Bus Powered by French-fry Fat Reaches Asia

chip bus.photo

Image from Biotruck Expedition

Andy Pag, an environmental activist, has been travelling around the world in a bus powered by french-fry fat. He left London on September 19, 2009 and has covered 3,000 miles so far.

Part of the Biotruck Expedition, he is attempting to drive around the world emitting less than 2 tons of CO2. What's it like driving in a bus powered by chip fat: "It smells like a bus driver's armpit, but when you are using rubbish you can't expect too much" he said today in Istanbul.

first view.photo

Images from twitpic

The G20 nations have agreed to reduce CO2 emissions to two tons per person per year by 2050. This is the amount of carbon emissions which scientists have concluded that every person on the planet will personally have to meet by 2050 if we are to stave off the worst impacts of man-made climate change. In the UK and US average levels are currently about 10-15 tons per person.

The Biotruck Expedition is attempting to drive around the world emitting less than 2 tons of CO2 in order to dramatize what 2 tons of carbons means. They will also investigate how people are using and generating energy, and their attitudes towards carbon emissions.

Since leaving London on the 19th of September, the bus has covered 3000 miles through France, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, the Balkans and Greece to reach Turkey. In that time Pag has collected over 500 litres of chip fat and biodiesel made from used cooking oil to put in his tank.

rough bus.photo

But what about the bus itself? It's total rubbish: an old school bus salvaged from a scrapyard and refurbished using old tables, carpet offcuts and other waste materials The team has converted the engine to run on vegetable oil, and installed a filtering system to clean up the used oil found along the way so it can be used as fuel.

According to the crew:

"we can also convert the used oil to biodiesel to fuel our start up tank and other vehicles we travel in using an onboard reactor. It can now run on vegetable oil, biodiesel and still take fossil diesel in an emergency. We've got a massive 1500 litre fuel capacity which when full up, should allow us to travel at least 8500km between fuel supplies. In practice we'll be topping up as we go.

We've also installed a solar powered hydrogen generator which uses the sun to feed hydrogen gas into the engine so it burns the fuel more efficiently, and we can use less fuel. When the sun shines, the bus will do more miles to the gallon, and emit fewer pollutants."

The inside sounds like a hippy bus combined with state of the art technology. They have a wood burning stove, low power LED lighting, and the electricity is powered by PV solar cells on the roof. The furnishings are reclaimed and recycled and there is a waterless, chemical free composting toilet.

Having reached Istanbul, the route ahead will be fraught with difficulty. He will have to continue to find fuel in less developed countries. Depending upon his route, he will have to contend with the political insecurity in Pakistan or the cold temperatures of the Kazakhstani winters which could solidify the fuel into a greasy mess. He will make that decision after reaching Iran.

You can follow this intrepid adventurer's trip and thoughts on his blog and website. All we can say, is good luck, Andy! May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.

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