Bewildering Stories Editorial
by Jerry Wright
I received some comments about my previous editorial, wherein I talked about Solar Power Satellites, and the comment was made that the midwest home state of the writer grew lots of corn, and that alcohol burns quite nicely. Of course, with the price of gasoline below $2.00, alcohol from corn requires tax breaks and subsidies to compete, but it is renewable. And then, there is biodiesel.
Neat concept. I have a friend (whom I hadn't seen in a while) showing off his little Nissan diesel pickup truck. It has a 25 gallon tank in the back of the truck. Running old (and free) french fry oil from the local fast food restaurants. He figures that to process the grease into biodiesel costs him a little over 80 cents a gallon. He retains his original tank for petroleum based diesel, because come wintertime, that frenchfry stuff gets hard, but thanks to a clever piping system, he runs water from the radiator under his exterior "grease" tank, and in a very brief time, the oil is liquid again, and he just flips the switch from tank one to tank two. He's been running this for almost three years, and he figures the switch paid for itself in the first year.
Cost isn't only, nor even the primary reason for his switch. This contraption is about as ecologically sound as you can get. And the exhaust? Yeah, I checked it. Stuck my nose right down there, and you know what? It does have a faint smell. Of french fries.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make something like this work, although, in a twist of fate, that is exactly what my friend, John Ousterhout, is. No, this isn't the creator of Tcl and TK, languages for computers. That would be my John's uncle. But never the less, I was impressed, and motivated. Save money, and save the world? Whatta concept.
As I said last week, petroleum is far to useful to be allowed to go up in smoke, and perhaps people like John will help set us on a path to a cleaner, more pleasant smelling future.
Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Wright for Bewildering Stories