Mar 252008
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

A fuel testing team from Japan traveling around the world in a vehicle they say produces zero emissions made a pit stop in the Lory Student Center Plaza Tuesday.

The Toyota sport utility vehicle, which travels by boat over the ocean and will serve as the team’s home, runs on regular kitchen products and produces more or less no carbon emissions.

The team has traveled the entire length of the West Coast of the U.S. for about two months after landing from Japan in Vancouver before making it to Colorado, where they will make several stops before continuing east, eventually to Africa, where they will traverse the Sahara Desert with no pit stops, and then through Europe and Russia and, finally back to Japan.

The vehicle is not without flaws, however.

In Vancouver, the team encountered freezing February temperatures and were stuck several times because the vegetable oil they use for fuel had solidified in the engine.

“This fuel doesn’t work if you get in below zero (degrees),” said Shusei Yamada, the leader of the team.

Yamada spent nearly three years researching, designing and building the engine before the trip started.

Before he had the idea to travel around the world, he had won races across the Sahara desert and traveled much of Europe on vegetable oil.

The project is funded partially through donations, but mostly out of Yamada’s pocket.

“I need donations,” he said. “Please write that.”

He said he does it for the research, but Hearumi Kato, a TV journalist for a Japanese station, said he is just being modest.

He’s saying that he does it for research, “but his heart is (with global warming),” she said.

Nicholas Enjalbert, who is writing his thesis on a new crop called camelima and its biomass potential at CSU and the man who organized the event, said that when a Japanese TV station contacted him to host a pit stop, he jumped right on the chance.

CSU showcased its biomass program to the team, which is made up of Japanese photojournalists and researchers, and gave them a platform to show off their oil distilling technology Monday and Tuesday.

“The kitchen might give them some used vegetable oil before they leave,” Enjalbert joked.

Students gathered around the distiller display in the plaza and said they want to see more people taking action that promotes environmental consciousness.

“I think it’s pretty cool, especially for people from an island country to decide to travel around the world,” said Robert Mitchell, a senior international studies major. “It speaks to the global idea of the problem.”

News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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