Rotten apples could be good for your car

Rotten Apples Could be Good for your Car

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Or so the saying goes, for us humans at least.

But how about cars?

If you think that fruits are good for humans (and living things in general) only, think again. Turns out that our adage for the benefits of the good apple – the rotting apple that is, can now also apply to cars – to keep it running and in shape.

For a time it was only gasoline and diesel when it came to powering cars. Then came hybrids, which powered cars via a combination of a small fuel-efficient gas engine and an electric motor for a more fuel-efficient and earth-friendly ride. There’s also ethanol fuel, another popular alternative against the “environmentally evil” gasoline and petroleum fuels. And then there are the weirder alternatives: burger grease, orange juice, hemp – even something called Jatropha Curcas seeds. We’ve all seen or heard about these things.

So what about rotting apples?

Let’s take a look at Somerset farmer Henry Hobson’s story: The man converted his Jaguar XJ6 to run off methane produced from the decomposing fruit in his orchard.

Methane you see, is a good thing. A combustible gas, it can be obtained in two ways — extracted from the earth’s crust in the form of natural gas, or from waste sludge and biological waste as biogas. The great thing about it is that compared to carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to the greenhouse effect, methane is about 25% lower than when running on petrol. Biogas forms part of the natural ecocycle and therefore makes a zero net contribution to the greenhouse effect.

So you see exactly what a bright idea this one really is.

According to a report from Topgear, the science is simple enough: Hobson fills two underground tanks with apples from his 10,000-tree orchard, and adds a soupcon of bacteria from cows’ intestines (yes, you did not read that wrong) to help the rotting along.

The gas emitted from the decomposition is then filtered through water to remove the sulphur and carbon dioxide, leaving Hobson with lots of pure methane, which also means lots of cheap fuel.

Hobson, discounting the ?3,000 it cost to convert his Jag and its Jaguar XJ6 parts– says that the shift saves him more than two grand every year on fuel costs. As an added bonus, his XJ6 is putting out about 10 per cent more power at very similar fuel economy compared to before.

So are we going to see good ol’ apples powering our future cars anytime soon?

According to Hobson, methane is 10 times more efficient to produce than bio-diesel. And, as well as presumably filling the air with the sweet smell of home-brew, his fuel has the advantage of keeping the doctor well away.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? If only all of us had orchards in our backyards like Mr. Hobson.

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