The EFuel100 MicroFueler is the world's first portable ethanol microrefinery system — both a pump station and an ethanol distiller reduced to an appliance-sized unit, allowing users to create usable fuel for most cars with a simple mix of sugar, water and yeast. And, the pump operation has the same user-friendly LCD interface found at most gas stations. Thomas Quinn, founder & CEO of E-Fuel Corporation, explains how it works.
How good do you expect consumer feedback to be?
I think there is such a level of frustration over high gas prices and people are trying to figure out the best way to get rid of this problem.
The longer prices stay up, the more people realize that there is very little the government can do to make prices lower, so people want alternatives and our only real bridge to cross here is to get people to understand how easy this is.
More importantly once people realize that people have been doing this for years and years, they will be more than responsive.
Do you expect much government feedback or intervention?
I expect we are going to be on the radar of the government, but since this product is completely legal to use, one just needs a federal permit, there isn't much that the government can do to prevent us from selling or impede the sales.
Also, the EPA doesn't monitor your ethanol production (as long as it is under 10,000 gallons per year) and farmers have been using it for years.
Won't the high cost of $10,000 deter demand?
The true cost is actually around $5,000. The feds give you a 30 percent tax credit and many of the states give you an additional 20 percent.
There is a lack of pump stations for ethanol across the country, so the biggest state tax credit and incentives are being given to those who produce ethanol.
As an investment tool, many companies will receive a slew of tax cuts with these machines as well as carbon credits. Companies can then use these carbon credits to get the sugar at an even deeper discount.
The tax cuts themselves will make sure you get back your investment in a little over a year for most companies.
At what price do you need to be able to buy sugar to make this a viable option?
If you buy consumption sugar, your going to spend about 20 cents a pound, bulk sugar not for consumption is usually half the price. If you use the carbon credit program, you get sugar at an even cheaper price.
Really, almost at any price at which sugar sells in bulk, not for consumption, it will be a better option than buying gasoline at the pump.
What kind of cars can use this sugar blend ethanol?
Ethanol is safe to use in all cars, there are models in which you will need a small converter installed in your car which your local mechanic can do for not much.
Race cars and Nascar have been using ethanol in their cars for years.
Have you had any interest from car companies in either partnering or helping promote this?
We are talking with GM in particular since they are the leader in FlexFuel cars and they are interested in seeing where ethanol can take them.
They have a large amount of Flexfuel cars (they run on E85) already available, but there are not enough pumps out there to make these cars a viable option for many consumers so this would help them solve that problem and make those cars a much better option for consumers
What's the cost in terms of energy use in the home?
Comparable to the use of a washing machine — runs between 10 to 25 cents a gallon. If you have a solar panel it will run right off that.
How long does it take to make?
A couple of days on the first use and then a day or two after that. (You can start pumping ethanol after a couple of days. Approximately seven days for 35 gallons, which is enough to fill the average fuel tank twice.)