B.C. man builds mobile home fuelled by vegetable oil, solar power

A British Columbia man is planning to hit the road on a cross-country adventure, fuelled by waste vegetable oil and powered by the sun.

See Full Article

Dustin Bowers says he and his girlfriend, Kylie Hayward, are in the final stages of renovating a Blue Bird school bus that will become their new mobile, eco-friendly home.

Dustin Bowers renovates school bus

The couple has been working on the vehicle for the past three months, Bowers said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca from near Nelson, B.C., and they officially moved into the space three weeks ago.

A carpenter by trade, Bowers has installed hardwood floors in the bus and wooden cabinets that hang over the living space. He built a small kitchen, complete with a propane stove, propane electric fridge, and a sink with cold running water. There's also a futon bed tucked behind the driver's seat, and a small table flanked by two cushioned seats.

For decorative touches, Bowers and Hayward placed a mock tiger-skin rug across the floor, put a potted plant on the kitchen counter and strung blue lights up along the cabinets.

Kylie Hayward in school bus

Outside of the living space, Bowers has rigged up a fuel system that will allow him to power the bus on waste vegetable oil leftover from deep fryers and restaurants, and he's in the process of installing solar panels.

When that's done, Bowers said, he hopes to live out a lifelong dream: travelling across the country and performing fire dance routines, as part of his own environmentally-friendly "travelling circus."

It isn't the first time Bowers has opted to travel on alternative fuel.

He was first inspired to switch to vegetable oil four years ago, he said. At the time, he was living in New Brunswick and a friend from B.C. came to visit, driving all the way across the country in a waste-vegetable-oil fuelled car.

"That kind of caught my attention. I was really keen on it," Bowers said.

Intrigued by the process, he did some online research and bought his own diesel vehicle. Then, he began testing waste vegetable oil in the engine.

"The first year was a big learning curve for me. I got a lot of grease on my hands," Bowers said, with a laugh.

At first, Bowers said he tried spooning the oil up with a large scoop and pouring it into buckets and through paint filters before trying to funnel it into the engine.

But with time, he developed his own system of hoses, filters and a secondary tank.

Since buying his first diesel vehicle, Bowers said he's been across Canada twice, and come to love the eco-friendly and cost-efficient method of fuelling up with vegetable oil. On his last trip from New Brunswick to B.C., he says he spent only $150 on fuel.

"Waste vegetable oil is an awesome way to travel," he said. "My gas pump is now any local restaurant."

Waste vegetable oil controls

Waste vegetable oil as an alternative to diesel

Vegetable oil has long been used in diesel engines, University of Toronto Mechanical Engineering Professor Murray J. Thomson told CTVNews.ca.

In fact, Thomson said, the inventor of the diesel engine actually used vegetable oil to fuel his own vehicle.

"Mr. (Rudolf) Diesel himself, a hundred years ago or more, originally ran the engine on vegetable oil." Thomson said.

According to Thomson, plant-based fuels such as vegetable oil are more environmentally friendly than regular diesel oil.

"You're using a biofuel, so therefore there are no fossil carbon emissions," he said. "From a greenhouse gas point of view … It takes in the same amount that it gives off. "

However, Thomson warned that vegetable oil isn't a perfect solution.

For one thing, he said, there just isn't enough of it to power every vehicle and home in Canada.

"There's lots of diesel consumed in Canada per year, but the amount of waste fat is a very small amount," Thomson said.

The other problem is that waste vegetable oil's thickness can wear down an engine faster than regular diesel.

Because of this, Thomson suggests using biodiesel, a fuel made by breaking down vegetable oil so that it flows more easily.

Dustin Bower's school bus

Getting on the road

But Bowers is enthusiastic about vegetable oil, and says he knows he's inspired at least two other friends to use the fuel in their own vehicles.

Now, with his bus ready to run on the alternative fuel, Bowers says he just needs to finish installing the solar panels and buy a charge controller to prevent the panels from overcharging their batteries.

To fund the final steps of the project and help launch his cross-country dreams, Bowers has set up a GoFundMe page, where he's hoping to raise $3,000.

Once that's complete, he and Hayward are ready to take off.

Bowers, who already performs fire dances, says their first stop will be on the west coast, where they'll train with other circus performers. Then, they plan to depart for Montreal, where they'll meet with another performance group to develop a routine.

And on the way, they'll live out of the bus, which they've named the "Indigo Phoenix," a riff on "Blue Bird," and try to keep their environmental footprint as small as possible.

"I see the state of our world and the state of our environment now and I think it's important that each one of us take the steps to try and make the world a little better," he said. "If each of us use a little less, that'll solve the world problems a lot quicker than world leaders arguing with each other."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • The internet has fostered a new kind of tribalism, and it's destroying the way we interact

    Tech & Science CBC News
    In the moments leading up to last week's presidential inauguration, Barry Bennett, a commentator on PBS's NewsHour, remarked that "division is the new normal." Ironically, that's probably the one thing we can all agree on. No matter your political beliefs, we can all see it: we are divided. Source
  • Japan's military launches first communications satellite

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Japan's H-2A rocket carrying Defense Ministry's first communications satellite Kirameki-2 goes up goes up after its launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in Minamitane on Tanegashima Island, southern Japan, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. (Yu Nakajima/Kyodo News via AP) Source
  • Jet lag can adversely affect Major League Baseball players: study

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new study has found the jet lag that goes with a grinding schedule of Major League Baseball games that takes players from coast to coast and back again can take its toll on performance. Source
  • Paris tests electric driverless minibus to fight air pollution

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PARIS -- In a city hit by chronic pollution and traffic problems, Paris officials are experimenting with a self-driving shuttle linking two train stations in the French capital. Two electric-power EZ10 minibuses, which can carry up to six seated passengers, were put into service Monday and will be tested until early April between the Lyon and Austerlitz stations in Paris. Source
  • How these fish got stuck in a wall of ice

    Tech & Science CBC News
    more stories from this episodeRussian move to decriminalize domestic violence 'extremely misguided,' advocate saysHow these fish got stuck in a wall of iceAuthor accidentally names his fictional war criminal after a real person'Hairy-legged' vampire bats develop taste for human bloodFull Episode Source
  • Researchers unearth fossils of giant otter in China

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Scientists have unearthed fossils of an intriguingly large otter as big as a wolf that frolicked in rivers and lakes in a lush, warm and humid wetlands region in southwestern China about 6.2 million years ago. Source
  • Xiaomi's Hugo Barra quits China for Silicon Valley

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Hugo Barra, who caused a sensation in 2013 by leaving Google to become a vice president of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, announced Monday he was returning to the United States for health reasons. Barra, under whom Xiaomi was for a time China's best-selling brand, described his experience as a "spectacular" journey but said it was time to return home for a "new adventure". Source
  • U.S. states uncertain what Trump victory means for wind and solar power

    Tech & Science CBC News
    President Donald Trump has disputed climate change, pledged a revival of coal and disparaged wind power, and his nominee to head the Energy Department was once highly skeptical of the agency's value. What this means for states' efforts to promote renewable energy is an open question. Source
  • N.S. wildlife park fundraising to save 'Little Bear' from euthanasia

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A wildlife park in Cape Breton, N.S., is appealing for donations to build a new cage for an orphaned black bear cub in their care. The nearly one-year-old black bear, dubbed “Little Bear,” was found wandering alone by a pair of men on a highway near Whycocomagh, N.S. Source
  • China's online population reaches 731 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The number of internet users in China -- already the world's highest -- reached 731 million in December, authorities said, as e-commerce drives consumer demand across the Asian giant. Total internet users rose 6.2 per cent from the end of December 2015 and equals the entire population of Europe, the government-linked China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said in a statement Sunday on its website. Source