Bioethanol: Flex Fuel technology

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The "bi-fuel": Brazil defends bioethanol.

The soaring price of a barrel of oil is changing the behavior of Brazilian consumers who are looking for alternatives to the gas car and are opting more and more for "bi-fuel" vehicles (gas / alcohol).

In September, one in three cars sold in Brazil (32%) was already bi-fuel or "flex fuel", against 4,3 only in 2002, said the association of car manufacturers (Anfavea).

This new technology allows a vehicle to run only on gasoline, only with alcohol (ethanol, a biofuel from sugar cane-based), or a mixture of both.

Renault is the fourth automaker to attempt the adventure flex fuel, cleaner technology, to equip its models after Volkswagen (March 2003), General Motors (June 2003) and Fiat this year. The PSA Peugeot-Citroën group promises to join the dance in 2005.

Renault has just presented its "Clio Hi-Flex" at the Sao Paulo Motor Show.

"The client finds a freedom he did not have. Depending on the price at the pump, the customer can choose any gasoline-alcohol proportion. The car's software adapts the mix to the engine, "said the company's product director, Alain Tissier.

"Renault has delayed a little more because he had never made alcohol engines but today his flex fuel technology is 100% Renault," he added.

According to him, as the alcohol has "aggressive chemical characteristics", the rubber hoses, for example, have been reinforced.

"So there is no problem of sustainability and the customer uses gasoline or alcohol depending on price changes. This has an immediate effect on his portfolio. The bill for a full tank of gas is 300 reais (94 euros) and 180 for flex fuel (56 euros).

Brazil can now, according to Mr. Tissier, export technology, cars and ethanol, which represents "a new datum of Brazil's sustainable and renewable energy matrix".

According to Anfavea, this year 218.320 bi-fuel cars were manufactured in the country and 35.497 alcohol. In 2005, half a million flex fuel cars, all brands will be sold in the country.

Since the launch of the bi-Combustibles cars, the share of single alcohol car, which was in January 5,1 2003% of total sales in Brazil rose to 24,4 2004% in April.

It's still very little compared to the years when 1980 90% of the cars produced in Brazil were working to alcohol. But at the time, the producers preferred to destine sugar cane to sugar production for export, causing a supply crisis.

Now, with this flexible system, users no longer suffer from lack of any fuel, betting automakers, especially the alternative also exists of gas.

"We are at the beginning of the end of the oil era," says Roslaino Fernandes, vice president of the Latin American Gas Association.

Brazil has the second world fleet of vehicles using natural gas (CNG) vehicles with 770.000, behind Argentina who 1,2 million (13% of the fleet). The economy is almost 60% compared to gasoline, according to Francisco Barros, manager of the gas department vehicular Ipiranga.

In September the gasoline engine conversion gas engine increased 15% in Brazil and 52% in Rio, according to the Brazilian Petroleum Institute. In Rio, 80% of the fleet of taxis 35.000 already use gas, according to the union of Taxis.

While the current NGV fleet represents 3,3% of the country, the predictions are that we will reach 1,7 million vehicles in at least 2009 or 7% of all automobiles.


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