So I'm getting closer to determining what size bus I need. Next up is the matter of retrofitting it (design under development) and converting it to run on biofuel. Yep, I plan to alter a diesel engine to run on recycled cooking oil. Like that stuff you use to fry chicken or donuts. (From what I've heard, the connoisseurs opt for donut oil's aroma and stay far, far away from oil previously used for french fries or fish.)
I'd first heard of running vehicles on vegetable oil from my friend Joel on my way down the California coastline about a year ago and have been rather taken with the idea ever since. I'll be driving a bus with a diesel engine, most likely, so the switch to biodiesel shouldn't be that big of a leap. And Arcadia is ALL ABOUT sustainability, right? Finally, considering our link to the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, it seems like a no-brainer. I mean, what the heck else do chefs plan to do with the used oil that, say, Evening Star Cafe has after they make their irresistible, fried Tofu Parmesan? It can run my bus!
Now, I became rather adept at checking the engine oil on our family's '86 Toyota Tercel that I drove on occasion during college, but that was many moons ago and I have a feeling this diesel engine conversion is a more complicated endeavor. I'm going to need help. Who the heck does this sort of stuff around here, anyway? I started asking around, pretty quickly learning of my friendly neighborhood biodiesel expert, Adam. Here he is next to his home-on-wheels that, you guessed it, runs on biofuel.
Among many other awesome pursuits -- sustainable farming, building bike-powered blenders, and developing a community kitchen -- Adam is the driving force behind Mount Rainier's biofuel co-op (that, alas, isn't currently accepting new members). About a week ago, after a tour of his impressive DIY bus abode, Adam sat me down to explain the basics of biofuel. I took notes, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around some of it.
My brother got the engineering brain in the family. (I got the food obsession and wanderlust genes.) But my take home messages from my chat with Adam were:
1) It'll take a chunk of change to build a conversion system to fuel my mobile market on recycled veggie oil, and a small investment in fixing up the bus to be able to run on this renewable energy source.
2) You have to admit it does make sense: aside from the recycled nature of this fuel source, as gas prices rise again -- and they will -- it makes economic sense, too.
Speaking of moolah, keep your eyes open for a Kickstarter campaign in coming weeks to raise funds to purchase, convert, and run my beloved farmers' market on wheels....