Based only a stones throw from myself, in Sheffield South Yorkshire, Fuel 4 produce a range of bio-ethanol items, including a fuel gel, liquid fuel and cook sets. To be honest, the cook sets look too bulky for my needs. But looks like a possible competitor to the Trangia systems. In this review I will look at the liquid bio-ethanol with a review of the gel to follow once I have done some tests. So what's the spirit fuel like?
I used my Trangia burner in the Trangia Triangle to boil up half a litre of water for a meal and to clean up afterwards. The bio-ethanol spirit doesn't have the strong smell of methylated spirit (methanol). The weather was quite breezy and cold, but the bio-ethanol took a spark from my ferrocerium rod as easily as meths does. The flame produced from the bio-ethanol seemed a little more lively than that from meths, but it may have been the weather conditions. I had been out for a few hours at this point, so the water was quite cold. A boil was reached within around 7-8 minutes, again competitive with meths.
So what are the pros and cons? The only con I can find is cost, but it's not a drastic con. Going by the costs of meths and bio-ethanol at a popular outdoor retailer the costs work out as follows:
Methylated spirit (Methanol) = £4.14 per litre
Bio-ethanol = £4.65 per litre
So the cost of Bio-ethanol is around 12% more expensive, based on that particular retailer. Shopping around may yield better results.
The pros of bio-ethanol are not outstanding, but they are there. Bio-ethanol is locally produced using natural sources. Although methanol is produced in the same way. But bio-ethanol is safer to handle than methanol (see link below).
The fact that bio-ethanol is safer to handle, and safer for the environment means it is now replacement for methylated spirit (methanol)
Here is the site with plenty of information about their gel:http://www.fuel4.co.uk/