Currently reading: Lotus goes for methanol power
Lotus reveals its Trifuel Exige 270E concept car
2 mins read
22 April 2008

Lotus has revealed its Trifuel Exige 270E concept car, demonstrating the sportscar maker’s belief in the future of methanol as an automotive fuel. The 270E uses the supercharged Toyota engine from the conventional Exige and can run on three different fuels: petrol, ethanol and methanol, or any combination of the three. Sensors measure the proportions of each fuel in the mix and adjust the engine management accordingly, meaning the new Lotus only needs one tank. Unlike hydrogen, which must be stored at very high pressure, or at temperatures as low as minus 253deg C, methanol is a liquid at room temperature. It can also burn with greater thermal efficiency than diesel, explained James Turner, Lotus’s head of powertrain research, and Richard Pearson, a technical specialist on the engine project. It therefore offers a vastly more viable solution than running internal combustion engines on liquid or pressurised hydrogen, and it is also a more convenient energy source for a fuel-cell vehicle.Most attractively of all, given the current environmental pressures, methanol can be synthesised from a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide – one of the gases that we are told is responsible for global warming. Given that hydrogen can be extracted from water, using nuclear or solar energy, it’s easy to imagine how the whole process of manufacturing and burning the methanol could be carbon neutral. The supercharged Elise also demonstrates the other benefit of methanol: it has a higher octane rating, allowing it to produce more power. With no other modifications the output of the supercharged Toyota engine goes from its standard 237bhp to 266bhp. Lotus has no plans to sell the 270E, instead it is being used to demonstrate the relative ease with which an internal combustion engine and its fuel systems, whose seals and pumps need to be resistant to the corrosive properties of alcohol-based fuels, can be modified to run on ethanol and methanol. The company reckons the cost would be around £40 per car and that every new car should have multi-fuel compatibility.

Richard Bremner

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JJBoxster 4 May 2008

Re: Lotus goes for methanol power

Good Sense - do you have some 'unsubsidised' industrial facts to back up your quick-fire spin, sorry benefits about methanol?

Methanol reduces fuel economy by 43% compared to petrol and has half the energy level per gallon of petrol or diesel... unless you enhance it.. expensively. Do you have a link to the Chinese laboratory study showing "no measurable difference in fuel consumption" ?

Getting methanol from natural gas is nice. It goes through the same cost process as oil in refining but does your selling price include energy/refining costs less any Govt subsidies in converting natural gas to methanol and are your $1.20 methanol v $3.00 for petrol both exclusive of Govt tax?

Good sense 25 April 2008

Re: Lotus goes for methanol power

Just to add a few facts to the discussion...

-until a couple of years ago all Indy cars ran on 100% methanol fuel. Today they run on ethanol primarily because the ethanol industry provides the fuel at no cost

-Los Angeles ran a fleet of M90 fueled Ford Escorts over several years in the 80s. Their average driving range was 230 miles with M90 and 300 miles with gasoline. Methanol burns more efficiently than gasoline which explains why a simple conversion based on btus is not correct.

-a recent Chinese study in a laboratory showed no measurable difference in fuel consumption using M10 instead of gasoline.

-while methanol can be made from "renewable" resources this doesn't make much economic sense. Almost all methanol used in the world today is manufactured from natural gas....not green but a whole lot better than gasoline. Someone also noted that methanol is poisonous which is true but I would like to meet the last person who drank gasoline and lived to tell the tale!

-methanol today sells at about $1.20 per gallon, ethanol about $2.60 per gallon and wholesale gasoline about $3.00 per gallon. Everyone could save money by using methanol in their fuel supply

The conclusion that I reach is that methanol is a valid fuel that should form part of the fuel supply but sadly politics and vested interests conspire for this not to happen

loather 23 April 2008

Re: Lotus goes for methanol power

Niall, I believe I said regards the AEP Telegraph windmill article that it was 'hype' - i.e. AEP's bit - and 'exploding of' - i.e. the comments afterwards. AEP is a corporate backside kissing flunkey, who no doubt is remunerated fantastically well for his puff pieces and general shilling.

I'm gonna leave it at that because we're at loggerheads obviously.