Rudolph Diesel’s engine powered around the Grand Prix at the 1900 Paris Exposition using 100 percent peanut oil.Nowadays, most people run the modern diesel on petroleum-based fuel. But what goes around comes back around. There is a movement, says David Sartore, guitarist for Aphrodesia, pushing for the switch back to vegetable oil powered vehicles.His band, hailing from San Francisco, tours around the country on a city transit bus converted to run on straight vegetable oil. Aphrodesia really won accolades for its environmental efforts on its “Just Vote Tour,” a trip in 2004 when the band drove the bus from the Bay to New York registering people to vote and spreading the message about alternative fuels.
“It has inspired a lot of people to start questioning what they’re doing with their consumption and energy use and to look to alternatives. There’s a whole movement going on with alternative energies. We’ve actually seen a lot of those people come out of the woodwork to come to our shows to meet us because they’re interested,” Sartore says. “And the people that didn’t know about it were totally in awe and now educated. When I found out about it, my mind was blown open to a whole other reality, too.”Sartore first learned about alternative fuels after watching the independent film “French Fries to Go” on the use of vegetable oil in lieu of petroleum. He then researched it more on the Internet, bought a bus and found people that sold parts to convert the diesel engine to run on veggie oil.”It’s really not that hard,” said Sartore.
He said all people need is a separate tank, filtration system and a heating system. ” The biggest thing about vegetable oil is you need to heat it because it gets really thick and coagulates. A lot of people run coolant lines or electric heaters to heat up the vegetable oil before it goes in the engine. Then it’s just like putting a new fuel tank and filtration system into your vehicle,” said Sartore.Aphrodesia uses straight vegetable oil because it’s free. The band dumpster dives at restaurants and pumps used cooking oil directly into its bus. But all diesel engines can run on biodiesel fuel with no converter required. Biodiesel fuel is a domestic, nontoxic, biodegradable fuel that can be made from used cooking oil, methanol and lye. The result is a much cleaner-burning fuel from a renewable resource.
“It’s a fuel that you can start up in any diesel vehicle without any modification,” said Sartore.Members of Aphrodesia aren’t the only musicians getting involved with renewable energy. Willie Nelson and three business partners recently formed a company called Willie Nelson’s Biodiesel that is marketing the fuel to truck stops. And Neil Young tours on the biodiesel fuel.Aphrodesia feels biodiesel fuel is so important now because of the war the United States is fighting in Iraq. The musicinas feel the war is oil-based.”The oil dependency is effecting the country’s political stance. We’re working to help other bands switch over to veggie power,” said Nicole Rodriguez, Aphrodesia vocalist.Vail Colorado