Excerpt from the archives: that day in 1912 Car News

“It is recognized by all men of science, that when the earth’s supply of liquid fuel shall be exhausted, as it must not be at some very distant day, but not at the time of all present life, alcohol will take its place,” he tells us. declared 110 years ago.

(Remember that our call for Britain to study it as a new fuel for cars was mainly prompted by soaring petrol prices. Ah, the more that changes.)

Alcohol had long been extracted from farmers’ crops for use as fuel, mainly for lamps, and recently for agricultural machinery.

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Some early cars could also drive over it. Germany and France were very enthusiastic, with the latter holding promising trials (pictured), as were Ford and General Motors in the US.

The advantages of alcohol were that it was renewable, could be grown by any country, and did not ‘knock’ – a major problem with gasoline.

But it was not alcohol that would be adopted as an additive to increase the octane rating of gasoline but a chemical, discovered in 1921 by GM researchers, which had the same effect when used in smaller quantities and, it must be said, has the same main advantage of being patentable: tetraethyl lead.

It turned out to be an environmental disaster that lasted a century. And what substance is now increasingly used as an additive in gasoline to reduce its harmfulness to our planet? It’s true…

Competition makes us better

While some countries imposed punitive taxes on foreign cars to protect their domestic industries, Britain allowed all comers in, and we saw that as a positive. “They need to incentivize our domestic automakers to put such good, cheap, flashy cars on the road to compete with them, and we the consumers score with that competition,” we reasoned.

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This notice was published: 2022-06-01 06:39:55

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