Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Ethanol

The world's fastest soft-top - the extreme Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible

Definitely in the “don’t try this at home” category is Juha Kankkunen’s new 205.48 mph (330.695 km/h) world speed record for driving on ice. Kankkunen drove the world’s fastest soft top, an all-wheel drive, 6-litre, 12-cylinder Continental Supersports convertible running on biofuel to capture the record on the frozen waters of the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Finland. Kankkunen bettered his own 2007 world ice speed record of 199.83 mph (321.6 km/h) set in the Continental GT at the same location. Not surprisingly, the challenges of driving on a 16.5km track of frozen ocean are many - temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees, sudden snow blizzards and potentially dangerous crosswinds not to mention the frailties of the 70cm-thick layer of sea ice.  Read More

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers are using the tools of synthetic biology...

The biofuel industry stands to benefit from the development of a new variety of yeast which produces ethanol from plant products more efficiently. Engineered by combining two existing yeast species, the new strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar commonly found in plants to produce ethanol.  Read More

Lignin (blue) in a regular Arabidopsis stem at left, and in a modified plant's stem at rig...

Biofuel derived from crops such as switchgrass certainly holds promise, although some critics maintain that such crops use up too much agricultural land – land that could otherwise be used for growing food crops. A genetic discovery announced this Tuesday, however, reportedly allows individual plants to produce more biomass. This means that biofuel crops could have higher yields, without increasing their agricultural footprint.  Read More

Kia's Soul Flex on show in Brazil

The major announcement of last week's Brazilian Motor Show in São Paulo was Kia's Soul Flex. Though it's the first Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) from Korea, ethanol derived from sugar cane is 40% cheaper than gas in Brazil, so flex fuel vehicles make up 85% of new car sales. On top of the cheaper fuel, the Soul Flex gets a 44% improvement in fuel efficiency, with power and torque figures also a slight improvement compared with the existing petrol model. Scheduled to go on sale in Brazil early next year, the Soul Flex is able to run on 100% ethanol, 100% gasoline or an ethanol-petrol mixture.  Read More

The E-Fuel MicroFueler, used in conjunction with the MicroFusion Reactor

A lot of people try to lessen the load on the local landfill by putting their organic waste in a compost heap, but soon there may be something else they can do with it – feed it to an E-Fuel MicroFusion Reactor. The new device, so we’re told, takes cellulosic waste material and breaks it down to nothing but sugar water and lignin powder within two minutes. The lignin powder can be used by pharmaceutical manufacturers (although it’s not clear how you’d get it to them), while the sugar water can be distilled into ethanol fuel. That’s where one of E-Fuel’s other products, the MicroFueler, comes in.  Read More

The artificial photosynthetic material design was inspired by the foam nests of the semi-t...

Natural photosynthesis isn't as efficient as we would like it to be, and incorporating solar energy into useful products is the subject for much collective research. Engineering researchers from University of Cincinnati have found a way to artificially create a photosynthetic material from foam which uses plant, bacterial, frog and fungal enzymes to produce sugars from sunlight and carbon dioxide.  Read More

Engineers at University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to convert 95% of the energy...

Engineers at University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to convert 95% of the energy of cellulosic biomass into jet fuel using stable, inexpensive catalysts, basic equipment and minimal processing. The end hydrocarbon product is so similar to jet fuel that it is ready for application by present internal engine designs.  Read More

Future site of the Waste-to-Biofuels complex

If you’re a fan of the original Back to the Future movie, then you probably liked the scene at the end where Doc Brown used some random household waste to fuel his time-traveling deLorean. Well, we’re now getting a little bit closer to that being a reality... sort of. While practical flying cars, time travel and cold fusion are still a ways off, the ability to power your car with garbage isn’t. Canadian biofuels firm Enerkem is currently working with the city of Edmonton, Alberta, to convert that city’s municipal waste into ethanol. This will lower the city’s greenhouse gas output, keep much of its waste out of the landfill, and produce a “clean” fuel Doc Brown would be proud of.  Read More

The new Bentley Supersports Convertible ... claimed to be the world's fastest four-seater ...

Bentley is fast moving from its luxury car tag to that of a supercar brand with the latest release of its Continental Supersports Convertible – the fastest four-seater convertible on the road. The new Supersports has the same 630PS (621bhp/463kW) twin-turbocharged W12 engine as the Continental Supersports Coupé introduced in 2009. Bentley says this is the fastest, most potent drop-top the company has ever built - 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds (0-100kmh in 4.2 seconds) and a top speed of 202mph (325kmh).  Read More

Dr. Henry Daniell has developed a cheap way to produce ethanol from waste materials (Image...

While it may not quite be the Mr. Fusion energy reactor Doc Brown uses to convert household scraps into power for his time-traveling DeLorean, scientists have found a way to turn discarded fruit peels, newspapers and other waste products into cheap fuel to power the world’s vehicles. Its developer says the new approach is greener and less expensive than the current methods available to run vehicles on cleaner fuel and is part of his goal to relegate gasoline to a secondary fuel.  Read More

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