engineering question #3537
Ken Hood, a 53 year old male from Batamans Bay, Australia asks on July 19, 2006,Q:
Can a normal late model petrol car engine be coverted to run on almost pure ethanol? How is this done?
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Yes, however pure ethanol is rarely used. Instead a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol (gasoline) called E85 fuel is used. These kinds of cars are called FFV (Flexible Fuel Vehicles) in the United States, and legislation to produce such cars has been in effect since 2000. A list of current models of American cars that will run on E85 fuel is available from the US Department of Energy website. Approximately 2 million FFV’s have already been sold in the United States, even though many buyers are completely unaware that they can run on E85 fuel. More information is available from the US Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Centre website.
In a similar question and answer about ethanol fueled cars at science.ca some of the modifications of the ethanol burning engine are detailed by an engineer from Brazil where about 40% of all cars run on ethanol.
A website dedicated to the publication of a 1980 book by Keat Drane, Convert Your Car to Alcohol details changes required to carburetor, etc. Modern cars, however, use fuel injection. You can buy after market conversion kits, many originating in Brazil, that will alter the way the fuel injection pulses are sent to your engine. Wikipedia has a good page on this with lots of references to other websites.