Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ocean Grove and Green Energy - 1889

With all of the discussion taking place today about alternative energy I thought you might enjoy this story about the small Jersey Shore resort of Ocean Grove and their contribution to green energy over 100 years ago.

The subject of the article was that Ocean Grove was rejoicing in a new motive power for raising water to sprinkle their streets and make them dust-free. The founders of the religious retreat along the seaside also took the extraordinary step if permitting the new system to operate on Sundays. Amazing....

The photo you are looking at was called a wave machine and an article appeared in the New York Times entitled " Waves Made Useful."
The problem was simple. How to keep the dust and sand down on the unpaved streets of the tree-lined Victorian village. The solution was amazing considering the era.

The inventor, N. O. Bond from Fairfax Court House, Virginia designed an machine that employed the Atlantic Ocean's waves to make energy and drive a pump used to spray ocean water on the streets.
Simply put the system used eight gates on the pier which swung upon a steel rod so that the lower part of the gate would be submerged at all times - two feet at low and seven feet at high tide. The waves as they struck the gate, swung it inward and at the top was attached a rod which served as the angle bar for the piston rod of a force pump placed in a horizontal position. The force of each wave sufficed for a stroke of the piston and the consequent suction of a quantity of water from the ocean.
They discovered that the power of each gate when the wave forced it inward was equal to 500 pounds in a calm to 8,000 pounds in a heavy surf. Each gate was 13 feet long and were the key to the power.
They reported that so great was the constant power of the wave pump that water was forced 40 feet high into the tanks shown here. It was then transported in waterproof carts and sprinkled on the streets.
The report noted that the system was so well built that the after a May storm in 1889 where the Fifth-Avenue Pavilion at Ocean Grove was destroyed the pier and wave machine held fast.
The system was so reliable that when the artesian wells in town temporarily gave out the wave machine quickly filled the tank and the streets were kept clean. Town officials reported that salt water kept the ground moist twice as long as fresh water.

Here is the really interesting part of the story:

The article ended by stating that while the wave machine was used for sprinkling salt water on the streets of Ocean Grove it could also be used for a general power source. It noted that the weight of 40,000 gallons of water acting on a turbine wheel would be sufficient to work a dynamo to do considerable manufacturing.
The inventor had plans for an improvement upon the gates by the use of big floats, the rising and falling of which upon the waves, he says will give forth a power six times as great as is secured by the present system. It is more than possible that this system of using wave power will be introduced in most of the seaside resorts along the Jersey coast or elsewhere.
This is the first and last time I have ever seen this system in my studies of the Jersey Shore.
Emil Salvini

1 comment:

  1. This is so interesting! Can you imagine this was done way back then?