Multifuel refers to any device capable of burning more than one type of fuel. This may include an engine or motor used to power equipment, or a furnace or stove used for heating. While multifuel systems originated in the military to help troops function with limited fuel supplies, they are now used all over the world in a wide variety of settings.
Depending on the application, a multifuel device can take a number of forms. The most basic multi fuel-burning device consists of a standard engine constructed with heavy-duty materials. These engines are designed to consume the best quality fuel, or highest octane made available to them. Many automatically modify operation based on the type of fuel used. Others feature a manual switch that users can adjust based on the type of fuel they plan to use.
Other multifuel devices feature a two-in-one operating system. For example, a hybrid vehicle is considered a type of multifuel device because it operates using either an electric-powered motor or gas-powered engine. Furnaces and stoves may also contain two separate devices that are linked together. When the fuel in one of these devices runs out, the other automatically kicks in to supply power using the other available fuel.
Multifuel engines are commonly used in military vehicles or aircraft. They are also used in flex-style automobiles, which may rely on ethanol or standard gasoline for power. They are also commonly used in home furnaces or stoves. These heating units may burn traditional propane, oil or natural gas, or alternative and biofuels. Some stoves burn wood or coal, but can also utilize wood pellets or other eco-friendly materials.
The primary advantages to a multifuel system is the flexibility it offers to users. If homeowners or companies run out of a standard fuel, they can rely on other fuel sources to avoid a loss of heat or power. Multifuel engines also help to reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels, which can help preserve limited world supplies.
Typically, multifuel engines cost more than single-fuel units. They also feature a more complex operation, and require greater maintenance due to their increased number of components. These engines are not as widely available as more traditional engines, and come in a relatively limited range with few options. When used with alternative fuels, multifuel engines may not perform at optimal levels. This is particularly true of large engines like those found in aircraft or military equipment.