Lotus has developed a sports car with a taste for cheese, wine and chocolate.
The Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel is a new alternative energy concept from the UK-based manufacturer.
As the name suggests, the Exige 270E Tri-fuel is capable of running on any combination of petrol, methanol or bio-ethanol. The ethanol used by Lotus’s engineers contains cheese whey, low grade wine and waste chocolate (not quite as appetising as it first sounded really, is it?).
The Exige 270E Tri-fuel isn’t just another fun-sapping green machine, however. It’s actually the most powerful road-going version of the Exige in history and is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds.
The Exige’s 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine produces 201kW of power at 8000rpm and 260Nm of torque at 5500rpm.
Methanol and ethanol give off more power when burned in the engine than conventional petrol fuel, with the performance benefits largely a result of the high heats of vaporisation of methanol and ethanol.
Synthetic methanol is a chemical combination of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. It can be produced by extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and combining it with hydrogen, which can be acquired through the electrolysis of water.
Along with the obvious environmental benefits, there are a number of benefits to using synthetic methanol to power vehicles. It operates in similar engine and fuel system designs to those is today’s cars, and it can be transported and sorted much like petrol and diesel fuel.
It is also actually better suited to the internal combustion process than today’s common liquid fuels, offering better performance and thermal efficiencies, and is ideal for turbocharging and supercharging, as manufacturers look to downsize their engines.
Lotus’s engineers say the technology could be ready for production cars within four or five years, but admit it is likely to take governments and fuel companies at least 15 to 20 years to provide the infrastructure and support to make synthetic alcohol fuels a reality.