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Redmond, Ore., Tinkerer Invents Alternate Power Source for Home

July 1, 2008

By Bob Albrecht, The Bulletin, Bend, Ore.

Jun. 30–Six months ago, in the garage of his west Redmond home, Carl Ylvisaker started tinkering with a tire, a trailer hitch, an alternator, car batteries and a power inverter.

The result: a device with the potential to complement alternative power sources like solar panels and windmills. And if everything falls into place, something that could help resolve the world’s energy crisis, says Ylvisaker, a retired physical therapist.

“We’re in an energy crunch right now,” Ylvisaker says. “This will certainly help defray that.”

The prototype TAGER, short for Transportation Assisted Global Energy Reserve, is a single tire, with the ability to swivel 20 degrees in either direction, connected by a metallic arm to a cart attached to the back of Ylvisaker’s red SUV. Two 12-volt car batteries and a power inverter, designed to convert the battery power to the common household current, sit on the cart.

The power is created by the spinning wheel, complete with bolts that extend away from the tire and into a pulley attached to a belt that supplies the alternator with energy. The energy is harnessed through two wires feeding into the batteries.

With a slight alteration to a home’s electrical service panel, the TAGER could easily generate enough power after a day’s commute to power the house for an entire night, Ylvisaker says. Or enough power to allow the homeowner to avoid paying a monthly power bill altogether, he adds.

Ylvisaker says he’s not running power to his home from the TAGER because he doesn’t drive enough to generate sufficient power. He has, however, tested it by powering hand-held electric tools after trips to the grocery store.

Even though he has yet to thoroughly test the device’s capabilities, he’s convinced its impact can be substantial.

“You could get off the grid with it,” says Ylvisaker, 66, who adds that he’s naturally curious and has a penchant for tinkering with things to make them work better. “I’ve been doing that all my life.”

Powering a house, Ylvisaker says, is just the beginning.

The TAGER, he believes, could generate tremendous power if it were attached to a long-haul truck, traveling several hundred miles a day, and through the night. The batteries and the inverter could be placed inside the trailer, and multiple TAGER devices could be attached to the outside.

The power generated by a truck traveling an average of 55 mph hour would be equivalent to a windmill spinning at similar speeds, he said.

“People can’t control the wind,” Ylvisaker says. “With this, they’re already traveling anyway.”

Lou Torres, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Energy, said the department has not spoken with Ylvisaker about his idea.

The state can offer energy tax credits and low-interest loans to help inventors get their ideas off the ground, Torres said.

“Then we have a chance to have an energy analyst determine if this is really feasible or not,” Torres said. “There’s lots of people out there with all kinds of ideas.”

While he was unable to comment on the feasibility of Ylvisaker’s device, Torres believes the Redmond inventor is working on an issue that requires attention.

“If, in fact, there are those kinds of inventions out there, there are certainly opportunities to be successful,” Torres said, adding that alternative energy sources are necessary to combat the world’s energy crisis. “We could use it.”

While Ylvisaker has not contacted the state’s Department of Energy, he is in the process of working through other channels to get his invention to market. He has applied for a trademark on the name TAGER, complete with a logo.

In addition, Ylvisaker met with attorneys to draw up a patent application. The patent, he says, is pending.

Ylvisaker, who has previously invented and patented five products that never took off commercially, including the PIRD-Y, a device that he said helps stroke patients relearn how to control their bodies, is convinced this one’s different.

“It could power an entire village,” Ylvisaker says. “It could give the people in developing countries light and water.”

More refined versions of the prototype could retail for less than $1,000, Ylvisaker says.

He adds that he believes the device could become a common attachment to American vehicles within a few years. Alleviating a home’s power expenses could make it easier to swallow other rising costs, Ylvisaker says.

“Those that are wincing when they get their gas bills might do a bit less wincing if they had one of these attached to the back of their car,” he says.

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