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Florence City Council hears business plan

Burns resident presents proposal to build hydrogen generators

Staff writer

Burns resident Shawn Ridder talked to the Florence City Council on Monday about his plan to start a business in Florence.

Ridder wants to build hydrogen generators that produce H and HHO gases; he said the building at 2505 U.S. 50, owned by Joel Hayes, would be ideal for the operation.

He said the plasma created by the generators could power weapons or vehicles. He would sell the generators over the Internet.

“A 10-year-old could build these things,” Ridder said. “I’m selling them for $1,500 and making them for $10.”

Hydrogen generators primarily work using an electric current to perform electrolysis on water to separate hydrogen from oxygen. Ridder said his method uses very little electricity and instead uses electromagnets. He said a patent for his method is pending.

Ridder’s most recent job was working in a convenience store. He said he has an education in physics, but was not more specific about his schooling.

Ridder is also interested in teaming with his friend, Randy Kubic, to start a non-profit company to convert vegetable oil to biodiesel, which he also wants to operate out of the location on U.S. 50. Ridder said he is in the process of getting loans for both operations.

He is applying to gain grants from USDA Rural Development for the biodiesel project.

Ridder said he could possibly employ 20 to 30 people.

Council members were excited about the prospect of this kind of business landing in Florence but were apprehensive about the feasibility of Ridder’s plan.

Trayce Warner asked Ridder if he had spoken to Hayes. Ridder said he had not.

“He hasn’t talked to us a bit,” Hayes said. “Somebody brought that up to me. If he’s real, if he’s interested, I’m all for it. Anything that will help boost our economy.”

Warner asked Ridder what kind of regulations there were on the hydrogen generator industry. Ridder responded that there are no regulations.

“It’s just like building a bird cage,” he said.

However, the Code of Federal regulations states that hydrogen generators and containers must comply with the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Sec. VIII Unfired Pressure Vessels, 1968, or be “designed, constructed, tested, and maintained in accordance U.S. Department of Transportation Specifications and Regulations.”

Council members encouraged Ridder to talk to Hayes about his plan.

Leak

Florence superintendent Phil Baldwin informed council members that the leak at Florence’s water plant — plant 1, plat 1 — was getting worse. The leak releases water every time the system back flushes every 30 minutes.

Baldwin also said that the plant, built in 2003, could use an update on the blocks of all four plats.

“Things can get really expensive in a hurry,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin told the council that he had already talked to a contractor in Wichita who would assess the repairs needed.

The council told Baldwin to talk to the contractor to find out the cost of repairs, but they were unanimously considering the update of all four plats to avoid paying the contractor for multiple trips to the city.

“The more you can do while they’re here the better off you are,” Council member Randy Mills said.

Horseshoes

Police Chief Michael Stone discussed the idea of banning alcohol from all city parks. He prefers an ordinance to prevent drinking at the horseshoe pit. He said the ordinance would keep drunken horseshoe players from driving away from games at the park.

“I’ll just say it,” Stone said. “If we’re so worried about a skating rink, how upset should we be about drunk driving in our neighborhood?”

The council told Stone to keep working on an ordinance but was generally against the idea of banning alcohol all together. The council said, after Labor Day, the horseshoe pits would be moved from their current location away from where kids play at the park.

“We should enjoy our town, but there should be some prudence to that enjoyment,” Stone said.

Last modified June 9, 2011

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