Countering climate changes needs developing strong ties between politics and industries. Eu-funded Beauty project aims at establishing that link.
Driven by the need for more sustainable and less polluting sources of energy, the European Union is now more determined than ever to increase the use of renewable fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Normal commercial gasoline can contain up to 7% ethanol by volume. These blends are quite easy to handle in modern engine platforms, but the level of bioethanol content is still quite low”,explains Andrea Gerini of Centro Ricerche Fiat and coordinator of the EU-funded ‘Beauty’ project (‘Bio-Ethanol engine for advanced urban transport by light commercial and heavy-duty captive fleets’), aimed at developing new engines, combustion technologies and fuels that will allow a substantial increase in the use of biofuels.
Beauty’s overall target is to increase the efficiency of powertrains by 10 percent. This should ensure the lowest level of emissions while at the same time maintaining the driveability and performance of conventional fuel engines, including ‘cold startability’ capabilities.
Tests and experimenthave not been completed, yet, but the team is confident about the results, which are confirming the possibility of developing advanced internal combustion engines dedicated to bioethanol.
“With a spark ignited approach and also with a Diesel approach we have succeeded in using a high percentage of ethanol, with a high conversion efficiency and lower fuel consumption, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions,” says Andrea Gerini.
There is still a long way to go before bioethanol becomes a serious option for the wider transport industry. For one thing, there simply isn’t enough bioethanol available at present and, except in Brazil, the cost of producing the renewable fuel is still 1.5 to 2 times higher than the cost of producing gasoline. And there are other obstacles, not least the ethical and political dilemma involved in using land to grow biofuels rather than food.
The decision is political, rather than technical. And it needs a strong connecions between the European Union and car manufacturers to take the strategic decision to scale up production of this kind of technology, depending on future market opportunities.
Meanwhile, Beauty is providing the vital technical information needed to better understand the potential impact of these new technologies.