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Published December 10, 2012, 10:52 AM

Funny-fast

Canadian man is proud of his biofuel race car.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Kevin Therres is going fast on canola oil. He displayed the “world’s first, biodiesel, jet-powered funny car” in a booth for the first time at the Northern Ag Expo in Fargo, N.D. at the end of November.

“We’re here showing the car that runs on 100 percent biodiesel,” Therres told anyone who came near. Therres and his ride appeared on behalf of BrettYoung, a family-owned agribusiness based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Among other things, BrettYoung supplies branded canola and forage, corn and soybean seed and related products.

Therres said his car produces 7,500 horsepower, which is “just incredible” on a biofuel. Normal cars in the class are “Jet-A fuel” because they employ jet turbines. He became an enthusiast for the biofuel because of his farm background.

“In Canada, we use No. 3, ‘heated’ or ‘green’ canola to produce biodiesel, which is not in the food chain,” Therres said. Anything below No. 2 canola can’t be used in the food market, Therres says.

Sometimes grain stored on the farm spoils. “Normally they would haul that away and throw it away,” Therres said. “Now if you get it out of the bin, you still get $5 a bushel. You get what you put in the ground (for inputs) back. And it’s making energy.”

The waste canola is processed at Milligan Biofuels, Inc. at Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, about 135 miles southeast of Saskatoon. Canola accounts for 1.5 to 5 percent of the entire diesel used in Canada, and Milligan produces much of the biodiesel for western Canada, Therres said. He says he thinks the company makes 400,000 liters of the stuff per day.

Getting around

This car itself is an exhibition class by National Hot Rod Association, as well as International Hot Rod Association. The car runs exhibition matches across North America and has gone as far as Florida, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas and in British Columbia in Canada. It is actually a drag race car, on the quarter-mile drag strips. It’s a tube chassis, made from 4130 Chrome-Moly Tubing and has a fiberglass body.

“It’s what they call a Funny Car,” he said, but added that it has some serious speed.

The car has gone up to 254 miles an hour in a quarter-mile — 6.3 seconds — “all on a renewable fuel like canola,” Therres said. “The neat thing is you could burn this fuel in a regular diesel truck and have 75 to 85 percent less greenhouse gases coming out the back end. It’s good for the environment, using up stuff that normally was thrown away by the farmers and it’s going into a fuel — a win, win, win.”

Therres grew up on a farm but it wasn’t large enough to support him so he became a journeyman automotive mechanic.

“I have a passion for racing,” he said, noting that the project to get a Funny Car running on 100 percent biodiesel started in 2005. “It took us two years to do it,” he says. “I designed it, built it and race it.” And he talks it up, too.

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