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Old 07-03-2006, 09:17 AM
johnnydmetal johnnydmetal is offline
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Copper Feul Tank?

This Question is for the Ethanol & Methanol crowd. I was wonderiing since your comon metal to construct a still is copper, brass, or bronze sheet why then couldn't you construct a feul tank from it rather than SS. Since you can get copper alloys in strengths comparable to aluminum and Its superior to a Poly tank. I have read about the arguments against using copper lines for feul but if done right you could build the tank from copper and still afford the SS lines.

Also its far cheaper than SS So why not?
Will the alcohol attack the copper?
John
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Old 07-03-2006, 11:00 PM
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fellro86 fellro86 is offline
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Some of the studies I found in regards to injector and pump failure state that the plastic gives way, then the alcohol attacks the copper, damaging the windings, and eventually shorting the pump, so they have gone to using siver windings, making the pumps pretty expensive...
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Old 07-04-2006, 09:43 AM
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Then why would you use copper to build the still?
Copper is easily tinned as well which is what most Professional cookware has for a linning. Also the cans they sell stripping alcohols in are not SS. I believe they use Tin sheet but I don't think i'd want a tin tank under my truck.
I just think since welding stainless for the tank is costly weather you do gas,mig, or tig. The SS cost alot per sheet, you need a pure argon tank for mis or tig, and if you want it to not corrode you need to use SS wire which only comes in sizes larger than 10 lb spools and its not as easy to fold work, drill, or fold stainless as it requires highere quality tools. You can bend and shape copper with basic tools even a 2x4 in place of a brake. Also should you ever need to repair the tank on the road or off, once the tanks empty you can solder the damaged hole with off the shelf torch, paste, and lead free solder.
Opinions ?
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Old 07-04-2006, 10:31 AM
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I am just going by the studies,and statements of the auto manufacturers so take it or leave it. I am no expert on stills.. The statement about a tin tank, well, you have that from the factory...All tin is, is steel with the zinc coating.
Stainless is also more resistant to puncture, bending and corrosion than Copper... kinda goes back to the "you get what you pay for" line...copper is easier to damage than the steel tanks or poly tanks... There are plastics that are resistant to the effects of ethanol, so that would be a better choice. Also Copper isn't exactly cheap either these days...to get a good enough thickness to be safe would be pricey. Stainless sheeting could be done in thinner sheeting and still be quite durable.
When you evaluate the corrosive properties of alcohols, not all alcohols are equal. The stripping alcohols are not fuel grade, and are of a different cosiveness. Ethanol is less corrosive that Methanol, which many people seem to think are the same thing. Ethanol doesn't need stainless nearly as much as Methanol, which absolutely requires it.Methanol will outright destroy steel components, where ethanol, with the help of water, will eventually rust it if left to sit.Ethanol's main issues are with plastics and rubber. here are some sites to research: http://www.answers.com/topic/e85 http://running_on_alcohol.tripod.com/id26.html
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Old 07-04-2006, 11:17 PM
johnnydmetal johnnydmetal is offline
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Umm by tin I meant - Tin not steel with zinc
Real tin is soft like lead and it melts around 475 deg when pure. To make it more rigid and raise the melting point you add antimony. Tin is very bright almost white and can be used as a plating medium like chrome and nickel. Pure tin coils are used in refrigeration units for food stuffs like meat, ice cream, and beer. Food Lockers are an excellent source for tin in the scrap yard. I Understand the difference between ethanol (cellulose or grain based) and methanol (wood or petroleum gas extracted). I am overhauling a 68 f 100 with dual tanks and since E85 is not available in NJ right now I'm setting up for gasoline right now. I am how ever considering the conversion to e85. My truck started life with one tank in the cab and a side one under the bed. I am going to be removing the cab tank and installing a side tank on the passenger side, plumbing it from the original fill on the drivers side of the cab. Since I am going to have to fabricate the tank to fit I am looking at different materials while I work with SS for exhaust, intercoolers, and induction setups I still say SS is not an easy repair off the beaten path. Copper however is an easy repair and I was wondering if it might be doable, The plastic failure on the copper coils is interesting since polymers and plastics seem to be the container of choice for alcohol. in my case since its a custom tank I would need to know exactly what plastics I could use. I could weld up a PVC tank fairly easy from sheet stock and epoxy would patch that too, but metal is what I'm most comfortable welding. I am curious what particular plastic you could use that won't devolve using either fuel type?
John

Last edited by johnnydmetal; 07-04-2006 at 11:24 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 07-05-2006, 01:23 AM
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Most late model poly tanks and fuel cells should be safe to use, as they have to be bale to tolerate ethanol blends. Most tanks from 88 on appear to be safe for use with ethanol as long as you don't leave them open to the air for long times with the ethanol in the tank.
I have done a lot of stainless fabrication so I also know what it takes to work with it. I still say it is much more duable, buT I don't feel it necessary to go that far.
Most tin used in the automotive workld is like I said, tin roofing is the same thing, where you refer to tinning the sheet metal. The material in refrigerators I thought to be aluminum, as I have turned it into the scrap dealers many times as such, and never have been told it was tin, the tin classification at the scrap yard is still iron based.They pick it up with a magnet if that means anything... and gas tanks go in the tin pile.
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Old 07-05-2006, 10:40 PM
aurgathor aurgathor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fellro86
the alcohol attacks the copper, damaging the windings, and eventually shorting the pump, so they have gone to using siver windings, making the pumps pretty expensive...
Solid silver, or just silver plating?
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Old 07-06-2006, 07:44 AM
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Not sure, they just said silver windings, so don't know if it is a coating or solid...
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:47 AM
Dino@his Dad's Dino@his Dad's is offline
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copper fuel tanks

Johnny, I would have to imagine that a copper tank would be fine, but exspensive. And do you really need it ? Ethanol doesn't hurt normal mild steel, only the terneplated stuff. The stations around here ( SW Michigan ) that sell E85 use the same tanks and hoses and pumps that were previously used for gasoline. Thus far, there haven't been any noticeable problems. Some localities have noticed pitting on the aluminum fuel nozzles. It seems that the ethanol that splashes on the nozzle keeps things spectacularly clean, and then atmospheric mosture pits the nozzle before the aluminum can form a self protecting coating. Nozzles that have been nickle plated solved the issue. I plan on useing unpainted and unplated steel tanks and watching them to see if anything happens. I have aluminum tanks I may try as well, still contemplating. Whichever tanks get used, they will have ground straps added, as ethanol is an electrical conductor. DF, @ work on lunch
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:50 PM
johnnydmetal johnnydmetal is offline
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Dino
From what I've read and been told when you do a ethanol conversion you want to eliminate all aluminum because it agressively attacks it. Steel begins to rust as alcohol tends to absorb water from the air. That causes sediment in the tank which can damage the carb or injector system and later destroy the tank. Poly tanks or Stainless are the best at resisting the alcohol. Actualy the steel tanks that resist alcohol have thick zink plate inside and will resist the corosion for a time.
What I have found is
1 tinned copper will work as a fuel container for alcohols and all petroleum fuels that don't contain sulfur - like diesel or bunker..
2 vibration causes copper to work harden and crack.
3 The use of copper for fuel or brake lines is forbidden by Federal law on any type of highway vehicle because of #4.
The last one is a bit of a deathnail in the idea of using copper to fab a tank. Wether the law includes tank construction too I don't know but why risk it.
I'm basicly looking for alternatives to Stainless that are more easily repaired since a puncture on long haul would leave you stranded till you located a shop that could weld it shut. Copper on the other hand would make it possible to solder the hole in a few minutes with a little paste, solder, and either a hot iron or a torch propane or butane. A small butane torch would fit in most glove boxes.
Oh well the search continues.
Thanks for the input
John
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Old 07-08-2006, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnydmetal
Dino
From what I've read and been told when you do a ethanol conversion you want to eliminate all aluminum because it agressively attacks it. Steel begins to rust as alcohol tends to absorb water from the air. That causes sediment in the tank which can damage the carb or injector system and later destroy the tank. Poly tanks or Stainless are the best at resisting the alcohol. Actualy the steel tanks that resist alcohol have thick zink plate inside and will resist the corosion for a time.
I think you need to read a little harder, as the water concentration problem would be if the system were left open to the air, but with most modern closed sytems to keep emissions down, that is no longer an issue. Also, if you have that kind of cancentration, you will have engine troubles as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-85
Quote:
In addition to corrosion, there is also a risk of increased engine wear for non-FFV engines that are not specifically designed for operation on high levels (i.e., for greater than 10%) of ethanol. The risk primarily comes in the rare event that the E85 fuel ever becomes contaminated with water. For water levels below approximately 0.5% to 1.0% contained in the ethanol, no phase separation of gasoline and ethanol occurs. For contamination with 1% or more water in the ethanol, phase separation occurs, and the ethanol and water mixture will separate from the gasoline. This can be simply observed by pouring a mixture of suspected water-contaminated E85 fuel in a clear glass tube, waiting roughly 30 minutes for the separation to occur (if it does), and then inspecting the sample. If there is water contamination of above 1% water in the ethanol, a clear separation of alcohol (with water) and gasoline will be clearly visible, with the colored gasoline floating above the clear alcohol and water mixture.

For a badly-contaminated amount of water in the ethanol and water mixture that separates from the gasoline (i.e., approximately 11% water, 89% ethanol, equivalent to 178 proof alcohol), considerable engine wear will occur, especially during times while the engine is heating up to normal operating temperatures, as for example just after starting the engine, when low temperature partial combustion of the water-contaminated ethanol mixture is taking place. This wear, caused by water-contaminated E85, is the result of the combustion process of ethanol, water, and gasoline producing considerable amounts of formic acid (HCOOH, also known as methanoic acid, and sometimes written as CH2O2).

In addition to the production of formic acid occurring for water-contaminated E85, smaller amounts of acetaldehyde (CH3CHO) and acetic acid (C2H4O2) are also formed for water-contaminated ethanol combustion. Nonetheless, it is the formic acid that is responsible for the majority of the rapid increase in engine wear.

Engines specifically designed for FFVs employ soft nitride coatings on their internal metal parts to provide formic acid wear resistance in the event of water contamination of E85 fuel. Also, the use of lubricant oil (motor oil) containing an acid neutralizer is necessary to prevent the damage of oil-lubricated engine parts in the event of water contamination of fuel. Such lubricant oil is required by at least one manufacturer of FFVs even to this day (Chrysler).

For non-FFVs burning E85 in greater than 23.5% E85 mixtures (20% ethanol), the remedy for accidentally getting a tank of water-contaminated E85 (or gasoline) while preventing excessive engine wear is to change the motor oil as soon as possible after either burning the fuel and replacing it with non-contaminated fuel, or after immediately draining and replacing the water-contaminated fuel. The risk of burning slightly water-contaminated fuel with low percentages of water (less than 1%) on a long commute is minimal; after all, it is the low temperature combustion of water contaminated ethanol and gasoline that causes the bulk of the formic acid to form; burning a slightly-contaminated mix of water (less than 1%) and ethanol quickly, in one long commute, will not likely cause any appreciable engine wear past the first 15 miles of driving, especially once the engine warms up and high temperature combustion occurs exclusively.
Quote:
I'm basicly looking for alternatives to Stainless that are more easily repaired since a puncture on long haul would leave you stranded till you located a shop that could weld it shut.
Ever heard of JB weld?

Quote:
Copper on the other hand would make it possible to solder the hole in a few minutes with a little paste, solder, and either a hot iron or a torch propane or butane. A small butane torch would fit in most glove boxes.
BAAAAD idea, as heat or open flame around a flammable substance is a recipe for disaster, that is why noone welds on gas tanks... Ethanol burns clear, so it would be harder to tell if it is even burning until it is too late, and you are working on a leak to seal? The only way you could do that is remove the tank, fill with water, then solder, not exactly an easy fix in my book.
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Old 07-08-2006, 09:56 AM
johnnydmetal johnnydmetal is offline
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Ok
Your right I didn’t say drop the tank first.
I would never expose fuel or any other volatile to an open flame! As I mentioned the Oxygen to grease thing. I realize there are many people out there who don't think before they do something. I work this kind of thing often so I took for granted the skill levels of those reading this.
When you repair a gasoline tank you need to drain the fuel, drop the tank out open syphon cap, open the fill, and the sealed float cap. Then it needs to be flushed out. Denatured alcohol works very well for this. Then let the remaining alcohol evaporate out. With ethanol the cleaning step is not needed. Just drain, vent, and air out.
In my fabricated tanks I always include a pit-cot for draining.
The stock tank has four bolts to hold the shield plate and two retaining straps to hold the tank. I will duplicate both features for the fabricated tank in my truck.
I have used JB weld and it works fairly well but It requires a hotter flame then solder. With a tank having plating inside this would potentially leave a bare spot inside that could be damaged. The solder can be melted with minimal heat.
As for the acid build up, from what I've seen this is supposed to occur more at the engine then the in tank. Regardless, detergent oil is always necessary and a nautical inline water separator/filter helps to avoid the contaminated fuel reaching your engine.
There isn't a definitive guide to doing this because unlike racing you would prefer to not have to rip down the engine every time you take a trip down the road.
If you have a lot of money an engine can be built with stainless piston sleeves, chromoly internal parts, and hard-anodized heads with stainless valves. This is how you get up to $15,000 for a race engine but you get superior resistance to the affects of the alcohol. A buddy of mine is actually doing this to his 1/4 mile racer. He is also looking into getting machined Stainless heads. He's got more cash then he knows what to do with but this is good for me. I set up his frame, suspension, and when he gets there I'll be installing the intercooler and super charger.
Well I’ve got to get out to the shop.
Catch you latter
John
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Old 07-08-2006, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnydmetal
I have used JB weld and it works fairly well but It requires a hotter flame then solder. With a tank having plating inside this would potentially leave a bare spot inside that could be damaged. The solder can be melted with minimal heat.
John
Umm, JB is a cold weld 2 part epoxy... no heat required, but a hair dryer does help a little.
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Old 07-09-2006, 09:30 AM
johnnydmetal johnnydmetal is offline
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I thought you were talking about the rods they sell that weld aluminum and steel with a propane torch. I wasn’t sure the name they use, so as I don’t use Epoxy’s often I confused the name. I did a web search and they are called durafix rods.
http://durafix.com/
I try not to use adhesives or fillers for metal work. Body work is the only exception but very sparingly. Anything over 1/8 inch is too thick. The epoxy will fail at some point when your not expecting it and then you have a real fire risk. Especially considering gasoline and alcohol are solvents I wouldn’t trust them to hold indefinitely. I'm not saying it won't work for a patch and it may be good idea to keep some in the glove box for an emergency.
I just absolutely Hate repairing things twice. I try to live by "Do it once and do it right".
John
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:12 PM
Dino@his Dad's Dino@his Dad's is offline
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fuel tanks

Johnny, I've read and heard all the same dire warnings you have. But in actual practice, the ethanol doesn't seem as corrosive as some expected. I started soaking a piston from a 390 in E85 several months ago, it still looks the same. The more I read it seems there are two issues, one, the moisture can cause problems, but can be managed. The fact the ethanol will conduct an electrical charge is problem two. The is then the possibility of electrolitic corrosion. I am hoping keeping things grounded will help there. There is also the possibility of having some of the tanks anodized or nickle plated, that gives just as good of performance as stainless. DF, on lunch @ work
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:12 PM
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