When Barton Community College asks "What drives you?", there’s no one answer. And when people think about what supplies power to their cars, they shouldn't just think about petroleum.
That was the idea when the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium created Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day back in 2002. Breaking America’s dependence on foreign oil is one purpose of AFV Day, observed last Friday at Barton Community College. For Auto Tech Coordinator Darcy Wedel, joining the national observance also allowed Barton staff to show off the new Automotive Technology facility, complete with its hybrid gas-electric car.
Even though the college was the only Kansas site joining the AFV Day Odyssey, Wedel noted the event is perfect for the Heartland. There were programs on biodiesel and ethanol, two fuels made with corn or soybeans that can be grown right here in central Kansas, and on harvesting energy from the wind — another Kansas staple. There were also seminars on electric conversions.
"Biodiesel is better for the environment and it’s good for Kansas farmers," Wedel said.
St. John High School sent several science and technology students. At least one other area high school participated, learning about alternative fuels and the vehicles that can run on them.
Entrepreneurs are embracing the potential of alternative fuels. Scott Brantley, from West Wind Energy, talked about the huge wind turbines on large transmission grids, but also described smaller products being developed at his Otis-based company. "A wind turbine can power your house, community or shop," he said.
Wayne Alexander, with EV-Blue in Walton, described his business that converts gas-powered vehicles into electric vehicles. "Just about any vehicle can be converted, within reason," Alexander said. "The electric vehicle will eventually replace gas altogether."
The Kansas Corn Commission had an ethanol-fuel vehicle on display. Also represented were the Kansas Ethanol Plant at Lyons, and biodiesel expert Hoon Ge from MEG Corporation, a fuel consulting company. Barton County Farm Bureau and Great Bend Co-op were also sponsors of the event.