to make biodiesel fuel using vegetable oil, lye, methanol, and other ingredients.

Though Elsaesser, who is also a city commissioner in Helena, was making only a small batch of biodiesel fuel, it took him just a few minutes to combine the materials in a jug that he then shook and let sit in the sun. He explained that it would take 6-8 hours to settle, but then be ready to go.

John Harris and Nick Mariann, of Remote Power Systems in Stevensville, were promoting their Power Cube, a mobile set of solar panels that could be transported to a remote spot to provide power.

Mariann said the technology was first developed for the military. He said it could be dropped by plane to remote military sites like Afghanistan. The system could also be used for remote construction or emergency sites, as well as homes or cabins off the grid — though the Power Cube is also grid ready, Harris said.

The article goes on to say the cube sells for $17,500 and can be set up in about 10 minutes. Other companies also showed off their products at the fair.

Biodiesel, Solar