By Andy Bannister
Set to star at an event called the Sexy Green Car Show, being held at the Eden Project “eco dome” in rural Cornwall, UK, later this month, is a new Lotus research vehicle which could point to future ways of combining fuels to cut emissions.
The 270E Tri-fuel is the most powerful version yet of the natty Lotus Exige sports car, and runs on any mixture of gasoline, bioethanol and methanol. It is the latest research vehicle from Lotus Engineering, the consultancy division of Group Lotus plc.
Emerging technologies will allow alcohol fuels such as methanol, already a proven internal combustion fuel, to be made synthetically from CO2 extracted from the atmosphere. A fuel derived renewably from atmospheric CO2 would be a key piece of the jigsaw allowing society to transfer to sustainable, renewable, carbon-neutral internal combustion – or so the theory goes.
This technology is hardly round the corner, however – Lotus Engineering is researching the use of sustainable synthetic alcohols as future fuels for introduction within 15 – 20 years.
Another exhibitor will be Morgan, manufacturer of those oh-so-English traditional roadsters which seem to have been around since the dawn of motoring.
The Morgan LIFE car, described by the company as “probably the sexiest green car in existence” is a fuel cell-powered electric sports car built by Morgan Motor Company in conjunction with a range of partners.
Four stacks of fuel cells convert the hydrogen fuel into electricity to run a super efficient motor generator attached to each wheel. Energy recovered in braking is stored in ultra capacitors rather than batteries, and end to end the performance is estimated to be equivalent to a 150mpg petrol engine.
With a top speed of 85mph, 0-60 in less than 7 seconds and a 250 mile range, the mix of technology combines use of aluminium, wood and leather in what could only be a Morgan shape.
Less familiar is another name starring at the show, Axon Automotive, which hopes to “aim to manufacture the most fuel efficient cars in Europe”. Axon is a specialist in carbon fibre Formula 1 technology and says this is now affordable for eco cars. The new Axon has yet to be unveiled except in an unpromising “teaser” shot. It is described as a multipurpose vehicle built for two adults plus two children plus luggage. Apparently it is a hatchback which can be converted into a small pick-up.
The theory here is that by making cars light and giving them good aerodynamics you can halve fuel consumption. Perhaps the future of sports cars in a CO2-sensitive world isn’t as bleak as we have feared.
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