Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Cannonball Run to Subic on ethanol fuel

With the unstable cost of fuel in the world market, Philippine petroleum companies have come out with various strategies and ways to be able to ease the burden of motorists.

Petron Corporation has recently formulated a special unleaded gasoline product that meets and exceeds the requirements of the Philippine Biofuels Law. It contains 10 percent fuel-grade ethanol and 90 percent Petron Premium Unleaded Gasoline with an enhanced fuel additive. This unique additive allows the removal of existing deposits, which results in improved performance and fuel economy.

Ethanol (or bioethanol) is actually alcohol that is produced from sugar cane and other crops such as corn, cassava and sweet sorghum. It is mixed with motor gasoline and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A few weeks ago, members of the motoring media were introduced to the Petron E10 Premium as a new biofuel compliant product.

Four-stage test run

A test-run from the Petron Station along Diosdado Macapagal Avenue in ParaƱaque City to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone was held with participation of different car manufacturers: Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Honda, whose vehicles were certified E10 capable.

Media guests were divided into 11 teams consisting of two drivers per team and a competition vehicle designated for each team. The entire run consisted of four legs or stages, each with different a challenge and task.

The first stage was tagged as the Cannonball Run. The challenge for the participants was to start off at the same time and leave the Petron Square on Macapagal Avenue and find their way through the busy streets of Metro Manila to the Petron Station in Marilao, Bulacan along the North Luzon Expressway, with the teams finding their own route to the designated finish of the leg. The first team to arrive gets the most number of points.

Of course the challenge to find less traffic and shortest distance was in the minds of the drivers when they took off. It took 39 minutes and 31 seconds for the first team to arrive, while the tail-ender took 1 hour and 21 minutes to get to Marilao.

Lunch at NLEX

Depending on the sequence of arrival, teams headed for the second stage, tagged as the Sampaguita Run. Teams had the challenge to traverse a distance of a few kilometers inside the North Luzon Expressway in exactly 40 minutes. Teams that finish the stage closest to the exact allowed travel time gets the most points again. A hearty lunch awaited all the participants at the Petron Lakeshore Station.

After a short break, teams were flagged off in intervals of two minutes each for the third stage of the competition. The Speed Gun Test as it was dubbed, was to test the discipline of the drivers as they made their way through the brand-new Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, which was virtually empty.

The temptation to speed up and launch their vehicles into limbo was hard to resist. Well-paved and the international quality of the SCTEX was just even a sight to see in itself. Teams had to maintain 100 kilometers per hour speed limits, as they passed through hidden speed guns poked at the arriving vehicles. Teams that exactly ran at 100kph got no deductions from the points they garnered for this stage.

Listening skills included

The Navigator's Run was the final stage, as teams entered the Subic Bay area. Going through winding roads and heavily forested areas tested the skills of the navigators this time as well as the listening skills of the driver to follow directions on the dot.

Reading through a guide book only, symbols had to be interpreted and tasks to be made to follow directions to the book. At some point the participants had to purchase items from a local convenience store as a pass. The fastest team to achieve this won the stage, finishing off at the Lighthouse Resort inside Subic.

Fuel economy

It was simply remarkable that this type of biofuel really works just as good or even better in performances of the cars used. Its burns efficiently, thus significantly reducing unburned hydrocarbons. Fuel economy to the max as the media journalists call it, since it was definitely less expensive to use ethanol fuel, promoting fuel economy and longer engine life.

Local manufacturers of ethanol would provide more employment opportunities to our people. Moreover, use of ethanol as an additive lessens our dependence on imported crude oil.

E10 Premium may be used in a majority of fuel-injected vehicles, whether old or new. It may be used without the need for expensive engine modification.

Before filling up with E10 Premium, however, it is advisable to refer to your car manual or consult your car dealer. This type of fuel can be mixed safely with other unleaded gasoline at anytime except when used for carbureted vehicles. Even some models of 4T motorcycles are already designed to be compatible with bioethanol gasoline. By Ricky Velasco, special to abs-cbnNEWS.com

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