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How Do I Choose the Best Biofuel Car?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2016
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Choosing the best biofuel car can depend on what type of fuel source you want to use. The two main types of biofuel that are commonly available are ethanol and biodiesel. If you want to run ethanol in your car or truck, then you need to find a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) that is designed to run on any combination of gasoline and ethanol. Biodiesel can typically be ran in any diesel engine constructed after 1994, though it can be helpful to contact the manufacturer to verify specific compatibility. Both biodiesel and ethanol have similar characteristics to their fossil fuel counterparts, but the differences can cause problems under certain circumstances.

Ethanol is an alternative biofuel to gasoline or petrol that can be derived from a wide variety of different plant sources. The biomass is converted into alcohol, distilled, and then refined to a high degree of purity. This pure ethanol is often added to gasoline, and much of the gas that you purchase at the pump has some amount in it. Straight ethanol can cause problems if it is not used in a special biofuel car. This is mainly due to the fact that ethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline and also lacks its lubricating properties.

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In order to get around the issues associated with using straight ethanol, you can obtain a biofuel car known as a flex-fuel vehicle. These special vehicles can run on 100% pure ethanol or any mixture of ethanol and gasoline. Many different vehicle manufacturers make FFV cars and trucks in a variety of different configurations, so you will typically have some choices to choose the best biofuel car for your needs. You can also convert an existing vehicle to run on ethanol, though it tends to be a complicated and somewhat expensive process.

The other main biofuel you may be interested in is biodiesel. This fuel is typically made by performing a transesterification process on vegetable oil or animal fat, and it can often be used in unmodified diesel engines. Buying a biofuel car to run on biodiesel tends to be a fairly easy process because most cars and trucks built after 1994 require no modifications to switch over from petrodiesel. Choosing the best biodiesel car may be more a function of what you intend to use the vehicle for and the kind of mileage you want to get. You may still want to contact the manufacturer to verify that a particular engine will not have issues with biodiesel, especially if you live in a very cold climate.

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