On the Road with a Green Airstream and a Vegetable Oil Diesel

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On the road in a green Airtream

Two women with an itch to travel are showcasing how to make cross-country travel a very green undertaking.

Before taking to the road, Cece Reinhardt and Brenda Daugherty designed the traveler’s toolkit they needed, retrofitting a 2003 Airstream Safari with a number of eco-friendly materials and then converting their used diesel truck to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO).

Titling their journey: “On the Green Road,” they obtained sponsors, finished their conversion and renovation, then took to the pavement.  But before leaving they also embarked on a mission to get rid of everything that they didn’t need or use so they could demonstrate how they’re living off the grid.

Their truck is a 2006 Dodge Ram diesel runs quite smoothly on WVO and the Airstream it pulls happens to be powered by solar panels.  In addition, the 25-foot Airstream features a rainwater collection system and a composting toilet.

On their website, the women report their 200 square-foot renovation project features

  • American Clay walls and ceiling
  • 500-watt solar system from Applied Solar Energy
  • House filtration by Blue Gold for Life
  • Eco-friendly mattress from Keetsa
  • Vida cork planks
  • Natural linoleum flooring
  • PaperStone countertops
  • Cabinets from Eco Craft Cabinetry
  • LEDs from Elemental LED
  • Lumicor recycled resin shower door
  • Kirei board office desk,
  • Waterless Nature’s Head composting toilet.

As for their method of getting from Point A to Point B and beyond, they write: “There has to be a better way for us to get around than to pay $4 per gallon for fuel.  Don’t you think?  Yeah, we do too.”

Their lower cost petroleum turns out to be waste Veggie Oil (WVO). Specifically, they report running their diesel truck on said WVO using a two-tank fuel system.  An Oakland restaurant supplies the vegetable oil; it is then filtered down to 10 microns and allowed to settle for several weeks.

As for combustion, they add: “The engine is started on the diesel/biodiesel tank and runs for the first few minutes while the vegetable oil is heated to lower the viscosity. Fuel heaters are electrical and/or use the engine coolant as a heat source. When the fuel reaches the required temperature, usually 150+ deg F, the engine is switched over to the second tank and runs on WVO.  We have noticed that our truck likes it at about 175+ deg F.”

Reinhardt and Daugherty hail from Alameda, CA, saying their goal is “to green an Airstream, turn a used diesel truck into a veggie oil machine and hit the road in complete “off the grid” style.  Our quest to live outside the lines and explore what it means to be sustainable, comfortable and bold has led us here.  Exploration and educational outreach will be our primary objectives.”

Their tagline defines their journey quite well: “On the Green Road – driving towards sustainability one mile at a time.” Their journey has been shown on Jetson Green and Mother Earth News.

Congratulations to Reinhardt and Daugherty on their quest to sow that travel on the road not only is a great adventure, it can be a very sustainable demonstration.

Photos: On the Green Road


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Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

Glenn Meyers has 449 posts and counting. See all posts by Glenn Meyers