Vegetable Oil Diesel, Wood-Fired Water Heater, and Other Energy News

Buffalo gourd seeds as a source of vegetable oil diesel fuel and a wood-fired water heater from Mexico were among the energy news items covered in this regular feature.

| May/June 1981

OIL FROM THE SEEDS OF THE BUFFALO GOURD, a high-desert plant that's related to cucumbers and squash, makes a very decent vegetable oil diesel fuel. The vegetable is now being selectively bred to increase its oil content. Usually found in dry, poor soil, the vine will grow as much as a foot a day when watered.

A MEXICAN-MADE, WOOD-FIRED WATER HEATER provides Steve Bell of Anson, Maine (and his family of five) with their monthly hot water by burning waste wood from a local dowel factory. Information on the appliances can be obtained by writing to Aqua Heater.

A MATTER OF TIME: "The home building industry is in the same situation that the American automobile industry was in a couple of years ago: making energy hogs and unable to sell them," says James Barron, program manager of New York's Energy Research and Development Authority. "Home builders are just lucky that Japan doesn't export houses yet." Well, that "luck" may be about to run out. Read on!

FOR THE PRICE OF AN AVERAGE CAR, a Japanese "total solar energy package" will soon be marketed in the U.S. It consists of a Rankine-cycle turbine—powered by a solar collector—that will produce electricity and provide heating and cooling. The basic homeowner's model is expected to sell for about $2,500, plus another $3,000 to $5,000 for solar energy storage capability to provide power on sunless days.

A SHADY OPERATION: Because of the area's intense heat, many people in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia drive when having to cover distances as short as 100 yards. In order to encourage walking, and to achieve the international standard of 12 square yards of greenery (and shade) per individual citizen, the city has built a $4.2 million nursery. It should be capable of producing the two million trees Jeddah plans to plant annually.

NEED A SPEAKER ON SOLAR ENERGY? The Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) has compiled a roster of 270 lecturers, with expertise in solar and other renewable energy topics, who have volunteered to address organizations. To request profiles of speakers in your area, call the Institute.

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