Calling all BioPower owners…and brewers

There’s an anti-ethanol rant in an Australian newspaper blog today.

Glenn Butler from is currently testing one of Saab Australia’s BioPower fleet and he’s not happy with the mileage he’s getting. This has prompted a rant that takes in several contentious points.

Firstly, the mileage.

Glenn’s mileage reading of 26 litres per 100km is, rightly, of some concern. He notes the extra power coming from the 104 octane fuel, but doesn’t mention whether his exploration of the extra power offered has contributed to the mileage readout, simply saying that it’s mostly city driving.

Second, the resource.

Glenn notes that ethanol is currently made from what are mostly food crops and doesn’t like the food vs fuel choice that a growing ethanol industry points towards. In a drought-stricken country such as Australia this is a fair point, too, though it ignores the potential for cellulosic ethanol production in the future.

Third, the beer!

Glenn’s words, not mine:

The bulk of ethanol we currently produce goes into alcohol. Yep, ethanol is the intoxicating substance in liquor. According to, beers, wines, whiskies, vodkas, brandies, rums and others all contain a percentage of ethanol, in some drinks up to 20 per cent

Now, I’m no brewer. I’m not even much of a drinker, actually. But I’m pretty sure that any ethanol content present in alcoholic drinks is the result of the fermentation process of the source material. As far as I know it’s not a case of make beer, add ethanol.


What I need from you is:

1) If you’re in Sweden and own a BioPower Saab then can you please let us know in comments about the mileage you’re getting when you run it on E85? If you don’t own a BioPower Saab but know someone that does, then please ask them to get in touch (or relay the results through you).

2) Correct me if I’m wrong about the brewing process.


Thanks to Turbin for the tip.

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  1. Swade, read my comment on the “Australian BioPower article”.

    Edit by SW:

    Thanks Mats. I’ve reproduced it below…..

    My collegue has driven his 9-5 SC 2.3Biopower about 15000 km now and his car drinks about 0.9-1.0 liters /10 km depending on how much citydriving he does. When his daughter borrows the car the consumption increases to 1.3-1.4 litres / 10 km.

  2. My 2.0T BioPower need approx 12 liters per 100 km, all depending on how “inspired” you are when you drive 🙂

    Seriously, I find this to be av very weak argument against ethanol as a fuel. I think that we need to sacrifice something when switching to a more sustainable use of natures reserves. If this only means going to the gas station a bit more frequently then I’m all for it! I mean, I still can go 600km per tank… It’s not like a Volvo Bifuel…

    The other arguments against ethanol are a lot more interesting to analyze and discuss!


  3. I have a 2006 9-5 SC 2,0t Biopower. On E85 it takes about 12,5 liters / 100 km and on petrol it takes 9,5 liters / 100 km

    The reason for this is that ethanol contains less energy (about 70%) than petrol, although it is more easy to harvest the energy in E85 since it got 104 octane RON, that is why I get 180 hk on E85, and “only” 150 hk on petrol.
    I do not understand why the press can not understand these simple facts??

    Anyway, when it comes to feedstock to produce ethanol the best alternative today is sugarcane. Sugarcane in Brasil makes close to 50% of all their fuel needs. Technology does not stand still, Cellulosic ethanol plants are built in both Sweden and the US and probably in other countries too.

    Will everybody drive on Ethanol in 10 years? Absolutely not! There will be many new technologies
    – Turbo 4 cyl instead of gas guzlin’ V8s…;-)
    – Synthetic Diesel
    – DME
    – Natural Gas Vehicles
    – Plug-in hybrids
    – Etc.

    1. Oil is a finite resource
    2. Use of Oil give us to much CO2
    3. Most Oil is owned by less nice dictators in the Middle East

    Ethanol will not solve all the energy needs of the world tomorrow, but today you can chose to give your fuel money to Brasilian farmers or to the oil sheiks of the Middle East.

    If you chose the first option, it does not hurt to get some extra power while doing so…

  4. A salesman I know (and doesn’t care for the milege) is using 15 liters / 100 km. And always drive with enthusiasm.

  5. Hi folks,
    I’m really supporting the ethanol fuel from the beginning.
    However, we should take into consideration what was happend recently in Mexico. They national food tortilla made from corn wheat raised the price wich led to serious protest of people.
    The corn is the main source of the ethanol production in the American continent. If more and more corn will be used for ethanol and less for food, it will certainly increase the prices of foods processed from corn. And it is only one factor that effects…

  6. Your comments about the beer are right on. The Reinheitsgebot states that only water, barley, hops and yeast may be used. The barley malt ferments and creates the alcohols present in beer.

    It’s similar in stronger spirits — they are simply distilled to concentrate the liquor.

  7. We make wine, and all you need is grape juice and yeast. The sugar in the grape juice is what is turned into alcohol. Sometimes extra sugar is added to raise the alcohol content or produce a sweet wine. The only reason to add alcohol to wine would be to produce brandy or something similar.

  8. In regards to “ethanol” in alcohol, it helps to read the wikipedia reference he cites.

    What it says is the alcoholic content of beverages is alternatively called ethanol. I’ll put it another way. What he is saying is that the bulk of plant material that is fermented in this country is for alcoholic beverages. Bundaberg rum is distilled from sugarcane. First the molasses is fermented and distilled to create about an 80-90% pure alcohol. This is then diluted with water and other additives back to the alcohol content we get in the rum we buy.

    Me Butler is suggesting that Bundy and other alcohols may increase in price is their source material is also being used for ethanol fuel. Given that Bundy is 50-70% water and that a high percentage of the cost is in taxes (like fuel) I can’t imagine it would be affected too much

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