Brian’s Morning Newsletter March 28th 2008
Wow, what a day I had yesterday. Fantastic visit with Satori, Shusei, and Tasui(sp) from Japan and tour of their amazing self contained biodiesel processing vehicle. They were able to stay at the Plaza Hotel, but they got into Las Vegas after midnight on Wednesday and were behind schedule. They are in the process of translating Shusei’s web site into English and this morning it is easier to move around and gather information. Apparently Shusei is a world class road rally racer and photo journalist. It says on his site that he has over a million kilometers behind the wheel. From the looks of the vehicle he put together for this trip, he knows what he is doing behind the scenes as well. This isn’t the first biodiesel powered vehicle he has operated but it is the first one with a complete biodiesel processor in the back.
On the left is the centrifuge for cleaning and dewatering the WVO before processing. In the middle is a 40 liter biodiesel processor . On the right is a 100 liter holding tank, which I thought Shusie said was for WVO, but I see in the picture a very clear liquid in the sight tube, I suppose the centrifuge could clean the WVO that much. I don’t use a centrifuge so I don’t know how clean the veggie oil comes out of one. Very impressive system, it is all stainless steel, which is by far the best material to use. Now I know what you are thinking, “Brian wishes he had this level of support.” True, who wouldn’t? Shusei is very well respected in Japan and from the looks of the vehicle with all the decals and sponsorships is very well funded on this expedition. I am as green as the color shifting paint of his Toyota with envy. Anyway, also in the back of the Land Cruiser is device which I haven’t seen before, Shusei called it an, “Ion exchanger.” I will need to look up more information about this, and let you know how it works, because the communication between us was getting a little spotty at this point. What I did gather thanks to Satori’s translation is this system takes the place of the water washing system I use. Somehow through the use of three filters each with a different chemical element resins inside, all the methanol, soap and KOH are removed. See the wikipedia article on ion exchange resins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_exchange_resin. Sorry I thought I took a picture of the ion exchange filter system but I guess not. It was tucked in behind Satori seat, which reminded me of images of compartments in deep sea exploration submersibles. Satroi, explained that the Japanese are quite comfortable sitting cross legged in small spaces. I said, “I hope so.”
Here Satori poses with their vehicle in front of the historic Plaza Hotel where yours truly arranged for them to spend the night. Their Toyota Land Cruiser glows in the foreground while my Isuzu Trooper is paled in the background. I had heard the Yen was getting stronger while the dollar slides into worthlessness, I wonder if the state of our two vehicles reflects this? They apologized profusely for messing up their schedule and not being able to visit my processor. Frankly I don’t know what they could have gained from seeing how the backward American county-boy makes biodiesel with an old used water heater. I told Satori I had cleaned my yard in preparation for their arrival. She said sorry again, but I said not to worry, it needed it anyway. I was thinking after that long wet and cold Winter we were beginning to look like the proverbial White Trash out here. “This here’s my truck, and that there’s our trailer house.” Their goal is to meet people as they travel and that we accomplished splendidly.
Shusei even has a custom made biodiesel filler nozzle. Basically, waste veggie oil is gathered from the people they meet along the way and if they can stay with people they make biodiesel in the night in the vehicle, in what he states on his site and I believe him, “The worlds smallest self contained biodiesel processor.” In the morning after the raw biodiesel has processed and run through the cation exchange filter system, they open the fuel tank and fillerup with this handy dandy nozzle.
Here is Lee’s story for the Las Vegas Optic
Biodiesel adventurers in Vegas
|Photo by Lee Einer||Shusei Yamada, Satori Murata and Brian Rodgers, from left, discuss the fine points of brewing Biodiesel while Tatsuya Ito works with the onboard biodiesel equipment.|
By Lee Einer
Three Japanese travelers stopped in Las Vegas on their way to Santa Fe and beyond last week.
The three, Satori Murata, Tatsuya Ito and Shusei Yamada, are traveling around the world in a Toyota Landcruiser powered by used vegetable oil and are chronicling their journey on a Website, www.biodieseladventure.com.
Their journey launched in Japan last December. They have since traveled through Canada and the western United States. The three plan on traveling through Texas and New Orleans before continuing to western Europe, Africa, Eastern Europe and back to Japan.
The original inspiration was Yamada’s. Yamada, a photographer, wanted to travel around the world, but wanted to do so in a way that was earth-friendly. At first, he considered making the journey on foot, but then he heard about biodiesel and decided to tour the world using biodiesel fuel.
Many diesel vehicles run on biodiesel. Most diesels require no modifications whatsoever. What makes the Landcruiser different is that this group had a miniature biodiesel refinery built right into the back of the vehicle, so that they can pick up a load of waste oil from a restaurant or other source and within hours have it processed into usable fuel for their journey.
The process of refining biodiesel begins with adding a mixture of methanol and potassium hydroxide to the oil, which splits the oil into biodiesel and glycerine. The glycerine is a waste product, and any residual methanol and potassium hydroxide must also be removed from the fuel before it is usable.
Typically, this is done by “washing” the biodiesel, combining it with water and agitating it, then draining off the water when it settles out. But the biodiesel adventurers will be driving through desert areas where no water can be had, so they had to use some innovative technology. The fuel mix is first separated with an on-board centrifuge and then run through column filters full of ionically charged resin beads. The beads attract glycerine, but let the biodiesel pass through. The fuel then runs through conventional filters before entering the fuel tank.
What happens to the glycerine? It runs into a container of earth impregnated with bacteria. The bacteria digest the glycerine, which at the end of the process can be used as a fertilizer.
Why go to all this trouble? Murata said it is a way for them to take responsibility for the energy they consume, and show other people how it can be done.
“If people control your energy, water and food, you are a slave,” Murata said. “But this is a way we can be more free.”