10 of the Weirdest Ways to Power a Car

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Green transport by doug88888 via Flickr
Green transport by doug88888 via Flickr

Green transport and sustainable fuel alternatives have come a long way in the past decade – but the auto industry still has a long way to go. In the meantime, there are plenty of creative individuals coming up with their own way to make their driving a little eco-friendlier. From fat and feces to liquor and sawdust, there are some weird alternative fuel sources currently powering cars around the world…

Diaper power by ewen and donabel via flickr
Diaper power by ewen and donabel via flickr

Disposable diapers aren’t exactly easy to dispose of – sitting in a landfill, a dirty diaper could hang around for as long as 500 years. So why not turn those poop-filled pieces of plastic into fuel? Every 30,000 pounds of diapers could create 5,000 pounds of biodiesel and this stinky alternative fuel source is much more cost efficient than our traditional diesel.

 

Coffee by e's via Flickr
Coffee by e's via Flickr

There are a lot of ways to use old coffee grounds – as a dye, a fertilizer, you can even use coffee grounds as printer ink – but is old coffee a viable green fuel alternative? A gasification process allows the Cafe Racer to get around town on nothing but caffeine. The 1975 pickup truck was modified by Chicken John.

 

Turkeys on their way to food, then fuel? Eschipul via Flickr
Turkeys on their way to food, then fuel? Eschipul via Flickr

Turkey plants discard all sorts of leftovers every day – bones, fat, feathers, and other little bits and pieces. Changing World Technologies takes these leftovers and make turkey-based biofuel. The company also turns waste from cows, chickens, pigs, and fish into clean alternative energy.

The Power of Paint

[youtube width=”500″ height=”344″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upI7QJis3bY[/youtube]

Spray-on solar panels are an intriguing concept that still haven’t reached realization, but if this renewable energy option is perfected and put into use – the solar paint could generate as much electricity as 50 wind farms for a fraction of the price. The paint could be applied to homes, boats, cars, and even roads.

 

Fat powered bat boat
Fat powered bat boat

Human fat is another alternative fuel source to consider. Trim a few inches off your waist and use your liposuction-leftovers as gas – could this be the key to an oil-independent nation and an answer to obesity? Earthrace owner, Pete Bethune used his own body fat to produce 100 ml of fuel for the boat.

 

Chocolate gas - Photo by chadmagiera via Flickr
Chocolate gas - Photo by chadmagiera via Flickr

I’ve always thought of chocolate as human power – but mix it with a little e.coli bacteria and chocolate creates hydrogen. Thankfully, the UK scientists experimenting with this weird fuel alternative are using chocolate waste instead of Hershey kisses! Within 5 to 10 years, the technology may be ready for industrial-scale use.

 

[googlevideo]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4877597114726040003&q=humancar[/googlevideo]

Human power has been one of the most reliable sources of renewable energy for centuries, at least until the onset of the Industrial Revolution. The HumanCar takes us back to those days in Bedrock, but this people-powered vehicle can travel over 30 mph – without a drop of oil.

 

Wind turbine racer
Wind turbine racer

Wind powered cars may be a sensible alternative fuel solution. This working concept was designed by university students in Denmark with the supervision of 2 university scientists and competed in a renewable energy race against 5 other creations last August.

 

 

Volvo's gravity powered car
Volvo's gravity powered car

A sleek, aerodynamic body and a bit of an incline are all you need to power this Volvo. This concept car fared well in the Extreme Gravity Competition in 2005, reaching speeds of 54 mph, but gravity powered cars have still not made it into production.

 

Kite car designed by Tsun-Ho Wang, Min-Gyu Jung, Sung-Je Do
Kite car designed by Tsun-Ho Wang, Min-Gyu Jung, Sung-Je Do

Another wind-powered concept car, this 3-wheeled creation uses a kite similar to the sail of a windsurfing board. The kite car has electric motors in each tire for backup power when the wind speeds aren’t quite high enough. To operate efficiently, the car requires a lightweight driver and, of course, a steady breeze.

10 thoughts on “10 of the Weirdest Ways to Power a Car”

  1. There are so many different ways to extract fuel from seemingly useless items. But, when it is done correctly it becomes a great way of reusing something that was previously considered disposable.

  2. There are so many different ways to extract fuel from seemingly useless items. But, when it is done correctly it becomes a great way of reusing something that was previously considered disposable.

  3. There’s a lot of doubt surrounding which methods/products are truly sustainable and which are just green washing. Check out our myth-busting video “What’s Your Big Green Lie?!” which gives a taste of the widespread ignorance of green issues including those surrounding hybrid cars at http://www.biggreenlies.com.

  4. I love the video showing the people powered car. I'd like to see if one person could power the car and I'd like to them go up a hill!

  5. I love the video showing the people powered car. I'd like to see if one person could power the car and I'd like to them go up a hill!

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