Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Sweden is no. 3 in Europe in the use of ethanol as a fuel for vehicles, right after France and Germany. The latter countries being quite large in comparison to Sweden, its quite an achievement. Like in many things, there is much that could be improved.

The silly part is that most of the E85 that the numerous Swedes (and me) driving an ethanol-capable car put to their tanks comes from Brazil and is made from sugar cane (EU has a special agreement on lower tariffs for Brazilian ethanol). This is fuel is a first generation ethanol-product, as in difference to second generation fuel, which is synthetic.

The great controversy usually associated to producing ethanol from plants is the risk of it replacing food crops in developing countries and thus raising food prices. Considering the fact that ethanol is much more environmentally friendly pollution-wise compared to fossils, this disadvantage has been seen as the major stumbling-block for large-scale adoption of ethanol as fuel.

So far the supply of second generation product is very limited. Finnish chain ST1 recently bought all the Shell stations in Sweden, but they have not launched their advanced second generation RE85 fuel in Sweden, which is made of waste. Yes, waste. No need to import anything, the fuel can be produced 'locally', which again reflects into the cost and environmental effect of transport etc.


And did I mention, ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline. This paired with an engine that is optimized for ethanol (and lets not forget turbocharging) gives results that are fun-fun. There are some prime examples of good Swedish engineering, say Saab Biopower or Koenigsegg CCXR (1020hp on ethanol!). All of this makes me glad at the fuel pump.

No comments:

Post a Comment