Sunday, July 1, 2007

Midwest Renewable Energy Fair

A week after we went to the cabin we took a trip with Willington to the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair near Stephen's Point, Wisconsin. We were tipped-off to this event by our friends at the Solar Oven Society. They've had a booth at the fair for several years running and highly recommended we go. Willington was most exited about the chance to learn about renewable technology that would be useful in his Ugandan homeland. Traveling with him was pretty fun, too, because he'd never seen American farmland before. He was really into all the cows and large farms and marveled that all of the rural places we passed by had electricity and running water.

Although the main purpose of our trip was to learn more about technologies that would be appropriate to Uganda, I also got a chance to visit the alternative energy car show. Pictured above is a whole row of vegetable oil burning diesels. A wide range of conversion systems were represented, ranging from the $350 do-it-yourself (which seemed to involve a generous amount of duct tape) to the fancy single tank Elsbett system.

Since I already have a converted car, what I mostly wanted to know about was waste vegetable oil filtration.  I've read a lot of somewhat conflicting information on the Internet about what works and doesn't work.  I thought that maybe talking to some real people would help me figure things out.  

What I came up with wasn't necessarily the technical information I had hoped for, though I got some good ideas.  My main realization was that there is a wide spectrum of opinion and practice when it comes to collecting and filtering WVO for vehicles.  What one person considers normal would be completely unacceptable to another.  For example, one man I talked to said of the professional Greasecar certified mechanic that installed his system, "well, he's not so careful about what he puts in his tank."  

I think this perspective on WVO opinions is more valuable than a few technical tips.  On the spectrum of WVO filtering I think I want to be a little more careful than center.  I don't exactly know what that works out to yet, but at least I have a better framework for listening to what others have to say about it.

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