Other green fuel initiatives
Ethanol produced from waste: Producing “cellulosic” or second-generation ethanol from forest ground waste and general household garbage is a more sustainable way to produce ethanol because it doesn’t put pressure on food crops. The Victorian government, together with Holden, Caltex and several engineering companies, has established a consortium to develop a process to produce ethanol from municipal waste.
New blends of ethanol-based fuels are also being developed. Caltex’s “Bio E-Flex” fuel will adjust the blend of ethanol from 70% to 85% between seasons for better engine performance, but it can only be used in certain vehicles. And new vehicles are being developed to take advantage of ethanol-blended fuels:
- Ford has developed new V6 and V8 engines that inject pure ethanol into the engine to increase its output.
- The Ferrari F430 Spider Biofuel runs on E85, a fuel that is blended with 85% ethanol.
- Lotus is developing an engine known as “Omnivore” to improve fuel efficiency,
- GM expects half of its vehicles to be running on ethanol by 2012.
Biodiesel is much the same as petroleum-based diesel but is produced from vegetable oils, animal fats and used cooking oil. Biodiesel can also be used as a neat fuel comprising 100% biodiesel. B20 is a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% mineral diesel, while B5 uses 5% biodiesel. There is ongoing research into producing B20 from non-food crops such as algae. Biodiesel is biodegradable, and engines only require minimal modification to run it. It is cleaner burning than traditional diesel reducing emissions and improving air quality. However, similar to ethanol, pure biodiesel has lower energy content than diesel (86%), which means vehicles travel a shorter distance on the same amount of fuel.
There are currently seven biodiesel producers in Australia and the fuel itself has limited availability at this stage. The fuel excise on the biodiesel component of the product will be fully negated by a government grant until 2011.