I really want to talk to Colin Coon’s parents. I want to know what they did to raise a kid who would take on a project like this. I want to learn from them. I want my boys to learn from Colin.
Colin Coon is high school senior at New Gate School in Sarasota, Florida. He’s converted a diesel powered vehicle to run on Waste Vegetable Oil and began a two month cross country trip in his Green Machine that he’s named Norm. He wants to show people that alternative fuels work and that anyone can use them.
He’s also documenting the whole thing on ColinsGreenMachine.com with a blog. As of today, Colin is on day four of his trip and on the first three days, he’s done a blog entry at the end of the day. I like the entries because he’s being honest about how it’s going (not always so great) and it’s so obviously written by a teenager. “I look to where the plug goes in to the blcok and sure enough it is arcing and spewing flames and sparks everywhere. Poo.”
It’s good to know there aren’t any adults trying to polish it all up. This is really his project.
You can follow Colin’s road trip on his blog, and you can also follow him on Facebook.
You can also check out this YouTube video of Colin meeting Norm. If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of this kid who wants people to start actually being green instead of just talking about it mirrored in the windows of the car.
I wish the kid good luck, but his story is neither high tech nor unique. It may be one of those feel good anecdotes, but is it really an environmental success story?
Vegetable oils are created for cooking through a high energy, industrialized process called hydrogenation. A quart of the stuff currently runs between $1.80 and $3.00 depending upon the brand, so it is considerably more expensive than petroleum based diesel. All modern diesel fuels for automobiles are extremely low in sulfur and amazingly clean burning. This young fellow is probably gathering waste vegetable oils from various eateries to fuel his journey, since that is the usual MO of the biodiesel zealots. Unfortunately, waste vegetable oil burns less efficiently, less completely (more smoke), and provides less energy unit-for-unit than real diesel. Granted, he is making use of a product that is generally destined for the landfill. However, how come we never hear about anyone recycling vegetable oils for their intended purpose: cooking? It seems that with a little filtration and a touch of irradiation one could produce a high quality, recycled cooking oil at a competitive price. Why is it only considered a success when one resorts to burning it in an internal combustion engine?