Biofuel to power Aussies around the world

By William Hall 30 August 2011
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An adventurous four mates will travel around the world in their 4WD, powered only by biodiesel.

WHAT ORIGINALLY BEGAN as a simple idea between new mates is quickly escalating into one of the largest expeditions planned by Australians this year. From the southern tip of Tasmania to northern Arctic Norway, four mates will travel over 30,000km – covering three continents and more than 30 countries in a six-month expedition. The catch is that they will complete the entire journey without stopping once at single petrol station.

The four men, ages in their 20s – Bob (an engineer), Chuck (a welder), Oscar (a banker) and Justin (a DJ) – will each contribute their own set of unique skills in the name of sustainability, by traversing along almost the entire longitude of the planet.

To get themselves around, they fuel their 4WD and 6.5m barge not with ethanol, but with only waste oil, grease and animal fat.

Biodiesel the new fuel

With the natural environment increasingly under threat, Oscar says raising awareness of environmental issues is as important as ever. Sustainability is not just for greenies, he says. “There’s this stigmatisation that you have to be a hippie or politician to be interested in sustainable alternatives. We’re trying to break down the barrier for younger audiences and get them engaged in greener alternatives through our trip by showing them it can be fun”. 

When the guys aren’t scavenging for waste oil to use as fuel, they’re out interacting with people and businesses engaged in promoting sustainable futures, and reporting their stories directly from the road.

One of the characters they’ve met along the way is the town postman from Marree, South Australia, whom they met on their most recent three-month, 12,000km trip around Australia. He had already been using the town’s waste oil to power his motorbike. “When we went searching for some waste oil at the local pub, they didn’t have any because the local postman had been using the town’s waste oil for years – which is great,” says Oscar.

Biodiesel converter

Using a portable biodiesel processor – designed by Bob – on the back of their 4WD truck, they emit 80 per cent less emissions than regular fuel just by converting waste oil to biofuel.

They source most of their waste oil from pubs, fish and chip shops, restaurants, abattoirs and poultry farms. Oscar says such waste oil is “surprisingly” easy to locate.

While their fuel for this next trip may be easy to obtain, their equipment may be the worry – past experience tells them that equipment dosen’t always work according to plan. Their 4WD has broken down several times in the middle of the Australian desert and the batteries in their barge exploded, leaving them stranded in Bass Strait. 

Regardless of the minor setbacks, the Oscar says Australia has proved to be an incredible journey full of surprises and adventure. Oscar says, “I have done a lot of travelling around the world, and I have to say, that trip around Australia was flat-out amazing. The Kimberleys were so unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

While many improvements need to be made on their modes of transport and plans, the four expect to depart on their international leg early next year towards Indonesia, on a to-be- documented television series.