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Ethanol

Biofuels excreted by genetically re-engineered bacteria may become part of the solution to...

August 2, 2007 If you ever doubt the creativity of modern science, just throw a serious challenge at it and watch the myriad responses you receive. Rising oil prices and historical data are signifying that Hubbert’s “peak oil” may be upon us, and the rush is on all over the world to find viable alternative energy sources to replace the dwindling crude that’s powered us into the technology age. But what if we could just ‘grow’ more oil? The deadly bacteria E. coli, might seem like an unlikely ally, but scientists in California are claiming they have successfully genetically manipulated the deadly bug and a host of other bacteria to produce pure hydrocarbon chains that can be processed into biofuels. In fact, they’re getting so good at it that they can coax the bacteria into producing a substance that’s exceptionally close to crude oil – minus the sulfur impurities that taint the oil we pump out of the ground - and ready to be put through a standard refinery to produce petrol, diesel, jet fuel or any other petroleum product. There’s also talk of other, far more pure and powerful fuels that need no further refinement before they go to the pump. Could the next great oil barons be bug farmers?  Read More

Global Insight study predicts dramatic rise in biofuel - but at what cost?

July 30, 2007 In his 2006 State of the Union address, George W Bush said that “America is addicted to oil.” By this, he meant that not only is the US a massive consumer of fossil fuel, but that this consumption leaves them grossly dependant and vulnerable to exploitation. Bush’s remark came at a time when the US had just surpassed Brazil in the production of ethanol fuel, often touted as the most likely contender to replace petroleum, or at least diminish the demand for it to manageable levels. The world market is already feeling the effect of increased interest in ethanol, which begs the question of whether biofuels can overtake petroleum as a power source – and if so, whether it will be the viable alternative its proponents claim, or simply a case of swapping one addiction for another. Global Insight, Inc., the world's leading company for economic and financial analysis and forecasting, has released a detailed projection for its possible future consequences.  Read More

Mitsubishi launches flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) Pajero TR4 in Brazil

June 26, 2007 Mitsubishi is to launch the first full-feature four-wheel drive flex-fuel vehicle (FFV), onto the Brazilian market. The Pajero TR4 Flex will be launched in July and is derived from the Pajero TR4 currently assembled and sold in Brazil. The Pajero TR4 Flex features several modifications including the use of different materials, modifications to the engine, and changes to the fuel system that allow the vehicle to run on any combination of gasoline and ethanol. Modifications to the engine control unit allow for optimum combustion with any fuel mixture, and the 2.0-liter 16-valve engine delivers similar levels of performance on ethanol-heavy or gasoline-heavy fuel mixes.  Read More

FIA World Touring Car Championship to run on Bio-Fuel in 2009

April 13, 2007 In one of the first developments of its kind the FIA World Touring Car Championship (FIA WTCC) is set to run on bio-fuel from 2009 after the FIA World Motor Sport Council gave unanimous support for the initiative. The FIA WTCC, one of the FIA’s three World Championships alongside Formula One and the World Rally Championship (WRC), is now in its third season having gained increased popularity worldwide. Bio-ethanol fuel will be introduced to the FIA WTCC alongside unleaded petrol and diesel in 2008, before a switch to an exclusive bio-fuel powered championship in 2009.  Read More

Flower Power - Koenigsegg's 1018 bhp biofuel-burning CCXR

March 3, 2007 When Bugatti unveiled the Veyron supercar, many people thought the ongoing contests for the world’s fastest, most powerful, and most expensive car in history were over – many motoring scribes wrote that due to increasing environmental concerns and the immense cost of developing a faster car, we’d never see the like of it again. It’s figure of 1001 bhp so completely eclipsed the previous best-of-breed cars such as the Koenigsegg CCX's 806 bhp that quite realistically, the game appeared to be over. Volkswagen spent so much money developing the Veyron, that although the car sells for UKP840,000 (US$1,630,000), when the all-up cost of development is added, they should be charging roughly UKP 5 million (US$9,700,000) per vehicle just to break even. No other manufacturer would be prepared to take a hit like that. Everything about the Veyron, from its 64 valve, quad turbocharger, W16 (16 cylinders in 4 banks of 4 cylinders) 8.0 litre engine, it’s dual-clutch DSG computer-controlled seven speed manual transmission, to its remarkable brakes are thoroughly engineered to enable the 1890 kg projectile to travel safely at over 400 km/h. Now Koenigsegg has surpassed the Bugatti’s power output, and is likely to threaten the Veyron’s 407 km/h top speed too. In a wonderful example of how a small goal-focussed team can achieve the seemingly unattainable, Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg has announced details of a new variant of its 806 bhp CCX which will run Biofuel. Due to the fact that the biofuel has higher octane and better cooling characteristics, the power has gone up 25% to 1018 bhp at 7200 rpm and torque is up 10% to 1060 nm at 6100 rpm, compared to the “standard” CCX’s 806 bhp at 6,900 rpm and 920 Nm at 5,700 rpm. Even though the low and exclusive production volume of Koenigsegg is hardly likely to have a measurable impact on the Co2 problem faced by global society, it is an impressive statement that a small company can afford to develop environmentally focussed solutions.  Read More

Mitsubishi to launch flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) in 2007

January 22, 2007 Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) today announced plans to launch a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) in the Brazil market within fiscal 2007. The Company also announced that models are in development for the US market for a fiscal 2009 launch. One of MMC's design objectives is to create vehicles that meet the requirements of the Century of the Environment. This can be seen in the MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle - pictured), a next generation electric car that is a core element in the company's environmental technology strategy, and can also be seen in the next generation diesel engine that is now under development. In addition to these initiatives, MMC and its local manufacturing and sales unit, MMC Automotores do Brasil Ltda (MMCB) have been developing a flexible fuel vehicle for the Brazil market. The FFV can run on gasoline, ethanol, or a mixture of the two, and will be launched in the Brazil market within fiscal 2007. Practical FFV solutions are also in development for the US market, where a fiscal 2009 launch is planned.  Read More

Chevrolet Volt Concept Electric Vehicle

January 7, 2007 The Chevrolet Volt concept sedan, powered by the E-flex System – GM’s next-generation electric propulsion system – could nearly eliminate trips to the gas station. The Chevrolet Volt is a battery-powered, four-passenger electric vehicle that uses a gas engine to create additional electricity to extend its range. The Volt draws from GM’s previous experience in the form of the EV1 in 1996. The Volt can be fully charged by plugging it into a 110-volt outlet for approximately six hours a day. When the lithium-ion battery is fully charged, the Volt can deliver 40 city miles of pure electric vehicle range. When the battery is depleted, a 1.0 litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine spins at constant rpm to create electricity and replenish the battery.  Read More

Lincoln MKR Concept

January 2, 2007 Lincoln is pulling the wraps off a new concept car at the North American International Auto Show next week, signaling its design strategy for the next-generation of premium American vehicles and launching a new engine family. The Lincoln MKR concept introduces the company’s new “elegant simplicity” design language on a four-door coupe that also features environmentally friendly amenities and fuel-saving technology, including its TwinForce engine. The concept’s 3.5-liter gasoline twin-turbocharged direct-injection V-6 performs comparably or better than V-8 engines, delivering 415 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque on renewable E-85 ethanol.  Read More

Ford Interceptor:  four-door muscle car based on a sixties sedan shape

January 1, 2007 Building on its muscle car legacy, Ford is introducing an all-American sedan concept that combines “Built Ford Tough” attitude with the sporty elegance of its iconic 1960s sedans. The Interceptor has a manual six-speed gearbox mated to the 5.0-litre V-8 Cammer engine that won the 2005 Grand-Am Cup Championship in its first year of competition, though it has now been modified to run on E-85 ethanol and produces 400 bhp. The Interceptor also incorporates Ford’s patented four-point “belt and suspenders” design in the front and rear seats. In addition, inflatable safety belts are included for rear seat passengers.  Read More

British Racing (Very) Green Lotus

August 24, 2006 Lotus has always danced to a different drum. When the rest of the world was building muscle cars in the sixties and seventies, it went the other way. Light weight, superb handling, miniscule frontal areas and svelte aerodynamic efficiency became the hallmarks of Lotus roadsters which always did more with less. Now the Lotus brand is further extending its values towards the responsible use of resources with the Lotus Exige 265E which runs on environmentally friendly bio-ethanol E85 - 85% ethanol alcohol and 15% petrol! As the Exige uses a supercharged and intercooled engine, Lotus engineers saw the opportunity to prove the point that green sportscars can offer high performance by exploiting the performance characteristics of ethanol. Ethanol has a high octane rating, which allows an optimum timing for engine ignition and has a fast flame speed in the combustion chamber, so the fuel burns faster, increasing the efficiency of the engine. Ethanol has less stored energy per unit volume than gasoline so the fuel economy is less, however as E85 ethanol is 85% sourced from renewable bio matter, there is a net reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2). The beauty of using ethanol though, is its ability to produce more power in the engine than with conventional petrol and the Exige 265E is the most powerful road Exige ever. The Exige 265E now produces 264 bhp at 8000 rpm (up 21% over the petrol Exige S), and 184 lbft of torque at 5500 rpm (up 16%). The performance figures are pretty healthy for a green machine: 0-60 mph in 3.88 seconds, 0-100 mph in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 158 mph!  Read More

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