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Takeaway oil keeps couple on the road

RESOURCEFUL: Sam and Clara Rogers are driving around Australia in a converted Toyota LandCruiser called “Bluey”, which runs almost entirely on used vegie oil.
RESOURCEFUL: Sam and Clara Rogers are driving around Australia in a converted Toyota LandCruiser called “Bluey”, which runs almost entirely on used vegie oil. Patrick Woods

IF YOU notice a huge, blue, 40-year-old truck parked in Buderim and you get an inexplicable longing for a nice, greasy serve of fish and chips, don't worry, you're not going crazy.

You've just caught a glimpse of Blueprint - or Bluey, if you're on good terms - the LandCruiser that runs almost entirely on vegetable oil sourced from the deep fryers of local takeaway shops.

Bluey's owners, Sam and Clara Rogers, have driven indirectly up from Melbourne, covering about 6500km on - wait for it - only 170 litres of diesel fuel.

THAT'S a usage of 2.7 litres of diesel per 100km or, assuming diesel is about $1.30/L, about $221 for the whole journey - a price that would have many motorists spitting chips.

The rest of the engine is powered by a smile and a chat, as Sam and Clara introduce themselves to local food vendors in the hope they have a deep fryer full of oil in their kitchen.

"We've got a little spiel that says, 'Hi, I'm Sam, this is Clara, we're travelling Australia in this cool old LandCruiser that runs on waste vegetable oil', and that's usually as much as we need to deliver to get people's attention and to get them excited," Sam said.

The husband and wife team built Bluey themselves using the parts of four different old LandCruisers.

"We're always finding unique ways of doing things," Sam said. "I'm really passionate about giving objects a second life.

"I'll always restore an old vehicle before buying a new one. It just makes so much sense in so many ways."

Bluey has three engines, including a centrifuge that heats the vegetable oil to a consistency thin enough to be burned as fuel.

"We're one of the few vehicles on the road that's capable of harvesting and collecting its own dirty vegie oil, cleaning it, drying it and heating it to the extent that we can use it as a viable fuel source," Sam said.

He added it was perfectly possible to run a vehicle on vegetable oil if you knew how to do it.

"It's not new technology. There's guys out there who've been running waste vegie oil for 20 years. I think they like to keep it quiet though," he said.

But Sam, who has training as a motorcycle mechanic, says drivers need specialised mechanical knowledge to be able to set it up.

"You also need an older-style diesel engine - the new ones with computers involved in running them don't like vegie oil and will break pretty easy, so you need a good tough old truck to do it in," he said.

Sam and Clara are staying in Buderim with Sam's mum for the next few days, before making their way down to Victoria again for the summer. You can keep up to date on their journey - or offer up a vegie oil donation - by visiting http://www.blueprintadventures.com.au.

Topics:  biofuel editors picks


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