[Source: Shusei Yamada]
Email from Biodiesel Adventure:
Report of the Biodiesel Adventure: Returned to Tokyo
Dear Biodiesel Adventure supporters,
Hello! Thank you so much for all your support! I safely completed around-the-world journey and returned to Japan! We crossed the finishing line by Tokyo Station at 1:30 pm on December 1, 2008.
The Journey kicked off from Tokyo in December last year. It took us through North America, across Atlantic Ocean, to West Europe. We then drove down to North Africa under the simmering heat of 52 degrees Celsius, and up again to West Europe then through East Europe, Russia, and Kazakhstan. We finally drove through Siberia where it reached minus 30 degrees Celsius.
The journey lasted 360 days and the total mileage recorded astonishing 47,853 km. We drove through total of 17 countries in Americas, Europe, Africa, and Russia. We collected 6,504 litters of used cooking oil in the process.
Of all, the biggest challenge was shipping the vehicle across the oceans. Since only a handful of people travel by car and few precedents exist, customs proved to be a nail biting experience. It required technical knowledge, time, and money. Then there's a language barrier. On top of that, I had to do it three times!! I got nervous when crossing the boarders by land as well. I was afraid what people would think about the processor equipped in the back of the vehicle; I could be mistaken for a terrorist or a moonshine maker (it turned out people in Kazan used a very similar machinery to make samagon, home made liquor). Some immigration officers even asked for bribes.
Most memorable was the drive through Siberia. Since it took us longer than expected to collect used cooking oil, the winter had already started when we reached the area. Snow started to fall. When the temperature reaches freezing level, biodiesel fuel freezes and stops flowing and thus, the vehicle stops running. We had to look for garages with roofs to prevent the fuel tank from getting cold.
However, while we had to overcome various obstacles including language barriers, difficulty in collecting used cooking oil, ice-cold weather, rough roads, and visa expirations, the kindness and support of everyone we encountered kept us going. We had new discoveries and surprises everyday. Each day spent on the road offered us a very rich and heart warming experience.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to everyone who supported us throughout the journey. Thank you very much! We could not have completed the journey without the help from each and one of you.
Against the background of recent gas price hike and growing awareness in environmental issues, the Biodiesel Adventure received a lot of media attention since our journey proved to be self-sufficient fuel wise making biodiesel from used cooking oil collected along the way. The experience proved meaningful in many ways. While the journey reminded me that everybody around the world are deeply concerned about environmental and energy problems just as much, I am grateful to have encountered many people with similar interests and established long lasting friendships.
As for the next steps, I will need to do a repair on Vasco-five and the processor and organize mountains of information we collected. If asked, I will do lectures and photo exhibits. Starting from the next spring, I will resume the project in Japan all the way from the south to the north. I want to share the knowledge and information I gained throughout the journey with as many people as possible.
Please keep an eye out for the Biodiesel Adventure's future endeavors.