Thurs- Made it Greenfield Ok, after a struggle up a 3000 foot mountain with the truck. Just about ran out of power- "If the hill had another 50 feet, would have had to pull over and wait for it to charge," remarked Bill McGrath.
The Greaseltron apparently passed some other vehicles along the way with less luck.
Today's display is at NESEA HeadQuarters, and will last 10 hours. Bill says, "This is the closest we'll be to home, and it's a good day to come and visit. There's lots of activities planned."
Among them is the Autocross, a strenuous event to test the handling, acceleration, and overall drivability of the vehicles, at the Community College at 3:30pm.
Despite Minor Issues, Things On Track For VTC Crew
Scott McGrath 05/22/2001
The latest report just came in from field contact and team member Jeff Laughlin, via e-mail from the Cyberian Cafe in Pittsfield. The highlights:
In addition, we have many pictures that have been taken during the Tour thus far.
- The homemade batch of bio-diesel they brought appears to have some issues... Not sure what the cause is at this point. However, mixing with a small amount of diesel and fuel additive has resulted in some record breaking performance from the generator- 95 amps! Previously, we've had difficulty getting more than 70 amps, which is insufficient to keep the truck's battery pack charged during travel.
- The weather has been pretty good, despite a little bit of drizzling of late.
"Overall things are
good except from the mechanical issues. We're holdin' up!", said Laughlin, in summary.
Tour De Sol Underway!
Scott McGrath 05/21/2001
Both groups (A and B) have left for the Tour De Sol. Bill Mcgrath advises that the truck passed tech testing first try, and got many administrative points- putting them in #1 Pole Position! He also mentioned that everyone there misses the MooRocco (VTC's entry for the last 2 years).
Jeff Laughlin attempted to send some photos, but we are having some technical difficulties getting them here. We expect to have them up shortly. In the meantime, we have this article published by Mike Bianchi to reflect some of the real-time goings-on:
TdS Report #42: Greaseltron
Jared Harvey is from Vermont Technical College, Randolph Vermont. "Greasel is our
name for biodiesel." We are taking old French-fries grease and turning into
biodiesel fuel and soap. The 1990 Chevy S-10 pickup truck was donated to us by
an electric company in Vermont. They had converted it to electric drive using
lead acid batteries. We made the battery pack smaller and put the diesel
generator on the bed in the back. The generator provides the average power,
and the batteries add `umph' ((a technical term)) when you want it." The 120
Volts comes from 10 Optima yellow tops under the hood. A Curtis PMC controller
drives an Advanced DC motor. "Your classic lead-sled truck conversion."
The driver controls whether the generator is running. 3-cylinder Lombardini
engine drives a generator that puts out 150 Volts at 600 Hertz, "which is easy
to convert into DC. Changing the field current adjusts the power output. We
are getting about 7 kiloWatts, although we are supposed to be able to produce
10. We are running into some problems when we try for that 10 kiloWatts; the
engine starts to miss." The engine may just be too small or it may be a fuel
Speaking of fuel, do you really just collect left-over frying oil from
restaurants? "In some cases, yeah! We pickup a couple gallons here and there
from local restaurants and the cafeteria at school. We test the Ph and make
sure it doesn't have animal fat. We want mostly cannola oil. We run it
through a settling and filtering process. We add alcohol and lye in a big
drum, stir it for an hour and sit for six hours." The result is 10% soap on
the bottom and 90% fuel on the top. We drain the soap through a valve on the
And what is the bible for using leftover cooking oil as fuel? "From the Frier
to the Fuel Tank" by Joshua Tickell, available from veggievan.org, I'm told.
"I'm in this project for the engineering. Other students are in it because
they think it is great for the environment." The vehicle has only been
converted in the past 6 months. It has driven it about 300 miles as a hybrid.
The truck does have a battery charger for the traction pack, should the
generator not be available, and some hybrid teams plug-in as well as use fuel.
Others do not. Greaseltron's strategy? "We hope to run off the generator
The generator is pretty noisy when it starts. "The fuel line drains a bit when
it sits, so it takes a moment to get the air out."
Jared was on the "MooRocco" team that competed in the Tour in the past. Where
is it now? "It's usually at Bill McGrath's house. He donated the car
originally. It's getting into the retired state. It was a 1984 Scirocco, and
it's hard to keep the frames good that long."
- - - -
The complete set of Tour de Sol Reports for 2001 can be found at:
The complete set of past Tour de Sol Reports can be found at:
- - - -
The above is copyright Michael H. Bianchi. Permission to copy is
granted provided the entire article is presented without modification
and this notice remains attached. For other arrangements, contact me
at +1-973-822-2024 .
- - - -
For more on the NESEA Tour de Sol, see the web page at
- - - -
Official NESEA Tour de Sol information is available from the sponsor,
the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) at
413 774-6051 , and 50 Miles Street, Greenfield, MA 01301 , and
firstname.lastname@example.org . All media enquiries should be addressed to ...
401 732-1551 telephone
401 732-0547 fax
401 952-0886 cell/pager
VERMONT TECH STUDENTS PREPARE FOR TOUR DE SOL
There's a smell of french fries in the air around Vermont Technical
College this afternoon, but not from the cafeteria - it's from the
exhaust of a vehicle powered by fuel made from recycled vegetable
A pumpkin-orange 1990 Chevrolet pickup truck, dubbed the
"Greaseltron," employs a technology called a hybrid. The truck has
been converted to run on electricity and a generator on the back of
the truck creates electricity from a fuel called biodiesel. Biodiesel
is a non-petroleum based diesel fuel replacement that the students
make from waste oil donated by area restaurants. "We've been
making this fuel for about a year now, and we've used it in the truck
as well as in a home furnace quite successfully," said Donald
Winans, President of the Alternative Energy Club at Vermont
Technical College. Students built the truck to learn about the
latest transportation technology as well as to compete in the Tour
The "Greaseltron" is the latest creation from VTC's Alternative
Energy Club, and students are scurrying around preparing it for a
road rally called "The Tour De Sol: The Great American Green
Transportation Festival." The event showcases the latest "clean
and green" transportation technologies, featuring entries from major
auto manufacturers, government agencies, and private teams like
VTC. This year's route goes from Waterbury, CT, to Boston, MA,
via Albany, NY. Several stops along the route allow visitors to see
the vehicles close up.
In previous years, the club (formerly known as the Solar Car Club)
has built and raced a vehicle powered by sunlight and electricity
called the "MooRocco". It was a 1984 VW Scirocco famous for its
white body and green cow spots.
The rally begins Saturday, May 19, in Waterbury, CT. Details on
the route and a schedule of stops are available at the club's
website at: http://www.vtc.edu/clubs/solar .
Biodiesel fuel is made from vegetable oil, and can be used in diesel
vehicles without modification. It can also be blended with diesel
fuel in any proportion. It costs the students around $0.60 a gallon
to make, but that doesn't take into account their labor. "It takes a
little work to make it, but the end result is worth it," said Oliver
Piluski, a student in the Electro-Mechanical program at VTC whose
senior project was a small processor that makes biodiesel from
vegetable oil unattended.
The group is nervous about the upcoming event considering the
timeline they've had to build their vehicle...they started in January.
The next challenge for the team is the stringent technical tests
done by rally organizers in Waterbury, CT on Saturday. The team
will file a daily journal of events on their website at:
VTC Alternative Energy Club to Tour Greaseltron
Scott McGrath 05/14/2001
Excitement builds as the Vermont Technical College Alternative Energy Club prepares to launch their Biodiesel hybrid-electric pickup, dubbed the Greaseltron, into the NESEA Tour De Sol 2001. Be sure to check this page often for daily updates on the team's progress!
Last Modified: Friday, May 25, 2001 by Scott McGrath