Bentley has joined a growing list of companies exploring sustainable fuel alternatives. The automaker attended this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed with six vehicles that made 32 successful hill climb runs using biofuel.
Bentley’s biofuel is a straightforward replacement for pump gasoline, meaning vehicles require no engine modifications to accommodate it. That includes the company’s oldest surviving model, the 1920 EXP2.
Bentley claims that any car it has ever built will run as well on biofuel as on regular gas while reducing carbon emissions. The fuel is 100 percent renewable and reduces CO2 impact by an estimated 85 percent compared to conventional gas.
The automaker’s second-generation biofuel is made of waste products from the agricultural, forestry, and food industries. The byproducts are broken down using fermentation, which creates ethanol. A dehydration process turns the ethanol into ethylene, which is then transformed into the gasoline replacement via oligomerization. This process chains short hydrocarbon molecules into longer, more energy-dense ones.
The company has plans to become a fully electric brand by the end of the decade, with plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles (PHEV and BEV) filling its lineup by 2026. However, it estimates that 84 percent of all Bentleys ever built are still running, and biofuel could provide them a sustainable way to operate in the future. The automaker has also installed a 317-gallon (1,200-liter) biofuel tank at its Crewe Factory for its Heritage and press fleets.
The Bentley Batur that used the stuff completed the hill climb in 55.0 seconds, just behind some of the weekend’s quickest runs. The Bentayga needed a bit longer, 1 minute and 21 seconds, but it was also hauling 5,511 pounds (2.5 tonnes) of straw, which the company says could power the SUV for 1,100 miles when converted to biofuel.
While the automotive industry heavily invests in BEVs, they also continue exploring other alternatives like biofuel and synthetic e-fuel. Porsche began producing synthetic e-fuel in Chile late last year. Stellantis said in April that it was testing e-fuel in a fleet of engine families, exploring its viability in old and new powertrains. Even the European Union is open to vehicles running on e-fuel, voting to allow the sale of combustion cars after 2035 if they use it.