Categorie: Uit de sloot

So strange it might even be real.

”By combining strategies of speculation, ridiculousness, and ‘‘magic’’ with actual hands-on action and experimentation, we can actually test our theory against these different frameworks we live in and propose to see if they actually do tackle the problems we are dealing with and make a change or propose a new framework. Then, simple actions such as painting a bicycle white, using hands-on experimentation and bodging can become a catalyzing force for people to actually imagine how things could be different which they could never imagine before, let alone act upon.

For the full experience I suggest (interested) readers to read from the bottom of the last page. Join the journey from the first experimental harvesting sessions, essays on why I believe this is important in today’s world, sketches of how I build these contraptions, video’s of how they work and documentation of the best 500 meters on two wheels of my life. In order to get the best reading experience I suggest you start all the way at the bottom, the first video showing a ”sketch” of how one could harvest fuel from shallow waters. From there it will become increasingly clear why it is becoming so important that we start figuring out ways on how to do these things ourselves, rather than outsourcing everything to bigger corporations.

Gas collecting apparatus XL

As the vehicle is nearing completion, we also need an apparatus to collect more fuel than a 10 liter bucket. As such the Gas collecting apparatus XL is build. It consists of a big inner tube from a truck, a 80 liter plastic bucket, wooden frame, PVC tube that houses some filters and a valve.

If you bleed the collecting apparatus well, there is no need for a water catching reservoir.
One of the first sketches, there is not enough pressure in the container to fill the balloon sadly.

See the final result here:

Engineering 2.0

After safety testing, the decision was made to go with a polycarbonate fuel container. You either need a vacuum former big enough to make it from solid poly sheets, or come up with a way to assemble flat sheets in to a round shape.

Everything had to be assembled without glue, in order to be able to repair each individual part if necessary.
Simple wooden strips are cut and bend with steam to hold the poly sheets in place.
Big, custom steel clamps are used to keep the wooden strips together after bending. Steel wire and tensioners are used to make sure the whole assembly stays together. Each strip has 2 threaded mounting points to mount the tank to a steel frame on the motorcycle.


Honda PC50 converted to gas.

Quite easy to convert the Honda to gas, the engine might even be easier to work on than a generator engine. Only need to drill a little hole in the rubber boot in front of the carburetor and attach a tube to it together with the rest of the assembly used from the gas collecting apparatus. For dialing it in it might be easy to hot glue a little dial to the valve to remember where idle, turtle and hare are. Just like the generator, this one also needs to (cold) start on gasoline before switching to gas.

Test drive using butane as fuel.

Pressure pump

As the project is evolving, somewhere in the future it might become desirable to switch from 10 liter condoms to bigger gas containers. The reason condoms are used up until now is because of the low (almost none) pressure required to inflate them with the gas, which is done by the water pushing back in to the bucket after the valve is opened. Once we scale up the collecting apparatus though, new tools are needed to pressurize the new gas containers.

Sketch of the inner workings of a modified bicycle pump

A bicycle pump is something most people (at least in The Netherlands) have at home. By modifying the top cap (adding two o-rings in order to make it pressure-proof) and drilling a hole at the top of the chamber, where the incoming gas line will be connected, it becomes able to pressurize any container with either gas or air.

It does not only work for low-pressure harvesting apparatusses, it works just as well with a (higher pressure) propane container.

1968 Honda PC50

1968 Honda PC50 brochure picture.

Born out of the Honda Super Cub, the 50cc moped that made the world addicted to gasoline. The PC50 was one of the many different Dutch iterations of the same concept; a simple 4-stroke 50cc moped combined with pedals. Sharing many parts with its cousins C50, C310, PF50 etc. it is easy to maintain if it needs to be maintained. Some specs from the original sales guide:

49cc 4-stroke engine

Maximum speed: 40 km/h

Horsepower: 1.75 @ 5750 RPM

Torque: 2.9 N/M @ 3500 RPM

Mileage: 90 kilometers / liter

PC50 ”barnfind”, it was actually in very good condition apart from some missing small parts. I chose the blue one over the green one as it had rear suspension, making the ride just a bit more comfortable.

There are a few reasons for using this vehicle and the first one is obviously gas mileage. A (liquid) liter of gasoline contains about the same amount of energy as a cubic meter (1000 liter) of slootgas. It takes about five minutes to collect five liters of slootgas, so we want our vehicle to be as efficient as possible with its fuel.

Four-stroke engine. As we switch from liquid fuel to gaseous fuel, it is easiest to convert a 4-stroke engine, as these do not need oil injected in to the engine or oil mixed together with fuel to lubricate the insides. A 4-stroke engine lubricates itself with it’s own engine oil, so all we need to do is add an extra fuel line.

Age. Produced in 1968 and still working perfectly fine in 2021. By now it can be considered written off. Maybe even multiple times already. I bought it from somebody who had it stored in a barn for a couple of years, non-running. Half a day of work, together with twenty euro’s in part made it run again.

Electronics. The bike does not need a battery, but is still able to power 6-volt electronics such as its own lights and an additional USB-charger for my (lithium powered) smartphone.

Speed. Where we are going, we don’t need speed at all. All we want is gas-fueled movement, speed somewhere far down the list. Speed (power) means bigger cilinder, higher compression and as a result, bigger consumption. Not only for vehicles, this goes for everything. Faster food means more consumption of resources. Faster growth means more accumulation of resources.

Pedal power. In the Netherlands, at the time of production, for a moped to be a moped it had to have pedals, otherwise it would’ve been classified as a motorcycle at that time. Not very cool, but very convenient when you run out of slootgas or need to transport yourself to the nearest source. Also, because of the limited power available by the engine, it’s nice to pedal along when accelerating in order to release some strain on the engine and keep it happier.

40 Kilometers per hour doesn’t sound like much, but it sure is when you are on a vehicle as small as this.