Innovation

Fast-food fuel can make you Green

Looking for an alternative energy source to power your vehicle? Some students from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire are making their way across the country in The Big Green Bus, which is primarily fueled from fast-food restaurants' old vegetable oil. Check out the news story: "Driving coast to coast on deep fat fryers."

According to the article, "Converting a standard diesel engine to run on vegetable oil is actually relatively simple... The students started renovating the bus in April. The vehicle has run almost flawlessly for 4,000 miles. The bus gets 8 to 9 miles per gallon of vegetable oil, more than the 7 to 8 miles per gallon that the bus gets on standard diesel... The vehicle can go up to 65 miles an hour. Vegetable oil releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere—but less than diesel. Plus, the cost is a lot less... The grease is free."

More miles, less cost... sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the smell isn't always that great, because "emissions from the bus smell distinctly like the food which the oil cooked earlier." Team leader Andrew Zabel says, "If it's Mexican, you can tell. If it's Chinese, you know. They all have distinct scents. It is the flavor of the week. You can definitely smell a difference between diesel and grease."

The way my mind works, I can't help but think of the human bodies that consume the food that's fried in the oil. "OMG! Is that Mexican you had today, honey?"

I wouldn't be surprised if computers are far behind in the vegetable oil/solar-powered experimentation. I've previously blogged about cooling your PC with vegetable oil, but I imagine there are far greater possibilities out there, just waiting for the creative genius to explore them. Have you heard about other "green" experiments that intersect or relate to technology?  

The big green bus

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About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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