French-fried fuel - MyKawartha.com
Imagine. You're sitting at home eating some deep-fried french fries. You finish them and relax casually as they settle in your stomach. Then you take that old fryer oil and poor it in the fuel tank of your car.
That's not exactly the process that Tyson Jerry and Cloe Whittaker use to power their "green machine" but it is similar.
Mr. Jerry and Ms Whittaker undertook the journey of creating a vegetable oil powered vehicle in 2008. In just one weekend they converted a diesel engine Mitsubishi Delica van into a "veggie van" capable of running off used vegetable oil.
Their mission is simple: To raise awareness and concerned interest for current environmental issues. They say beating the old Guinness World record for distance travelled in a vegetable fueled automobile was a secondary success in the journey.
This is their second attempt at traveling through North America and to date they have covered approximately 41,000 kilometres.
Their main goal though is not the distance travelled or the number of provinces and states visited, but to raise awareness of alternate energy.
"That's the main aim of this project, to raise awareness," explains Ms Whittaker.
"We don't even know the number of people we've talked to but we've at least spoken to 5,000 students up until now and that's not even counting the thousands of strangers that approach us on the street because our van is so curious looking."
The couple first came up with the idea in January, 2008 and began working full-time on the project in July of that year. By October they were ready and on Oct. 1, the Green Machine started it's journey, leaving from Victoria, B.C.
To fund the project, Ms Whittaker and Mr. Jerry started saving up long before they began and Ms Whittaker says, "We'll be working it off for a little while because we're going into debt."
They're also sponsored by New York Fries in Canada who saves their used fryer oil for the pair to use. After it's been processed, which is done in a trailer attached to the van, it is poured into a modified fuel tank. Since there are no New York Fries in the U.S., they had to find alternative ways to get fuel. Mainly they contacted individuals who were also running their vehicles using waste oil and got donations.
Life after they've completed their mission is unclear but, "environmental education has really become a passion of ours," says Ms Whittaker and everything they do from now on will most likely have some aspect of that in it.
While they are passionate about what they are doing, their schedule is very busy.
"Normally we'll just get up with the sun," says Mr. Jerry.
"Get up with the sun, do some internet work, scheduling, organizing, meetings, then hit the road," adds Ms Whittaker.
Mr. Jerry says his favourite day so far was beating the record and even though their friends threw them a party they were almost too busy to really enjoy it, having to take time to post new information online about the tour and the record being broke.
The pair expect to complete their 45,000 kilometre tour on May 3 in Vancouver, B.C.