BIOFUELS: by Kris BevillNews Weekly
Ethanol home-brew kit on sale
, October 11, 2008
The American-made E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler, using sugar as feedstock, can produce ethanol for less than US25 cents per litre, writes Kris Bevill.
Australia has been earmarked as one of the world marketplaces for a new product that allows users to brew a batch of ethanol in the comfort of their own backyards.
|The portable |
The American-made E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler has been officially unveiled in New York by E-Fuel Corp. According to company co-founder and chief executive officer Tom Quinn, orders are already streaming in for the "at-home" brewing machine.
"By using sugar as feedstock, the MicroFueler can produce ethanol for less than US$1 per gallon," Quinn said. "Taking advantage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), Mexico's low-cost sugar can be delivered below market cost anywhere in the United States. Coupled with E-Fuel's exclusive [American] Carbon Credit Coupon, which provides cash rewards for consumers to produce ethanol, E-Fuel 100 ethanol can be produced for well below a dollar a gallon (about four litres)."
Ingredients needed to operate the MicroFueler include sugar, yeast, water and a standard household power supply. Another possible feedstock source is leftover alcohol from bars and restaurants. Quinn said any combination of waste alcohol can be dumped into the machine to produce ethanol, making the machine an interesting new possible source of revenue for bars and restaurants.
Quinn said that the MicroFueler's patented micro-controlled fermentation process and non-combustion membrane distillation system make the machine as "safe and simple as a washing machine".
E-Fuel's MicroFueler is a portable unit which resembles a portable petrol pump. It features an LCD touch-screen interface and a retractable pumping-hose that extends to 50 feet (about 17 meters), allowing the user to situate the pump in a convenient location at home without needing to place it directly beside a vehicle.
According to Quinn, the company has received a steady stream of orders daily since the product went on sale on May 8. The MicroFueler sells for just under US$10,000 and requires a deposit at time of order.
E-Fuel is able to ship units to anywhere in the United States, China, India, Australia, Europe and Brazil. Quinn predicts thousands of units will be sold within the first year of operation.
US Government regulations require that all ethanol-blended fuel sold must contain 85 per cent or less ethanol. The MicroFueler produces strictly E100. Quinn pointed out that there is a US federal law that allows property-owners to produce and use E100 for their personal vehicles - as long as the amount produced does not exceed 10,000 gallons (about 40,000 litres) annually. "For those customers who prefer ethanol-blended fuel, they can blend it directly into their vehicle's tanks with existing gasoline or they blend the ethanol with water to dilute it," he said.
E-Fuel co-founder Floyd Butterfield is a scientist who has been working on an at-home ethanol brewing-kit for many years. In 2006, he conceived the design for the MicroFueler, and in March 2007 Quinn signed on to create the company.
Quinn said his experience in converging industry technology into consumer electronic products, coupled with Henry Ford's 1908 prediction that home ethanol would become the fuel of the future, inspired him to take part in the company. Quinn, who is also creator of the motion-sensor technology used in Nintendo's Wii gaming system, provided the funding for the privately-held company.- This article by Kris Bevill is reproduced by kind permission of Biofuels Australasia, Vol. 2, No. 2, July 2008.