bioTrekker, Showing You can Drive an RV and Still be Green

( – promoted by undercovercalico)

Thinking about that retirement RV or just wanting to take the family on the road, but worried about gas prices?  Maybe a green RV is right for you.  The baby boomer retiree explosion may very well provide the buyers market to make green RV’s a common site on our nations highways.

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Cross posted in EENR.

Driving home from work, I found my street constricted by the biggest RV I had seen in my quiet, tree lined, blue collar neighborhood.  It was parked across the street here in sunny South Austin.  It was the bioTrekker on its way to the Sustainable Biodiesel Summit and National Biodiesel Conference in Orlando.

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Sorry about the darkness.  I work 12 hour shifts and could not get a daylight picture.  Better pictures are available on the bioTrekker website.

So I wander across the street and meet the two men responsible for this alternative way to enjoy the freedom of RV living without the guilt.  This behemoth, according to Ty Adams and newcomer, Michael Wolbach, runs on biodiesel and was getting 13.1mpg during its trip.  Not good?  Huh.  An RV this size usually gets 6 to 8 mpg, so we are talking 2x improvement.  

What is biodiesel?  I am cautious about different fuel alternatives.  Ethanol, the corn based alternative has many drawbacks.  

…attempting to curb greenhouse gases with increased corn ethanol production will ultimately come at the cost of the country’s water and soil.   Soil erosion, nutrient runoff, and pulling new land into corn production are all concerns.

http://www.npr.org/templates/s…

The nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers applied are a serious concern for our rivers.

But biodiesel is

a clean burning fuel that can be run in diesel engines (without modifications) as an alternative to petroleum diesel fuel or blended in any percentage with petroleum diesel fuel. It’s a renewable resource, which means it can be produced from natural sources that can be continually replenished in a sustainable way. These natural sources are also domestic, which means they can be found within the United States.

Biodiesel is made from vegetable oil and/or any recycled grease…say from your favorite fast food restaurant.  It can also be made from algae.  It holds up well in emmision tests comparing it to ethanol, the method of refining has a significantly smaller carbon footprint and the base does not carry the same concerns of fertilizer intensive crops like corn.

…the algae used to produce biodiesel actually thrive in sewage treatment plants and on smog forming carbon dioxide coming out of coal stacks. This cleans the air and water and fuels our engines and furnaces at the same time. In addition to an efficient mass transit system in every city, thanks to innovative technology like diesel electric hybrids, passenger vehicles are much more efficient than those in the past, averaging fuel mileages over 100 miles to the gallon. In addition, these vehicles emit no greenhouse gases. The increased efficiency results in decreased demand for vehicle fuel, which has the benefit of creating competition and significantly lowering prices at the pump.

Excited yet?  Ty Adams and Michael Walbach are.   I met and talked with them briefly across the street as they wound down from their travels.    

Ty Adams isn’t the first person to tour the country in a biodiesel-powered vehicle, but he may be one of the most committed. After five years as a writer and editor for RV industry publications in Eugene, Oregon, Adams sold his house, left a salaried position and invested over $30,000 to create a campaign designed to advocate biodiesel to the multitudes of RVers traveling the country each year.

At this time, the company is surviving off of grants and sponsors, mostly biodiesel producers.  But they are taking the renewable RV even further.  The bioTrekker team is committed to incorporating even more green technology into their efforts with natural carpeting, reusable insulation and adding solar panels to decrease electricity dependence.  

The team also made an appearance at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival to help promote the documentary Fields of Fuel, which celebrates the biodiesel alternative to petroleum based fuels.  

Want to learn more?  

http://www.fieldsoffuel.com/su…

http://www.biodiesel.org/resou…

http://www.biotrekker.com/inde…

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  1. 20% biodiesel will run in any diesel powered engine.  100% will run in most with little or no modification.  

    Linky for biodiesel retail locations in the U.S:

    http://www.nearbio.com/

  2. I like RVs but my spouse hates them because when he lived in Arizona he always got stuck behind them on two lane highways.

    Guess ye old diesel Passat can run on it, I will check out that linky.

    Thanks. That was really interesting.

    • Pluto on March 9, 2008 at 12:42 am

    I’ve actually been looking into the idea of an RV as a lifestyle.

    Good links! Keep ’em coming.

  3. and look forward to more of your posts!

  4. I love to go trekking around the U.S. in a motorhome – bring all the grandchildren and show them this wonderful country – how different it is in nature – how different the people are, the customs ….

    and most importantly – show them the greatness of the country – the greatness of the people — that differences are a good thing – differences can inspire.

  5. If for any reason water gets into the ethanol the whole batch has to be re-distilled.  Alcohol absorbs water, but oil and water don’t mix.  If a batch of bio-diesel gets water in it you just have to siphon it out.

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