D-Q Students Build Renewable Energy Trailer

Feb 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 13-3: Sustaining Our Future, Tribal College News
By Vivian Gratton

D-Q University students display their renewable energy trailer project.

It pumps waters, cooks lunch, can power a circular saw, and it rolls. It’s the D-Q University Renewable Energy Trailer, outfitted in September 2001 by D-Q University undergraduates and other tribal professionals. The trailer will be hauled to pow-wows, festivals, and schools, and will also provide hands-on education for renewable energy courses and workshops on the D-Q campus near Davis, CA. Once pulled onto location, the trailer quickly converts to a 300-watt power system, mini-kitchen, and education station.

To set it up, demonstrators pull out wind turbine and pole-mounted solar panels and affix them to the frame. The trailer also includes a solar water pumping display, solar cookers, and brownie mix. With the north-facing doors open, visitors can see charge controllers, disconnects, an inverter, and batteries. Large diagrams and information sheets explain how each component and each system works. Also on display are D-Q University brochures, event flyers, and college applications.

A Department of Energy grant for renewable energy feasibility studies and education funded the renewable energy trailer project and workshop. D-Q instructor Sue Mahoney wanted a portable education station to take the college’s renewable energy program out to the geographical dispersed California Indian lands. Scott Ely, a Colorado-based solar expert with his own renewables education trailer, responded enthusiastically to the request for another trailer. He taught a hands-on installation workshop.

Putting together the power trailer was a tremendous learning experience. Environmental professionals from four local tribes joined eight undergraduates to assemble the power systems. Together these professionals and students stripped wires, tightened screws, tested electrical continuity, and bolted down battery cables.

One Sunday afternoon, after a meal of solar-oven cooked lasagna and brownies, the trailer was pulled out into the sun. Students proudly watched the inverter and charge-controller displays while planning a fundraiser of solar (blended) smoothies and solar brownies.

For more information, contact Sue Mahoney at D-Q University (530) 758-0470, ext. 1023, or email <smahoney@dqu.cc.ca.us>.

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