Reporting live from Dallas, Texas, where the Benz veg-wagon has logged nearly half of the mileage on its petroleum-free journey to Los Angeles, I wanted to give a shout-out to the individuals responsible for delivering the vegetable oil that is powering my ride.
First off, owner Tasso Costarides made the decision to donate 90 gallons of waste vegetable oil from the iconic Majestic Diner
that's been filling hungry stomachs 24/7 on Atlanta's Ponce De Leon Avenue since 1929. From the smell of it, I'd reckon it's 50 percent bacon grease, 30 percent hash browns/french fries, and another 20 percent ham/chicken/burger grease. Thanks also to Bart Clennon, his bright, enthusiastic marketing manager and media relations professional who was responsible for introducing me to Mr. Costarides and talking up the cross-country drive.
Another big thanks goes to Rob Del Bueno of refuel biodiesel
. He provided technical expertise on the filtration, storage, and transport of WVO (waste vegetable oil), as well as donating two 55-gallon drums that served to house the vegetable oil after it was filtered down to 25 microns.
Final--and perhaps most heartfelt--thanks goes to my friend Jeff Minton, who graciously donated his kitchen, microwave, and 12 hours of his own time to heat 90 gallons of pretty fumey waste vegetable oil, two gallons at a time. I learned the hard way that thick, cold vegetable oil does not
flow through a 25-micron cotton filter. At all. So we used plastic gallon milk jugs, threw them in his two microwaves, and then poured them through strainers and funnels and into the 25-micron sock filters.
Christmas music and cocktails made the heating and filtration chores bearable, even amusing at times, and Jeff didn't give up until we poured the very last gallon into the six 15-gallon plastic containers I'm using to transport the oil across the country.--Colin Mathews
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