Late Nite Snippets

I know most of you are just getting going on your Wednesday, but it’s ten minutes from Thursday here as I’m writing this, so Late Nite Snippets seems appropriate.  If the content is slow here, it’s for 2 reasons.

a) There’s still little to write about, and

b) Our car club is hosting a promotional event at our local dealership on Friday and I’ve been flat out preparing a whiz-bang presentation for it.  All the news that fits…

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If you’re in the UK and you didn’t get to the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, you’re probably thinking the British motor Show is your only chance to see the Aero-X for a while.

Not so.

A little birdie’s informed me that you can see it for FREE at Saabcity in central London, for three days starting Thursday the 13th.

Get your motor running…..

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Thanks again to Jochen.  Earlier today he emailed me the sales figures for the 9-7x in Germany where it’s not even officially on sale but is outselling the Volvo S80.

Now he’s emailed me a link to a brief write up on the 9-7x in the German publication, Autobild.

My favourite Babelfish-translated quote:

Nevertheless: The SUV drives itself clearly better than a Trailblazer. The chassis proves as Europeansuited, keeps the car taut in the trace. No comparison to the swinging couch feeling, which the Trailblazer in the USA obtains.

"The Swinging Couch" 

Love it.

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Further to my E85 rant of yesterday, here’s an article from CNET.  The title says it all:

Forget fueling cars on corn or soybeans

It’s all about switchgrass, folks. 

Even if all of the corn produced in the U.S. last year were used to make ethanol, it would quench only 12 percent of the country’s gas thirst, the report said. If the soybean crop were consumed as fuel, it would displace only 9 percent of the country’s demand for diesel. Any appreciable upsurge in the use of those plants for fuel would also cut into the U.S. food supply.

 

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5 Comments

  1. I’m puzzled about the production capacity (farmland-wise) for ethanol vs. biodiesel (I think both alternative fuels should be advocated, and also butanol). Scania is making ethanol diesels based partly on this stated opinion: “Scania acknowledges the ability of diesel engines to burn biodiesel—specifically rapeseed methyl ester (RME)— without any modifications at all, but believes that the farming capacity is insufficient for the huge need foreseen for the transport industry.” (http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/03/scania_touts_et.html)

    Does swicthgrass give ethanol an edge over biodiesel? The article Swade linked to seems to indicate that biodiesel can be made from switchgrass too. And if it can be made as efficiently as it can from soybeans, it would seem to have the clear advantage. Is biodiesel from soybeans or switchgrass any less usuable than the rapeseed biodiesel mentioned by Scania? I’m confused.

  2. Well, outselling the S80 isn’t much of a task since all potential buyers probably are waiting for the new S80 that will be available after the summer.

  3. Ted: Ethanol and biodiesel aren’t the same thing. In fact, alcohol is specifically removed from biodiesel to reduce knocking/pinging (diesels have very high compression ratios).

    Biodiesel: Processed vegtable or animal oils.

    Ethanol: Distilled sugars and other hydrocarbons.

    Rapeseed isn’t overly plentiful outside the UK, if memory serves. However, biodiesel can be successfully made from many oils. Here in the US, there are a few people that have been running M-B diesels on used french fry oil for some time, for crying out loud!

    E85 is NOT an economical fuel at the moment since a great deal of cost and energy is consumed processing the stuff. It has the advantage of using US-supplied energy and it also creates less pollution at the point of consumption. So one can theoretically shift pollutions from, say, LA to Des Moines with E85.

    Switchgrass is attractive because it seems to take a little less energy to distill the sugars, and it grows with a high alcohol-per-acre yield. It also needs very little care tp nurture.

    Economically, biodiesel wins hands down.

    I still think that E85 is a bunch of crap. I’m still thinking that a fuel cell will replace it soon as the buzz technology of choice.

  4. eggsngrits,
    I understand that ethanol and biodiesel aren’t the same thing. I was just puzzled that Scania says there’s not enough farmland for biodiesel crops as a justification for making an inefficient ethanol diesel engine. But the ethanol requires farmland too. I don’t see their logic.

  5. You’re right regarding current ethanol/crop availability. The current crop would have to change dramatically to produced say 20% or so of our potential ethanol demand. I think it’s within reach, though, call me the eternal optimist.

    Having grown up in a farming area myself, i can tell you most farmers get a gov’t subsidy to let some of their land sit unused – no yield. plus crops can easily can changed into corn, etc. or another ethanol producing plant. Add imports from places like Brazil and Mexico, both of which have surpluses, and the goal may be within reach.

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