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Rock Bridge students get peek at vegetable oil-powered van

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 | 5:11 p.m. CST; updated 4:23 p.m. CST, Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The two founders of Driven to Sustain, Cloe Whittaker and Tyson Jerry, stop by Rock Bridge High School on Tuesday to educate students about making sustainable living choices. The two Canadians are driving their van — powered by waste oil from restaurants — across Canada and the United States to break the Guinness World Record for longest journey by car using alternative fuel.

Cloe Whittaker and Tyson Jerry, founders of Driven to Sustain, stopped by Rock Bridge High School on Tuesday to give a presentation about sustainability to an environmental science class.

Whittaker and Jerry, both Canadians, are traveling around the United States and Canada in a van fueled by vegetable oil in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest journey by car using alternative fuel. By the end of their trip, the two will have driven through every state and province at a total of 28,000 miles. Their progress can be tracked online at driventosustain.ca.

Although Whittaker and Jerry know using waste vegetable oil is not a solution for everyone, "It's a symbol of the alternatives you could take," Jerry said.

Throughout their journey, the pair has been stopping at classrooms to educate students about sustainability and alternative fuels.

 

Cloe Whittaker and Tyson Jerry give a presentation about sustainability to an environmental science class at Rock Bridge High School on Tuesday. Whittaker and Jerry are driving around the United States and Canada in a van fueled by vegetable oil in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest journey by car using alternative fuel.

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Comments

Mark Foecking March 3, 2010 | 8:46 a.m.

What the students need to take home from this demonstration:

Not only is veggie oil "not for everybody", it's hardly for *anybody*. If all currently produced veggie oil were recovered and used as fuel, it would supply less than 1% of our current oil usage.

We lose sight of the energy in petroleum fuels because we use them very inefficiently. A car wastes over 70% of the energy in fuel as heat, and of the rest, uses over 90% to move the car and not the occupants.

Petroleum fuels represent tens of thousands of years of stored sunlight in a concentrated, easy to apply form. Biofuel crops represent a highly diffuse source of fuel by comparison, as they have to store sunlight in real time. There is simply not enough land to grow all the oil crops that would be needed to replace current oil use (and still eat).

If they are promoting biofuels as a solution, even a partial one, they should also be telling students that they will have to conserve these fuels dramatically. They have to hear that oil is the best liquid fuel solution that's ever existed, and everything else just plays a weak game of catch-up. This means that the world these students raise their kids in will be slower, more local, and less mobile, and a good bit more expensive. To tell them anything else is doing them a disservice.

DK

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 3, 2010 | 11:10 a.m.

Right on, Mark! Since the present engergy crunch has been upon us there have been really weird statements made by people who should know better about how we are going to meet future energy needs mainly with this source or with that source, but the sane and workable way to accomplish that is to employ a variety of energy sources. Let's not put our energy "eggs" in just one or two baskets.

Well, isn't that what we have now? In a sense, yes, but we're going to have to do a far better job of managing sources. Rather than "championing" this source over that source, we need a plan that utilizes each source where it will be most efficient and effective.

The one fossil fuel the United States of America has significant reserves of is coal. Doesn't that suggest we should be doing more research on how to safely and efficiently use coal or gas derived from coal as a primary fuel source? I'd sooner our reserves were in oil and natural gas, but that's not what we have.

(Report Comment)

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