Alcohol vs gasoline

mikewof

mikewof
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How come it was not a problem with the engines of old where it worked just fine??  It didn't seem to mess with their oil lubrication unless I am missing something, which is highly likely!!!
Lower compression? Heavier oil? I have a late-model vehicle that uses zero-weight motor oil, very light viscosity, I imagine that would be more sensitive than an older engine that uses 40-weight. Also, newer engines tend to run leaner and cleaner anyway, maybe the seals are sensitive to it?

It's not an issue for me, I won't use that shit in any of my small engines, especially the two-strokes. My chainsaw and small engines get premix TruFuel. It's about $18 per gallon, but well worth the price, my engines don't die from that ethanol bullshit.

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
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Basic premise of the video - growing corn and refining it into fuel costs more in carbon emissions than dinosaur squeezings

 

mikewof

mikewof
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Basic premise of the video - growing corn and refining it into fuel costs more in carbon emissions than dinosaur squeezings
Most connected to the work in an actual scientific and engineering capacity have known this all along. They did it anyway to build out the infrastructure for the Ag industry. And even though the fuel is expensive, the coproducts kind of made the investment worthwhile; custom lubricants especially from things like swtichgrass, algae, corn, even biomass from shredded livestock.

A coworker once had to do price specs on a "horse shredder" for biomass. This thing was like a giant Cuisinart ... feed in the dead horses at one end, the bones, blood, skin, muscles water, all get processed, emulsified and come out as a goo at the other end. The goo was then dewatered and processed for the biomass energy. Kinda gross, but the investment followed it.

 
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billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
Lower compression? Heavier oil? I have a late-model vehicle that uses zero-weight motor oil, very light viscosity, I imagine that would be more sensitive than an older engine that uses 40-weight. Also, newer engines tend to run leaner and cleaner anyway, maybe the seals are sensitive to it?

It's not an issue for me, I won't use that shit in any of my small engines, especially the two-strokes. My chainsaw and small engines get premix TruFuel. It's about $18 per gallon, but well worth the price, my engines don't die from that ethanol bullshit.


IIRC, that is one of the primary downers of ethanol in outboard engines, mostly 2-strokes.  The seals in the carbs and other parts of the fuel delivery system are ruined by the alcohol in our gas requiring time-consuming, expense overhaul repairs.

 

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
. This thing was like a giant Cuisinart ... feed in the dead horses at one end, the bones, blood, skin, muscles water, all get processed, emulsified and come out as a goo at the other end. The goo was then dewatered and processed for the biomass energy. Kinda gross, but the investment followed it.


I am gobsmacked with this info?   How come I never heard of this?  Is it being done now, or this old testing stuff??

 

chinabald

Super Anarchist
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Most connected to the work in an actual scientific and engineering capacity have known this all along. They did it anyway to build out the infrastructure for the Ag industry. And even though the fuel is expensive, the coproducts kind of made the investment worthwhile; custom lubricants especially from things like swtichgrass, algae, corn, even biomass from shredded livestock.

A coworker once had to do price specs on a "horse shredder" for biomass. This thing was like a giant Cuisinart ... feed in the dead horses at one end, the bones, blood, skin, muscles water, all get processed, emulsified and come out as a goo at the other end. The goo was then dewatered and processed for the biomass energy. Kinda gross, but the investment followed it.
And thus true horsepower was realized 

 

Lark

Supper Anarchist
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Ohio
2 hours ago, Zonker said:


The problem, even when E-85 was being pushed, was what costs do you calculate?    ADM wanted to include all the costs of exploration (even when a well didn’t pan out) and clean up after the well ran dry.    They ignored diesel for the combine and less efficient vehicles from coop to farm and farm to distillery (older farm trucks run seasonally).   Big oil of course published their own papers, mathematically correct, that had different costs included and omitted.   They, like the Harvard study, ignored no til agriculture, forest products including paper pulp harvested anyway and rotational planting of beans to reduce fertilizer.     Neither included the cost of replacement and backup carbs for my outboard.   I’m not a fan of corn whisky in vehicles, but this is a great example of two powerful industries hiring their own university ’experts’ willing to prostitute themselves.   One simple predicter is to look at the universities affiliated with the study.  You can guess the conclusions simply by considering the economic importance of oil and corn to the state the school is located in.

 
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Lark

Supper Anarchist
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Ohio
I am gobsmacked with this info?   How come I never heard of this?  Is it being done now, or this old testing stuff??
Something similar was being done for wasted school lunches in Chicago, and cattle manure on large dairy farms being used to make methane fuel.   I think these projects reliably die and the equipment gets scrapped when oil gets cheap.   Just like Americans buying big cars in the 1970s, now big trucks to drive to the grocery; we always expect gas to stay cheap.  

 
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BeSafe

Super Anarchist
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Ethanol as energy Its a pretty terrible idea.  There is one and only one advantage - the steam to carbon ratio of vodka is perfect for fuel processors.  Go figure. 

I worked on waste to energy projects for about 5 years.  The energy content of food products in general is pretty good actually.  Most food has all the un-usable stuff stripped away.  That's why its food.  From an energy standpoint, fat is diesel fuel.  They're virtually interchangeable in most ways that matter.  The problem with waste is ..its waste.  Antibiotics force fed to cattle leads to high sulfur content.  Silicone is used EVERYWHERE - and turns into silane and/or silicia - i.e., glass.  By the time you clean up waste, its not waste anymore.  Waste also tends to be intermittent - just like solar and wind - but with a longer time constant.

I never heard of a horse shredder.  In general, horses aren't used that way in the US.  The government just shoots them and leaves them to rot.  There was a non-profit that tried to get slaughtered wild horse meat recycled into pet food (20 years ago?  been a while) and they got summarily drubbed by the media.  If you ACTUALLY picked up the dead horses and do something useful, there's hell to pay.  Better to let them be coyote food.  That being said - there are chicken shredders that are used today so you COULD make a horse shredder.  Its just scale at that point.

The #1 problem with ALL biomass is water content.  That's the killer for most systems in terms of being energy efficient.  General solids handling is #2.

 
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slug zitski

Super Anarchist
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worldwide
So I get the spam email about Rockfeller and how he killed an alternative fuel. Of course there was a link (no I did not click it).

I did a search (duck duck go) and found some stuff I did not know. I'm not sure why this was not discussed in the History series "The Titans that built America"

I wonder what the carbon output is of a vehicle on alcohol is?

here are a few excerpts.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Rockefeller, Ford and the Secret History of Alcohol


There's a secret history regarding alcohol that you won't hear on the six o'clock news:
  • Cars and everything else running on internal combustion engines can run on alcohol at least as well as they can run on gasoline. Indeed, engines were built back in 1870 that could run using either alcohol or gasoline

  • A New York Times article from 1908 enthusiastically states:



"Autoists Discuss Alcohol As Fuel; Great Future Ahead For Use In Commercial Wagons, Says Prof. Lucke. Tests With Motor Truck E.R. Hewitt Tells Engineers Of His Results With Gasoline And Alcohol In Same Engine"



  • Henry Ford said that alcohol was "a cleaner, nicer, better fuel for automobiles than gasoline" (James Brough, The Ford Dynasty: An American Story, p. 118, and cited in "Ford - The Men and the Machine", p. 365). The Model T Ford had a knob right on the dashboard to adjust the fuel-air mixture for either alcohol or gas

  • Alcohol does not corrode or shorten the lifespan of modern cars, and an inexpensive adjustment to regular cars will make them run smoothly and inexpensively on alcohol

So if alcohol can provide a cheaper and better fuel than alcohol, why doesn't anyone talk about it today?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I remember in the late 70's NHRA using Alcohol and of course ethanol blends for cars. But I was never aware that it was a big deal at the turn of the century.

Imagine how many local/regional distilleries would pop up to fill you tank at.
The use of agricultural land for auto fuel is outrageous 

At the present top soil loss , water use rate   the world will starve in 75 years 

 

chinabald

Super Anarchist
15,410
779
The use of agricultural land for auto fuel is outrageous 

At the present top soil loss , water use rate   the world will starve in 75 years 
Plant the median and the grassy areas to each side of the highway. Use that for fuel 

 

mikewof

mikewof
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1,246
I am gobsmacked with this info?   How come I never heard of this?  Is it being done now, or this old testing stuff??
It's common equipment at a rendering plant, but it didn't take off too well for biomass energy, energy became sufficiently cheap since then that there wasn't a lot of advantage in combusting micronized animal goo. There was even a later system that did this with micronized sewage, and even that couldn't make energy cost competitively ... energy has just become too cheap to allow for these odd-duck biomass projects. The only commercially viable, grid scale biomass product I know is wood pellets and corn pellets, and those are successful because they use biomass that would otherwise decay and release the CO2 into the air anyway.

Here is a video of a simpler horse-shredder in operation, it doesn't do the emulsifying or drying, just the livestock shredding. PLEASE DON'T CLICK IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH OR DON'T WANT TO RISK TURNING INTO A VEGETARIAN ...

https://youtu.be/HA1dVYyXc8Y?t=36

 
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mikewof

mikewof
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The #1 problem with ALL biomass is water content.  That's the killer for most systems in terms of being energy efficient.  General solids handling is #2.
Yeah, dewatering is a huge energy suck. And then as you mention, even with clean grass and such, there tends to be a lot of silica.

I agree with you and Slug that the use of good food production land for fuel is silly. But this wasn't an industry pushed by the energy geeks, it was pushed by the agricultural industry itself. They had (and have) far too much land capacity because of the use of better irrigation and nitrogenation, they wanted to move into areas outside of food. It's dumb? Yeah, blame Ag, (I won't mention the companies' names, so my brake lines don't get cut), they were the ones who pimped these projects in Congress.

Then the industry pushed into less controversial areas like switchgrass and algae. But then those have the shit, like silica and extensive need for dewatering.

I once sat down with a simplest (and most optimistic!) statistical model I could reckon to get an idea of the tractability of these biomass schemes, and compared them to straight-ahead solar energy, because ultimately, the underlying commodity of these energy schemes is the trade value of the land itself. If the land can be use more profitably for say tilapia farming or corn production, or golf courses, then energy is a no-go.

So starting from that, biomass gains its energy in the carbohydrate chain from the sun. The energy conversion efficiency is thus limited by photosynthesis, and that averages about 12% of energy conversion from an average of 1,000 watts per square meter of solar flux. So it can't exceed that photosynthetic efficiency. Next, the harvest, which requires power of some kind, and then transport to the extraction facility. This tends to pull off about 2% of the total efficiency for a really good process (like moving algae down a waterway) or more for a less efficient one (like hiring a farm hand to run a combine over a field and package then move the biomass. But we're down to about 10%. Next, the removal of the energy dense carbohydrate from the fibrous material, requires more power, removes optimistically another 2%, down to 8%. Then the dewatering, another 2% for fairly dry material like corn, or much higher for very wet material like algae, down to 6% efficiency. Then the refining, reacting, cracking to the functional material, down to 4%. That's the blue sky, 4%, in some cases it goes down as low as 2% or even negative! Finally, those biofuels need to be combusted at a typical Carnot efficiency of some 50% or so to electrical or mechanical power!

On the other hand, installing cheap-ass ground-mount photovoltaics that require almost zero continuing maintenance, have an established infrastructure, and make grid-ready power, the shittiest ones on the market now, or the ones installed for a couple decades tend to pump out power at 12% conversion efficiency, or about 120 watts per square meter in average 1kw solar insolence. And the commodity photovoltaics now are at 14%, some nearly as high as 20%. That's efficiency from a set-it-and-forget-it photovoltaic.

So biomass had to create a compelling value proposition with existing solar energy, on existing land, and it has been an uphill battle to do that. Boondoggle. BUT, wood pellets and corn pellets are terrific, softwood states like Alabama and Georgia ship those torrefied pellets to coproduction in Scandinavia by the containership-load at nearly carbon-zero use, or negative carbon, because if they didn't pelletize the debris from the lumber industry, the carbon would just decay into the air anyway. Heck, maybe some lucky folks even get laid by the heat of a wood pellet stove.

 

BeSafe

Super Anarchist
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Then the industry pushed into less controversial areas like switchgrass and algae. But then those have the shit, like silica and extensive need for dewatering.

I once sat down with a simplest (and most optimistic!) statistical model I could reckon to get an idea of the tractability of these biomass schemes, and compared them to straight-ahead solar energy, because ultimately, the underlying commodity of these energy schemes is the trade value of the land itself. If the land can be use more profitably for say tilapia farming or corn production, or golf courses, then energy is a no-go.
You're basic math is true - but there is an important caveat.  Biomass is PV with storage built in.   So yes, plants are generically less efficient at producing electricity because they're converting the solar energy into building material - that's their job.  to be useful to us, we turn it back into energy through some other - usually thermal - process.  Once you start adding storage in, Biomass is pretty close to PV/Wind again in terms of cost and efficiency.

Converting already prepared farmland into land for energy crops is a pretty terrible idea.   The reason people do it is the same reason people want to put Solar on roofs - the space is already there and prepped.  Solar on rooftop isn't a very good place to put it - roofs are rarely facing the best direction or at an optimal angle - service is harder, roof replacement costs are higher  - but people don't want to give up their yards.  Badly placed solar is worse than badly placed biomass.  Nature will find a way and savage even shitty energy days.  Solar can't.

But converting marginal land into land for solar crops isn't terrible - depends on the crop.  Switchgrass is OK - Eucalyptis is OK.  There's some others that make sense, depending on your environment and land conditions.

There is a place for biomass as part of a sustainable energy production systems.   But its only a piece, just like solar, wind, and nuclear.   The other pillar has to be redesign of cities and buildings.   And.. doing all that - we're still going to need oil.

 
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Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
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Punta Gorda FL
I never heard of a horse shredder. 
Me either but I saw Mike Rowe feed a cow to a shredder on Dirty Jobs.

If engines can run on pure alcohol better than gasoline, then why does a little ethanol added fuck up many outboard and other motors???
Because this is true

Alcohol does not REMOVE any water, it holds it in suspension ( small particulates) in the fuel so it can flow thru the system & burn
Right up until the alcohol is saturated, at which point something called phase separation happens and you wind up with low octane fuel floating on top of ethanol goo.

 

mikewof

mikewof
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You're basic math is true - but there is an important caveat.  Biomass is PV with storage built in.   So yes, plants are generically less efficient at producing electricity because they're converting the solar energy into building material - that's their job.  to be useful to us, we turn it back into energy through some other - usually thermal - process.  Once you start adding storage in, Biomass is pretty close to PV/Wind again in terms of cost and efficiency.

Converting already prepared farmland into land for energy crops is a pretty terrible idea.   The reason people do it is the same reason people want to put Solar on roofs - the space is already there and prepped.  Solar on rooftop isn't a very good place to put it - roofs are rarely facing the best direction or at an optimal angle - service is harder, roof replacement costs are higher  - but people don't want to give up their yards.  Badly placed solar is worse than badly placed biomass.  Nature will find a way and savage even shitty energy days.  Solar can't.

But converting marginal land into land for solar crops isn't terrible - depends on the crop.  Switchgrass is OK - Eucalyptis is OK.  There's some others that make sense, depending on your environment and land conditions.

There is a place for biomass as part of a sustainable energy production systems.   But its only a piece, just like solar, wind, and nuclear.   The other pillar has to be redesign of cities and buildings.   And.. doing all that - we're still going to need oil.
Your point about storage is really good, I hadn't considered it; storable energy is valuable. And I don't know what the energy mix will look like in 50 years, but for now, at least on the grid-scale, we barely need energy storage and the value of stored energy is fairly low. Because these big steam turbine generators tend to run 24 hours at a set capacity, we're awash in baseload power, to the point that power is cheaper when the sun is down, and even free in some places when the sun is down ... sometimes it is even negative index, where the power producers need to pay the grid operators to dump the power from the feed lines.

So solar on rooftops, or ground mount, they make valuable power because it's transitional and peak-load power, seems no point to pay much more for stored biomass power in peakload when peakload solar and wind are such a bargain. And then in baseload -- at least for the foreseeable future -- biomass would have to compete with natural gas, pumped water storage, compressed air, and legacy coal/nuclear. The only biomass method that I know that can compete is wood pellets with coproduction, where the steam is sold to heat and cool urban areas and then that subsidizes the power. Scandinavia is way ahead of us in this, but we'll get there eventually, probably coupling it to geothermal storage.

Some applications would work well for biofuels ... not for gasoline engines obviously, as the market keeps proving again and again, but for diesel engines and jet engines, why not? At least it's better than pumping fossil fuels out of the ground, and the biomass fuels are much lower in total carbon because of the carbon uptake in the plants. Liquid fuels kick batteries' ass, they'll likely be with us for another 50 or 100 years or so, we might as well transition away from fossil fuels for these, yeah, we're still going to need oil.

You and I seem to agree here, but now we might have studied the shit out of this, tempered it with real-life engineering experience, and in just admitting the benefits of oil, a huge chunk of poorly-prepared political activists will happily toss us to the wolves.

 


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