Driving with Bio-ethanol

Archive for October, 2007

Oil price over $90 per barrel

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I read on Helge Keitels’ Twitter this evening, that the oil price had gone through $90 per barrel, so I went straight over to the BBC News website to check out the details. There is even talk there of hitting the $100 mark by the end of the year!

With petrol (Super, 95 octane) costing 1.379EUR/litre this evening in Oberursel, I could of course just be smug and say that I took the right decision to lease the bio-ethanol car. When people complain about the price of petrol at a Stammtisch that’s probably what I’ll do as well.

But on the other hand, my wife does not drive a bio-ethanol car so we won’t be totally unaffected and even I am meant to put normal petrol in the tank for the winter to create a more cold-resistant mix.

I’ve been through my car log books to see how the petrol has got steadily more expensive. When I first came to Germany in 1995 I paid 0.787EUR/litre – that means that the price has almost doubled in that time! It’s not as if that was down to inflation, but more a case of rising oil prices and in particular the green tax on fossil fuels.

As little as 5 years ago, when the Euro was introduced, I paid as little as 0.939EUR/litre.

The public perception is that the prices always increase with the oil price, with the green tax, with VAT and so on. But they never seem to go down again for any reason, even if the oil price does.

Looking back through the log book for the last 12 months I can almost confirm this – the price has been rising steadily and only twice have I seen it drop back.

However the $90 price may now affect the price at the pump, most people seem to just accept it and pay – realistically they don’t have much choice. You won’t see the sort of protests in Germany as you do in France or the UK.

But when you travel on a long journey, the cost of that journey has effectively doubled as well now. That said, travelling with the family can still be cheaper by car than by train!

People now look to technology to provide an answer to both problems – the cost of the fuel and the environmental impact. At the IAA last month the manufacturers showed off their new eco-friendly models, but the reports that I read said that most were not in production yet.

There is, however, one worrying thought. At the moment I have the double-bonus of bio-ethanol. I am doing my bit for the environment and saving money at the same time. What will happen when Governments realise that they are going to earn less on fossil fuels as people change over to greener options, and start taxing the alternatives just as high?

Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that, just yet…

Biofuel and the Royal Train

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

OK, not bio-ethanol today, but bio-diesel instead.

Reading the BBC News website I came across an interesting article – the Royal Train in Great Britain is running a trial with bio-diesel to see if it is suitable for normal services.

Yes, the Royal Family have their own train!  Well sort of, there are dedicated locomotives and vehicles that are used for Royal purposes.

And it is one of these locomotives that is now running on bio-diesel.  In September HRH the Prince of Wales used the converted train for the first time.

Read more at the BBC News website.

When bio-ethanol gets cold

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

With the temperature dipping to -2°C this week, I had an unexpected chance to find out how bio-ethanol reacts to the colder weather.

This is not as cold is it can get in winter here – I’ve experienced -18°C before now! But with the cold wind blowing it certainly felt different to the temperatures that we had been having the previous week.

When bio-ethanol gets cold it apparently gets sluggish. This is why there is a socket on the front of the car, so that I can attach it to the mains and warm the tank up slightly before driving off. Well, that’s the theory at least. As I don’t have an electrical socket anywhere near where I had parked the car, that wasn’t really a solution.

The alternative is to put some normal petrol into the tank during the winter. Again, the drop in temperature came so unexpected, that I hadn’t done this and had only E85 in the tank.

So I drove off anyway – and I can’t say that I noticed any difference. Perhaps the cold temperature hadn’t affected the bio-ethanol as much as I had expected? Perhaps it just wasn’t cold enough yet!

I shall be keeping a watchful eye on the thermometer and may well start mixing in some normal fuel next month.

Driving a bio-ethanol car – the podcast

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Today in the Monday Podcast I talk about driving my bio-ethanol car for the last week and comment on how the car is running and how new fuels help the environment.

Listen to the podcast to find out more:


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Driving with Bio-ethanol

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