Students from Bloom Trail High School District 206 in Chicago Heights brought their Motion Minus Petrol hands-on alternative energy fair to Sandburg Middle School in Elmhurst Wednesday.
About 100 Elmhurst students from Bryan, Sandburg and Churchville middle schools learned about alternative energy sources from the students in Bloom Trail’s Chemistry Club. The event was sponsored by Elmhurst Unit District 205's Reach program and the PTA.
While Sandburg’s cafeteria buzzed with activity as students huddled around exhibits on wind, biodiesel, solar and ethanol energy sources, the favorite exhibit was outside: a go-kart that runs on waste vegetable oil. (See accompanying video.)
Bloom Trail chemistry teacher Chris Clausing and several Elmhurst parents took turns demonstrating the go-kart, which was built by Clausing’s chemistry students in 2005 and can travel up to 45 miles per hour.
“The whole idea is, instead of throwing away all that oil and grease from McDonald’s, you can make your own fuel,” Clausing told wide-eyed students. “This thing really hauls. That diesel engine has a lot of power.”
He said fuel from vegetable oil costs only about 60 cents per gallon, compared to diesel fuel, which is upwards of $4.50 per gallon today. And it’s cleaner, he said.
“The U.S. government tells us one thing, but we as the people have power,” he said. “You are the future. We neeed your help. We can make our own fuel so we don’t have to get it from overseas.”