One alternative fuel area where Japanese automakers have shown comparatively little interest, until recently, is biofuels. Toyota has announced plans to offer a flex-fuel version of the Tundra and Honda offers flex-fuel Civics in Brazil. Toyota also recently announced a cellulosic ethanol partnership. Honda has now announced plans to build a new R&D facility in Japan that will focus on producing biofuels from non-food feedstocks. The 1,050 m2 lab is expected to be completed and operating by
That the 2007 IndyCar Series will be run using 100 percent ethanol is not news, so we won't repeat what we've told you before (see the links below if you missed things). What we will bring up here, late on a Friday, is that tomorrow is finally the day that the 3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8 engine start using pure ethanol in competition. The race is the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 on the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. E100 was tested in the cars earlier this year.
While Honda's latest racing announcement is a positivist preview for the 2007 racing season, including F1, IndyCar, SuperGT, etc. What's interesting to us are the E100-ready engine announcements.
Honda announced today that it, along with Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE), has developed a new way to produce cellulosic ethanol. We're all pretty aware of the benefits cellulosic ethanol would give, but it has proven difficult to make lots of it cheaply and easily. Honda and RITE now say they have figured out the "basic technology" to use cellulose and hemicellulose to make ethanol. The process, in Honda's own words, consists of four operations: