Firstly, I'm own an 840 and really love the car.
However, it's not particularly economical on fuel. Whilst I certainly
don't like paying the rather high fuel prices here in the UK, I'm
getting rather concerned about the effect my car (and every other car
around me) is having on the environment.
I understand that in Brazil they convert their vehicles to run on
bio-ethanol. This means that even the most fuel-guzzling vehicle isn't
actually adding to global warming because it's all reclaimed carbon.
To my mind, that's a far better way to go than worrying about buying a
diesel or a hybrid car that is still a net poluter. Also, there is
bound to be some wastage in the process as some plant material can't be
converted to ethanol, so one would actually be taking out more carbon
from the atmosphere than putting it back in.
Further still...I've heard that bio-ethanol has a 20% higher octane
rating than petrol so you car gets more umph AND the fuel can be mixed
with normal unleaded petrol, so there's no requirement for an extra
tank for those vehicles running on LPG.
So, what I would like to know is:
1 - is it possible to get my car converted to run on bio-ethanol?
2 - is it possible to purchase the fuel yet in the UK (I heard that a
Morrison's garage was starting to stock it somewhere near Norwich)
Bioethanol is currently available in a 5% blend at over 250 Tesco petrol
stations in the South-East of England. This petrol is supplied through
ordinary unleaded petrol pumps and is not identified as bioethanol-blended
Morrisons have now begun to sell E85 petrol (85% ethanol, 15% petrol) at the
following Morrisons filling stations:
Albion Way, Norwich
plus five sites in Somerset. Further filling stations are planned.
People forget that Brazil has cut down a lot of rain forest to grow
enough sugar cane to produce the ethanol that has reduced their
dependence upon oil. They run most of their cars on a blend of
60%-85% gasoline with 40%-15% ethanol.
Right now, the processes used to produce ethanol do not convert all
the cane into ethanol. They use a portion to burn for heat to run the
process. It will never be 100%. The question is how close you will
be able to get to 100%. Probably no more than 75%, actually.
Although the octane is higher, the energy content per volume is
much lower. Your mileage on ethanol will be lower - 30%-40%
is the figure I see - on pure ethanol. E85 is around 5% lower mileage.
The advantage to E85 is that the octane is higher, the emissions are
lower (due to the oxygenate properties of ethanol), and most cars
can run on it with little change (really only the engine's computer
Yes, anything is possible. However, pure ethanol is not desirable.
My guess is that an 840i would cost little (ECM program, some
fule lines and seals) to convert to run on E85. It would cost a LOT
to run on pure ethanol.
Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that lots of ethanol discussions have
happened on rec.autos.driving and misc.transport.road and alt.autos.
Probably others. Google/search for E-85 - you will probably find
lots of places on the www to look.
The latest Car & Driver has a good article on ethanol. It cuts through the
hype and shows that it ain't quite the panacea its made to be by ... the
OBTW, your not particularly frugral 840 will get considerably poorer mileage
with ethanol. There's just not as many BTU's per liter/gallon as gasoline.
Soooo, unless its considerably less expensive, it'll cost you more to run
R / John
" This means that even the most fuel-guzzling vehicle isn't
actually adding to global warming because it's all reclaimed carbon."
WTF? According to most scientists, the major contributor to global warming
is internal combustion engine emissions. Mostly CO2, CO, and NOx. While bio
fuels may not have the NOx, there is still the same amount of CO2 and CO,
maybe more since you have to burn more if it. Since we humans are a greedy
lot, we keep cutting down the forests which remove CO2 and convert it to O2,
and keep us alive.
So, don't convert because you feel guilty. Convert because you got tired of
keeping the Saudi's (90% of the 9-11 hijackers, and we invade Iraq?),
Sheiks, Imams, and other oil barons rich.
The point is that the release of CO2 that was stored for a long time is
unsetling the atmosphere.
The release of CO2 coming from recent crops is canceled by the CO2 that such
crops absorbed, the only effect being the use of large areas to grow the
crop. The process needs to be worked, as the eficiency of the whole cycle is
less than brilliant.
If engines dedicated to run on ethanol where used, the problems of the
mileage and efficiency could be improved.
I think the best way to go now is GPL conversion. It is still a fossil fuel,
but if the GPL is not used it goes to waste at the refining process,
creating useless polution. Better burn it in your car, than in a stupid
torch on top of the oil refinery!
IIRC, that "torch" is a safety feature to release unexpected pressure
surges. It's better to have it burning all the time rather than be ignited
by a spark, causing a different kind of unexpected pressure surge.
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