Posted by: Erin | April 27, 2008

Million Dollar Ride

The RES students backed their bags, boarded the plane, The Plane Ride and took at trip down south to Reykjavik for a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Conference. All the RES students weren’t used to being in the “Big” City, but we managed to fit in with the other 120,000 Icelanders.

The conference was a typical conference with a day full of presenters from all over the North Atlantic, touting their product or mission with the usual PowerPoint. Lunch was followed with the best part of the conference…the chance to drive several fuel cell and hydrogen power vehicles. If you know me well, you know my love for cars. As a gadget queen there is no better place to find so many useful (And useless at times) features condensed into one space.

There were four brands that were available some were direct fuel cells like the Ford Focus or the Mercedes Little Electric CarFord FocusMercedes Fuel CellA-Class while others were a hybrid fuel cell/battery like the Toyota Prius. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to drive the Ford Focus, which is apparently the better car with a price take of $800,000. But I did get to drive the A-Class…does if feel like a car worth over $1 Million? Absolutely Not. But given all the R&D that that went into it and the expensive components that are under the hood, I applaud both companies for making the costly investment into the next generation car. In order to reduce our Green House Gases emissions, namely carbon dioxide, we have to tackle the transportation sector which is one of the largest contributors to GHG by changing from our typical fossil fuel alternatives such as gasoline and diesel and fuel cells are a good start.

The conference ended and the school took us out to one of the best Restaurants in Reykjavík, Perlan. The building was converted from three water towers to a museum with the restaurant on the top floor with a huge class dome roof that rotates to see then cityscape. Great dinner, great views, great company.

The next morning we went to see the first commercial fuel cell boat cast off in Reykjavik harbor. LFuel Cellet me say that the propulsion system is still powered by diesel. TheThe boat only thing the fuel cell is responsible for is the auxiliary electricity, i.e. the lights.

The RES students were invited on for the first trip around the harbor. We boarded the boat and started taking pictures of the scene. I leaded up against the railing only to find out that it wasn’t a railing, but a gate that wasn’t secured shut. Luckily my nimble cat like reflexes were able to keep me from cascading on to the ship deck below. My good friend Sebastian is enacting the almost disaster.

The Loose Gate

At the conference the day before, the presenters involved with the first hydrogen fuel cell on a commercial vessel were talking about the construction progress; taking place over a 3 week time frame and their hope that it will be ready for today. Well when I see the fuel cell, I started to wonder if it just wasn’t an empty metal box…but they lived up to the hype when they shut the engine off and the lights continued to work. It’s a small step, but Iceland will use this as research project to establish the feasibility of an entire fleet of hydrogen power ships.

We disembarked the boat to drive more fuel cell and renewable energy cars. And I finally got to try out theThe Segway famous Segway…for a few seconds. There two Segway representative there, each with a test model. However, I went to the sales man wasn’t very open to letting the customers try it out and instead of letting people try it, he just rode around the parking lot…apparently he doesn’t know marketing all that much.

After that event, we went to the University of Iceland to head Scott Stanley, the Chief Engineer of Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology Development. He gave us a talk on the recent fuel cell car they brought to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to race. Subsequently, the Ford 999, as they called it became the first fuel cell car to race there and also became part of the 200 mph club.Ford 999

Posted by: Erin | April 22, 2008

Morning Walk


I got up before my alarm and went for a walk along the Fjord to see the shipwreck.  It was a great way to start my day.
My backyard

Posted by: Erin | April 21, 2008

What a backdrop!

I’ll say a quick story, then get to the subject of the blog. I was talking to some of my classmates about my blog and the comment from a RETscreen employee and it was brought to my attention that my blog is rather boring. While I admit that my life here in Iceland is not a boring as I portray it to be, I also don’t feel that it is necessary write about nor take pictures of University events and nights out in downtown Akureyri. Ok, that is that. And now we continue with the boring blog…

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Akureyri. Actually since last Monday, we have had sunny skies and nice cool spring days. After a whole day of studying (and that is the truth) I got to a point where I not only needed a break, but I wanted out of Iceland. I was just fed up with the constant exams, sleepless nights, and I missed my family and friends. So after talking with my mother about her weekend and her improving golf game (she shot a 44 last week) I decided that the best way to vent was to go outside and hit the crap out of some golf balls. Since I came here, I have been heckled by the fact that I brought golf clubs to a country called ICEland where the ground is always covered with snow. So this yesterday evening before the sun went down, I went to go work on my swing, get some fresh air, and take a break from studying. A few classmates had gone for a walk along the fjord and took some pictures of my playing on their way back. I will say this, although I am rusty and need to work on my swing… you can’t beat the backdrop!!!

Golfing in the Backyard

Golf Lessons

Posted by: Erin | April 20, 2008

The Comment

I have to comment on this because it is rather funny.  When people post comments for the first time, I get an email in order to “approve” their comment for the site and to moitor if it is a spam comment or not.  Well, I got this comment from “Kevin from NRCAN” and while I don’t know him, I had to allow his comment…why you ask?  Well, when I documented my past projects, I didn’t comment on them.  If I did, I don’t think Kevin would have been so happy about our class using the RETscreen Canadian software.  First of all, it is one of the worst programs I’ve ever used.  In addition to have several MAJOR flaws, I had my friend and computer genius Brannin, unlock the excel based program so I could see the formulas they were using to generate the Net Present Value, Payback period, etc.  They were all generated incorrectly!  How can you offer software and generate crucial numbers like this INCORRECTLY!!! And furthermore, how can you expect to have a legitimate program when you design it in excel?!?!   I spent half of my presentation completely tearing about the software and pointing out it flaws.  And Kevin’s comment is even better because he is a giving advice to my “Big sis”, Tracy who was completely joking about the SimaPro and RETscreen.  Tracy, I am sure you will get a kick out of this as well… you are famous now!!!  And definitely drop Kevin a line and he can tell you ALL about RETscreen…ha ha!

As for the rest of my life here, it is quite busy.  And since I don’t want to put you to sleep I’ll just say that school is keeping me so busy that I don’t have time to do anything exciting.  There is a movie night here and a birthday party there, but for the most part the weekends are spent either in the classroom for lectures or studying for our weekly Monday course exams.

I have no idea what is going on with the upcoming presidential elections.  I am completely uninformed in regards to recent US events.  In addition to being completely cut off from the US, my spoken English is degrading along with my writing.  Honestly, I am starting to talk in broken English because I am around people who speak that way.  It is a horrible habit to pick up and I’m not sure how to correct it.  Any ideas?  Anyone have any good books they can recommend so I can read once again see a properly written sentence?

Posted by: Erin | April 10, 2008

The Blogger That Wasn’t

So a new month has come and I haven’t written kept up with this blog at all. I apologize, but as my mother said, I’m not here to blog the world, I’m here to learn…and that is what I have been doing so far. Since I’ve been so busy with school, I have wanted to start a “What I learned Today” section to highlight a fact or two about my studies and the interesting things I am being introduced to here in Iceland.

The program is set up with classes taking place over one or two weeks. For each class we’ve had to complete a project. These projects include everything from writing research papers to creating PowerPoints, to analyzing software, all of which are presented every Friday , typically in a PowerPoint format.

I thought I give you a little flavor of the projects I’ve done thus far and why I haven’t had time to blog. In addition to the projects, we have exams every Monday which entail information form reading, lectures, and PowerPoints.



Project and Presentation

RES 601


Brazil Country Profile: Energy, Polices, & Climate Change


RES 602


RES 603


Life Cycle Assessment of a Wind Turbine using SimaPro Software


RETscreen Software Ground Source Heat Pump Case Study in Nova Scotia

RES 604


Third Generation Nuclear Fission Reactors: How Viable, How Safe, How Soon


Ground Heat Exchangers Comparison and Working Parameters for Heat Pump and Ground Storage

Posted by: Erin | March 25, 2008

Easter Week

Happy Easter   I love You!!

Wednesday:  Day of Rest

Thursday: We attempted to go on a trip up north by after 30 minutes in the car we had to turn around because you couldn’t see 2 meters in front of the car and the wind was fierce. First Trip Attempt We retreated back to the dorm and planned to spend the afternoon at the skating rink.  It was nice to get out on the skates and play some hockey.   

Friday: We lounged around in the morning and then went to the sports hall in the afternoon.  As a group, we’ve rented out the sports hall every Friday evening for 2 hours.  Sports Hall  It is nice to get everyone together to play some volleyball, soccer, basketball, and floor hockey.  In the evening, the school organized a dinner at one of the restaurants downtown.  Since a local men’s store was purging its inventory because it was relocating, most of the guys bought several new sport coats, ties, and shirts and wanted to wear them out on the town.  So we all got dressed up for dinner.   Dressed Up Dinner

Saturday:  Day of Rest followed by the Easter Vigil Mass.    Sunday:  In the morning, we had a traditional Polish Easter breakfast. Polish Easter Brunch Then we were joined by the Chairman of RES, David Stefansoon, the Slovkian professor, Dusan Holobek, and Sigrun, RES student’s problem solver, on a trip up the east side of the Fjord.   Our first stop was a historical site, to see how the Icelanders used to live 70 years ago. Typical House I can’t believe that these were the conditions that Icelanders lived in only 70 years ago…no running water, no electricity, and dirt floors.  And this house was actually the home of a wealthy settler.  It was crazy. Turf Walls and Roofs  Then we continued on to a mountain north of Akureyri, just at the mouth of the Fjord.  The sites were amazing and we took snow cat to the very top. Snowcat  Snowcat  How did we get down from this 25 minutes snowcat ride?  With sleds!!!  It was so much fun and I have a lot of bumps and bruises to remember the trip.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures goes down on sleds, but I’ll try to get some from a couple other people this week.  We got home from the trip around dinner time and RES has organized a cookout for us at the dorm.  It was a great dinner and great company as we were joined by the Managing director of RES and another of RES board members, who was incidentally our grill master for the evening.  Dinner was followed by a poker game with a buy in of 200 kr ($3).  Mike you’d be proud since I won the first round and 600 kr.  I then played poorly and quickly lost the 2nd and 3rd round.  I was a lot of fun and in the end I broke even so I can’t complain.    That was the day, but I’d like to elaborate on the snowcat ride.  This is a message for Warren Miller and all other ski movie producers (since I know this blog is on their daily read list).  You are missing out on Iceland…it is an untouched paradise for heli skiing.  As I was riding up, I was formulating a nice narrative but pictures speak louder than words.    The View  Erin on the Mountain  Looking South at Akureyri  The Northern Atlantic Ocean  The Perfect Slope  The Shadow of the Mountain   The Sunset on the ride down

Monday:  Day of Rest with a game of Ultimate Frisbee in the evening. 

Posted by: Erin | March 16, 2008

Skiing for the Cameras

We had two beautiful blue sky days in a row over the weekend and I had to take advantage of them before they disappeared for another few weeks.   

On Saturday I went with one of the RES drivers, Sebastian, for a quick road trip north  toward the ocean for a couple of nice pictures of the Fjord and water.  I was soaking up the sun!   North of Akureyri  Across the Fjord  Mountains

So since I live 5 miles from Iceland’s biggest ski resort, I decided Sunday would be a perfect day to see what Icelands’ slopes have to offer.  I went with a few of the RES students and we had fun exploring all three trails. RES Skiers and Boarders  The Slopes of Hlidarfjall  Here is a map the definitely embellishes the number of slopes. 

BUT there was one area (number 24 on the map) that was the best skiing I’ve ever done. Area 24 Maybe it was a delusion from the rare sunny day, but I felt like I was in heli ski video.  It was the softest, steepest, tree free powder run I’ve ever skied.  It reminded me of Whistler in terms of the terrain, but it was winter snow rather than the summer slush that I skied in Vancouver.  And of course, I had to stretch my limits.

Before I go into that story, I have to deviate a bit and tell you about the most important person I’ve met in Iceland thus far.  His name is Gundar and he works in downtown Akureyri next to the bookstore as a physical therapist.  I can rest easy now knowing that I’ve found the local physical therapist.  

So back to the skiing.  After I had met the most important person I need to know in Akureyri, I could relax and enjoy the skiing a little more.  And by enjoy skiing I mean I went just over the edge of being comfortable and in control… I hit a rock, crashed, lost both my skis but it was a nice soft landing and I nothing was injured.  I’ll tone it down from now on.  The best skiing in Iceland  The view from the ski slope

Oh, and I almost forgot the other exciting event.  The chairlift…I’ve never skied in Europe and maybe this is normal, but you when have to get on the chairlift, you don’t ski out in front of the chair.  Instead, you push out onto a huge conveyor belt that sends you out and you just stand there, conveying forward, waiting for the chair to swing around.  I tried to capture in on camera, but as usual, I didn’t capture the full uniqueness of Iceland.

Posted by: Erin | March 11, 2008

RES Prius

Toyota is the official vehicle sponsor of RES and this the nice new Prius that the board members of RES get to drive!  Pretty fancy!

 RES Prius   RES Prius   RES Prius

Posted by: Erin | March 9, 2008

This past week we started a new class and had a new professor from Portugal, Paulo Ferrao.  Great professor, great class!  

First of all, before I go one about the weekend, Saturday was officially “International Women’s Day”, so congratulations to all the women out there!   Although I never heard of this holiday, it is very popular in Poland, Slovenia, and other parts of Europe.  Unbeknownst to the girls, the boys had gone out and got us flowers which they handed out to all of us congratulating us on “our” day.  It was really cute. Women’s Day Then the one of the girls asked, “ I know there is father’s day, but when is guys day?”…the response was priceless…. “Every other day besides today is guy’s day”…typical.   

After a long week, there was trip planned to see several sites in the northeast area of Iceland. And so the journey begins The Open Road , two vans, two drivers The RES Bus Bandit Sebastian Speech  , 18 people Car Trip Crew  , lots of cameras, some great music from the RES Bounce CD compilations, and THE SUN!!!!   The Sun

First we went to Godafoss, Water fall of the Gods, where statues of pagan gods where thrown into the waterfall when Christianity was adopted as an Iceland faith.  I don’t know what was a better site, the sun or the waterfalls?! Godafoss   Godafoss   Blue Skies They were both great and it was perfect day for touring the country…or so we thought.  The weather here changes faster than New England.  We later drove through complete white out conditions.      

We passed through a small town (which entailed a café and gas station) that was having a motor cross race, so we stopped to check it out. Motor Cross They were done racing for the day, but said there was another huge snowmobile race a bit further north that we might want to check out.   

Next stop, Dimmuborgir, the most recent volcanic eruptions was about 200 years ago.  So these rock formations are the newest part of Iceland.   Dimmorborgir  Volanic Rocks   Having Fun

Next was a geothermal spot just north of a Geothermal power plant.  The water coming out of the ground was nothing I’ve ever seen before.  It looked like oil and smelled like rotten eggs, great combination. Geothermal Oil

We tried to go to Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, but the road was closed because of the snow. Instead we stumbled upon the motor cross race that we were told about earlier in the day and decided to stay a bit. Snowmobile The race of the Year We “ran” into some problems with the silver van, namely snow and after several valiant attempts at pushing the car out, we resorted to the local Icelander and the big ass 4×4 vehicles.  RES van comes to halt

After a long day of sight seeing and a great road trip, we returned home to the RES dorm.    

Posted by: Erin | March 4, 2008

Our consumption

Although this is sad if you are an American or English citizen, it is a great depiction of the world as viewed in terms of our consumption. We are the fatties!

World Cartogram

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