Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV)

Advantages

  • Is similar to gasoline-powered vehicles with minor design modifications
  • Does not experience loss of performance (power)
  • The higher oxygen content in ethanol results in a more complete burn and fewer emissions

Disadvantages

  • There are a limited number of ethanol refuelling stations at this time
  • Because there is less "energy" in ethanol than gasoline, FFVs have a slightly higher fuel consumption

In North America, the term Flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) generally refers to vehicles that are designed to operate using either conventional gasoline or E85, a blend of up to 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.

Most modern vehicles can operate on a 10% blend of gasoline and ethanol. An FFV is equipped with a slightly modified internal combustion engine, which allows it to run on E85 fuel.

Some of the engine design modifications required to run a vehicle on E85 fuel include:

  • Increasing the compression ratio
  • Increasing the amount of fuel injected
  • Replacing materials in the engine that corrode when in contact with ethanol
  • Adding spark plugs that will dissipate heat better at high flame temperatures
  • Adding an auxiliary cold-start system that injects gasoline from a small tank in the engine compartment to help start the vehicle when cold

One of the main difficulties in operating an FFV is the availability of ethanol fuel. Few refuelling stations in Canada offer blends of (E85) gasoline and ethanol for vehicles.