The Crucible, Photovoltaic, and Biofriendly Motorcycles…


In Oakland, California there exists a non-profit organization with an emphasis on collaboration between art, industry and community. The Crucible serves as a studio for sculpture and a foundry and metal fabrication shop teaching classes in art…both the gallery and industrial kind. It’s a very special educational facility that, for the first time in my life, makes me wish that I lived in Oakland. 


Since May 2006, the 56,000 square foot studio has been getting a huge part of it’s electricity from a 34-kw photovoltaic system. Energy not used by the Crucible is sold back to the grid through net metering.

“As a community organization, a cornerstone of our mission is to be environmentally sustainable in supporting the arts.  As a nonprofit organization, our high energy needs also motivated us to look into ways to alleviate that cost. Undertaking a solar energy project fit right in with both of these goals.” 

Michael Sturtz,
Executive Director of The Crucible

The system puts out roughly 63,000 kwhr per year, saving $27,700 from May of 2006 through October 2007…roughly $2,000 dollars a month during the summer. 

The total solar project cost of approximately $260,000 was covered by individual donations from The Crucible’s supporters, financing of $106,000 by SafeBidco, and a one-time $119,525 rebate through PG-E’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). 

But The Crucibles environmental interest doesn’t end with photovoltaic. They’ve been working on a subject near and dear to my heart…a biodiesel motorcycle.

I’ve been wanting a diesel, and by extension, a biodiesel motorcycle for years now. Royal Enfield in India actually had a production diesel motorcycles that sometimes make it across the pond, and if I can ever get my hands on one, you can bet I’ll jump at the chance. 

But we’re not talking about a little around town bike with an industrial water pump motor shoved into the frame. The Crucible’s Die Moto set the diesel motorcycle land speed record of 130MPH running on B100 biodiesel.

The motorcycle was built using a BMW motorcycle frame and a BMW V6 diesel car motor, not normally available in the US. 

The team is hoping to break their own record with another run at Bonneville in the future, expecting to get it up to 160 mph. Although Die Moto is designed to break records, the real story is that environmental responsibility and alternative technology can result in a high performance motor vehicle.