Biogas: Next Gen car fuel … [PART 3]

Growing acceptance of biocars.

After two articles on the benefits of biogas it’s only fair to conclude with a look forward and here it is: Biogas fuel can be used to run cars, which is of course no news to the world. Once it hit the headlines here too, we knew that we were going be to part of this movement.

Biogas serving as an alternative fuel to cars is one option to ease up the intense demand of fuel. Generally biogas is not popular in Ethiopia though the majority of our consumption and wastes are organic. Since its first introduction in 1962, biogas has not had much recognition amongst our society.

We have around 300,000 cars running in Addis and the number is still increasing, as well as the demand for car fuel. These days, to get from A to B everyone is dependent either on their cars or the scarce taxis and buses. To sustainably alleviate this demand various measures are taken by the government including the new bus rapid transit lines (BRT) that are going to be constructed all over the city.

An exemplary move by the private sector is by Holland Car plc., one company taking part in the race to promote biogas technology, with its new campaign “Holland Car Goes Green”. The implementation of biogas cars in Ethiopia is underway. Holland car has its new biocar Abay Executive announced on August 2009. The prototype Abay Executive is already on the road but the full scale production isn’t yet. Holland Car, along with the car itself is planning to provide the biogas by building biogas plants and stations throughout Ethiopia. It is investing 80millon ET Birr for the construction of large scale biogas plants. The biogas used for car fuels first undergoes a purification process to become bio-methane, which has a much more concentrated level of methane than the regular 70%.

These biocars don’t require us to completely depend on biogas only. According to Holland car the Abay Executive has an alternative energy source, it can switch back to regular fuel whenever necessary. Such kind of biogas cars are regular cars containing both energy systems. They have separate tanks where the biogas and the regular fuel are stored. The Abay Executive model also has a dual system where you can switch to other organic fuels when needed.

Bio-methane is a highly effective biofuel from an economic and technological point of view; it is one of the most promising alternatives to sustainably apply biomass in the car industry. This is because the input can be supplemented by different specific crops, maize is one of them. Though this is a positive point, it has to be carefully executed as it wouldn’t interfere with our food security programs.

Bio-gas and bio-fuel cars around the world are well recognized and frequently researched for steady improvement. Big companies in the car industry like Bugatti, Mercedes and Audi are putting in millions of dollars into their research to improve the performance quality of bio-fuels. In 2009 Audi set the record for a bio fueled car the Audi A4 running up to 227mph exceeding the Bugatti EB110 nearly 15 years later. Leading biogas company, E.ON has also teamed up with Volkswagen to promote the endless opportunities that come with using biogas as fuel.

This promising start by Holland Car Plc. could be supplemented by the government and other responsible parties in the near future, e. g. funding local innovative ideas or by introducing bio fueled public transportation systems, to further create awareness and assimilate its uses amongst the society. It would also need less infrastructure modification to implement on the whole populous scale. It always helps to lead by example.

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