Greening Your Burn

Table of Contents

Greening Your Vehicle

Mutant vehicles have been described as mobile sculptures cruising gracefully along the playa. Unlike stationary art, mutant vehicles are based on an actual mobile vehicle of some sort, whether that be car, truck, bus, golf cart, or an engine on wheels. So this page will give you some ideas on how to green your vehicle, making it more environmentally friendly overall.

As a first step, we recommend you read the about the 6 R’s: respect, rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle and restore. If you keep these ideas at the forefront of your mind while conceiving and creating your project, you’re sure to be as green as you can get. It’s really about thinking differently, having a green conscience, and acting upon it.

Fuel: It Makes Things Go
When it comes to your mutant vehicle, you have an alternative to emissions-heavy engines that chew up fossil fuels. Think about it: If your mutant vehicle is only going to be used on the playa (as many are), it’s only going to be traveling 5 mph, right? (It better be.) And if you’ve only got to crank it up to 5 mph, you don’t need nearly as much power as if you were opening it up on the highway, right? Right.

Consider LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) rather than a gasoline engine. While it’s still technically fossil fuels, it’s cleaner burning and less expensive.

Go biodiesel! Traditional gas-burning engines cannot be converted to run on biodiesel. However a diesel engine, as found in many buses, trucks and in cars from a certain German company with a two letter acronym, can run on biodiesel, sometimes with no conversion work at all! Visit Greasecar or Golden Fuel Systems to learn about DIY kits (around $600) for converting your car to biodiesel. More and more filling stations are providing biodiesel, as it becomes more popular. Fast food restaurants normally pay people to remove their fryer grease, and will be happy to offload it to you. Also check to start your research.

Check out gasification techniques … there are Burners out there who are converting engines to run on garbage. No joke.

Fuel-cells: electric motors
Electric motors have some great advantages – they’re much much quieter than combustion engines and have no emissions at all! No smell and no smog to distract your fellow burners from your fabulous rolling art.The typical disadvantage of an electric motor is that it doesn’t have as much power, but since you’ll only be going 5 mph, that won’t much matter, right?

Consider a solar rig! If you’re working with a very small vehicle and will be driving it only in the daytime, look into small-scale solar panels. Camping and marina (you know, boats) stores offer small solar panels, and the equipment necessary to rig up your own solar array. And you know there’s no shortage of sunlight on the playa. A solar solution is also a great way to recharge your vehicle’s batteries.

Fuel-free: people power!
Why not use the community, and have fun propelling your vehicle by participant power! Rig up some bikes, chains, gears and wheels to mobilize your artwork. Talk about interactive art!

Don’t Be a Drip
Oil dripping onto the playa is MOOP, and very nasty MOOP at that. We don’t have to tell you why it’s bad to dump toxic oil onto the playa, right? Before you leave for the playa, make sure your engine doesn’t leak. Second, when you’re on the playa and parking your vehicle, put a slab of (secured) cardboard, a plastic tarp or an automotive drip pan underneath the vehicle to catch any unexpected spills.

Mobile MOOP
And don’t decorate your car with items that will easily become MOOP!

Got a Bright Idea?
Clearly we haven’t covered everything here, and Burning Man participants are some of the most innovative and resourceful people on the planet. So, if you’ve got a great idea you’d like to see added to this list, please send it along to, and we’ll consider it for inclusion on this page.