Some Iowans who believe in a more earth-friendly lifestyle are discovering it can be a do-it-yourself project. 42-year-old Eric Foresman is a mechanical engineer in facilities management at the University of Iowa who started getting interested in renewable fuel. He says he happened upon bio-diesel fuel, made out of vegetable oil. He says it’s more sustainable because it pollutes less.
Foresman says you can make a “home-brew” bio-diesel in small batches, and the vegetable fuel appealed to his sense of logic. He says you can make it every year, growing a crop and making it into fuel. Then after using it to fuel a car he figures the next year’s crop “sucks up all the c-o-2” gases you released when you burned the fuel. Foresman bought a car with a diesel engine, and met some other enthusiasts who liked the idea of using bio-diesel and making their own.
They found non-copyrighted plans to make a bigger batch of bio-diesel. The “open source” plan was a processor made from a used water heater and parts from a local hardware store. He and friends thought rather than making fifteen gallons a week, it’d be better to make 150 so they got together and started a biodiesel club. He and other members of the club pick up used cooking oil from a local restaurant and use it to make their bio-diesel. On one level, Foresman says it’s a “crazy hobby” but it also makes him feel good to make lifestyle changes and “do what I can with what I have where I’m at.”