Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Holidays

Ladies and Gentlemen Team Bioride2008 once again would like to thank everyone who participated in the project - this story would never have unfolded without you! We are very pleased to announce the happy completion of our journey.

A lot has happened since that first week in September and though the plan was constantly in a state of revision we can sincerely say that the Bioride2008 project was a great success.

Doogie is now in the capable and deserving hands of the American Red Cross and we have just moved onto the next phase: editing and post-production. We look forward to unveiling the full story in all it's cinematic glory after the New Year!

Have a very Merry Christmas and may the coming year bring you and yours wealth and peace.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Over the past few days Team Bioride has become involved in nearly every facet of ranching life here at Cloud Creek Institute for the Arts. From stocking the wood pile in the face of on coming winter to caring for horses and rebuilding hurricane damaged chicken coops - the Team is developing and honing skills and learning to appreciate a lifestyle that is closer to the natural world.

It is not surprising to learn that an understanding of alternative energy and biofuels is an inherent part of the subsistence and rural lifestyle. And while the people living in these settings may lack the scientific lexicon to describe these concepts they are extremely savvy to the processes, requirements and affects that alternative energy and biofuels play in their lives. Fire wood creates energy when it's burned and heats homes and in many places provides the energy needed to cook, brew and produce a myriad of products essential to daily living. In addition, agricultural waste, grass, saw dust and wood chips can be pelletized and turned into a much simpler, and convenient, solid fuel. This is not a new technology for the rural communities of the world it's simply how things are done.

And of course the concept and usage of alternative energy goes hand in hand with the practice of recycling. At Cloud Creek Ranch the Team has learned that nothing goes to waste. Manures are gathered and mixed into the compost, only trees downed by storms are cut and used as firewood and everything is scrutinized for it's re-usability before it is deemed "garbage" and transported to the Yellville recycling collection point.

Recycling, 'Leave No Trace', and environment compassion are the driving principles and inspiration behind the BIOIRIDE2008 Project. Everyday on the road the Team learns a greater appreciation and understanding of these values and the skills that are required to incorporate these principles into our lives. Every community and family that we visit displays an understanding of environment impact and it is heartening to see that everyone, in their own way, are making strides to ensure that that impact is as positive and sustainable as possible.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our new portable biodiesel reactor is nearly complete! Essentially we've taken a 55 gallon oil drum and converted it into a giant blender. The first step was to cut the bottom third off and flip the barrel upside down. We are using the two pre-existing threaded holes as drain points.

Ideally a domed or concave bottom would be best but supplies, tools and most importantly money are in short supply. Access to a welding machine and torch set would have been extremely helpful for this fabrication but Team Bioride continues to happily march on to the tune of "more with less."

Once the barrel was cut down and the edges bent and folded for safety lift points were drilled and mounted and the pilot hole for the 2000 watt heating element was cut out. The addition of lift points on either side of the barrel will make storage and setup a flash and of course the heating element is crucial for the transesterification process.

After wiring our heating element to an appropriately rated plug we'll mount the element to the base of the barrel with a sandwich of washers, nuts and rubber gaskets. Hot oil is the last thing you want spilling out all over the place! The mixing of the oil, methanol and lye will be accomplished by a fixed hand drill mounted to the top of the barrel and fitted with a paint mixing attachment.

A quarter inch thick steel step provides our reactor with a little height and allows us to access the drain plugs on the bottom of the barrel. This will allow us to drain the glycerin followed by the biodiesel from the bottom of the tank - as opposed to scooping or siphoning from the top.

During the past few days our stockpile of oil has had a chance to settle and it is now ready to be cleaned. Tomorrow we will finish construction of our reactor and begin the biodiesel brewing process! Titration, a test for free fatty acids in our waste vegetable oil, will be the first step in our brewing procedure. The test only takes about a minute and will tell us how much Lye we will need for each batch.

Things are coming together and it won't be long until Doogie hits the road again. While we've been "grounded" the Team has adhered to a strict maintenance schedule of morning and evening engine warming sessions and Doogie's block heater has been handling the cool Ozark nights well. Bioride is ready to hit the road and the anticipation is high, but taking a few days to plan and prepare will be key for the successful completion of the second leg of Bioride2008's journey.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

If Bioride has one common element or theme than it is most definitely the people that we've met along the way. Everywhere we've been we have made new friends and Arkansas has been no different. The people, families and businesses of the Ozarks have treated us with an easy and generous hospitality.

And at the fore front of that wave of hospitality we found Gwen and Larry Brody - our hosts here at the Cloud Creek Ranch. Road weary eyes and empty bellies wear no match for the fresh linens and fully stocked refrigerator that we found awaited us at the Ranch. In addition to the luxury of hot food and showers - Larry has been providing much needed creative direction for the Bioride2008 Documentary.

Everyday the Bioride2008 Project evolves and changes. And we are pleased to announce that several new companies, both local and national, have expressed an interest in Bioride. We received the inquiries almost immediately following the printing of our article in the Baxter Bulletin.

So to everyone who's befriended us and to all those new friends just waiting to shake hands - thank you. Working with you is what Bioride2008 is all about. Bioride2008 is still an independent grassroots alternative energy project. And we owe that to all of you!