Tiny But Mighty

Dynamo tops 1,000 mpg
By Kris Bevill | August 15, 2011

How would you like to drive a car that gets more than 1,000 miles per gallon? And how about fueling that car with ethanol? A biofuel-powered car in Europe’s 2011 Shell Eco-marathon did just that, achieving a record-setting 1,197 miles per gallon (when adjusted for energy equivalence with gasoline) using Inbicon A/S’s cellulosic ethanol.

It’s tiny, but the car named Dynamo, which was designed and built by a team of students from the Technical University of Denmark, could actually operate on city streets. The team used a 50cc 4-stroke Yamaha moped engine because its higher compression can utilize ethanol’s higher octane. They also sculpted the body in a wind-tunnel to improve its aerodynamic performance. The resulting vehicle ran 28 percent farther than its closest competitor, beating out 35 competing European teams. It also beat North America and Asia’s winning mileage, points out Christian Morgen, Inbicon’s manager of international marketing. “Since they use only a liter at a time, I don’t believe there’s any danger of depriving Danish retail customers of our eco-friendly fuel,” he says. Inbicon’s wheat straw-based ethanol is currently available in 5 percent blends at 100 Statoil retail fuel stations throughout Denmark. 

—Kris Bevill