Imagine a washing machine-sized contraption in your garage that’ll make the fuel to power your car. And that fuel was made from all the leftover beer from last week’s Super Bowl party. The folks at E-Fuel are making that possible.
The E-Fuel100 is a portable ethanol “microrefinery” system that allows consumers to produce their own biofuel from simple, household sugar or even beer.
E-Fuel, the company that wants to catalyze the paradigm shift in society’s energy consumption, has also recently partnered with Chico, Ca-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to produce ethanol from the waste produced from the brewing process.
On average, Sierra Nevada produces 1.6 million gallons of unusable “bottom of the barrel” beer yeast waste. Instead of being directed to dairy feed, the system of E-Fuel microrefineries that will be in place in Q2 2009 will now power Sierra Nevada’s entire fleet of delivery trucks as well as hundreds of cars in Central Valley.
“This has the potential to be a great thing for the environment and further our commitment to be becoming more energy independent,” said Sierra Nevada Brewing Company co-founder and president Ken Grossman.
The company was founded in March 2007 by Tom Quinn and ethanol scientist Floyd Butterfield to revolutionize the world in the same way the personal computer did. And hopefully in doing so, it will negate the global debates on the “collateral damage” of ethanol production such as rainforest land displacement in Brazil or the usage of corn in the United States.
The MicroFueler weighs about 200 pounds and hooks up to a 110- or 220-volt power supply and wastewater drain just like a washing machine. Depending upon the cost of electricity and water, Quinn claims the MicroFueler can produce ethanol for less than $1 a gallon.
“You just open it like a washing machine and dump in your sugar, close the door and push one button,” says Quinn. “A few days later, you’ve got ethanol.”
However, some say it isn’t so easy as a push of a button. Among other criticisms, home production makes it difficult to control the quality of the biofuel.
Despite the critics, the people behind the E-Fuel100 are optimistic that the “produce where you consume” energy model the microrefineries promote will eliminate many problems not only with large-scale ethanol production as well provide an efficient and easy alternative to wane off of fossil fuel usage.