Green Energy ParkClassglass studioart in the parktour of kiln
 

Covid Update

Out of concerns for everyone’s health and safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Youth Arts Festival has been cancelled. We look forward to seeing everyone when the festival returns in September 2021.

Like just about everyone else, the GEP was forced to close due to the corona virus. That has meant no tours, no classes, no tourists, no artists, and no friends to visit.

But Kevin, Chelsea and myself have been far from idle these past months, and have been able to focus a lot of time and effort on some new projects.

Should you have any questions, please contact the GEP office at 828/631-0271.

— Timm Muth, Director 

No Idle Hands Here


Furnace Rebuild

This was the big one. Our glass furnace was in terrible shape, which you can imagine since it has sat at 2000° for the best part of the last 12 years. The insulation had melted, the inner walls had gaps big enough to stick your hand into, the crucible was crumbling, the door was eaten up, and the electrical connections needed an overhaul. So we got to it, put in a lot of hard work, and rebuilt or replaced everything that was degrading. 

Chelsea and Kevin built custom forms so we could pour more castable refractory and fill all the gaps in the walls. We stripped out all of the melted insulation, built and cast a new door, and mortared a new crucible into place. It’s a tough, tedious, and at times dangerous job: most of it is dirty respirator work, crouched inside of a furnace, gridning away for hours. But I have an incredible team, and there’s not a problem thjey can’t solve. 

So after 4 solid months of working on it, we once again have a safe and efficient furnace, and a big pot of perfectly clear glass ready for the artists. Our thanks to artist Cole Johnson for his continual help and unbounded optimism.

“This is an awesome place and it was a class that brought us out here. We will definitely be returning. Thank you!”

Jackie Methven, NC

“The instructor was great and explained all the steps carefully. His enthusiasm was wonderful. Thank you!”

“A great use of natural available energy and fun at the same time”

Gerry Murdock, NC

“Thank you for all you do to help me in continuing to follow my dreams!”

“Can't wait to come back!”

Cindy Lewis, NC

“I love the classes you offer! The Green Energy Park is Awesome!”

 

“Great teachers!”

“The park is a needed endeavor and the class exposes the public to the 'green' concept”

“The GEP is a great asset to Jackson County”

Mary Gwen Kistler, NC

“I love what you guys are doing here and it's wonderful that you offer classes to the community as well.”

“Wish I had come here before now! ”

Robert Edwards, NC

Gas Flare Igniter and Combustion Chamber

At night, when we’re not using the landfill gas, we “flare” it or burn it off so that the methane doesn’t enter our atmosphere. But the flare took a lightning hit which killed the ingiter system, and an original replacement was going to cost us $13,000. So instead we found a solar-powered igniter, and our master fabricator Kevin built a cool wheeled sled (above) that moves the igniter up so it can light the flare, then pulls it back down to reduce wear and tear. Total cost – under $500!

We’ve also never been happy with the flare shroud – the big metal tube where the flare is supposed to burn. It was too short, didn’t really contain or protect the flame, and allowed the wind to blow the flare out, requiring constant relights. 

So I talked with our friend Chip down at Innovation Station, and he hooked us up with an old stainless steel beer keg that he couldn’t use. Once again, Kevin fired up the plasma torch and welder, and turned the keg into an insulated combustion chamber with a rain roof. Now our flare burns at a higher temperature, holds the flame within the chamber for a few seconds to ensure total destruction of any harmful chemicals, and never blows out. 

flame shroud

Big thanks to Chip and Innovation for their fine donation, and kudos to Kevin for an amazing job.

Other Efforts

In addition to these big projects, our team members also: 

• Built a $3,000 high speed belt sander for $500 and lots of donated parts. 

• Presented a lecture on renewable energy in the glass industry for the international Glass Arts Society. 

• Constructed a packaging area for the artists. 

• Completely rebuilt our oldest blacksmith forge, and upgraded it to a high-efficiency ribbon burner (we even got the burner donated by the manufacturer, since we have the only forges in the world to run on landfill gas). 

What's Next?

While we still can’t host classes, tours, or visitors at this time, we are reopening this month for our artists to return and start working again. Several of these good folks make their living off of work that they create at the Green Energy Park, so it’s important that they have access to functional and cost-effective shop spaces. Once the quarantine is no longer in effect, we will open back up for the public, and begin offering tours and classes once again.

The Green Energy Park is partially funded by

MNC Energy Office Rural CenterGolden Leaf FoundationAppalachian Regional CommissionUSDA Rural DevelopementThe Conservation Fund