Tony O'Kane | May 9, 2008

Tired of paying through the nose for fuel? Sick of having to hang onto shopping receipts just to save a measly four cents a litre on petrol? The new MicroFueler might be just what you're looking for.

Revealed in New York yesterday, E-Fuel's MicroFueler takes sugar and yeast and converts them into pure ethanol, which you can then blend with petrol or water before filling up your car with it. The MicroFueller can also take discarded alcoholic beverages and convert them into ethanol too, although we frown upon such wanton destruction of another valuable resource - beer. The best part about the MicroFueler is that it's designed to be used at home or on a farm, liberating you from having to suckle at the overpriced teat of the major oil companies - although considering the MicroFueler costs $10,000 USD, it may take a while to recoup your investment.

It all sounds great right now, but before you jump right in and order a MicroFueler of your own, you need to know a few things. Firstly, most - if not all - cars in Australia are not designed to run on pure ethanol. High concentrations of ethanol attack various components in a modern car's fuel system, such as rubber piping, fuel injectors, fuel pumps and can also cause rusting of metal parts such as the fuel tank and associated plumbing. Brazil has developed a transportation system that is heavily reliant on ethanol, with all passenger cars running on a minimum 20-25% ethanol-petrol blend, however their cars are modified to suit. Brazil, the USA and a few other countries also sell what are known as flex-fuel vehicles, which are designed from the outset to be able to run on a maximum ethanol blend of 85%. Currently, only SAAB offer a flex-fuel vehicle in Australia.

The whole ethanol debate is a big can of worms, and is one that TMR will be exploring in the near future. With world oil supplies on the decline there is still no clear winner in the race for the next vehicular power source, but for now at least devices like the MicroFueler can help ease the transition between fossil fuels and future fuels.

[Source: E-Fuel Corporation]

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