Jorge Chapa

Ethanol Powered Mazda Furai Racecar

by , 07/29/08

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This is a concept vehicle which few of us will ever drive. The Furai is Mazda’s next hope in the future of car racing. While going green on the race track is not exactly an eco-minded endeavor, we’re still intrigued that this vehicle can be fully powered by ethanol. The very cool looking performance sports car shows that if ethanol has a place in the auto industry, that place is in the car racing arena.

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It is a powerful machine, capable of achieving 60mph in about 3.2 seconds, and its maximum speed is 172mph. Instead of working from a regular chassis, the manufacturer decided to begin with a fully formed Courage C65 chassis, Mazda’s chassis of choice. The vehicle weighs a bit less than a ton, and its engine produces around 460bhp.

The Furai, while fully functioning, is never going to make it past the concept stage. It is simply a promotional vehicle. But at least they fitted it with an ethanol engine. There is no doubt that ethanol is a dicey proposition as a fuel source for vehicles. The fact is, that it can cause a number of problems if it’s sourcing is not managed properly. However, it is a potential stopgap replacement to our energy problems.

+ Mazda Furai

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6 Comments

  1. conlethomahoney August 4, 2008 at 7:01 am

    ethanol is an efficient energy source but the cost of it out weighs any of its benefits, if we are to have a majour switch over to another source, ethanol shouldnt even come up as an option, sources like solar and wind make people yawn but theyre some of the only sources that dont waste nutrients in the soil and have no negative impact what so ever. solar pannels max out at about 13% efficiency, but the public sees pannels that probably max out at 8%. so despite ethanols 5time appeal ( meaning that what it costs to produce is one fith of the value of the end product). it drains stocks of a majour crop while there is a continual food shortage around the golbe. Mostly conststing of the third world.
    Surely it would be better to have solar stations in these countries so that they may trade the energy to better the living standards of the local people. this creates wealth on all sides because once the initial expences are made, the result is a power source that is free of charge, lol its laughable. and there would be more crop to go around for all, i know i sound very communist or at least socialist when i say this but it also works for the cut throat heartless world of capitalism, but with a lower human cost

  2. Walker August 1, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I too agree that ethanol makes the most sense on the streets and that the US needs to increase it’s production of ethanol. As gearcrave stated, corn ethanol is costly and out of favor, but it is certainly a good starting place as it sparked interest in biofuels. The best news is that we are always finding new sources of biofuels, and our technologies are continually improving so that we can more efficiently extract ever increasing amounts of fuel out of biomass.

  3. gearcrave July 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Awesome find, Jorge– I just posted it on my site and linked back to you. Great stuff!

    @vmassis:

    A few things– Brazil’s ethanol is primarily harvested from the sugar cane crop, which is a much more effective and economical producer of ethanol per square acre when compared to corn. We have abundant corn in the US, yet corn ethanol is a very flawed fuel. We don’t have the climate for sugar cane, but we have plenty of land and infrastructure to support using corn. Your market is self-sustaining, ours is sputtering…

    I do agree with your sentiment, however– that the U.S. should increase its usage of ethanol. Presently, our domestic auto manufacturers are slowly increasing their production of flex fueled automobiles. An expanding ethanol (E85) market will allow for domestic auto makers to realize more profits from their flex fueled fleet. Without flex fueled autos, the ethanol market will not grow. Without market-ready alternative fuels, auto makers will not expand their flex fueled offering.

    As I said, corn ethanol is a very flawed fuel. But it is a spearhead fuel that will pave the way for 2nd generation biofuels like algae methanol and cellulosic ethanol. It’ll take 5+ years for these 2nd gen biofuels to be market ready, and in those 5 years the U.S. needs to increase its use of ethanol to have a flex fueled market standing by.

    Take a look at the videos on this algae biofuel producer’s website. pretty wild:
    http://www.valcent.net/s/Home.asp

    Unfortunately, if the EPA kills the ethanol mandate in August (which they are now considering), 2nd gen biofuels will be dealt a death blow… all because of some misinformation about the economic costs of corn ethanol…. (as perpetuated by the oil lobby and the grocery manufacturers association)

  4. vmassis July 30, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Dear friends,

    Sorry to tell you wrong, but the place for ethanol is far from the racing arenas. The place for ethanol is right there on your car, right there on the streets. Here in Brazil, all cars runs on ethanol, at least partially. I explain: First of all, all gas sold in Brazil is 20% ethanol. Second of all, for decades now, all companies sell cars which work only exclusively on ethanol, and they are pretty common around here. Third and last, for some years now, companies have been selling cars with flex engines, which are basically engines which can work with any porcentage of gas/alcohol. And there are even engines which can work also on biogas.

    So, sorry again, but you are terribly late. Ethanol on cars may be news… for americans.

  5. honeybear July 29, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    very hot… unfortunately that incredible ethanol powered wankel rotary engine gets only 2.3 mpg. A normal F1 car gets about 3.1mpg. Never-the-less as a technological exercise it\\\\\\\’s still pretty darn cool.

  6. GreenTina July 29, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    That car looks absolutely stylish, reminds me of the bat mobile actually. I love all these sexy alternative energy cars….though I wish I could buy one of my own!

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