A tankful of sugar, Brazil's ethanol

I never knew that Brazil had previously gone down the road of ethanol based fuel for cars.

Prompted by the oil shocks of the 1970s, Brazilian governments used laws and subsidies to promote ethanol-only cars, which had 90% of the market by the late 1980s. But supplies of sugar-based fuel dried up suddenly when planters rushed to meet a surge in demand for sugar. Sales of ethanol-powered cars dropped to nearly zero by 1990—one taxi driver famously set his alight outside Congress.

Flex-fuel cars have persuaded Brazilians to give ethanol a second try. The initiative came from the Brazilian operations of parts suppliers such as Magneti Marelli, owned by Fiat of Italy, and Bosch, a German company. They persuaded the government to extend to flex-fuel cars the tax break previously applied to ethanol-only models. Volkswagen was first to the market, followed quickly by other big manufacturers.

Ford announced this week that flexi-fuel based cars will go on sale in Ireland in November. Ford are hoping that Brian Cowen will give tax breaks on bio-ethanol based cars. They have already proved very popular in Scandanavian countries. However flexi-fuel in Ireland will apparently be produced from the waste made during certain dairy processes, a product known as bio-ethanol. I am not sure if that produced from sugar is better or worse.