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Old 07-22-2006, 09:12 PM
Dino@his Dad's Dino@his Dad's is offline
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Post E85 and ethanol mythology

Guys, I really thought we had covered all this already, but misconceptions and disinformation just keep popping up. There really isn't anything to fear here, just a lack of understanding. Lets start with flame temperature. Lots of folks seem to have the idea that higher octane fuel burns at a higher temperature. This is not generally the case. Ethanol, with an octane value of something like 119 (R+M/2) burns at around 1200*F. Normal 87 octane gasoline burns at 1450*F. Then there is the BTU per gallon issue. There lots people foaming at the mouth about how ethanol has less BTUs per gallon than gasoline. Its true that it does. Gasoline is 120K and ethanol is 80K per gallon. The problem comes when folks think that BTUs per gallon and miles per gallon are directly related, and in a linear fashion. It just isn't that simple. There is much more to consider. An engine's thermal efficeincy is also greatly affected by the flame speed of the fuel used. In our case, gasoline burns at .34 mps, and ethanol burns at .43 mps, significantly faster. What this means is that more of the 'push' from the flame front moves the piston instead of just heating things up as it exits the chamber. Ethanol also has three times the latent heat of vapourization as does gasoline. This, along with ethanol's greater octane rating allows the use of much more compression than gasoline, even racing gas. The increased compression will help fuel ecomony greatly. Many test have shown a loss of up to 30% in fuel economy when using ethanol mixtures. But the same tests have some cars getting nearly the same mileage. Why the differance ? Ethanol, with a much greater content of oxygen, will confuse the O2 sensors in the exhuast of many cars. The computer reads the extra oxygen and thinks the engine is too lean, so it tells the fuel injectors to squirt as much as they can. This will usually give a very powerful and smooth running engine engine, but it will consume fuel like there is no tomorrow. Ethanol's range of flammability is greater than gasoline. This means that ethanol can burn both richer AND leaner than gasoline can. If you're looking for power, you'll want to jet rich to get it. If you're looking for economy, you may want to keep the fuel trim almost the same as gasoline. In any case, you need to watch fuel trim, too lean can burn things, no matter what the fuel. Then there is the corrosion fear. It just doesn't happen. Ethanol, in and of itself, doesn't corrode anything. But ethanol is more likely to get contaminated with water than gasoline, and the water can cause problems. Now, as long as you have a sealed cap on the fuel tank, I don't see why there is anymore risk than with gasoline. The kinds of rubber that ethanol can break down aren't used anymore. Most auto manufacturers began using ethanol tolerant seals and gaskets in the late seventies when 'gasohol' became widely used. If you are worried about your nonmetal fuel lines, buy new rubber hoses and then forget about it. There were lots of the same fears when we switched to unleaded from leaded gasoline. Lots of mechanics were predicting the end of the world, hairy palms and baldness and various other disasters. It just didn't happen. It won't happen now with ethanol either. If you want to expeiriment with ethanol, you should. But if you don't, then don't. But if you don't want to use it, you don't need to be bad mouthing it to others who want to try it. Unleaded and leaded gasoline were sold next to each other for years, I think we will see the same situation with ethanol. DF, @ his Dad's house
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Old 07-24-2006, 08:14 PM
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Just read the information here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E85
http://www.answers.com/topic/e85

Dino must have an economic interest in pushing alcohol fuels...
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:09 AM
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Could we say that you have an economic interest in petroleum? Or would that be a violation of board policies?
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Old 07-25-2006, 10:22 AM
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I have no economic interest in petroleum. We have had a number of corn farmers on here in the past pushing alcohol real hard in violation of board policies.
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Old 07-25-2006, 10:28 AM
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That makes sense, sorry.
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Old 08-10-2006, 01:47 PM
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Good post Dino. Somebody needs to push ethanol. Quite frankly, its the only logical alternative gasoline that's compatible with exesting internal combustion technology that is feasable. Elecricity is shifting one energy form for another like coal/gas to electric, nuclear to electric or hydro to electric. The Brazilians are a head of us in ethanol ball game.


We should be pushing our senators and reps to make and agriculutal initiative to grow corn and cane to help out the gasoline "shortages" that we are experiencing with our supply and demand economic system. Get the ethanol plants online. The alternative explaination is that the big Oil Companies are practicing subversion and sedition on the U.S. of America.

We need fuel for internal combustion engines and I don't give a rats rear if its E85, biodiesel, propane or gasoline as long as it aleviates me spending 40% of my income to go to work and take care of business.

I am currently building a 351W for my '86 FSb and would prefer to build one to run on E85 but its not available within 450 miles of me so I'm going to build it to run on Pane with the option to convert to E85 later. That puts a whole new meaning to flex fuel.
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Old 08-10-2006, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlh
Good post Dino. Somebody needs to push ethanol. Quite frankly, its the only logical alternative gasoline that's compatible with exesting internal combustion technology that is feasable. Elecricity is shifting one energy form for another like coal/gas to electric, nuclear to electric or hydro to electric. The Brazilians are a head of us in ethanol ball game.
I think there are arguments for others. How about Butanol? It has higher energy content, can be burnt in cars without the modifications that ethanol requires (meaning the current fleet could potentially run it today), can be put into pipelines for delivery unlike ethanol solving distrobution problems, and can be fermented out of plant material just like ethanol. The key to any alcohol option is moving beyond many people's focus of making it from corn alone. With the right process, any starch/sugar can be fermented.

Electric? We'll see how Tesla Motors does with their plans of a competitive electric sports car next year. Plug-in electrics could be a great solution for city drivers. Biodiesel? As you mentioned, another good alternative.

The whole idea of alternatives is that there are alternatives. One may win out over another, but hopefully it'll be because of fair competition and not political nonsense. And you are also spot on in that we should all be writing/calling/screaming at our Senators/representatives. It took a CAFE credit of 1.2 MPG to get Ford/GM making FFV's to run on ethanol. Let's give them the kick in the butt needed to start producing the cars needed for the future. I salute your efforts to change yourself over to alternatives, but real change will come when there are cars on the market in this country that will use these alternatives.

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Last edited by PSKSAM2; 08-10-2006 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 08-10-2006, 04:02 PM
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Push for alternatives all you want. It's probably a good idea not to be dependant on sources of energy that would preferr to see us dead.

Just don't expect alternative fuels to lower your cost per mile of operation. One of the reasons that alternatives are coming on line now is that they can be produced at a profit relative to the current oil prices.
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Old 08-11-2006, 09:21 AM
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Ultimately, there needs to be a clear winner in this alternative fuels thing. Gasoline became the universal fuel early in the last century and led to the greatest transportation system in the world, the interstate highways and personal automobiles. If we have a fragmented market of ethanol pumps in farm states and butanol pumps in some and hydogen pumps on the coasts, etc. it will be a disaster. You wont be able to buy a car and drive it accross the country. The manufacturers would have to market a significantly different model in each region. Flexible fuel technology has too many comprimises, low compression for gasoline that prevents getting the full range and power from alcohols, for instance.

My brother has a dedicated CNG car that he uses for work as a building inspector. It is only usable in the city, like a battery-electric. He has to own, mantain, register and insure a second gasoline-powered one just in order to travel outside the area.

Jim
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Old 08-11-2006, 12:20 PM
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I don't think there's a need for "a clear winner" since gasoline, or a blend compatible with it will be staying with us for a long-long time. Butanol, plankton oil, or some other heavier alcohol could possibly be used as a direct replacement, maybe with a bit of added dino juice distillate. Same with diesel -- it's here to stay, whether it's bio, dino, etc.

One change I can see with gasoline, however, that instead of the usual 3 pumps (normal, mid, super) there will only be a single pump with a pushbutton or dial selector for grade. And diesel will probably become mainstream even in the US, and the majority of new cars will be hybrids since they're superior to others in cities.

The two other options will be hydrogen once the technical hurdles are resolved, and electricity, either using some kind of battery, or a fuel cell.

Of course, this is all IMHO, but I'm 99% sure on all my choices except hydrogen. However, by the virtue of no greenhouse gases, I think hydrogen will win over ethanol, or gaseous fuels containing carbon like CNG/LNG/propane/butane/etc.

Last edited by aurgathor; 08-11-2006 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 08-11-2006, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by aurgathor
Of course, this is all IMHO, but I'm 99% sure on all my choices except hydrogen. However, by the virtue of no greenhouse gases, I think hydrogen will win over ethanol, or gaseous fuels containing carbon like CNG/LNG/propane/butane/etc.
How exactly does one make hydrogen economically?

I do already see gasoline pumps with a single pump and a selector for grade. Most pumps around here are like that. What I think would be neat, is a pump where you can dial in your exact desired percentage of ethanol. It would have a dial, and turning this would raise or lower the percentage of ethanol in your gasoline. It would also have a display showing the price per gallon at that percentage, and the resulting octane rating, which the station owner could vary based on a linear function of the percentage of ethanol. Then you push in on the dial to lock in your selection and start the pump!

Yes, I've been dreaming again.
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Old 08-11-2006, 01:01 PM
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How exactly does one make hydrogen economically?
There are several ways to make H2 -- I think by electrolysis from water is, and will be be the most common one, especially if more of the electricity will come from green sources. I think making hydrogen is the easy part.

It wouldn't be too hard to mix in extra ethanol when pumping.
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Old 08-11-2006, 01:17 PM
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Rusty's point might be that currently most industrial sources of h2 are from petroleum.
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Old 08-11-2006, 02:18 PM
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That's very possible. But using petroleum to make H2 will become less and less attractive over time as the price of the crude will go up. Of course, that doesn't apply to reactions where H2 is just a byproduct. In any case, for automotive fuel, it makes more sense to use the 'petrol' since it has a higher BTU rating than the H2 one can get from it.

Last edited by aurgathor; 08-11-2006 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 08-11-2006, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by aurgathor
That's very possible. But using petroleum to make H2 will become less and less attractive over time as the price of the crude will go up. Of course, that doesn't apply to reactions where H2 is just a byproduct. In any case, for automotive fuel, it makes more sense to use the 'petrol' since it has a higher BTU rating than the H2 one can get from it.


That would be the OTHER point.
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Old 08-11-2006, 07:57 PM
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