Roadtrek Adds Solar Power, Biodiesel to Its RV Lineup

I’ve maintained for a while now that the best way to convince someone that nature is worth preserving is to get them out into it. It seems like the people at Roadtrek agree- and they’re going a step further by offering a new B+ class motorhome that not only uses recycled materials in its construction, but is capable of operating entirely free of fossil fuels! Built on Mercedes’ Sprinter van platform, Roadtrek’s eco-friendly E-Trek is powered by a 3.0 liter Mercedes diesel engine that’s 100% bio-diesel capable. The diesel is used as the primary power plant to drive the RV, and is also capable of feeding the E-Trek’s electrical system and batteries. When parked, the diesel generates 3.5 KW of power that gets bumped up to 5.5 KW while it’s on the move...

Low Tech, DIY Plasma Gasifier Makes Fuel From Waste

Some interesting tidbits are coming out of the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco this week. First we heard about a product made from renewable materials that could substitute a large portion of the crude oil currently used to make tires. And now comes word from a scientist at the University of Orleans in France that he has constructed a compact, relatively inexpensive, low tech plasma gasifier that can take all sorts of waste materials and turn them into a variety of different drop-in fuels, including diesel, gasoline and kerosene. The plasma gasifier is based on what is known as “gliding arc” technology. During the process, a gliding arc of electricity creates a plasma inside the reactor. The plasma then creates a cauldron where low temperature chemical rea...

Seven Weeds That Could Power Your Car

[social_buttons] With the attention on first generation corn ethanol fading, the next big thing on the sustainable fuel horizon is nonfood biofuel crops. Within that category, inedible weeds are taking a front-row seat due to their relatively low demands on water, pesticides, and herbicides, and their reduced need for tilling and other mechanized soil prep. Some weeds with biofuel potential can also thrive on contaminated soils, absorbing and cleaning pollutants in a process called phytoremediation.

Carbon-Neutral Prince Charles Gets Driven Around on Old Cooking Fat

[social_buttons] It’s hard being an environmental celebrity, especially when you are Royal too. People want to see you, but that can mean racking up a lot of carbon miles. So Prince Charles had his Aston Martin converted to run on bio-ethanol made from aged English wine, and his Audi, Jaguar, and Range Rover all run on what the English call old cooking fat. In the US we call this reused cooking oil because that’s much hipper and greener sounding, and marketing is everything. So now Prince Charles is driven in the royal Jaguar that runs on homemade biodiesel and, for a little variety; in the Land Rover or the Audi, in a carbon conscious fashion. But what about his airplane travel? Well…

Inside Cadillac One: the Obama-Mobile. Will The Big ‘O’ Run Biodiesel?

The UK’s Daily Mail recently posted this great John Lawson-penned cutaway drawing of the upcoming Cadillac One, the heavily armored limousine that President Barack Obama will be cruising home in immediately after his inauguration. Explore Cadillac One inside and out (to varying degrees of precision) after the jump.

Home Mini-Refinery Makes Ethanol & Biodiesel Simultaneously

A Texas-based company has announced the “world’s first mini-refinery” for consumer use that can produce both ethanol and biodiesel from the same small machine at the same time. It’s capable of generating up to 120 gallons per day of ethanol and 450 gallons per day of biodiesel. Consisting of two pieces of equipment — an ethanol boiler and the mini-refinery — the whole system can fit into an area of less than 30 square feet with 8 feet of clearance and is completely automated.

Scania’s Ethanol Diesel-Engine, Runs On Biodiesel Too

[social_buttons] Scania (part of Volkswagen) builds modified, heavy-duty diesel engines designed to run on almost pure ethanol (E95, or 95% ethanol, with a 5% ignition improver). If that sounds weird, that’s because it is. US auto manufacturers make a big deal out of converting cars and trucks to run on ethanol/gasoline blends of up to 85% ethanol. Scania has done better than that for 15 years, and guess what, their engines can run on 100% biodiesel too, without any modification.

Biodiesel Mythbuster 2.0: Twenty-Two Biodiesel Myths Dispelled

Most of us are at least vaguely familiar with biodiesel, but how much do we really know? While biodiesel is easily the most popular alternative fuel available, it’s commonly misunderstood or misrepresented by inaccurate information. Since the most frequent question I get is, “So what exactly is biodiesel, anyway?“, I decided to write a tome covering all the basics—a one stop shop for all your biodiesel- related questions. It’s been exactly one year since I published the first Biodiesel Mythbuster on, and its popularity made a sequel inevitable. By way of a short introduction, here’s what I wrote last year:

First Algae Biodiesel Plant Goes Online: April 1, 2008

PetroSun has announced it will begin operation of its commercial algae-to-biofuels facility on April 1st, 2008. The facility, located in Rio Hondo Texas, will produce an estimated 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million lbs. of biomass per year off a series of saltwater ponds spanning 1,100 acres. Twenty of those acres will be reserved for the experimental production of a renewable JP8 jet-fuel. Gordon LeBlanc, Jr., CEO of PetroSun, had this to say: “Our business model has been focused on proving the commercial feasibility of the firms’ algae-to-biofuels technology during the past eighteen months. Whether we have arrived at this point in time by a superior technological approach, sheer luck or a redneck can-do attitude, the fact remains that microalgae can outperform t...

Top 15 Unexpected Uses For Biodiesel

[social_buttons] While virtually everyone is familiar with the use of biodiesel as a substitute for diesel fuel, there are a few novel uses that may not have crossed your radar. Biodiesel can produce hydrogen, clean up oil spills, degrease your tools, heat your home, and more. Here’s My Top 15 Unexpected Uses for Biodiesel: 1. Producing Hydrogen for Fuel-Cell Vehicles This was the big story of the month: Researchers at InnovaTek have developed hand-sized microreactors that can turn biodiesel (or any other liquid fuel) into a hydrogen stream for use in an adjoining fuel-cell. Chevron has already invested $500,000 to develop hydrogen refueling stations for fuel-cell powered cars. InnovaTek hopes to eventually install the microreactors in vehicles, which would allow cars to fill up on b...

How Biodiesel Fuel-Cells Could Power The Future (And Your Car)

[social_buttons] After years of development, the Washington-based company InnovaTek is testing a hand-sized microreactor that can convert virtually any liquid fuel into hydrogen, producing a portable hydrogen stream for use in adjoining fuel-cells. Since the microreactor units can be linked together, InnovaTek has developed systems capable of producing anywhere from 1 to 160 gallons of hydrogen per minute—enough to supply a hydrogen refueling station or, even more exciting, creating on-board hydrogen for fuel-cell powered vehicles. That’s InnovaTek’s eventual goal anyway: having their technology built into cars, where energy-dense renewable fuels could be converted into motion, bypassing combustion and the production of exhaust gases entirely, and powering a much more efficient...

Learn How To Make Biodiesel On YouTube

Trying to learn how to make biodiesel, or interested in seeing how it’s done? It always helps to get a visual, and you may not be aware that there are currently enough biodiesel videos on YouTube to develop an entire college course on the subject. I’ve thrown out a representative sample, just to give you an idea of what’s available. While this is a good general introduction to homebrewing biodiesel, I have to repeat the disclaimer I made earlier (see 6 Ways To Find And Use Biodiesel Anywhere – Part II): before attempting this on your own it’s important to do your homework. Don’t trust it just because you’ve seen someone do it. Most of these videos don’t discuss the specifics of making biodiesel, and for that I would recommend a solid resource...

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