This is my sixth post in this series. In case, you want to refer to the previous articles that I have written on this issue, here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4 and Part 5. Back in September 2007, the Office of the Director of Science and Technology in Malawi told me that the Ethanol driven vehicle project is targeting the middle class Malawians who own a bulk of vehicles driven on the roads of Malawi. As expected, this group consumes a lot of fuel. If their cars, which are generally old, could be converted to ethanol, petrol demand could be reduced and in turn reduce government bill on fuel import. This completely justified the approach used in the project. But somehow, I have always been of the view that folks in some other country have already done the stuff that we are trying to do in Malawi.

After many months of procrastination, I finally did a simple Google search for conversition+kits+ethanol+cars, I found a lot of sites selling Ethanol conversion kits of many different types. While most companies provide kits (AutoFFV conversion kit, E-85 Ethanol FlexTek Adaptor Kit, FLEX-BOX SMART KIT) that allow the engine to operate on E-85 Ethanol (85% Ethanol, 15% gasoline), Fuel Flex International (FFI) provides technology to allow any fuel-injected vehicle to run on anywhere from E100 (100% Ethanol) to regular gasoline. Cindy Zimmerman, who writes for Domestic Fuel News, reports that at the recent Ethanol Conference and Trade Show in Omaha, Curtis Lacy, the FFI president for marketing and distribution Curtis Lacy, said that the technology was developed in Brazil and is now being marketed in 34 countries, including most recently Thailand and the Philippines. He further said that their system is very simple for the average user because it’s a simple plug and play device which you attach to your fuel injector connectors and ground to your battery. It retails for between $289 ( aprox. MK40,000) and $459 (approx. MK64,000) in the USA. Lacy also claims that they have no problems with vehicle warranties.

I am sure there are a number of companies producing ethanol conversion kits similar to FFI’s; but I could not search any further because FFI’s kit seems to be very similar to the one being tested in Malawi. The only difference is that FFI’s kit is a finished product. It is being sold to more than 38 countries. People who are using it are giving good comments and testimonials. I, therefore, would like to encourage the colleagues involved in the Ethanol driven vehicle project in Malawi to look at this and other similar ethanol conversion units and see if there is any difference. If there is no difference, there will be a need to refine the project’s goals and approach.

FFI has an agent in South Africa. Biofuel or automotive dealers interested in working with them in Malawi and, indeed, in any other country can contact them at anytime.