Nick Rosen | |

Applehead

It may be doing nothing to prevent global warming, but it is certainly off grid: apple farmer Henry “Hooter” Hobhouse has just converted his Jaguar Classic car to run on rotting fruit fumes. And it is saving him a fortune.

He fills two underground tanks full of mushy apples and collects the methane gas produced as they rot. Now, after converting his, 3-litre XJ6 to run on methane, he is paying just 40 pence ($1) a litre for his fuel instead of the two bucks everyone else pays.

Hooter, of Castle Cary, Somerset, said: Methane has so many benefits over other alternative fuels we should be looking at expanding its use.
And he reckons he drives around 25,000 miles a year on gas, saving him more than 2,200 in fuel costs. The rotting process is speeded up by adding bacteria from cows intestines to the tanks. The gas is then bubbled through an alkaline and water solution to remove carbon dioxide and sulphur  leaving pure methane.

Hooter, a county councillor who is responsible for bio-diversity, claims methane is 10 times more energy efficient to produce than bio-diesel and seven times more efficient than bio-ethanol.

Hooter says the 145mph car gains 10 per cent in power by running on compressed methane and still returns around 28 miles per gallon  a mere 2 mpg less than he was getting on petrol. I can drive from the north of Sweden down to the toe of Italy on methane but it is not available in the UK.

Hooter, who supplies apples for Blackthorn cider from his 10,000 trees, also plans to harness his methane tanks to provide hot water and electricity for five homes on his 55-acre farm. He intends to use 400 tons of pressed apples  half his crop  to produce gas every year.

The methane system has cost Hooter around 25,000 ($50,000) but he says his farm is now almost energy self-sufficient.

He added: There are sound political and environmental reasons to give more backing for schemes like this. After all, Russia could cut off our fuel by flicking the switch off any time it likes.

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