Bentley completes cross-Iceland test on biofuel and renewable energy

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Using only energy from waste straw and renewable sources, an engineering prototype Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid has completed a dramatic test as part of the car’s sign off and Bentley’s development of renewable fuels.

The car covered the 733km (455 miles) required to drive across Iceland in a single stint entirely on renewable power, through a combination of 100% second-generation biofuel and geothermally sourced electricity available from the Icelandic power grid. The journey was, says Bentley, validation of its research into biofuels that can be used without engine modification.

The fuel used conforms to the same EN228 standard as ordinary pump gasoline, yet is created entirely from waste biomass at no cost to food production or the natural ecosystem. The combination of this fuel and the Flying Spur Hybrid’s electrified powertrain meant a claimed overall reduction of 45% in CO2 emissions on a well-to-wheels basis over the course of the adventure.

Bentley’s member of the board for engineering, Matthias Rabe, commented, “With the launch of the Flying Spur Hybrid we now have a hybrid range at Bentley, and with this challenge we’ve proved the real benefit of a hybrid – the ability to have an unimpeded grand touring reach of more than 450 miles, while still having usable electric-only range for urban environments. It’s truly the best of both worlds, especially when the use of innovative second-generation biofuel means a huge drop in CO2 emissions. We’ll continue working with such fuels in the coming months as part of our development process, with the end goal of a customer-facing solution.”

The 100% renewable, second-generation biofuel was developed by specialist Coryton, which is supporting Bentley in renewable fuel research. The production process sees waste biomass (e.g. straw) 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 oligomerization – chaining short hydrocarbon molecules together to produce longer, more energy-dense ones.

The electricity used by the car’s hybrid system during the journey was sourced from Iceland’s renewable grid. Iceland is a global leader in renewable energy production; 75% of the country’s electrical energy is produced via hydroelectric and 25% from geothermal power. During its time in Iceland, the Flying Spur Hybrid was charged with electricity from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology International and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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