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Ford Flex-Fuel Focus Emits Less Than 100g CO2/Kilometer Net

19 July 2006

Focus_ffv
The Focus FFV

Researchers at Imperial College, London, have led the first study into actual CO2 output for a Ford Focus Flexible Fuel Vehicle reflecting its use of a renewable fuel.

While Ford’s 1.8-liter FFV emits 169g CO2/km from its exhaust pipe, the Imperial College research says this drops to 99.6g when CO2 absorption by crops grown to make bio-ethanol is factored in.

The ethanol in the E85 blends sold in the UK can be made from UK-grown crops such as wheat or sugar beet. Emissions of CO2 from the Ford Focus FFV were measured on a well-to-wheel basis, factoring in the entire life cycle of the fuel.

Imperial College used data from the UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership and the European Consortium for Automotive Research (EUCAR), including well-to-wheel emissions figures for bio- and fossil fuels. The research was based on bio-fuel production in efficient modern plants, such as those under construction in the UK and becoming operational from the end of this year.

Bio-fuels generally, and bio-ethanol particularly, could provide a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport. I welcome Ford’s lead in this area and trust that Government policies will encourage greater use of bio-fuels and the purchase of vehicles operating with high bio-fuel blends.

—Dr Jeremy Woods, research fellow of Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy

July 19, 2006 in Climate Change, Emissions, Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

CO2 g/km matter in the UK because your company car and insurance depend on this rating.

if not controlled properly, they'll have people buying FFVs just for the lower insurance rates and then always buying traditional petrol because it is cheaper and provides better performance and fuel efficiency.

Mike:

Are you sure that it is total (well to wheel) WTW in all cases?

The 169 g/CO2/Km for the fossil fuel version may not include all the CO2 created prior to entering the car's fuel tank.

When does the "well" begin for ethanol, from the time the seed is planted, or from the time the distillation process begins? Also, the emissions from ethanol depends on what kind of fuel is use to drive the distillation process. The study by the University of California concluded that the emission reductions were rather modest, and certainly a lot less than this study came up with.

Also, wouldn't the result differ depending upon whether one used wheat or beets? I can see beets maybe having a better return than corn. But what about wheat?

Good point made above that these studies are pretty meaningless if people buy the FFV or the auto company gets a mileage credit for a FFV but the consumer uses gasoline to save money and get better gas mileage.

Even taking these studies at face value, ethanol would only be helpful if it is actually being used to replace gasoline. Given the seemingly insatiable worldwide demand for oil and gas, it just seems like ethanol use will free up more oil and gas for consumption elsewhere.

One other issue I'm struggling with. Isn't there a difference in the net carbon calculation between using existing crop production and expanding production into lands that were previously used for grass and/or forest? In a scenario where grass or forest was allowed to go through a natural cycle, wouldn't much of this carbon go back to the soil and be partially sequestered through natural processes. If this land is converted to an agricultural crop, extracted from the soil, and then burned, it seems like the net production of GHG would be increased.

I think in England most of our ethanol will come from organic waste. At least that's what ford was using in their research vehicles for this in Sweden.

Fact still remains that the percentage of ethanol availability is next to nothing in comparison to petrol and diesel. It's unfair to let this car with it's relatively poor fuel economy get a lower tax rate than a genuinely low consumption vehicle. That stifles research into improving REAL fuel economy.

As a matter of fact, intensive agriculture emits huge amounts of GHG. The leaders are rice paddies and cattle, due to high emissions of CH4, which is 21-23 times more powerful GHG agent then CO2. These emissions are comparable with GHG emissions from transportation. From the top of the head:

http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/facts_and_figures/anthroghg.cfm

http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CarbonCycle.html

Other factors are emission of CO2 due to oxidation of organic-rich internal layers of soil exposed to air after plowing, and emission of CH4 due to underplowing of remaining after harvesting plants parts deep into ground. In order to reduce antropogenic GHG emissions, some trivial changes for agricultural practice are way more effective (second only to ocean fertilization) then regulating of fossil fuel combustion.

These GHG emissions usually are not included to such kind of well-to-wheel studies apparently for two reasons:

1. Antropogenic CO2 emissions comprise only 2-3% of natural carbon cycle (and even less part in carbon-based GNG cycle), which in turn is secondary factor in GHG balance – water vapor and clouds represent more then 75% of GHG effect on Earth. Factoring in that transportation is responsible for only 15-20% of antropogenic GHG emissions, and cars even less, one could question sanity ofdrastick measures targeting car’s CO2 emissions.

http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/13.htm

2. There is very slim chances to Global Warming lobby to impose (and live happily ever after) any GHG emission reduction taxation scheme to politically powerful agricultural industry.

"When does the "well" begin for ethanol?"
It doesn't matter, even though it would be better if it started when its planted. The USDOE reports 1 billion tons of biomass could displace 30% of US petroleum consumption and that the US produces 1.3 billion tons of biomass that is all wasted. Thats 40% of petroleum consumption. 45% of petroleum consumption is gasoline, which figures out to 88% of gasoline consumption could be displaced with ethanol.
This feedstock is all ready there you dont have to figure planting it.
Not only that but you can get more power out of 1 gallon of E85 than 1 gallon of gas and more efficiently.

http://feedstockreview.ornl.gov/pdf/billion_ton_vision.pdf

Two Lies a Truth Don't Make.

Ethanol is not a renewable substitute for oil, not even close to be a solution. Ethanol is grown with huge amounts of energy + fertilizers + pesticides all made from ... what else ? oil + natural gas by 'farmers' who don't give a hoot about the land, you, me, themselves or the planet, devastate the watershed, polute air, water, soil, food, poison children, men, women alike with vast amounts of carcinogens and mutagens, are sold slaves of the genetically modified and pesticide corporations, use fertilizer, chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, diesel transportation, diesel tractors, and guess where all that comes from ? oil...yes ?

If in doubt, read the published research papers in peer reviewed scientific journals by Prof. Patzek, UC Berkeley, and Prof. Pimentel, Cornell U. The energy balance of ethanol is at least negative 6:1, ie, pay for six gallons of gas, drive one, could be worse, plus all the above, not the positive 1:1.2 or 1:1.3 without any consequences claimed by the 'industry' peddlers.


Have a great day.

"Ethanol is not a renewable substitute for oil, not even close to be a solution."
If 4 billion gallons of ethanol were consumed annually, about 26 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be eliminated. Ethanol may not be carbon neutral yet but it will be soon.
http://www.doegenomestolife.org/biofuels/benefits.shtml

Cornell U. uses 20 to 30 year old information sources and has been proven wrong.
http://www.ethanol.org/PressRelease71905bhtm.htm

That would be a win-win situation. With the company’s green commitment, more than 9,500 engineers employed by Ford and Premier Automotive Group (PAG) will be involved, and if A Ford official is to be believed, in a decade’s time, a version of the Ford Focus — Britain's best-selling car — would be capable of achieving more than 70 mpg, while emitting less than 161 grams/mile of carbon dioxide.

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