Friday, September 22, 2023

Southern Fried Fuel


Middle Tennessee State University professor Cliff Ricketts has driven coast-to-coast on fumes — in 2012 on only 2.15 gallons of petroleum; and in 2013, no gas at all.

What's next? It's a question the alternative fuels researcher is often asked.

The answer comes Nov. 6-13 during a 3,550-mile cross-country expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, with the route taking him back through Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for a brief stop at his research base at the MTSU campus before heading west on his latest adventure.

The 2014 quest involves Ricketts driving a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck on pure bio-diesel from waste animal fat mainly from chickens and waste vegetable oil from MTSU dining facilities. Call it Southern fried fuel — with a full tank carrying him about 550 miles before needing to refuel.

“This has viability for not only daily driving, but also big semi-trucks,” said Ricketts, who admits there is a lot of emotion attached to petroleum prices. “Gas is one dollar less now than when it reached its peak, and people are pretty content right now.”

Knowing gas prices will rise again, the 38-year veteran School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member knows pure biodiesel is a nontoxic, biodegradable, sulfur-free, renewable fuel. Using biodiesel could make a major impact on U.S. petroleum consumption.

“My goal and passion is to keep the U.S. from using foreign oil,” he said.

So he's taking the five-speed diesel pickup on a cross-country trek using no diesel and no gasoline. Ricketts chose this fuel source after considering green algae, but was unable to obtain the amount needed to make the trip.

Along with Florida and Washington, this month's mission will travel by interstate highways through 13 states. Others include Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.


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Source:  MSTU News

Posted by Jami Howell

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