TechWeb

Modeling Software For The Biofuel Industry

Jan 29, 2007 (01:01 PM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=197001537


If national policymakers really want to promote the use of biofuels, they should encourage consumer education and retailer incentives, a software company backing the industry says.

Pavilion Technologies' Chief Marketing Officer Matt Tormollen said during a recent interview that drivers want to use biofuels and investors are funding growth that could double production capacity to more than 11 billion gallons this year, but retailers aren't doing enough to inform consumers and improve their choices.

"Americans are ready to make the switch to ethanol," Tormollen said.

During a recent interview, Tormollen pointed out that many gas stations fail to offer fuel blended with 85% ethanol (E85). He also said that gas stations offering a 10-percent mix of ethanol fail to inform consumers they have done so.

Pavilion is one of many technology companies supporting federal efforts to reduce reliance on foreign oil and increase the use of alternative fuel in the United States. Many technology companies' founders and investors have invested in biofuels.

Pavilion stands to benefit from increased use because it provides modeling and monitoring software for manufacturers, including ethanol producers. It recently released results of a Harris Interactive survey showing that most consumers are willing to make the switch in order to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Almost half of the respondents (47%) even said they would pay more to do so, according to Harris.

Fifty-seven percent of 2,534 adult drivers who responded said that they do not know where to buy biofuel, while 50% said that knowing where to buy it would encourage them to use biofuel, according to the survey.

Most cars today come with warranties that state the vehicles will run on a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. Several manufacturers also offer flex fuel vehicles, which are covered under warranty to run on fuels with 85% ethanol.

Ninety-five percent of the respondents said they could be encouraged to use biofuels, according to Pavilion. Most respondents said that lower prices and convenience would motivate them to make the switch. Like regular gasoline, biofuel prices vary from one location to the next. They are typically cheapest in the Midwest because the product is produced there, keeping shipping costs to a minimum.