Read about how Chips Guevara - a Man of Pure Strength - challenged the norm with his veggie oil cars

Read about how Chips Guevara - a Man of Pure Strength - challenged the norm with his veggie oil cars

As our climate continues to shift sporadically between producing Olympic-sized floods and extremely sweltering heat, we’re pretty sure you’ve noticed that something in the air has changed in the past few decades. News reports dub every summer day as the latest hottest day of the year. Every week you seem to have to increasingly drain your bank account for a full tank of gas. If you try standing in the middle of EDSA for a few minutes (which we don’t recommend), you will feel all the cumulative exhaust of smoke-belchers and diesel-run vehicles polluting your lungs. What set off all this madness, you wonder?

It’s a problem that’s simple to illustrate but very difficult to address. For centuries, everything we needed to get around, produce food, and pump potable water relied on the power of petroleum or its main distilled product, fossil fuel. It was a cheap feat that made life so much easier – that is, until people began to realize one thing: the Earth didn’t have enough to last forever. Petroleum is a limited, non-renewable resource that sent the first of worlds on a frenzied hunt for quickly diminishing extraction sites. And once a war has been waged over who gets dibs on exploiting the Earth’s natural resources, you definitely know we’ve reached a crisis.

As the era of petroleum reaches its peak and point of scarcity, many forward-looking thinkers have been prompted to view the prospect of energy resources from a more conscientious and sustainable lens. But while more of the public have become open to embracing alternative fuel as the new diesel, it still remains a challenge for pioneering individuals to establish renewable and eco-friendly energy as the mainstream means of energy.

One such individual who faced this challenge with confidence is Chips Guevara, founder and president of Alterenergy System Inc. and one of Human Nature’s celebrated Men of Pure Strength at the 2013 Pure Strength Challenge. Alterenergy System Inc. is a corporation focused on propagating alternative energy by utilizing Straight Vegetable Oil technology, which is a conversion kit installed in diesel engines to allow them to run on vegetable oil.


What Drives Veggie Oil Cars?

So how did Chips come up with the idea behind vegetable oil cars? “It was really my dad and his entrepreneurial ideas,” Chips recalls. “He was the one that discovered this technology over the internet and saw the possibilities. Given my mechanical engineering and MBA background, it just made me comfortable developing the technology myself and building a business of it. I like to tinker. I like to continuously improve on the design until I am happy with the performance. I also like developing business models and testing them.”

For such a forward-looking business model to succeed, Chips needed to make drastic alterations not only to diesel engines, but also to the mindsets that we – as drivers, passengers, or car enthusiasts – have when it comes to how we get around. At present, fossil fuel is the most widely utilized energy source because of its convenience and inexpensive price tag, but at the cost of emitting harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As our world’s oil wells continue to be drained, Chips pitches an even better plan for the Philippines’ (and the planet’s) future – a plan that actually takes a page from the past.

Before petroleum became the speedy standard, peanut oil was actually used to power diesel engines. So why can’t our everyday veggie oil go from our kitchen to our cars? All it took, as Chips found out, was to filter used cooking oil, then pre-heat it in the engine to make it less thick and as easily combustible as your regular diesel fuel. There are many different types of veggie oil to choose from, each of which delivers varying levels of engine performance: palm oil, peanut oil, soya oil, sesame oil, olive oil. And in a recent interview with ANC, Chips explains that our very own coconut oil is actually the best alternative to diesel fuel, delivering “better mileage, more horsepower, [and the] same torque [as diesel].”

There are many perks to Chips’ groundbreaking veggie oil car system. When compared to diesel fuel, veggie oil boasts a lower liter cost for just as much consumption, improves engine lubricity and overall performance (minus the smoke-belching!), and saves on fuel costs.

Environmentally, veggie oil cuts down on water pollution (as cooking oil that would normally go down the drain and into our waterways is, instead, filtered and given a second life) and reduces carbon emissions – putting the brakes on global warming. Plus Chips’ veggie oil engines also have a social impact, since their veggie oil is used and purchased from street vendors, household helpers, and canteen workers, providing them with extra income. Veggie oil engines also help curb the health risk that comes with traders purchasing and illegally selling used veggie oil in the marketplace, exposing customers to bacteria and carcinogens that may be found in unfiltered waste oil.


The Perks of French Fried Fuel

Once the business idea was ready to be set in motion, one question lingered in Chips’ mind: Who should be our target market? The answer was none other than the ubiquitous and iconic Filipino jeepney.

“The advocacy of converting jeepneys came out of brainstorming who we wanted to market to,” Chips explains. “The criteria we set was we will choose a market where the technology can benefit the most number of people who need it the most. Most large diesel consumers are already rich – owners of business companies or trucking companies. But jeepney drivers are generally poor and get poorer every time fuel prices go up. And the jeepneys are a major source of pollution. If we apply the veggie oil system on the jeepneys, we can stabilize their fuel cost and at the same time cut down the pollution they produce drastically. So with our market in mind, our technology at hand, we registered as Alterenergy Systems Inc. and commercialized.”

The benefits of alternative energy for these jeepney drivers are two-fold. “First is that they will get to save lots of money in the long run and stabilize the cost of their fuel,” Chips elaborates. “With today's diesel prices, they can recover what they will spend on the conversion kit in seven months. After that, the fuel savings is theirs to keep, and savings continue on forever. With microfinancing, they won't even have to shell out any money at all. Part of their fuel savings will be used to pay the monthly installments of the conversion kit, the rest they get to keep. So as soon as they sign on the microfinance program, they immediately generate extra cash at the end of the day right from the start."

“The second benefit is environmental,” Chips goes on. “Jeepney drivers and operators are continuously exposed to the pollution they produce. This will in turn affect their health. They can get asthma or other lung problems, and heart diseases, some of which the effects are permanent. When running on veggie oil, we reduce pollution that they are exposed to and therefore reduce the risk of getting sick." With veggie oil engines, therefore, jeepney operators get to receive a stable income as they, along with their throngs of commuters, get the reassurance of making a big social and environmental impact on a daily basis.


Building Sustainability, One Car at a Time

Since Alterenergy’s establishment in 2007, Chips and his crew have converted around 30 vehicles, from jeepneys and trucks, to luxury cars like Mercedes Benzes, Pajeros, Ford Rangers, and Toyota Land Cruisers. Chips’ goal is a simple one: for every vehicle in the country to run on renewable, homegrown, non-polluting fuel.

In an age where cheap petroleum is running dry and burning holes in the sky, there are bigger and more sustainable alternatives that are just waiting for innovative minds to unearth and pursue. Chips is confident that the Philippines can become fully self-sufficient by growing our own fuel and converting existing technology into happily energized, earth-friendly vehicles.

So as a Man of Pure Strength who never shied away from the challenge of defying the petroleum-run dream, what advice does Chips have for young and innovative modern-day heroes who look to build a more sustainable world? Take it from the man himself:

“If you look hard enough and are creative enough,” Chips advises, “And if you care enough, you can find business opportunities and ideas that can help make this world a better place, business ideas that will uplift human beings, reduce poverty, or give solutions to long-standing social and environmental problems. If our world continues on like it is today, where our environment continuous to be destroyed with no one making an effort to stop it, and with poverty levels rising, our world will not survive. So you see, addressing these problems is not just a nice thing to do, but a necessary thing to do for us to continue surviving as a human race. Business solutions to these problems are sustainable. It generates an income while providing a social service, so it thrives. In order to make our world sustainable, we really need solutions that are also sustainable.”


Want to learn more about Chips’ veggie oil cars? Visit Alterenergy System Inc’s official site or email / to learn more about Straight Vegetable Oil technology and how to convert your car into a greener vehicle.

Need to fuel up? Alterenergy’s veggie oil station is located at:
Alterenergy Systems Inc.
9815 Kamagong St.
Brgy. San Antonio, Makati City
01203 Philippines

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