Lotus has announced that it will be developing a new biofuel-powered testbed engine for research into increasing the fuel efficiency of 'flex-fuel' engines - those designed to operate on both petrol and alcohol-based fuels like ethanol.
The single-cylinder OMNIVORE engine will be completed in 2009 and will feature variable compression ratio technology and direct fuel injection. It will also operate on a two-stroke cycle, rather than the four-stroke Otto cycle used in most petrol-powered cars today. The OMNIVORE engine will be used to research what kind of technology is needed to enable an engine to run on both petrol and alcohol, yet overcome the compromises and inefficiencies of today's flex-fuel motors, which are less-efficient when using either fuel (petrol or ethanol), than a similar engine designed to run on just one.
It's a noble effort on Lotus's part, however with alcohol-based fuels currently being produced from food crops that would otherwise be used as food crops, the long-term viability of flex-fuel engines, and ethanol in particular, is highly questionable. Still, it'd be way cool if Lotus eventually used the OMNIVORE motor to develop a lightweight sports car that could run on vodka alone. Think about it.