Shanghai TVcSpotlights Michigan's 'Greening'

March 10, 2008
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DETROIT — Shanghai Television spent time recently filming a documentary about Michigan’s transformation from rust belt to green belt.

Frank Ferro, business development manager for Michigan Economic Development Corp., escorted a team of three people from Shanghai TV to several sites in Michigan. Chicago was the team’s only other planned stop. 

“The pollution in China is terrible, as everybody knows,” Ferro said. “With the Olympics coming up, the TV station wants to promote modernization and the implementation of new green technologies. The thrust of their message is: ‘See how this industrial state is doing it? Why can’t we?’”

On Feb. 25 the group visited Harvest Wind Farm near Pigeon. The farm has 32 wind generators and is owned by the John Deere Co. That afternoon they also visited the Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker School District located in Huron County. Schools in the system run on the power of their own windmills, and a windmill class has been integrated into the curriculum.

On Feb. 26 the TV crew stopped by a small company in Brighton, ElectroJet Inc., which has developed a patented emissions-control device that replaces a carburetor and reduces emissions by 70 percent.

“They have actually been to China already and are generating a lot of interest,” Ferro said. “These carburetors are for small engines — scooter, motorcycles and ATVs — and the China market for them is huge.”

Last fall ElectroJet signed letters of intent with two well-known motor-scooter parts suppliers in China to supply them with electronic fuel-infection engine controls. Chinese companies manufacture more than 20 million scooters every year.

The second stop on Feb. 26 was at Altair Engineering, a Troy-based product design and consulting technology company. The focus of the visit was Altair’s subsidiary, ilumisys, which develops next-generation, solid-state lighting technology. The company has multiple patents for fluorescent replacement lights and has a line of LED lights.

After taking a vacation day Feb. 27, the Shanghai group spent the next day visiting several General Motors facilities, but that portion of the tour wasn’t green-related, Ferro said. Feb. 29 included stops at NextEnergy in Detroit’s TechTown and Lawrence Tech University in Southfield. NextEnergy is a nonprofit that promotes the commercialization of energy technologies that positively contribute to economic competitiveness, energy security and the environment. The TV crew’s attention at Lawrence Tech was on one of the eco-friendly, green-roofed buildings on campus.

“It was a great week,” Ferro said. “The perceptions people have overseas are a lot different than we think they are. They are very excited to hear about all the alternative energy initiatives going on here. The documentary will give Michigan a great message overseas.”

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