Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ethanol

Something that I´ve noticed while in Brazil is the interesting products sold at gas stations. Anyone surprised? :)

Mainly, they´re the same as in Canada, they sell smokes, chips, drinks, chocolate bars, etc., and of course, gas. But one thing that almost every station sells is alcohol. Of the drinking variety sure, but also of the kind that you put in your fuel tank! It´s a product called E85, which means it´s 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, and it´s actually cheaper than regular gas. Most of the new cars sold here are equipped with a flex-fuel system, which means they can run on either product, so drivers can opt for the cheaper product. There are even some totalflex cars that can also run on natural gas, but can switch to gasoline or E85 when required!

It´s a little unusual for a country like Brazil to be an environmental leader of the world, but it certainly is! But soon, North America will follow its lead: GM will be producing 400,000 cars a year starting this year which are flex fuel, and in fact, certain models starting from 2000 are already compatible. Because E85 behaves very similarly to gasoline, it will quickly become available at gas stations everywhere, because the oil companies won´t have to change any pump systems, they´ll just switch a tank from gasoline to E85, and voila! Instant supply. Ethanol plants are also springing up in Canada, by year´s end Husky Oil will be producing over 250,000 million litres of the stuff, with plans for incremental production over the next several years.

I wonder who will still attend the Critical Mass rallies....

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

all the gas stations I've been to in north dakota in the past 2 or 3 years have had e85 as an option at every pump, right next to 89 and 91. I'm not sure if that's standard across the US, but it's what I've been seeing.

Seriously though, you're on vacation and making politically charged blog posts
cs

Rumpus said...

And I thought you were promoting freedoms (or at least that is what you give lip-service to). I agree that E85 is a great (but not really new, I have seen it around for the last 3 or 4 yrs) option but do you really want to eliminate the freedom of people riding their bicycles to work, school or whatever? I don't ride in critical mass rides because the organisers are overly antagonistic, often garnering negative attention. However, I regularly advocate for dynamic, well-designed infrastructure in Winnipeg (and other cities) so that citizens can have the freedom to choose their mode of transportation.

Also, biodiesel is gaining ground very quickly. This will be a great option for those of us who have to factor fuel as a primary input cost.

Anonymous said...

hey man, you´re free as you want to be to ride your bike home from the grocery store with 6 bags of groceries in February in Manitoba, I won´t try to stop you. What other infrastructure do you think a cyclist needs that he doesn´t already have? Heated tunnels?

Lisa Vogt said...

North America is severely lagging in the "environmental initiatives" department, mostly because it can. The attitude on our continent has never really changed from the idea that there is tons of room to chuck our junk out in the back 40. Brazil has nearly 6 times the population of Canada, on a land mass that is obviously much smaller, so I think it is very easy for a country 'like Brazil' to take such initiatives. They have to.

As for infrastructure needed in order to support the safe use of bicycles on Winnipeg streets, I agree with Rumpus. I would also like to ask our Anonymous friend when was the last time they nearly hit a cyclist that was wedged against the curb? Or perhaps, how many did you nearly hit today? Winnipeg was not built with the cyclist in mind and as a result, cycling in this city is a pretty harrowing experience. Although I'd love to see the ‘heated tunnels’ idea come true for cyclists and pedestrians alike - some proper bike routing and space allowance would suffice. I have consulted the ‘bicycling map of Winnipeg’ and discovered that there is actually no route to bike between downtown and my workplace at Red River College (Notre Dame Campus). Bike routes need to be a little more than shutting down Wellington Crescent on Sunday afternoons so that people can bike down its pretty streets and gawk at the huge houses. In European city’s you will find sidewalks clearly dividing into walking and bicycling paths and they are in such great condition you actually want to ride on them.

When it comes to the day-to-day environmental initiatives, I think it's time for North America to wake up.

Rocketman1200 said...

My it´s hard to be an optimist with comments like these popping up like weeds on an under-used bike path! ;0