Coolfuel Roadtrip: Alternative-Fuel Vehicles Across the Country

Learn about different alternative-fuel vehicles in the show “Coolfuel Roadtrip.”

| February/March 2006

  • Shaun Murphy and his pal Sparky blend up a carbohydrate-heavy concoction to power the Green Hummer. A “diet” including beignets, crawfish and catfish powered this highly unusual “coolfuel” vehicle through Louisiana.
  • Shaun Murphy and his pal Sparky on the road.

The great American road trip is a time-honored tradition. But these days, high gas prices and concerns about pollution and global warming have conspired to make hitting the road a guilty pleasure. Fortunately, alternative fuels and vehicles are changing that, and the intrepid Australian traveler Shaun Murphy and his canine companion, Sparky, prove how in their new TV show, Coolfuel Roadtrip.

“My goal was to show everyone how many different natural fuels there are in America’s own back yard, so I went on the road trip to piece them all together,” Murphy says. “In doing so, I met a lot of interesting people and drove some outrageous vehicles.”

Crossing 30 states and racking up 16,000 miles, Murphy sought out innovative — sometimes quirky — Americans with alternative vehicles, including an eclectic assortment of electric cars, bikes, scooters and motorcycles; biodiesel cars and a dragster; a stretch Hummer limousine powered by biodiesel and a carbohydrate gasifier system; a BMW roadster powered by corn whiskey; and a solar-powered canoe.

Each of the first 13 episodes shows Murphy in a different state, with different vehicles. The adventure often takes unexpected turns as he meets some strange and clever characters who help him along the way, such as a rapping biofuel supplier known as the Ayatollah Granola of Canola, and eco-conscious Hollywood stars such as Ed Begley Jr. and Darryl Hannah. The last five episodes offer behind-the-scenes looks into the fuels, vehicles, people and bloopers of the trip.

For much of the journey, Murphy says he didn’t know how he would find his next ride. “I used the Internet to search for locals who had alternative-fuel vehicles, improvising the whole way. I definitely winged it,” he says.

Coolfuel Roadtrip airs nationally this year. Go to the Coolfuel Roadtrip website for TV listings, DVDs and detailed information about the vehicles, fuels and technologies covered in each episode.

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