Old and New – Bentley and Biofuel

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A 1200-litre fuel bowser within the Bentley production site at Crewe in Cheshire may appear unremarkable – but its contents have enabled vehicles from the Bentley Heritage Collection and press fleet to reduce their CO2 impact by an estimated 85%, compared with ordinary petrol.

Bentley ran its six strong fleet at the Goodwood Festival of Speed using the fuel and successfully completed all 32 hill-climbs.  The 750PS, W12-engined Batur completed a 55.0 second run putting it amongst the top-three production cars of the weekend.  Bentley’s newest flagship – the Bentayga EWB, also completed the hill climb in just 1 minute 21 seconds – impressive enough, but made even more surprising by the fact it was towing 2.5 tonnes of straw.  Enough straw, that when converted to biofuel, would power the Bentayga for 1100 miles or provide fuel for all of the Bentleys for the weekend at Goodwood.

The second-generation biofuel conforms to the global EN228 standard for gasoline, meaning that it’s a straightforward replacement for normal pump fuel.  No engine modifications are necessary, even for the oldest surviving Bentley, the 1920 EXP2.  Any Bentley ever built will run as smoothly on the second-generation biofuel as it does on normal pump fuel, while dramatically reducing its carbon footprint.

Unlike first-generation biofuels, which are made from food crops grown on arable land, second-generation biofuels use waste products, including agriculture and forestry waste and food industry by-products.  During the production process waste biomass is broken down using fermentation, leading to the creation of ethanol.  Dehydration of the ethanol converts it to ethylene, which can then be transformed into gasoline through the process of oligomerisation – chaining short hydrocarbon molecules together to produce longer, more energy-dense ones.  The fuel produced is 100 per cent renewable and delivers an estimated 85 per cent reduction in CO2 impact.  By using waste materials that would otherwise be disposed of, second-generation biofuel avoids the ‘food versus fuel’ dilemma sometimes associated with biofuels.

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