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|1/5/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
Dierickx develops invention to decrease dependency on oil
|Energy-efficient invention. James Dierickx of Lowden, formerly of DeWitt, still is putting on the finishing touches of his invention — a mobile power unit that is climate-controlled and can provide 8,000 watts of continual power and 16,000 watts of surge power. Dierickx explains batteries that can be recharged much like batteries on golf carts power the device. One of its biggest advantages, he notes, is it does not create any pollutants. Photo by Kate Howes|
|The “Mobile Power Unit” attaches to the back ends of vehicles such as this van or smaller trucks. Dierickx says the product is going to be marketed toward companies with mobile-power needs, such as janitorial services, contractors and sub-contractors. It provides enough energy to power eight households, he notes, and can be used in place of a generator or a homeowner’s electricity.
Photo by Kate Howes|
By Kate Howes
That's the philosophy by which 1987 Central Community High School graduate James Dierickx lives his life.
An avid inventor, a visionary and one who is not afraid to take risks, the founder of Direct Drive Energy (DDE), LLC is bound and determined to make the United States less dependent on oil one product at a time.
The idea for his latest venture came to him on a long drive home from Ohio after he conceded to sell his last invention - product, patent and all.
The 44-year-old has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since he served his country in the Gulf War in 1990-1991.
He received his orders Jan. 4, 1990 and just a few days later found himself in a foreign country amongst fierce fighting and constantly breathing in diesel fuel exhaust and other toxic fumes. Not only did Dierickx sustain physical injuries, but he also was affected mentally by what he saw and experienced.
"It wasn't really until Sept. 11, 2001, when I saw the second tower in New York City get hit by the plane that I realized I had PTSD," Dierickx explains. "Witnessing that triggered it for me and I've been battling it ever since."
To this day, the devoted father of four boys - Zach, Josh, Aaron and Abram - cannot stand the smell of diesel fuel exhaust or the thought that his children might someday have to fight for their country all in the name of oil.
"I want to help break our nation's addiction to oil so my kids won't have to go over to Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan for oil like I did," Dierickx relates. "I know there is a need for oil, but I want to eradicate our complete dependence on it. There are so many things we use every day that could run using electricity or at least a hybrid of the two."
Until five years ago, he had an invention called the "Stroll-N-Go," a car seat, carrier, stroller and rocker all in one that was selling remarkably well. Dierickx says for a few years, his company, then called "SnG Products Co.," was selling a couple of hundred strollers a month.
Then, in January 2007, the market suddenly dried up. Then, another manufacturer in Ohio offered to buy him out.
Dierickx decided to take the offer and while he breathed a bit easier because of the money he made from the deal, he couldn't help but worry about the future and most importantly, his family.
"I wondered, what in the world am I going to do now?" he recalls.
On that lengthy trip from Ohio back to Iowa, Dierickx's creativity kicked in and as he looked back on his life and the significant events that led him to that point, he had a major brainstorm.
As he thought about his time in Operation Dessert Storm and the adverse affects it had on him as well as his family, Dierickx concocted another invention - actually, two inventions, depending on the size of the vehicle to which they attach - that would save fuel for truckers, the environment and his sons from one day having to put their lives on the line for oil.
Now simply known as the "Mobile Power Unit," one of the devices is marketed toward businesses with fleets of smaller-sized trucks and vans, Dierickx explains.
The unit, which would attach to the backside of the vehicle, is climate-controlled and would provide 8,000 watts of continual power and 16,000 watts of surge power. The product would be ideal for people such as contractors, sub-contractors, carpet cleaners, janitorial equipment operators or any business that uses portable tools and machinery.
The Mobile Power Unit can be used to supply power as opposed to having to use a generator or a homeowner's electricity.
Each unit contains 20 batteries, which can be recharged just like batteries on golf carts.
"This is like a mobile generator without having to use fuel," Dierickx says. "You can use it anywhere . . . even if you're working out in the middle of nowhere without any electricity. The advantages of this product are there are fewer parts, less wear and tear and it produces no pollutants at all."
Another product Dierickx has designed is the DDE-X Rolling-Thunder Fuel-Less Truck Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).
This device specifically was created for semis and will power the trucks while they are parked so the 500 HP motors do not have to idle or use diesel fuel to heat or cool the cab.
Dierickx says the Rolling-Thunder Product System will be retro-fitted onto existing Class 8 trucks on the bulkhead behind the cab. A kinetic energy harvesting system uses a follower wheel to make contact between the dual wheels of the truck. As the follower wheel spins it is connected through a belt system to the enclosure where a common driveshaft spins inside the enclosure. The spinning shaft turns a bank of alternators that produce 12 V DC power as they are expelled.
Then, the DC power is stored in a 24-kilowatt hour battery bank so when the vehicle is stopped, the stored energy is converted into AC power that then runs the air conditioner, heater, block heater and other needs on a Class 8 truck while it is stopped.
"So when stopped, a truck using our Rolling-Thunder Fuel-less APU uses no diesel fuel," he notes. "These long-haul Class 8 trucks can use as much as 5,400 gallons of diesel fuel simply idling when stopped to keep an over-the-road driver comfortable," Dierickx says. "At $4.00 per gallon, around $22,000 a year literally goes up in smoke if the truck is used consistently and does not have anti-idling technologies."
The system, he adds, could end up saving independent truckers and trucking companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on diesel fuel.
While Dierickx still is perfecting his products and waiting for weight exemptions, DDE's unique way of harvesting, storing, managing and converting kinetic energy and anti-idling technology sounds extremely promising to the people behind the annual CleanTech Open.
The CleanTech Open is a competition for technology entrepreneurs that allows them to showcase their ideas and products that address energy, environmental and economic needs.
At this year's event, Dierickx took home the People's Choice Award - the product those who attended the competition feel has the most potential.
Of the event, one journalist wrote Dierickx is a "Midwesterner who argued his technology is urgently needed to help solve our country's oil addiction. At the close of his pitch, he shouted into the microphone, 'I was in the service when we liberated Kuwait and big oil almost killed me. Now I'm going to kill big oil so my four boys never have to fight for it again.' The crowd roared its support and this writer may have gotten choked up a bit. (Dierickx) had an all-consuming passion and drive and although DDE wasn't a finalist . . . I have no doubt (Dierickx) will find success."
If anyone would have asked him 10 years ago if this is where his life and career would be right now, Dierickx says he never would have envisioned creating DDE and its products.
Yet, in life, one thing leads to another and one never can be certain where one might end up.
"I only came up with my latest idea because I was on a long drive home from selling my Stroll-N-Go," Dierickx relates. "As hard as it was to let go of that, if it wasn't for having to do that, I wouldn't be doing what I am right now and I'm grateful for that.
"It's amazing how what you do today affects tomorrow. Creativity comes from God and my mom always said God is a 'public relations' man. Ultimately, together with some very key people who believe in these products and their potential, I want to put money into things that will help people."
To find out more about DDE and its products, persons may visit http://www.4dde.com/index_files//apu.html.