Global environmental challenges
Home brewing for your car
A California company called E-Fuel wants you to ferment home brew — for your car. It sells a $10,000 portable ”MicroFueler” that plugs into home power and water supplies to ferment sugar into 100 percent ethanol at a rate of 35 gallons ( 132 liters) per week.
For families that drive at least a combined 34,500 miles (55,520 km) in cars that get average fuel efficiency, the MicroFueler will pay for itself in less than two years if gasoline prices stay near record levels, says Tom Quinn, the company’s CEO and financial backer.
E-Fuels says it will link buyers to cheap supplies of sugar, such as inedible surplus sweetener from Mexico, and launch a carbon credit system to cut the feedstock cost of regular table sugar.
“This paradigm shift is not going to work unless we can knock out of the ballpark the cost of feedstock,” Quinn said at the unveiling of the MicroFueler in New York. He said the credits could knock down the cost of fueling up to less than $1 per gallon (3.8 liters).
E-Fuel says the unit will start shipping late this year.
Interesting product, but will it help ease motor fuel prices or fade the black eye corn-made ethanol has gotten for helping to push up grain and food prices? “This could be fun for tinkerers, but unfortunately it’s not a quick solution for our problems,” said Nathanael Greene, a resource specialist at green group the Natural Resources Defense Council.
What do you think? Pricey gadget or fount of bargain fuel?