Archive for the alternative fuel Category

VolksVegan – Another Vegetable Oil Powered Westy!

Posted in alternative fuel, biodiesel, clean energy, ethical consumerism, green energy, sustainability, transportation on November 30, 2007 by theseep

Sweet Camping Spot

Originally uploaded by meganpru
In planning our upcoming fossil-fuel-free roadtrip to Ft. Collins, CO and Salt Lake City, I’ve been scouring the web for help with finding vegetable oil while on the road and have come across not only another “Vegfalia” blog at, but their site pointed me to, a growing database of VO coops, restaurants with WVO available, people and businesses with filtered WVO available, and others just using VO in their vehicles. It’s a fantastic resources for people trying to travel on vegetable oil.
Megan and Seneca, the VolksVegan folks have some incredible photos and some fantastic posts about their travels on vegetable oil. It’s great to see others dedicating themselves towards sustainability.
Nice work guys!

Vegfalia Hits 300,000 Miles, Last 4,000 Without Petrol

Posted in alternative fuel, biodiesel, clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, green energy, recycling, sustainability, transportation on November 12, 2007 by theseep

We’ve just passed a fantastic milestone in any vehicle – the 300,000 mile mark.  Although the Vegfalia has only run 1% of these miles on biodiesel and veggie oil thus far, we’re hoping for many more miles out of her. In today’s disposable society, conservation is still the easiest and best way to protect our resources, and taking care of and preserving an older vehicle can still be more eco-friendly than getting a new one when you factor in the energy and materials required to build it. Granted, driving around a poorly-tuned 1975 smoke belcher isn’t what we’re talking about and at that point you could probably upgrade to something more efficient. Don’t forget, if you have a favorite vintage frame that you’re still in love with keeping alive, you can always consider converting it to electric.

Inventor makes “Wind Belt” Generator, 10-30X More Efficient Than Microturbines

Posted in alternative fuel, clean energy, global warming, green energy, sustainability on October 15, 2007 by theseep

Shawn Frayne, a 28 year old Californian inventor, has discovered a way to generate efficient power from the wind-generated vibrations. It seems that he was inspired by the collapse of the famous Tacoma Narrows bridge, or “galloping Gertie”, in 1940. Wind flowing over a stretched mylar band produces similar vibrations, and by attaching a small magnet on either end that interact with copper coils, power is generated that is supposedly 10-30 times more efficient than the best microturbines! Here is the Popular Mechanics page with a video.

This represents a truly innovative solution to sustainable power generation. If we can encourage research and development and then encourage adoption and use of these types of efficient, small-scale power sources, our coal-fired and nuclear power plants will be things of the past.

How about a clean energy X-Prize? Any uber-rich supporter? Sir Branson?

via Gizmodo via Gadget Lab via Make via Popular Mechanics

Electroauto Electric Car Seminar in San Luis Obispo Review

Posted in alternative fuel, clean energy, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, solar, sustainability, transportation with tags , , on October 7, 2007 by theseep

I was able to attend most of an electric vehicle seminar at Cal Poly today sponsored by the Central Coast Clean Cities Coalition and presented by Bob of Electroauto. Now I’ve lusted after the electric car conversion kits from Electroauto for years, so it was interesting to see the husband and wife founding team presenting information on electric vehicle practicality and efficiency, cost of conversion and maintenance, conversion techniques, chassis selection, battery issues, and basically answered any question someone would have if you’re considering building an electric car.The electroauto kits range from $6000 for a “universal” DC kit (+ ~$2000 for batteries every 4 years or so) that requires some fabrication and fitting by the installer, to $13,415 (+batteries and shipping) for a custom AC “Voltsporsche” kit that bolts directly into a Porsche 914 chassis. The Voltsporsche kit is the highest performace, with a top speed of 100mph and a range from 100-150 miles although most kits promise highway speeds up to 70mph with a range of 50-100 miles. The speed and range of these kits is multifactorial and depends primarily on the weight and aerodynamics of your chassis, choice of AC or DC kits, and your choice of batteries, but is also affected by driving techniques, and use of accessories like A/C, heat, and other electronics. AC kits, although more expensive, are slightly more efficient and allow regenerative braking (which reclaims up to 1/3 of the energy used to accelerate to that speed) and a broad array of battery choices in comparison to DC kits. These kits can be installed by a technician for around $5000, or a tinkerer with moderate skill can install the kit in a weekend or two, depending on the shape of your chassis and the kit you choose.
Conclusions? If you drive 50 miles or less (85%+ of commuters) and are in the market for a vehicle, one of these are the way to go. For $20-$30k, you can have a fully functional highway-capable electric vehicle with 1/3 of the operating cost of a regular car, and significantly less or even no emissions, depending on your power source. One of the common myths you’ll hear from detractors (like auto manufacturers and naysayers that don’t check their sources) is the argument that you make just as much pollution from the power source from your charging as you do from a combustion engine. The so-called “long tailpipe” phenomenon, is decidedly false – even with power from the dirtiest coal-fired power plant, emissions from charging an electric car are 2/3 less than that of a combustion engine. Calculations demonstrating this are detailed on the Tesla Roadster website (pdf file link).  Although vehicles like the Zap-X and Tesla roadster are slotted to be available over the next few years, they cost $60K and $100K respectively, and are thus far vaporware. We will be waiting a few years before consumer electrics come down to the price of an installed Electroauto kit, and although they will probably have somewhat longer ranges, they will be more complicated, not be user maintainable, and you won’t have the fun and pride of selecting, building and maintaining your own custom vehicle! With battery technology improving rapidly, you can start with cheap and reliable flooded lead batteries, and as you recycle and replace your batteries every 3-5 years, more efficient and lighter options will become more and more reasonably priced.
Essentially, if you are prepared to spend the money on a new or newer used car and you are prepared for a little legwork or some tinkering, this is the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to have a mid-range commuter car.  If you slap some solar panels on your home as well, you’ll be the envy of every treehugger on the block!

Fossil Fuel Free Roadtrip #’s 2 and 3

Posted in alternative fuel, biodiesel, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, sustainability, transportation on September 28, 2007 by theseep

Originally uploaded by neuphoto57

Over 8 days we managed to take 2 separate veggie oil trips to the southern part of Big Sur, California. Since we live in San Luis Obispo, we can make it to Kirk Creek, Limekiln, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns campgrounds within 2 hours straight up the incredibly scenic and legendary Route 1. It’s approximately a 190 mile round trip, and as we drive through Cayucos where we got married, the minimally existent Harmony, quaint Cambria, and up along the cliffs and hills overlooking the edge of the Pacific. The first overnighter was just Laura and myself, reminiscing on the early days of our relationship. We watched the sunset, played guitar, and talked until we drifted off to sleep on the relatively comfortable upper bunk. The next day we hiked a bit and headed home.
This past weekend, we headed back up Rt 1 with our cousins Cindy and Thomas. We decided to go “Westy only” for camping, with Laura and I in the top bunk and Cindy and Thomas in the lower. We brought sandwiches from Gus’s and shared a local bottle of wine to a nearly full moon and topiaries. The front seats held the laptop for an evening showing of Tenacious D and The Pick of Destiny to top it off (luckily the viewing angle was decent from both bunks). In the morning, we hiked part of the trail to Vincente flats across from our campground, used the shower I installed in the back of the Vegfalia to wash the poison oak and dirt off from the knees down, made a quick stop for a few photos of Elephant seals and made it to a few wineries in Paso Robles before heading home. This may sound a little strange, but it was fantastic to spend good time with family and not feel guilty about using fossil fuels – Thomas even refilled the same water bottle the entire trip! We’re still working out the bugs in the Vegfalia. I had to take out the heat exchanger water heater because the coolant hose blew again that is teed off to the Greasecar kit. Hopefully that issue is settle for now. This week I’m trying to tackle fixing some of the electrical issues with the power locks and repair the broken heater flap cables under the dash.

First Fossil Fuel Free Roadtrip a Success! The Vegfalia Makes its Debut.

Posted in alternative fuel, biodiesel, clean energy, ethical consumerism, green energy, sustainability, transportation on August 31, 2007 by theseep

Vegfalia and Mount Hood

After 6 months in the Autostadt West shop rebuilding the transmission and installing a 1.9L Turbo Diesel engine, our 1987 Vanagon Syncro Westfalia has finally returned to the S.E.E.P. It had biodiesel running through it’s veins within hours, and the next day I started installing the Greasecar SVO conversion kit. Because of our limited time off work, I only had one day to complete the conversion and test it before we took off for our first experimental road trip. Aside from a few minor glitches, we traveled almost 2000 miles on only biodiesel and vegetable oil from San Luis Obispo, CA to Hood River, OR via Bend and then returning through Portland and Santa Cruz. Since there was a paucity of biodiesel and/or filtered waste veggie oil, we had to carry fuel with us and fill up when we could, including a Costco in Sacramento for around 19 gallons of bulk vegetable oil and a big fill-up of biodiesel in Portland including both of our tanks and 4 plastic cubes that got us home. Overall, the trip was fantastic, Laura and I enjoyed the much-needed disconnect from work and home projects, and although our dog Marley was a “nervous nellie” while driving in the Vegfalia, she definitely enjoyed the hikes. The official Vegfalia page has been started and will be regularly updated with our experiences and modifications – fossil fuel independence is not difficult and is doable for anyone who wants to put forth the effort!

Letter to The Secretary of Transportation – She thinks that bikes are not transportation!

Posted in alternative fuel, clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, politics, solar, sustainability, transportation on August 21, 2007 by theseep

This letter is in response to Mary Peters’s, the Secretary of Transportation who described in her interview how DOT funds go to earmarked projects that aren’t actually transportation like bike paths! These are the kinds of comments that show how short-sighted our administration and how much more work we all have to do.

I would like this forwarded to Mary Peters. I am writing regarding Ms. Peters comments during her public television interview aired on August 15th. In this interview, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation stated that she does not actually consider the most fuel efficient mode of transportation currently available to not fit under the realm of the DOT and should not be funded. To quote, “Well, there’s about probably some 10 percent to 20 percent of the current spending that is going to projects that really are not transportation, directly transportation-related. Some of that money is being spent on things, as I said earlier, like bike paths or trails.” Although bicycling for some is sport, exercise, and recreation, for many others, it is a major method of commuting and an important part of our transportation infrastructure now and moreso in the future. My wife and I both ride 3/4 mile to work and we frequently ride 3-5 miles on errands and around town and it is an important part of how we travel locally.
Fuel prices are rising and will continue to rise. Many experts admit that “Peak Oil”, that is, the point where oil production can no longer be increased and will soon begin to fall, will happen within the next 10 years. With the enormous increase in demand for fossil fuels from developing countries like India and China and continuing increasing demand in other countries, including our own, we need to expect a collapse of the oil economy within the next 20-30 years, easily within our lifetimes. Spending billions of dollars supporting this corroded and corrupt infrastructure does nothing to prepare us for the crisis that we will face. Roads and bridges need to be repaired, it is true. However, we must also have a vision of how transportation will happen in 20 years. Will electric or hydrogen cars fill the streets? Will public transportation be the norm as people are forced to move from the suburbs back into cities because travel and commuting becomes so expensive? Will human-powered vehicles be the standard for short-distance commuting?
Of all these possibilites and more, biking is the only mode of transportation that requires nothing but the calories of the user, uses currently available technology, and actually improves the health of the user rather than belching toxic emissions into the air we breathe. Biking should be encouraged by the agency responsible for our Nation’s transportation. It should be made safer and more accessible.
As far as the fuel tax Ms. Peters was discussing, there should be a large fuel tax. Gas should be $6/gallon or more like it is in Europe and we need to start paying for the true cost of our consumption. Some of the 453 billion dollars spent on the Iraq war should come from fuel taxes, as this war has been partially fueled by our obsession with cheap oil. Infrastructure and incentives for alternative fueled vehicles like electrics, biodiesel, cellulosic (not corn) ethanol can come from these taxes along with repealing the billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies. And of course, repair and maintenance of our existing infrastructure can come from this money as we slowly phase out the era of the fossil-powered vehicle.
Please realize that bicycles are an extraordinarily important part of a CO2 neutral world, they allow us exercise and reasonably rapid transport for short and medium distances with no emissions and no fuel consumption (aside from dinner). Bicycles need to be included in a responsible, forward-thinking plan for our nation’s Department of Transportation.
Thank You,

Clint Slaughter, M.D.Emergency Medicine
San Luis Obispo, CA