Category Archives: Flex Fuel E85

Fuel innovation: Ethanol from CO gas

So, where’s your fuel coming from next? Out of thin air. Scientists around the country continue to innovate new fuels that reduce dependence on petroleum and improve air quality. And this development caught our attention.

Ethanol from Carbon Monoxide Gas
No corn, sugarcane or switchgrass needed. Stanford University scientists have developed a method to produce ethanol out of carbon monoxide gas.

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As quoted in a recent Ethanol Producer magazine article, Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford and coauthor of the ethanol study says, “we have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction.”

Unlike current ethanol production, this method does not require fermentation of biomass, typically corn, sugarcane or other starchy crops. The technique is similar to a process that reduces water into hydrogen—but in this case, reducing carbon monoxide into liquid ethanol.

While petroleum will only get more difficult to find and more costly to produce in the future, alternative fuel sources will increase, improving upon existing renewable fuel methods and inventing new and diverse sources.

Read more about the Stanford study.

Happy Earth Day! Propel customers reduce CO2 emissions and petroleum use

In honor of Earth Day, we want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our customers who choose renewable fuel—even when it’s not Earth Day. Together, Propel customers have a significant and positive impact on our planet, reducing both harmful emissions and petroleum use. Just check out our Community CleanDrive Report:

Clean Drive Report Customizable

Interested to see your own impact? Any Propel customer can have a personalized CleanDrive report that shows the positive benefits of choosing renewable fuel. Simply register at propelfuels.com/CleanDrive and start racking up your numbers every time you fill. Plus, each time you track a fill you’ll be entered to win monthly prizes like free fuel and exclusive Propel gear.

What better day to start seeing your positive impact than Earth Day? Sign up now.

Hope to find a Koenigsegg on Easter

The only egg I want to find in my Easter basket is a Koenigsegg supercar—specifically, the CCXR or the new One:1. Not to be picky, but both of these ultra-performance vehicles run on E85 or E100. And what’s a sports car without a high-octane fuel?

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Koenigsegg One:1

Koenigsegg, the Swedish manufacturer of these high-performance sports cars, proudly touts its development of “green technology.” The CCXR was the first Hypercar in the world designed and calibrated to run on high ethanol blends (E85 or E100), as well as regular petroleum gasoline.

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Koenigsegg CCXR

The One:1 is following in the CCXR green tracks by also running on E85.

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Koenigsegg One:1

If you’re wondering about the name, here is what Koenigsegg has to say:

The hp to kg curb weight ratio is an astonishing 1:1. This is the  “dream” equation previously thought impossible. On top of this the One:1 is the first homologated production car in the world with one Megawatt of power, thereby making it the world´s first series produced Megacar.

I might not fully appreciate the engineering ramifications of this ratio, but I am throughly impressed regardless. Learn more about the CCXR and the One:1 at the Koenigsegg website.

Looking for a more sensible vehicle that can still run the same high-performance, high-octane fuel as these supercars? Check out our list of E85 vehicles.

Audi gets behind renewable gasoline made from sugar

Audi  sees renewable biofuel alternatives as an integral part of the future of motor fuels—in fact, according to a recent report from Wired, the automaker is investing in gasoline made from sugar. This sweet fuel can run in any gasoline-powered vehicle, without modification!

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image: audi

Audi has partnered with Global Bioenergies, a French company creating bio-isooctane by fermenting sugar with specially engineered E. coli bacteria. This reduces production cost and increases efficiency.

“Bio-isooctane can be used as a direct replacement for gasoline, or blended with conventional gasoline much like ethanol. The company has demonstrated the process in a lab, and is in the process of building two production plants. The goal is to produce more than 100,000 liters of gasoline annually — a pittance from a global perspective, but the program is a working proof-of-concept, and that’s where Audi’s investment comes in.”

Bio-iooctane is not the only “drop-in” fuel headed to the pump. Renewable diesel made from tallow and other renewable oils is in production and ready to replace petroleum diesel in the near future. And it just so happens that Audi has several turbo diesel models on the roads and more on the way—looks like Audi is on board with renewable fuel and ready to offer drivers choice at the pump.

Read more from Wired.

Five surprising things that can be made into fuel for your car

You may be familiar with the most common feedstocks for renewable fuel, but there is a whole host of lesser-known products that can be made into fuel for your car. Below we’ve listed  a few of our favorites.

1. CHRISTMAS TREES!

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Once January rolls around, un-tinseled and de-decorated Christmas trees line the sidewalks, waiting for garbage trucks headed to the dump. But in some cities, like San Francisco, California, discarded trees are turned into more than just landfill fodder. Instead, the trees are processed into biomass, which can be used as a renewable fuel feedstock.

Photo credit:  CINDY CHEW/S.F. EXAMINER

2. SUNFLOWERS

sunflower

Sunflowers, as it turns out, aren’t just for brightening up long stretches of rural highway or yielding seeds for snacking and spitting: they can also help power your diesel car. Those same seeds you seed scattered under the bleachers at the local Little League diamond have a high oil content that makes an ideal biodiesel feedstock. Next to solar-powered vehicles, it just might be the closest you’ll get to running on sunshine.

3. ALGAE

These little photosynthesis machines are masters of turning sunlight and CO2 into energy. Industrious producers, like the fermenting engineers at Solazyme, can capture the processing power of algae to create a super-efficient source of  renewable oil. Last year, in a successful month long pilot program, Propel Fuels and Solazyme partnered up to launch the nation’s first publicly available algae-derived biodiesel at Propel stations across the Bay Area. Hopefully, a full-scale launch is in the near future.

Photo credit:  National Algae Association

4. CORN COBS

Forget the kernel, just give me the cob! Ethanol producers are developing methods to use agricultural waste, like corns cobs and stalks, as feedstock for producing cellulosic ethanol, an alcohol-based fuel. In fact, “Project Liberty,” a 20-million-gallon cellulosic fuel plant operated by POET is slated to open this year, and the resulting fuel can be plugged right into today’s growing network of ethanol retail stations.

Photo credit:  Domestic Fuel

5. ANIMAL FATS

Mazda6-tallow

Turns out you can make biodiesel from pretty much any fatty oil including the leftovers from rendering plants a.k.a tallow a.k.a animal fats. In fact, the diesel Mazda6 NASCAR racer was loaded up with some “chicken guts, beef tallow and pork lard” biodiesel for the Rolex 24 Endurance Race in Daytona this past spring. Perhaps the bumper sticker, “My Car Eats Meat” is apt?

Ethanol proves to be a sweet opportunity for California farmers

Most of California’s sugar mills have closed up shop in recent years, leaving sugar beet farmers without a market for their crop. But now ethanol derived from sugar beets is providing a new opportunity for these farmers and their communities.

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Farmers in the small community of Mendota, California are leading an effort to bring back the once widely-grown sugar beet crop. In 2008, Spreckels sugar plant was shuttered, leaving many residents without a job and farmers without a purchaser for their beets. In a stroke of ingenuity, the seed company suggested the community grow beets for ethanol. Thus, the Mendota Bioenergy company was formed!

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According to a recent report from California public radio, “Mendota Bioenergy has a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission – and the partnership of university experts from UC Davis and Fresno State – to complete the test site. It should be up and running this winter and, if all goes as planned, the company will then build the nation’s first commercial sugar beet biorefinery in Mendota by 2017.”

Mendota Bioenergy will not only produce a domestic alternative to petroleum gasoline, but the ethanol plant itself will also have a sustainable focus with measures in place to let nothing go to waste. Plus, beets grow well on marginal lands and require very little fresh water. Overall, ethanol produced from California-grown sugar beets and processed in the Mendota refinery will have a much lower carbon footprint than petroleum gasoline, lower even than typical corn-based ethanol. Now that sounds like a sweet deal.

Read more from The California Report.

Now that’s fast. E85-powered motorcycle hits 200mph in a mile.

We know racers love E85–the fuel increases performance and helps vehicles go, well, fast. Just how fast you ask? According to The Scoop Blog, the fellows over at No Regret Performance, optimized a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycle to run E85 and managed to reach over 209.98 miles per hour in a standing mile. Talk about zoom.

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

The racers of No Regret Performance, Jean-Pierre Trzebiatowski and Thomas Cronan, made several modifications to the motorcycle in order to run the high-blend ethanol fuel, including upgrading the fuel system, replacing injectors, and reprograming the bike’s computer. For the full scoop on the team’s technical modifications, check out Holly Jessen’s post.

Not mechanically savvy? Me neither. Luckily, there are plenty of cars right off the assembly line ready to run high-performance E85. Check out our list of Flex Fuel E85 compatible vehicles: www.propelfuels.com/vehicles.