Eco-Car Fueled by Cellulosic Ethanol Sets Record

Joanna Schroeder

Cellulosic ethanol has achieved a victory. The Dynamo, a concept car created by a student team called the Roadrunners, and fueled by ethanol made from straw, won the Urban Concepts class of the 2011 Shell eco-marathon in Europe. In tandem to the win, the car set a new miles per gallon record of 1,197 (509 km/1) when adjusted for energy equivalence with gasoline. The cellulosic ethanol was provide by Inbicon and was produced at their the Inbicon Biomass Refinery in Kalundborg, Denmark.

“The Roadrunners team from the Technical University of Denmark designed, built, tuned, tested, and drove the Dynamo to victory over all 35 European teams competing. And they also beat North America and Asia’s winning mileage,” said Christian Morgen, Inbicon manager of international marketing. “Since they use only a liter at a time, I don’t believe there’s any danger of depriving Danish retail customers of our eco-friendly fuel.”

The winning team was overseen by Jesper Schramm, a DTU associate professor. Six out of the last seven years his team has taken the trophy for energy efficiency in one of two main categories. A car is designated as an urban concept car, if with minor modifications, it could actually operate on city streets. This year is team used a 50cc 4-stroke Yamaha moped engine because the higher compression rate is able to take advantage of the higher octane level of ethanol fuel. To hone-in on an aerodynamic car, the team used wind-tunnel testing. Amazingly, the Dynamo ran 28% farther than its closest competitor.

More than 3,000 students and 187 teams from 27 countries took part in the eco-marathon held at the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany. Professor Schramm hopes that the experience and knowledge that has come from this project will launch their careers in a multitude of industries including automotive design and engineering.

Inbicon has coined its fuel “The New Ethanol” and has been producing it for use since 2009. Using Kalundborg as a guide, Inbicon plans on rolling out its biomass-based cellulosic ethanol worldwide.

Photos: Dynamo races to eco-victory at German speedway & Winning Roadrunners team, Technical Institute of Denmark. *Photo Credits Kasper Duncan Gram

biofuels, biomass, Cellulosic, Ethanol, International