Veggie Van Gogh

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Veggie Van Gogh was transportation, warehouse, and living quarters for Jan, who used it to travel around to arts & crafts festivals, powered by waste vegetable oil.
Veggie Van Gogh was transportation, warehouse, and living quarters for Jan, who used it to travel around to arts & crafts festivals, powered by waste vegetable oil.

Contents


Image:New.gif Veggie Van Gogh and Jan are featured in a new documentary by filmmaker Greg Green, Escape From Suburbia, which documents actions that various individuals and groups are taking in response to the coming decline of fossil fuel, which is expected by some to be particularly painful for suburban residents.

Image:New.gif A short essay on how to buy a used diesel vehicle that I recently posted on Craig's List.

Image:New.gif Veggie Van Gogh is featured on the Mill Supply's "customer vans" web page. Mill Supply is where I get many hard-to-find step van parts, and I recommend them to anyone maintaining one.

Image:New.gif I just started a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. There's a link there for asking your question. Or you can put it on the discussion page.

Image:New.gif See more about vegetable oil diesel use on an article I wrote for the British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association.

How do you haul art around to festivals and live somewhat comfortably "on the road" without exhorbitant hotel fees? Even more importantly, how do you do that in an environmentally sustainable manner?

These questions had been vexing me for some time. I can't just live in hotels and eat in restaurants. Even if our calling was lucrative, that's not where I'd choose to commit financial resources.

Van d'Art, our 1st generation art moving system.
Van d'Art, our 1st generation art moving system.
For two years, we used a tiny Scamp travel trailer, pulled by a gas-hog step van, dubbed Van d'Art. Then I did my taxes, and discovered that I spent more on gasoline than I earned -- that truck was digging me deeper in debt!

This path brought me to my second-generation art-moving system, Veggie Van Gogh. With a Cummins 4BT, 3.9 liter, four cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine, I would be able to do what I've long dreamed of doing: switch to sustainable, renewable biofuel for transportation.

Biodiesel & WVO

Waste vegetable oil (WVO) can power a diesel engine.
Waste vegetable oil (WVO) can power a diesel engine.
Veggie Van Gogh runs on waste vegetable oil (WVO) that we harvest for free from restaurants along the way! It has vastly reduced pollutants, comes from American farmers instead of conquered Middle East nations, and has a pleasant, french-fry odor while driving, unlike the stench that comes from most other diesel vehicles.

"So, how come everyone doesn't do this?" you might ask. Rudolph Diesel originally designed his engine to work on a wide variety of fuels, but because petroleum was so cheap, diesel engine design became optimized for so-called "diesel" fuel, which actually started out as a waste byproduct of gasoline production.

But vegetable oil is much thicker than diesel fuel at room temperature. Modern injectors designed for diesel fuel do not disperse it finely enough to fire, and modern injection pumps cannot handle the thick fluid.

So the key is to thin the vegetable oil somehow. This is commonly done in two ways:

  • chemically change the vegoil to something thinner, or
  • heat the vegoil until it becomes thinner.

We use both techniques in Veggie Van Gogh.

Chemically thinning the vegoil uses alcohol and a catylist to change the molecular structure of the oil so that it flows just like petro-diesel. This is called biodiesel.

Heating the vegoil is easily accomplished with the help of waste engine heat from the radiator. The engine is started on biodiesel, run until warm, then switched over to vegoil. A few minutes before shutting the engine down, it is switched back to biodiesel so it will start easily after it cools down.

Seeking Grants!

I have written a grant proposal for documenting a process by which a food services business or restaurant could supply their heating and transportation needs by using their own waste product. Several funding organizations have said it was out of their domain. (Was that true, or just a polite brush-off?) Please contact me for more information.

The Ten-Cent Tour Tour

To learn more about Veggie Van Gogh and the changes it's been going through, explore the links just below the banner of any page in the tour. If a link is red, that page is empty -- check back for changes! The links shown on this page all have subtopic links that will appear on subsequent pages.

If you just want to step through the whole tour, use the "(prev) | (next)" links at the bottom of any page in the tour.

Feel free to contact me for more information, or visit my blog to follow the ongoing saga of converting Veggie Van Gogh to a long-haul waste veggie oil powered machine!

Looking for the previous version of this page? It's still around.

Biofuel links (go to end) | (next) Fuel system

For related information, try exploring the following webrings

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