Government assistance to alternative transport fuels

If, like me, you have often read about how the incoming excise on alternative fuels is going to make it difficult for the fledgling industry to compete against fossil fuel the following article may provide some clarity. It is a few years old so if anyone has a current version please let me know.

Government Assistance to Alternative Transport Fuels.pdf

Commonwealth of Australia 2006: Government Assistance to Alternative Transport Fuels (PDF)

In basic terms LPG, CNG, LNG, ethanol and biodiesel are excise free until 30 Jun 2011. From then on excise gets applied at different rates through to 2015 depending on the type of fuel. Click the image above to read more.


Comment threading has been enabled

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Orbital technology to be used in Brazilian flex-fuel engines

Perth based Orbital Corporation has announced that its FlexDI™ technology has been selected for a new family of high efficiency heavy duty flex-fuel engines currently being developed in Brazil. The technology will be used by Sygma Motors on two engineering programs for Vale Solutions in Energy.

The application of the FlexDI™ technology will commence with an engine test and development program supported by Orbital with a total value of $A1.6m. Also included in the scope is co-development of a spark ignited ethanol combustion system to be used in a demonstration program, and targeted for retrofit of existing diesel engine applications.

Applications include ethanol and CNG flex-fuelled internal combustion engines in the 80 to 1500 hp power generation class in Brazil. Vale Solutions in Energy intends to utilize these engines, primarily in the resources sector, in support of a clean energy strategy.

The companies will also cooperate on possible flex-fuel original equipment and retrofit applications for transportation, either with spark ignition FlexDI™ or diesel pilot ignition, for ethanol and CNG fuelling of heavy duty engines, and for the light duty commercial vehicle sector.

Sygma believe that they will be able to achieve spark ignited operation with ethanol that matches or exceeds that obtained with advanced high efficiency natural gas reciprocating engines of equivalent size.

Source: Orbital Corporation via iStockAnalyst

The Green Car Innovation Fund summarised

On Friday the 6th of February 2009 I attended a one of the Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF) consultation sessions being held around Australia. My motivation for attending was primarily to find out how the Fund was going to work and to try to get an idea of the impact of the fund on the Australian car industry.

First, a little background. The Green Car Innovation Fund Framework Paper was released in December 2008 for public comment. The Government is inviting written submissions from interested parties in the Framework Paper. The closing date for written submissions is 5:00pm (Canberra Time) on Thursday, 12 February 2009. Submissions can be sent to:

The Manager
Green Car Innovation Fund

The stated objective of the GCIF is to reduce vehicle fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing research and development (R&D) and commercialisation of Australian technologies. It is only applicable to the car industry. Technologies for trucks, buses and motorcycles are not within scope. Nor is anything to do with alternative fuel infrastructure. The GCIF provides $1.3 billion in grants over 10 years beginning in July 2009. That said, Holden and Toyota have already been drinking at the well with their small car and hybrid Camry initiatives to the tune of $149 million and $35 million respectively. The funding is planned to be provided on a $1 for $3 basis.  This ratio may change as a result of the consultation sessions. Most agreed that 1 for 3  was useful for large companies but it was not practical for smaller companies and start-ups.

Grants will be allocated on a competitive basis and are open to all Australian companies or individuals willing for form a company. The funding is available via two steams.

  • Stream A is for the Motor Vehicle Producers (MVP) (Ford, Holden and Toyota). Each MVP will have access to a maximum of $300 million.
  • Stream B is open to all Australian companies, consortia or individuals not included in Stream A. A MVP can be part of a consortium in Stream B but it can’t be the lead applicant.

Importantly, despite the Stream A cap per MVP, there is no defined split in the funds available to Stream A and Stream B. The goal is to provide funding to those technologies that will provide the best results. More on that later.

Funded projects must be undertaken in Australia and directly relate to the creation, acquisition, application or commercialisation of knowledge, technology, processes, materials or products which:

  • are new or additional to the applicant
  • significantly improve the fuel-efficiency or greenhouse gas emissions of passenger motor vehicles

Technology can be acquired Internationally and adapted to use in Australia.

The GCIF will support:

  • R&D
  • Proof-of-concept
  • Early stage commercialisation
  • Pre-production development

The criteria against which applications will be judged are:

  • reduction in fuel consuption or greenhouse gas emissions
  • technical merit, extent and calibre of the innovation
  • capacity and capability of the applicant to undertake the project
  • commercial potential
  • contribution to a competitive Australian automotive industry and benefits to the economy

All the criteria seem logical but the most interesting thing I got from the presentation was the emphasis on that last point. While the fund is looking to reduce the fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions by 10 – 15  percent against the status quo baseline it is also heavily biased towards creating jobs, improving workforce skill sets, providing benefits to suppliers and growing the automotive industry in Australia. In hindsight that is obvious but I guess I went in thinking the Federal Government might actually be focussed on improving the products from our car industry to give local consumers better products and make the vehicles more competitive in export markets. It seems they are as long as that improvement comes with the creation of more jobs. Further information can be found on the GCIF web site.

An interesting aspect to the presentation that I wasn’t expecting was a politician and an inventor using the opportunity to address those assembled to seek support for their individual projects.

Source: Department of Innovation & AusIndustry presentation

X Rider scooter offers simpler, cheaper electric performance

Xtreme Green Products is set to release the X Rider electric scooter in the US spring. While there are plenty of electric scooters around this one distinguishes itself by its performance and its price tag when compared to the likes of the Vectrix VX-1.

X Rider

Xtreme Green Products: X Rider

Unlike the Vectrix the X Rider does not have any fancy regenerative braking. It is a simpler machine with a correspondingly lower price tag of USD7,999. Unless Vectrix have dropped their prices recently that makes the X Rider about USD5,000 cheaper than the VX-1.

Despite being simpler Xtreme Green Products are claiming some solid performance figures. The more interesting specifications are:

  • Top speed >100kph
  • 2 to 3 hour charge time from empty
  • Maximum range of 150km

If the final product can live up to these expectations more than a few of them could find a home in Australia. You can visit the X Rider web page for full specifications.

Update: Xtreme Green Products will begin shipping the first X Riders to US customers somewhere around 06 Apr 09. The announcement has more details including a link to pre-order.

Source: Xtreme  Green Products via AutoblogGreen

Koreans patent seaweed to ethanol

The Korea Institute of Industrial Technology has filed an International patent application for a method of producing biofuel using sea algae.

This is the first time I’ve attempted to read a patent and I’ve got to tell you that most of it makes no sense whatsoever. However, some of it is in plain English.


The present invention relates to a method of producing biofuel, more specifically a method of producing biofuel comprising the steps of generating monosugars from marine algae, or from polysaccharides extracted from marine algae by treating the marine algae or the polysaccharides with a hydrolytic enzyme and/or a hydrolytic catalyst; and fermenting the monosugars using a microorganism to produce biofuel. The method of producing biofuel of the present invention solve the problem of raw material suppliance since it uses marine algae as a raw material for biomass, and reduce the production costs by excluding lignin eliminating process that has been required by the conventional method using wood-based raw materials, resulting in economic and environmental advantages.

Description of the Related Art

Compared with other type of land biomass, marine algae are growing very fast (4 – 6 harvest per year is possible in subtropic region) and easy to cultivate using wide arable area of the ocean without using high priced materials such as irrigation water, land, fertilizer, etc. Utilization of marine algae takes advantages of simple production processes for biofuel because it does not contain lignin that has to be eliminated. In addition, the amount of annual CO2 absorption ability of marine algae is 36.7 tons per ha, which is 5 – 7 times higher than that of wood-based. Therefore, if E20 (gasoline containing bioethanol by 20%) is used, the annual greenhouse gas reduction rate will be approximately 27%, which will reduce carbon tax approximately 300 billion Korean Wons, if converted into money value.

Sounds good to me as long as we don’t do the same thing to the oceans that palm oil plantations are doing to rain forests.

If you understand the technical aspects of this particular technology and can translate it into something most of us can understand you can find the patent here. Feel free to contact us with a translation.

Source: New Scientist

Free public transport for students and seniors in the Northern Territory

From 01 January 2009 seniors, pensioners and carers have been able to travel for free on all scheduled bus services on the Territory’s public transport network. This initiative is part of the Northern Territory Government’s plan to extend the bus network and increase public transport use.

The Northern Territory Government has also announced that the FREE Bus Travel Package is providing free bus travel for Territory students from Tuesday 27 January 2009. Visiting Australian students will also enjoy free travel on the Territory’s school and public bus network. The free service is available to primary school students through to University students.

Source: NT Transport Group via Austalasian Bus and Coach