HOLDEN HAS TODAY announced the formation of a consortium with the Victorian Government, Caltex, Veolia, Coskata and Mitsui. The consortium will investigate the viability of establishing Australia's first ethanol plant capable of converting waste into ethanol fuel.
Using a process developed by US biofuel company Coskata, the plant would convert household, agricultural and industrial waste into more than 200 million litres of ethanol per year. The ethanol would then be blended to create an alternative fuel known overseas as E85, formed through a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent regular petrol.
Coskata Chief Marketing Officer, Wes Bolsen said that where most ethanol plants use food crops to produce ethanol, Coskata's process uses municipal waste otherwise bound for landfill. By converting it into renewable energy, Mr Bolsen said Coskata's process is ultimately a better solution for the environment.
Holden Energy and Environment Director Richard Marshall said that Holden aims to launch Australia's first 'flex-fuel' car later this year. In the US, Holden's parent company GM already sells a number of E85-capable models through its various brands, with over 3.5 million flex-fuel vehicles sold.
“Our vision is that this technology will, in time, cut Australia’s dependence on petrol by up to 30 per cent and make a major contribution to sustainable motoring and greenhouse gas reduction,” Mr Marshall said.
“We’ve always said we’d take a leadership position on biofuels, and provide the vehicles to do that. We’re committed to having locally built Holden cars capable of running on E85 in the market by 2010. It’s about designing and engineering vehicles for Australians, built by Australians, using Australian fuel alternatives.”
Flex-fuel cars are vehicles with an internal combustion engine capable of running on more than one fuel blend, the fuel injection and spark timing systems automatically adjusting to suit the actual blend - usually a mixture of petrol and ethanol or methanol fuel - detected by sensors in the fuel tank and engine.
As part of its commitment to the consortium, Caltex Australia has agreed to install E85 pumps in 30 metropolitan and regional stations around Victoria this year, growing to 100 locations within the following 12 months.
“Caltex’s expansion into this new fuel and participation in the consortium is part of our ongoing commitment to biofuels and tackling climate change, which fits well with a strategy of providing energy beyond the traditional fuel mix," Caltex Australia’s General Manager Marketing Andy Walz said.
"Caltex already has about 400 service stations that sell E10 and a growing biodiesel market. We believe the biofuels industry has a vital role in a sustainable transport fuels future and that biofuels are good business opportunity for Caltex.”