Today the pressures on the economics of fuel consumption and fossil fuel alternatives are literally greater every day. Among alternative fuels that have started to catch on is ethanol, because it is one fuel that can be grown, that is, it’s renewable. Among the most efficient renewable plant sources of ethanol is sugar cane (more so than corn).
Until now, many cars have been equipped to run on gas or a fuel that is a manufactured mixture of gasoline and ethanol with a fixed ratio (e.g. E85’s 85-15 ratio). The breakthrough would be a true Flexfuel equipped car, one into which its driver could pump all gas, all ethanol, or any mixture that might occur in between, especially as the mixture ratio changes in the fuel tank with fuelings of one or the other fuel.
Enter Magneti Marelli, in Brazil, where sugar cane is plentiful, and ethanol, at the moment selling for one half the price of gasoline, is popular (it turns out that gas and ethanol costs have historically been counter-cyclical in Brazil). Marelli’s innovation is SFS technology – for Software Fuel Sensor – which manages an internal combustion engine so it can run an ordinary engine efficiently with any combination and mixture of gasoline and ethanol in the tank. What is even more stunning about this innovation, it can manage a true Flexfuel situation, that is, any combination and ratio of fuels, without the need for any physical fuel ratio sensor. All of this is accomplished on the basis of modeling and reading real-time fuel combustion parameters, adaptively applied with great precision.
Because Magneti Marelli’s Flexfuel system allows a driver to choose any combination of gas or alcohol, and doesn’t require the OEM to have dedicated car models, 70% of the sales of cars today in Brazil are Flexfuel equipped vehicles, enabled by this innovation from Magneti Marelli. This includes cars made by VW, Renault, Ford, Peugeot, Chevrolet, and Fiat.