We’re getting down to the wire, folks! One month to go, and still so much to do. Ranked highest on our list right now: the purchase of our vehicle. And boy oh boy, is it a big deal! This thing is gonna be our home-away-from-home for 3 and a half months. In the beginning stages of our planning, we sent several arrows through the heart of our collective conscience by deciding to travel by car. While it’s not the most carbon inefficient mode of travel (flying will take that one), it certainly doesn’t bode well for our mission of environmental impact reduction… But hark! Not all is lost! Fire up those frialators, because we’re powering with waste grease.
We at The Search for Convenient Resilience are all about waste grease as fuel, for several reasons:
1. Emission reduction- a “carbon neutral” fuel. Plants that are used to make vegetable oil absorb more carbon dioxide as they grow than is released when the oil is burned, meaning that there isn’t an excess of carbon dioxide emitted (Greasecar, Holyoke, MA). Compare that to petroleum and gasoline!
2. Reduce, reuse, re-purpose! It’s important to get as much use out of any material as possible, and just because it’s labeled as a “waste product” by one person does not mean it actually is! One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and its a great deal for everyone as restaurants and such places have to pay to trash their waste grease.
3. We all like to eat a few french fries now and then, and those blooming onions sure are good when the fair hits town, too! Waste vegetable oil is a pretty renewable resource, as long as we keep growing the plants used to make it.
Pretty cool right? But waste grease won’t run in any engine system: it has to be diesel. A brief history of the diesel engine will tell you that engine designer Rudolf Diesel longed to design an engine that could be operated almost anywhere on almost any type of fuel. In 1912, Diesel stated: “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal-tar products of the present time…. Motive power can still be produced from the heat of the sun, always available, even when the natural stores of solid and liquid fuels are completely exhausted.” Hmm. Prophetic? Unfortunately, even though the engine was designed to run on a variety of wildly different fuels, the petroleum industry developed a “diesel fuel” which the widening market of diesel engine production then adapted the engines to run on (Pahl 2008).
In conclusion, we’re in the market for a diesel engine. We can it run on waste vegetable oil (waste grease); we can run it on biodiesel, a renewable fuel for diesel engines made from a by-product of vegetable oil separation and readily available across the country; and we can run it on straight diesel when we’re in a tight spot. We desperately need your help though! Please, please, please donate to our cause, help us purchase a vehicle, and help us get on the road.
For more information…
…on waste grease in cars, visit the folks at Greasecar. They’ve got it down, and are an incredible resource if you’re looking to get involved with waste grease systems.
…on biodiesel look at Biodiesel online, or check out Greg Pahl’s book Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy. It’s chock full of amazing information, including a very interesting history of Rudolf Diesel and the diesel engine.