In tune with nature
Posted on 28 December 2010
Written by Dieter Loibner
Mark Hayhoe feels at peace producing fewer emissions courtesy of his revolutionary Campion Allante 645.
Emissions - even if we hate them, we create them. And if we don't, others do while making the stuff we buy. What those emissions are and how much of them go into the atmosphere or into the ground and water is largely taboo.
Consumers are reluctant to ask and industries are happy to remain quiet for fear that disclosure will wreak havoc on a pricing model that largely ignores the real cost to our environment of the processes they use. European law forces automakers to divulge emissions numbers - not just fuel economy - in their advertising, but no such rule exists in the United States. And pleasure boats have been flying under the radar, anyway.
So customers such as Mark Hayhoe, who desire a boat that has a sustainability component built into its DNA, have to look long and hard before they find what they want. Hayhoe, of Shomberg, Ontario, works the land and plays on the water. On weekends, you'll find him on Lake Muskoka in his Campion Allante 645, which he calls his "bio-boat."
To see why this makes sense to him, it helps to understand the context. Part pragmatist, Hayhoe is rooted in Ontario soil. That's where he lives and makes a living with his company, K2 Milling Ltd., a custom miller of grains and oilseeds. Part philosopher, he has lofty ideas for improving his score on the sustainability scale without destroying his lifestyle. "My mindset is eco-awareness, and I promote what I call a bio-economy," he says.
It's a neat circle: Food becomes fuel and fuel becomes food. Locally grown soybeans are pressed into oil, which is used for food or can be refined into lubricants and biodiesel. The other part is soymeal, which is what Hayhoe mills into flour for foods or filler that can be used in plastics.
"I believe that food, fuel and fiber from plants [pave the path] to a sane ecology for our species," he says, espousing the virtues of his model. "One acre of flax contains 300 liters [80 gallons] of biodiesel, 700 kilograms [1,540 pounds] of high-protein flour or biofiller. The harvest residue can be used for the production of linen and/or as a filler and a fuel for heating and power generation."
Bio resin and biodiesel
Inspired by trips to Provence in the south of France, where people still cultivate the land they live on, and his mother, who grew up frugally on a Saskatchewan grain farm during the Great Depression, Hayhoe considers reducing waste and staying connected to the land the cornerstones of the bio-economy that permeates his life and shapes his boating choices. When he decided to buy a boat in 2009, he was interested in a fiberglass model that would reflect his eco-values. "I asked around, but got no response," he says.
Then he heard that Campion Marine (www.campionboats.com), of Kelowna, British Columbia, was experimenting with Envirez, a polyester resin from chemical manufacturer Ashland Inc. that has 12 percent bio content (by weight) derived from soybean oil and corn-based ethanol.
The origins of Envirez resins precede the replacement of MTBE with ethanol in gasoline and the growing popularity of biodiesel. About 10 years ago, the United Soybean Board and John Deere were trying to create more demand for subsidized crop products, such as those derived from soybeans and corn. The first applications were sheet-molded parts for tractors and combines.
"By 2006 or 2007 there was enough interest [in this technology] that we started developing other resins for open-mold construction, like the boatbuilding," Envirez product manager Bob Moffitt says.
Campion was an early adopter of Envirez and negotiated a price break as a research-and-development customer, so it doesn't have added costs to pass on to customers. The decision to use Envirez was driven by managing director Brock Elliott, who wanted to extend his lean manufacturing practices to more sustainable materials and technologies.
"If there's A and there's B, and B is more eco-friendly, let's do it," says Elliott, noting that "the amount of resin we use produced 100,000 pounds fewer carbon emissions when it was manufactured."
After extensive tests that compared green resin to traditional petro-based resin, Campion decided to move ahead with Envirez because it detected no adverse effects on boat performance. Today, Elliott says, all of Campion's boats are made with Envirez.
The carbon savings are computed with a factor of -0.19, which means that producing 1,000 pounds of Envirez releases 190 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Though that may not be a dramatic reduction, it's not the only savings. Ashland says the production of 1,000 pounds of Envirez uses 2.1 million fewer Btu than conventional polyester resin production (less than half a barrel of crude).
What grows here stays here
Hayhoe and his family own a cabin on Lake Muskoka, a refuge from summer heat and a place to play. It's where they go cruising, water skiing or tubing with their Allante 645, which they named Run of the Mill. It is powered by a Volvo D3 220-hp turbo diesel sterndrive that runs on pure B100 biodiesel.
That's pretty unusual, but Hayhoe says there are tangible benefits: fewer emissions than regular diesel, better lubricity and hardly any smell or smoke. It's biodegradable and produced locally from hundreds of crops. "I'm only interested in biodiesel from fields in the region," Hayhoe says. "It has to be local, otherwise it defeats the purpose."
It starts with locally grown soybeans that are processed at the refinery of Guelph University in Chatham, Ontario. The biodiesel is delivered to Hayhoe's mill, which like his boat and pickup truck runs on the fuel.
To get it to his boat, Hayhoe fills a 1,000-liter (263-gallon) fuel tote and hauls it to Campbell's Landing, where he keeps the boat. The tote has to be elevated by a forklift to make the gravity feed work. That's more toil than the average boater puts up with, but it's Hayhoe's ticket to independence from fossil fuel. "It's not a Formula 1-type of pit stop fueling," he jokes, "but it works until we get more biodiesel boats and the infrastructure that comes with it."
So what are the environmental and cost benefits of the bio boat? Right away, Hayhoe says, he saved nearly 20 cents (Canadian) a gallon in fuel costs. During the first season of use, he put approximately 65 hours on the engine and says he burned about 1,200 liters (308 gallons) of biodiesel. That's around 4.75 gph.
The EPA says burning 1 gallon of diesel adds approximately 22 pounds of carbon to the atmosphere, which would bring Hayhoe's annual total to about 6,800 pounds.
"I think that's 30 to 40 percent less fuel than a gasoline engine of similar torque would consume in that same boat," he says. "And because I burn biodiesel, there are significant savings in nitrous and sulfur dioxide."
On the downside, Hayhoe lists the higher purchase price for the diesel engine - the difference was about 15 percent - and the white elephant in the room: the engine warranty. He says he may be headed for a showdown if anything goes wrong with the power plant because B100 biodiesel typically is outside manufacturers' coverage (see accompanying story for Volvo's position on the use of biodiesel).
To the uninitiated, that's a lot of hoops to jump through in the interest of sustainability.
"I have a wooden canoe, locally made," Hayhoe chuckles. "I also should have a kayak and a wooden sailboat. That would be nirvana, wouldn't it?"
But there's a lot of water outside his cabin on Lake Muskoka and he likes to get places fast. He also doesn't want to give up water skiing or tubing. And his family is not interested in sailing. So he is happy because he can have his cake and eat it, too.
Hayhoe's quest is about progress, not perfection. His children Mikhail, 17, and Linnea, 12, think he's a preacher, he says. But that's all right because he wants them to understand that it takes a conscious effort to live in a more environmentally friendly way.
"Raising my kids, I hope this sets an example," he says. "They have to know the real cost of life if they want to do better than we are."
See related stories:
- Campion Marine: a builder on the cutting edge
- A Bimini that uses the sun it blocks
- Volvo's stance on biodiesel
This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue.