Uptake Floundering: Biofuels Fail to Inspire Road Users

The amount of biofuel being used by road users in the UK has failed to meet targets set by officials, as drivers continue to choose petrol and diesel vehicles over to greener options.

Biofuels being supplied for road users peaked at 4% but have since stayed steady at 3%, with no obvious signs of increasing.

Biofuels are derived immediately from a living matter. The fuels can help in reducing greenhouse gasses, are more sustainable than fossil fuels and have refineries that are are generally cleaner.

The UK Department for Transport’s website indicates that the target for biofuels in the market should have been at just below five percent (4.75%) in April 2013.

It says: “The amount of biofuel that must be supplied increases annually until April 2013 when it will reach 4.75% of total road transport fuel supplied by volume.”

However over the last three years biofuels have not made up more than four percent of the UK fuel market.

In fact the volume (in litres) being supplied has shown no noticeable sign of increase since 2010.

The most used biofuel has been ‘Biodiesel FAME’, which over the last three years has seen 930m, 493m and 637m litres being used in the market.

The figures also show that petrol’s share of the market is dropping as users either look to move to more efficient diesel vehicles or those that run on green alternatives. If the uptake from road users was greater there would be a higher demand for the fuels.

Two years ago petrol had a 41% share of the fuel used but this has fallen in consecutive years to a 34% share, whereas diesel continues to have a consistent share of more than 50%.

The figures were released under the UK government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which obligates fossil fuel suppliers to produce evidence showing that a percentage of fuels for road transport supplied in the UK come from renewable sources.

The figures for 2013-14 will be finalised later on this year.

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The statistics were released a couple of days after the government announced a £500m funding boost for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he wanted more drivers to ditch petrol or diesel vehicles by making it cheaper and easier to use cars that run on green alternatives.

Involved in the spending will be money for research into a ultra-low emissions vehicle and also schemes to increase the number of charging and rapid charging points.

Clegg said: “This major investment is there to make driving an electric car affordable, convenient, and free from anxiety about the battery running out.

“But it’s also about creating a culture change in our towns and cities, so that driving a greener vehicle is a no-brainer for most drivers.”


Featured image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson via Flickr/Creative Commons Licence. 


Smart helmet: The piece of wearable technology that could save your life

Over a ten year period in the US more than 44,000 motorcyclists have died after being involved in crashes while riding. Now the team behind new smart helmet technology is hoping it will save lives by automatically alerting emergency services when the rider is involved in a collision.

The headset, called the X-1 and developed by APEX, is a Bluetooth headset that sends out a distress signal when it senses a collision.

Using gyroscopes and accelerometers in modern smart-phones it detects rapid deceleration, change in position, G-forces and distance traveled in relation to time to detect when an accident has happened.

The headset works with a smartphone app which uses GPS navigation to send the rider’s position to the authorities also allows medical information to be stored and provided to emergency responders.

Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is part of the US Department of Transportation, show that while there has been a slight decrease in the number of motorcyclists dying each year the number is still high.

The most recent statistics show more than 4,600 motorcyclists died in 2011 – compared to 3,200 in 2002 – a further 81,000 were injured. This amounted to 14% of all traffic fatalities in the US during 2011.

Being able to alert emergency authorities as soon as a rider is involved in a crash or collision and speed up the time it takes for them to arrive could help to save lives.

The inventors behind the piece of tech are now trying to raise funds to further develop the product through a crowd-funded Indiegogo campaign.

They are looking to raise a total of $15,000 to help finalise the software design and fund the first run of production. The money will also help to ensure the device is patent protected and available to riders by the summer of this year.

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Writing on their funding page the founders say: “APEX is here for a singular purpose: to save the lives of riders everywhere. Having lost loved ones to fatal accidents, the founders of APEX have a personal stake in motorcycle safety.

“We realized there had to be a way to make the riding experience safer, without sacrificing what makes it so appealing to so many.”

The headset also uses Bluetooth technology to allow the rider to listen to music or call others using their phones.


Images courtesy of Apex Technologies