Mazda joins research association to develop next generation of bioethanol.

These bioethanol fuels are eco-friendly and can help prolong the lifespans of traditionally fuel-driven vehicles.

Mazda has recently joined the Research Association of Biomass Innovation for Next Generation Automobile Fuels, aptly termed the Research Association. 

This group was established on July 1, 2022 by numerous large Japanese corporations, including the likes of ENEOS, Suzuki, Subaru, Daihatsu and Toyota. Mazda is now the seventh and newest member.

So what do they do exactly?

Well, the Research Association promotes technological research on the use of biomass as well as the efficient production of bioethanol fuel for automobiles. These are combined efforts in the hopes that one day biofuels can help transform our world into a carbon-neutral society.

Carbon neutrality is the name of the game here, and massive research efforts are underway to develop new biofuels that not only burn cleaner, but are more sustainable to source as well.

what is bioethanol?

Bioethanol is a liquid biofuel that is produced through the fermentation of several different types of feedstock. These can be grains like corn, soybeans, wheat straw, and wood chips. Recently, scientists have also found a way to utilise microalgae.

Bioethanol is a renewable biofuel that is also oxygenated, compromising of around 35% oxygen. Thus, this has serious potential to reduce automobile emissions.

Best of all, bioethanol can be directly used in vehicles and behaves similarly to conventional fuels, thereby eliminating the need to retrofit existing hardware. Furthermore, bioethanol naturally has a high-octane rating that enables high engine compression ratios, which improves engine efficiency and performance.

However, compared to conventional petrol or diesel, bioethanol has low volumetric energy density. This means vehicles would require more bioethanol per kilometre – by as much as 50% – compared to run-of-the-mill fuel.

Other disadvantages are that bioethanol can degrade specific elastomers and corrode certain metals inside the vehicle, meaning that continual replacement is needed. When used in pure form (commonly termed E100), bioethanol is difficult to vaporise at low temperatures and this can make vehicles more difficult to start in cold weather. To mitigate this, bioethanol is usually blended with a small amount of traditional petrol to improve ignition.

Low-percentage bioethanol blends (up to E10) can already be found in some petrol stations around the world, and the hope is that as time goes on and research improves, scientists can make a breakthrough that enables pure bioethanol to be used in cars without any adverse side effects.

a step in the right direction.

“We are very honoured to have received this invitation from the Research Association of Biomass Innovation for Next Generation Automobile Fuels. Through the Research Association, we will work together with other member companies to promote research and development on production technology for bioethanol fuel and other technologies,” said Hiroyuki Yamashita, Senior Principal Engineer responsible for technological research at Mazda.

“We will make every effort to increase the potential of carbon-neutral fuels, a promising option for achieving a carbon neutral society.”

Let’s hope the boffins at the Research Association can rack their brains and find that perfect formula!

Toyota is also making efforts with decarbonisation! Read more about it here.

Sean Loo

Ignition Labs' resident editor loves all things retro, even though he was born in the late 90s. His main job encompasses tons of driving (and a massive carbon footprint), but he swears he turns off the lights each time he leaves his room.

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