Tom Horne

Green Ipanema

February 12, 2009 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

Green is fashionable these days, but Embraer now makes its Ipanema (the EMB 200 series) agplane in an E96 ethanol-burning version. It uses a modified 320-hp Lycoming IO-540 that has bored-out fuel nozzles for more power than standard-issue IO-540s. As a result, the Ipanema also burns more of that eco-friendly fuel. In the past 40 years of its production, Embraer has sold 1,050 Ipanemas. But since 2004, 50 were all ethanol-burners. These are called EMB 202As.

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One Response to “Green Ipanema”

  1. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Those of us who read AOPA Pilot have by now, read the article about problems that will inevitably arise when 100LL is phased out. Ethanol may have only 60% of the energy content of gasoline, but its antiknock rating is high enough to satisfy the needs of the piston-powered aviation community. Higher efficiency, made possible by higher antiknock rating, could partially compensate for ethanol’s lower energy content vis a vis avgas. So we should keep in touch with the Brazilian agricultural aviation community regarding ethanol fueled aircraft.

    Operators of aircraft like the Beechcraft Bonanza are, or should be, familiar with the issue of leaning 50 degrees or so lean of peak for best economy in cruise. What procedures do operators of ethanol-powered Ipanemas follow, regarding engine leaning?

    There is ongoing research on another alcohol, butanol, which has given good results when tested in cars (see http://www.butanol.com). Perhaps a mixture of alcohols, i.e. ethanol, propanol and butanol (the simplest alcohol, methanol, is corrosive and has other problems) may provide the best combination of energy content and antiknock rating.

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