Maret Center completes special projects

Nathan Gamble

Multimedia Director

The MARET (Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology) Center is Crowder CollWind Trubineeges renewable energy department.  Headed by Dr. Melissa Oates, the MARET Center was opened in 2012 at Crowder’s Neosho campus.

This past year the MARET Center has had three major projects, the Bi-Field Geothermal Patent, the Kakamega, Kenya solar project, and restoring the wind turbine.

Last fall Crowder acquired their first patent, a Bi-Field Geothermal Patent, which is a hot and cold in ground well, which means its able to switch the loop from hot to cold and back.  It’s is a utility patent.  It was issued December 6,2016 and is effective until March 15, 2034.Crowder Presentation- Bi-Field Solar Geothermal System

“Right now it’s a feather in Crowders Cap,” said Dr. Oates.  Right now the effect the patent will have on Crowder is relatively unknown.  Even though the future of the patent is unknown it’s a great investment.  With the patent Crowder can license it out to other companies and profit off of it.

In fall of 2016 semester the Solar Electric Systems class, headed by Joel Lamson, was tasked with finding a sufficient solar light for the Overcoming Faith Orphans School in Kakamega, Kenya.  The project was sponsored by the Joplin Rotary Club.

Throughout the semester the students tested a total of seven solar lights.  The solar lanterns were tested for an entire semester with the lanterns being ran at maximum brightness for the first three days to gage their runtime.  After that the lights were charged during the day and subjected to the elements outdoors, then they ran the lights all night for the entirety of the semester.  At the end of the semester the initial test was retested to compare the results after roughly 4 months of use.

After the lights were tested the students analyzed them in seven categories.  After that the students selected the best solar light.  Now they are in the process of supplying and shipping the lights to Kakamega, Kenya.

Upon its arrival 10 years ago, Crowder’s wind turbine was a big deal.  Manufactured in Denmark in 1984 and shipped to the Tehachapi California wind farm, it was then shipped to Crowder where its currently residing.  It was then sent to Crowder and was fully functional until April 2015, when it stopped working.

“The turbine was not maintained properly,” said Chris Catron, Wind Energy Instructor, “which is what lead the turbine to stop working.”  Since Chris has taken over the program all of the mechanicals have been brought up to spec by Chris and his interns.  Right now they are seeking funding to replace the top of the turbine to make it fully functional once again.

When the turbine is fully functional it will be a great addition for Crowder. Once the wind turbine is restored the MARET Center will be supplying more power to Crowder.

The wind turbine is also beneficial to Crowder’s wind and energy students.  “It gives me a job, real life skills in the working area.  If I work on this turbine its the same thing as working on a wind farm,” said Ryan, a wind turbine maintenance technician.  “It gives Crowder a good reputation on how their program is.”

With a successful 2016 under the MARET Center’s belt, they are gearing up for another successful year.  They have the Owen’s Corning project on their horizon.  The Owens Corning asked the MARET Center to supply solar lights to a shaded walking trail.

On April 20th the MARET Center students will be showcasing their projects to the rest of the college.

Within 4 years the MARET Center has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on Crowder with no sign of slowing down.