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Old 07-06-2015, 02:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A different Kind of Alcohol

Hello all! As you can tell from my name I'm obsessed with renewable and alternative fuels. I've spent countless hours of research into this topic, and have determined that I really dislike ethanol as fuel choice for America because of its means of production, it's not sustainable and there is always the classic food vs fuel debate. Methanol is produced from natural gas in America which defeats the purpose of making a methanol fueled car, when CNG autos are now mainstream (which ford and some other auto makers did in the 90's) that's leaves us with 2 more mainstream alcohols, propanol and butanol. Propanol is essential rubbing alcohol, which is great for medical purposes but it can't be produced from renewable sources. Leaving us with probably the next fuel of the future for gasoline engines. Butanol is around 90% the energy of gasoline and very similar to gasoline in terms makeup, it can be put directly into almost all gas engines with no modification, that means non- flex fuel cars can run on it. The main problem is producing it, in world war 2 a German man developed a method called ABE, it produces acetone, ethanol, and butanol. This can be done by bacteria and fermentation, similar to ethanol. The problem is the low yield of butanol, my question is do you guys think that all the fuels from ABE can all be dumped into a fuel tank and combusted? If not, do you think butanol with more research can replace ethanol, like I do? I'm not going to make the post any longer so if you feel the need to please do a little outside research, and comment I love alt fuel discussions!!

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Old 07-06-2015, 02:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I also forgot to add that the feedstock is sugar from presumably a food, since I dislike using food, algae is what I would hope becomes the feedstock of the future since it can produce anything that would be required for renewable fuel feedstock
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Old 07-07-2015, 02:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 07-07-2015, 03:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Nothing wrong with ethanol lol. It's not even very cost effective except in the Midwest. When they finally figure out cellulosic ethanol or some other kind of waste to fuel tech it'll be fine.

I am guessing you don't want to have much acetone in your tank, it's very good at eating through plastic and rubber.
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I've thought about butanol from time to time. If I remember correctly butanol's strong points are:

- 90% of the chemical energy of regular unleaded - a big improvement over ethanol
- already compatible with gas-safe materials and handling equipment
- comparable octane to gasoline, so it's pretty much a drop-in replacement for gasoline.

NOTABLE DOWNSIDES:

- way more viscous than gas. It's like diesel. Conventional gasoline injectors may not be able to handle it.
- Already partially oxygenated, so it has to run richer than gas. A flex fuel injection computer would adapt to this with no difficulty.
- No octane advantage, so you can't get any power back by raising the compression ratio

As you noted, the yield is low. And when I first read about it several years ago, research was underway to improve output via genetic modification of various organisms.

But right now oil is trading at under $55 per barrel. That kind of thing tends to dry up funding from the sources that provide funding but don't have the necessary long view to realize what the funding is intended to hedge against. I haven't heard much about research into butanol lately, only the occasional glimmer about cellulosic ethanol. And again, even then, not a lot. That cheap oil is blinding a lot of people.
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Methanol can be made from natural gas, coal or wood chips.
Natural gas just happens to be the most economical feed stock for methanol production right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biofuel Frank View Post
have determined that I really dislike ethanol as fuel choice for America because of its means of .....
You are preaching to the choir.
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Old 07-07-2015, 10:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You could use a diesel injector to meter it or use it as dual fuel in a diesel. There are some really cool dual fuel diesel-gasoline engine studies. Since diesel engines and gas engines can run beginning with the same static compression you add spark plugs to the diesel engine and use the gasoline when its most advantageous and I think they even have one injector to meter both fuels if I remember right.
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Old 07-08-2015, 12:51 AM   #8 (permalink)
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On a diesel the introduction of something flammable to the intake air is called intake fumigation. Ethanol is typically called a hot shot.

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