German carmaker Volkswagen, Shell and Iogen Corp. are joining forces to conduct a study to assess the economic feasibility of producing cellulose ethanol in Germany. This biofuel, produced by Iogen, could be used in current automobiles and light trucks – cutting CO2 emissions by 90% compared with conventional fuels, said Volkswagen Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder.

“We are strongly committed to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and are looking for the most effective approach to substitute these fuels by innovative biofuels,” he said. “That is the only way we can cost effectively satisfy people's individual mobility needs in the long term.”

Iogen’s cellulose ethanol is a renewable advanced biofuel made from the non-food portion of agriculture residue such as cereal straws and corn stover – and the company believes it is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in road transport.

“We are demonstrating that clean, renewable fuels for transport are no longer a dream, they are a reality,” said Brian Foody, Iogen’s president. “[This] could be the first signal of a major change coming in the European fuel market. It shows that by integrating vehicle and fuel technologies, we can meet the ambitious, but necessary challenge of reducing reliance upon fossil fuels.”

All automotive manufacturers currently allow the use cellulose ethanol fuel blends, noted Volkswagen’s Pischetsrieder -- 10% (E10) in North America and 5% (E5) in Europe. In 2003, the European Union issued a biofuel directive in response to anticipated shortages and rising costs of fossil fuels, with a target of 5.75% biofuel use by 2010.

“The availability of high quality, synthetic biofuels manufactured to stringent specifications is a prerequisite for the deployment of advanced-generation engines,” he said. “The combination of second-generation biofuels and advanced fuel/powertrain represents a quantum leap in environmental compatibility. An integrated approach encompassing engine technology and fuel properties as well as [driver] behavior is the only way to comply with future, more stringent requirements such as those set by the European Union.”