Gm Encourages Use of Renewable Fuels

By: Noah Scott

Brent Dewar, General Motors' Vice-President of field sales, service and parts while working for General Motors in Brazil in the 1990s got to experience the country's successful switch from oil-based economy to ethanol. Dewar hopes to see the same changes to happen in the United States and he believes that NASCAR can help. He is urging officials to consider ethanol as an alternative fuel solution.

According to Dewar, "We would embrace it. We think it would be great on a lot of fronts, because obviously it would send a signal to the public. A lot of people don't understand the benefits of ethanol."

The use of renewable fuels are already employed by other racing series like for instance the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series will race on 100 percent ethanol similarly the American LeMans Series will race on a 10 percent ethanol blend.

And today NASCAR has also expressed its desire to give ethanol a try. Driver Kyle Petty said that NASCAR's marketing power might drive alternative fuels into the mainstream to help consumers forget the image of hippies terrorizing them by putting vegetable oil in their 1980s Mercedes. "I think once you start seeing alternative fuels show up in places like racing and places where you least expects them, then you think about that guy with the Volkswagen van that runs off of whatever," added Petty.

NASCAR is once again taking the first step towards the direction of environmental responsibility by taking the lead in utilizing ethanol similar to what it did in the 1980s when it switches from using leaded to unleaded fuel.

Proponents of ethanol are very honest in saying that despite numerous advantages that the ethanol fuel can offer it is not a magic wand saying that it is not as efficient as gasoline. But with the ever increasing danger of global warming caused by harmful car emissions, efficiency has become a trivial issue. The important thing is to save the environment. However, continuous study and research are conducted to make the ethanol as efficient as gasoline.

"I think the global-warming thing, and all the things that are written about that, a lot more people are aware of the fact that we do need to do something," said Petty.

Most American cars run on 90 percent fuel and 10 percent ethanol blends, in order to function on heavier blends of ethanol, cars have to be specially equipped for it. According to Dewar, technological innovations can help in decreasing the price of ethanol. At present, the ethanol used in the US is derived from corn while the ethanol used in Brazil came from sugar cane. There are some research findings that show certain kinds of grass and even wood chips proving a much better source for ethanol. Researchers are also working to develop enzymes that would break down waste products into ethanol. Dewar said that in five years time we should expect cars to literally run on recycled garbage fuel.

It is inspiring to see that the world's largest automaker and maker of popular car accessories like , General Motors--- is so passionate in its goal to help the environment. Does this mean that we will be seeing more green GM cars in the future?

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