Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fuel for 65 cents per gallon

David Hubbard '71 spent $8,500 and several months to convert a touring bike into a biodiesel dream, which gets 65 cents per gallon. He used skills in engineering, welding, machining and electronics learned at Stout to make the bike conversion.

For the past eight years, David Hubbard ’71 has been running all of his farm equipment—including backhoes, dozers, track hoes and skid loaders—on cooking grease converted into biodiesel fuel. But four years ago, he also began using his home-brewed biodiesel in something a little more fun.

Hubbard purchased a used 1986 BMW touring bike and decided to make it biodiesel, too. He removed the original BMW engine and replaced it with a three-cyclinder Daihatsu diesel engine from a new commercial lawn mower. Hubbard spent two winters adapting the diesel engine to the bike’s frame and putting together a cooling system.

Now he and his wife enjoy riding all over the West Virginia hills—on 65 cents per gallon.

Making the fuel is a weeklong process that involves kitchen grease, potassium hydroxide, methanol and lab equipment. Although his cents-per-gallon cost does not include his labor, he enjoys being able to fill his five-gallon tank for $3.25.

“At 70 miles per hour, I can go 350 miles,” Hubbard said. “Not bad.”

Editors of Popular Mechanics magazine agree. They saluted Hubbard in their July 2007 issue for his eco-friendly touring bike project.

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