Lesson 6 Biodiesel Adventure

(Part 1)
I am Shusei Yamada, a photojournalist. I drove around the world with “Vasco-5,” an eco-friendly car. The car runs on vegetable oil! It carries a machine which makes biodiesel fuel out of used vegetable oil. I did not buy new oil but collected waste oil from people in many countries.
There were two purposes of this adventure. One purpose was to examine how far I could go with only waste oil. The other purpose was to communicate with people around the world about biodiesel fuel.
Before beginning my journey, I had worried about one thing. In the world, there are many varieties of vegetable oils such as rapeseed, palm, and olive oil. I was not sure if Vasco-5 could process all of these oils. But some people say the only way to learn is “by doing.” So, I started the engine of Vasco-5 in Tokyo on December 5th, 2007.

(Part 2)
After test-driving Vasco-5 in Japan, I sailed across the Pacific Ocean to North America. The first city I visited was Vancouver, Canada. I asked for waste oil in many restaurants and hotels there. However, my requests were often refused because people knew little about biodiesel fuel. That made me feel disappointed. Still, as people heard about my project, they started bringing me waste oil from their homes. It took me a few days to process the oil into biodiesel fuel. After the process was finished, I was able to start on my journey again. When I ran out of fuel, I stopped and asked people for waste oil again.
A month later, I left Vancouver for the US. More and more people helped me on my journey. Some people e-mailed their friends about my project. Surprisingly, when I arrived in their town, they had already collected waste oil for me. In San Francisco, people even held a welcome party for me. I traveled from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon and then to the East Coast. To save fuel, I had to drive carefully. Vasco-5 and I went across the North American continent and finally arrived in Washington, D.C. on April 19th. Then, Vasco-5 and I got on a ferry for Europe to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

(Part 3)
In June, my journey began again with Vasco-5 in Lisbon, Portugal. I drove Vasco-5 through Spain to Morocco in Africa. I wanted to test-drive Vasco-5 under the very severe conditions of the Sahara Desert. Although the daytime temperature there got as high as 52℃ (degrees Celsius), Vasco-5 was able to run without any problem.
Then, I drove back from Africa to Europe the next month and headed for the east end of the Eurasian continent. After visiting several European countries, I arrived in the last country on my journey, Russia, in September. It was very cold there. Even in the daytime, the temperature was below the freezing point. The oil people brought to me there had often frozen. So, I had to heat the oil on the stove before processing it into biodiesel fuel.
On December 1st, 2008, Vasco-5 and I came back to Tokyo by way of Siberia. It took me almost one year to drive 47,853 km (kilometers) around the world.

(Part 4)
Wherever I went, people who heard of Vasco-5 were waiting for me with waste oil. Some people offered me not only oil but also food or a place to stay for free. Others took a day off from work to collect waste oil for me. Moreover, other people supported me so that I could pass through the borders between countries. Since Vasco-5 carried an unusual machine on it, few border officers let me pass through the borders easily. I was moved by the kindness of the people who helped me. Meeting such good people from different races and countries was the most precious gift for me on this journey.
More than 1,000 people offered waste oil to me throughout the journey. My journey proved that I could travel around the world by using waste oil. In fact, Vasco-5 used 6,540 L (liters) of oil to make the journey. Here is a lesson I learned from this adventure: If each of us in the world makes a small effort, we will be able to produce big results.




Lesson 6 バイオディーゼル・アドベンチャー

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

(Part 3)

(Part 4)