Most cars run on petrol or diesel. Our favourite fossil fuels are cheap, convenient, relatively easy to store and transport, and readily available on every road and in every town across the developed world. But these aren’t the only fuels that will power an internal combustion engine. With a few modifications, you can run a petrol or diesel car on biofuels, wood, LPG, heating oil, or even second-hand cooking fat. You can power a car with pretty much anything.
In addition to the growing number of battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell cars on the road, there are plenty of good old-fashioned internal combustion engines running on something other than pure fossil fuels. The most common additive is bioethanol, which is routinely blended with unleaded petrol in small quantities for sale on forecourts around the country. But some people go one step further, and modify their cars to accept an increased amount of ethanol in their fuel mixture.
Everybody “knows” that Prince Charles had his Aston Martin converted to run on wine, but that’s a slight oversimplification. The Aston Martin in question was in fact modified to run on a fuel called E85, which is a mixture of bioethanol and petrol. Bioethanol, a biofuel and fuel additive, can be derived from a huge number of sources – including, but not limited to, waste biomass such as surplus wine.