Friday, July 25, 2014

Liquid Gold by Caroline Swart

   For over 20 years the Smith family has been carrying a large secret, one that can change the world.  Her family has been growing sunflowers that can be pressed and the oil can be put directly into engines without adding chemicals or modifying it.  Such a cheap and easy crop to grow would surely put many large companies out of business.  Because of a certain contract Dirk Smit, who lives in South Africa, signed over 20 years ago, these sunflowers have not been able to be used for what Peter Smith and his family have been using it for.  A very few people know about these seeds and it needs to stay that way until the family can get the seeds analyzed and patented since the company who bought out Dirk's crop had not renewed the patent.  But a company called Secure Measures is keeping watch of everything going on and are prepared to go to great lengths to make sure those seeds never come to light.
   While all of this is happening, Jennifer Smith is getting acquainted with very handsome Ryan Edwards.  He is a student at the college she attends and a trustworthy guy.  Her uncle is one of Ryan's professors and Ryan frequently helps him with things.  Ryan has had a complicated past and doesn't trust others easily, but he really likes Jennifer.  Things get complicated when Jennifer's ex shows up in town again.  Things get downright dangerous when one of Ryan and Jennifer's friends is almost beaten to death by one of the men looking for the special sunflower seeds grown on her family's farm.

   This was a very fascinating book!  It seems like it would be mostly a romance, but it actually is not.  There is a lot of action and danger to this book and the romance part balances it out well.  The story line about sunflower seeds being genetically modified for use in regular car engines and such is very interesting!  It would be very dangerous indeed to hold the key to a world energy crisis.  Huge companies that produced oil and such would not want that type of competition and people could get hurt, which is what happens in the book.  I love the scientific element to it!

A word from the author:

In the early eighties in South Africa, a reporter wrote an article about a farmer who used sunflower oil to power his farm vehicles. This was before biofuel became popular and there was a lot of excitement about the news. The article went on to say that South Africa's largest fuel company had expressed interest in the farmer's endeavours. Because of sanctions, fuel was difficult to obtain and there was a lot of excitement about a new energy source. Nothing was heard about the oil after that and the story evolved into a giant conspiracy theory. I was interested in biofuel  and wanted to find out about the process. While researching the subject, I remembered the story of the farmer and imagined what his life would be like if he’d been given the chance to market the oil and this led to the idea behind Liquid Gold. A lot of research went into the book and I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible by contacting universities and people actively involved in energy research. Hopefully readers will enjoy the romance and adventure that I’ve woven around this interesting story.

*The name Dirk Smit is not a typo.  In this story he is related to the Smiths.  Peter Smith changed his name from Peter Smit.

Here are some interesting links on alternative fuel for those of you interested:

-Mythbusters- Cooking Oil as Economical Diesel Fuel (video)

-Can I burn used vegetable oil in my car?

-Sunflower Oil Use in Biodiesel

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