Five of the World’s Weirdest Alternative Fuel Sources

Mr Fusion from Back to the Future

Remember that amazing device from Back to the Future that converted garbage into fuel? Nowadays that isn’t as far-fetched as it once was. Everything from liquor and saltwater to diapers to landfills are being used to generate alternative sources of power that run equipment, vehicles and buildings around the world!

Liqour Bust Ultimately Yields Biogas

Confiscated Booze Converted into Bus-Powering Biogas: nearly 200,000 gallons of smuggled alcohol is snagged by authorities on its way into Sweden each year. Instead of simply pouring it down the drain, however, authorities have come up with an alternative use for all of the confiscated beverages. The biogas created from the mixed cocktail of smuggled goods is used to power a variety of vehicles, including buses an a train. In this win-win situation, customs is glad to be rid of the excess liquid and the country benefits from the fuel produced as a result of the process.

Diapers Converted to Usable Oil

Dirty Diapers Turned into Viable Diesel: one company has a brilliant (albeit offbeat) idea for turning what would normally be landfill material into cost-effective, synthetic diesel fuel. Approximately 30,000 tons of diapers will be annually transformed into over 10,000 tons of diesel fuel at jut 50 cents per liter. Larger schemes to transform a variety of to-be-landfilled materials have come up short, due to “some of the issues that come up [in relationship to] the consistency of the material you’re putting through. One of the beauties of the diaper is that it is going to be a very consistent input. The other beauty of it is because this whole thing works in a closed system, there are no emissions.”

Saltwater Burned into Hydrogen and Oxygen: Four years ago, inspiration struck in the middle of the night. A researcher decided to try using radio waves to kill cancer cells. Instead, John Kanzius discovered that his radio frequency generator could release the oxygen and hydrogen from saltwater and create an incredibly intense flame. His wife Marianne heard the noise and found her husband inventing a radio frequency generator with her pie pans. Experts say his invention could turn into “a steam engine, a steam turbine. That could become a car engine if you wanted it to be.” The following interview shows the process in action:

Methane from a Landfill

Methane Gas Siphoned from Garbage Dumps: decomposing waste gives off methane, which can be cleverly harvested rather than merely wasted. The increased interest in salvaging this valuable fuel source is also due in part to the environmental impact of burning it off, which is the traditional method of preventing dangerous gas buildups. Recently, researches have gone so far as to propose and implement methods of increasing methane production within a closed landfill system to get as much fuel as possible from the decomposition process. More information on gas-from-trash available here and here.

Green Ambulance Powered by Vegetable Oil

Vehicles Powered by Vegetable Oil and Ammonia: on a smaller scale, industrious individuals have used some unlikely materials to power test vehicles, though their small-time successes could have a larger impact if more widely adopted. One experimental truck has been converted to run on ammonia. The result: cheaper fuel, lower emissions and better guess mileage. Meanwhile, a lawyer in Massachusetts purchased a used ambulance, painted it green (for a groan-worthy visual pun effect), rigged it to run on vegetable oil and now gets to travel over 300 miles for just $3.

24 thoughts on “Five of the World’s Weirdest Alternative Fuel Sources”

  1. If we used the all the money from the war and invested it in green energy we would have it by now. Also invest some into spaceships i want to see a hotel on the moon before i die.

  2. I would kill for a Mr Fusion and a deLoreon. I think it is fascinating how with our energy reserves running low, we will turn to anything for fuel.
    <a href=”” title=”ecobeater” Ecobeater

  3. Saltwater Burned into Hydrogen and Oxygen…
    Sorry boys but you can’t violate the laws of physics. It has to take more energy to separate the H20, than the energy produced. Otherwise you would not get heat. If it is above 100% efficient it would be a perpetual motion machine. Ain’t gonna happen.

    That’s why ethanol is a scam to payoff the red state farmers and Republican supporter Archer Daniels Midland.

  4. It’s sad how all of these breakthroughs are being made by the mom n’ pop producers and not being picked up by larger corporations with the money to produce this stuff in mass.
    I’m 16 years old and for the longest time I thought that souring gas prices wouldn’t affect me by the time I was able to drive because I would be using a cheaper alternative fuel source, but now that I’m well on my way to getting my license, I know that isn’t even close to the case.

  5. The horse ridden carriages soon went out of business, and eventually an alternative fuel source is what consumers will buy and use. It is inevitable. Only a matter of time, and enough people to say enough is enough. They are already tinkering with 4 day work weeks for crying out loud.

  6. Rick says:
    on May 7th, 2008 at 11:15 am Buzzkil said:
    ” Sorry boys but you can’t violate the laws of physics.” It appears to have been already been done! Look at the experiments with liguid helium and magnetics. If the laws of physics can be manipulated (not broken) think of the possibilities!! I really believe that we can find an alternative fuel source that is right under our noses if we’d think outside the box and keep trying. Yes, there are scams out there and we need to be aware of, and avoid them. One day however, I do believe we’ll discover a source of fuel that is both environmentally and economically compatible .

  7. Travel more than 300 miles for just $3 – amazing! I know it sounds restrictive, but I think stricter rules regarding individual and household recycling should be enforced so we can make use of our waste and save other resources. It’s amazing how much we take for granted on a daily basis and when I think of all the people in the world and the daily drain on the planet – it makes my head spin.

  8. I love science this site is out of this world and to all you haters oiut there i say the jokes on u when im livin on mars wiuth my alian family! Go green call me 2 discuss the horrors and catastrophies of the world 617-877-0924

  9. I was wondering if you could please tell me who wrote this article. I wanted to cite it as a source for a project on alternative energy. Thank you!

  10. I was wondering if you could please tell me who wrote this article. I wanted to cite it as a source for a project on alternative energy. Thank you!

  11. It's already too late… Big oil is giving way to the advent of new electric cars. The batteries on these thing will make petrol almost obsolete. Isn't it funny how all cars were already electric until 1921 when the petrol engine came along? Wierd.

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