Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Food for -- transportation

The blogs seem to be forming a pattern, perhaps because I tend to write them just before lunch. But food is definitely a theme here. This time, an unusual twist concerning food. Specifically chocolate.

Chocolate makes me think of self indulgence. Chocolate covered peanuts or hot chocolate on a cold snowy day (the Midwest certainly could use that!). And of course Valentine's Day helps the whole chocolate industry. But a couple of Brits used the equivalent of 80,000 Hershey chocolate bars as fuel in their car as they drove to Timbuktu. Truly. No joke.

The Sun reports
, "Andy Pag, 34, and John Grimshaw, 39, have just returned from the 2,600-mile trip in salvaged Ford Iveco Cargo lorry and Land Cruisers, using biodiesel made from waste choc – saving 15 tons of carbon emissions."

Now Mr. Pag and Mr. Grimshaw plan a plane trip using trash for fuel. They suggest the morning comics where planes were run on banana peels may not have been so far off the mark. Anything you find in a landfill can be made into fuel. And that's exactly what they plan to do.

ABC news reports
: "Mr Pag hopes to drive to China using biofuel, taking flight in every country along the way in a paramotor, or powered paraglider, using an experimental carbon-neutral fuel made from landfill waste."

If you think these environmentalists are alone -- think again. Biofuels are all the go and in keeping with the food theme -- I've included a link to a 'how to' article on making your own biodiesel fuel out of vegetable oil. Complete with recipe.

To my surprise, evidently many major European car manufacturers encourage the use of such fuels in their cars. Journey to Forever writes, "Most major European vehicle manufacturers now provide vehicle warranties covering the use of pure biodiesel -- though that might not be just any biodiesel. Some manufacturers insist on "RME", rapeseed methyl esters, and won't cover the use of soy biodiesel, because soy biodiesel fails the EU biodiesel standard, EN 14214."

There are several organizations involved in alternate fuels, too. And to those who still maintain stills in their back yards, or perhaps a revitalized use of the abandoned microbreweries after they fell out of favor -- alcohol burns clean and makes a great fuel.

Yet, when taken into consideration all of the energy and effort expended to convert chocolate, trash, vegetable oil, or even alcohol into fuel -- it might not be quite so clean afterall. The New York Times reported last February that "Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded."

But it is interesting to think that you could simply make your own fuel and maybe nibble at it or drink it if you get hungry or thirsty.... I know, that's a bit silly, and alternate energy is serious business. Our lives may depend on it.

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