Alright, I’ve officially heard of every off-the-wall fuel source possible…until tomorrow, anyway. Boats powered by alternative fuels is nothing new…human-powered (duh), wind (double duh), electricity, steam, biodiesel, solar…all fairly old hat with improvements occurring daily. But this one takes the cake.
The Earthrace is a high-tech speedcraft on its way to breaking the round-the-world speed record. Hell-bent on creating a net-zero carbon footprint to prove that earth-friendly high-power boats are possible, the 24 meter boat is lubricated with vegetable oils, the bedding foams are made from canola oils, and the crew sups on organic and local foods as they race around the world, trying to beat the 75 day record set 10 years ago by the British boat Cable and Wireless Adventurer. And the Earthrace is run, in part, on human fat.
Pete Bethune, skipper of Earthrace, and his family sold their home and belongings to fund the boat, and Pete put in a little more than other members of the family, liposuctioning out enough of his own fat to create 100ml of biofuel to toss in the tank with other biodiesel fuels. There’s one way to put a little elbow grease into it, though I don’t think that’s where they put the lipo tube…
But fat isn’t the secret to Eathrace’s zip. The shape of the craft is the ingredient for speed. The Earthrace’s hull is designed to slice through waves, rather than ride on top of them. The trimaran hull pieces waves and allows the boat to slice through rough seas like a hot knife through butter.
The boat’s unique features are proving to be successful as it is ahead of schedule (thus far) for completing its mission for both eco-friendliness and speed. You can keep tabs on Earthrace’s location on its website.
written by Linda Sherman, June 10, 2008
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