Saturday, February 17, 2007

Build your own alternative fuel vehicle

A popular class at Santa Rosa Junior College, California

At Santa Rosa Junior College in Petaluma, California, mechanics and do-it-yourself environmentalists are learning how to convert a standard car into an alternative fuel vehicle running on ethanol, vegetable oil, or electricity. The class was created two years ago by diesel truck mechanic Mark Armstrong and has quickly grown in popularity. The maximum number of forty students filled the class soon after registration opened this year and another forty had to be turned away.

Mark Armstrong teaches his students a wide variety of skills; for example how to solder and braze so that they are able to assemble an ethanol converter from dozens of copper pieces. In other sessions, students are taught such things as how to install a filter for purifying the vegetable oil or a heat exchanger that brings the vegetable oil to the correct temperature to enable the fuel injectors to work efficiently. Converting a car to run on electricity requires the most extensive alteration since additional room has to be created for fifteen battery packs, which usually involves reconfiguring the suspension.


Article 'Alternative fuels class flooded' in The Press Democrat

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