Are there more environmentally friendly alternatives to oil-powered transport? Many put their faith in the electric car, yet 41 percent of the world’s electricity is made by burning coal. Coal reserves are running out, and coal creates more pollution every year than any other fossil fuel. But in Goodwick, UK, Buzz Knapp-Fisher, 49, refuses to burn fossils. He gets all the fuel he needs from the local nuns and their deep-fat fryer.
“I’ve always been fascinated with mechanical stuff and what makes things move. I used to take engines to bits and I’d think: do we have to use petrol? It stinks; it’s toxic; it’s horrible. There must be other things out there. I wanted to learn about ‘free energy’ and I started meeting bearded men like me on the Internet. I realized that I’m not alone – there are bearded men all around the world doing weird and wonderful things.
“The Womble car has been around for eight years. The original parts are from 21 different vehicles, but it’s mainly a 1971 Mini with the wings of a Volkswagen Beetle and the chassis of a Reliant Kitten. I use it as a mobile billboard to promote green projects, making people aware of alternative fuels, like nappies, coffee beans, and hydrogen.
There are bearded men all around the world doing weird and wonderful things.
Buzz Knapp-Fisher, 49, Goodwick, UK
“The diesel engine in the Womble car runs on vegetable oil that I get from nuns. There’s a home for elderly nuns nearby and they use a deep-fat fryer for their fish on Friday and they change their oil regularly and it’s beautifully clean and I can put it straight in to the car.
“I’m educating people and asking them to question the fuels we use. Chip oil is a start – it gets you off fossil fuel. And everything is made from carbon: I’m carbon; you’re carbon. Fossil fuel is just carbon that was alive when the dinosaurs were around. It’s a dinosaur fuel, and like dinosaurs, it’s becoming extinct. It’s the crafty little mammals, like us, who are going to survive.”
Buzz’s vegetable-oil vehicle demonstrates just one of the many ways to wean your transport off fossil fuels. Making use of local resources – as he does – is important, too: more than 20 percent of total CO2 emissions for an average automobile comes from transporting oil to the car. We need to find new fuels, and we need to find them locally.
Collect some used cooking oil (chips shops are great, but oil from Vietnamese restaurants is especially clean), let it stand for a week so the sediment settles. Then scoop the top 70 percent of the oil into a filter bag over a container – the liquid you collect can go straight into your car.
“I have more fat than I can use,” boasted Dr. Craig Alan Bittner, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, who claimed to run his two cars on “lipodiesel” made from the love handles of his patients. In California, USA, this is illegal, and after a raid by the authorities on his surgery, Bittner fled to Bogota, Colombia, in December 2008.
The stuff you flush is a great source of fuel. Poured into a tank without oxygen and left for three weeks, feces produces methane gas that can be purified with slaked lime and put into a gas-powered car. It’s cheap, and the exhaust fumes are odorless. Biogas is especially popular in Sweden, where sewage is converted into enough fuel
to run thousands of vehicles.
This will work best if you’re in China, where 41.5 percent of the world’s peanuts are grown. Being 50 percent fat, peanuts are a great source of biodiesel. In 1899, Rudolf Diesel himself observed his famous machine running “so smoothly” on peanut oil at the Exposition Universelle in Paris that “only very few people were aware of it.”
Grow a field of hemp, turn it into mulch and pour it into a digester for a depend-able source of biogas. Although you can’t smoke it, it’s been illegal to grow hemp in the US since 1937. Before then, pioneering carmaker Henry Ford was a great advocate of using hemp bioethanol as a fuel.
After you drink your morning coffee, don’t throw the used grounds away. Over 7 million tons of coffee are grown each year, and according to scientists at the University of Nevada, all the leftover sludge could be converted into nearly 1.3 billion liters of biodiesel (which might sound a lot, but is actually less than one percent of annual US diesel consumption).
From the pages of COLORS #82 - Shit.