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Old 12-01-2008, 09:20 AM   #21 (permalink)
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The idea is to get totally OFF petroleum for daily transportation needs.

Right now, I am leaning towards biodiesel/vegetable oil for long range, and battery electric for short range.

All electricity for the electric car comes from renewable sources (biogas, wind, solar, etc.)

I would buy biodiesel and work my way up to making my own, and possibly do a veggie oil conversion later.

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Old 12-03-2008, 06:19 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Discouraged by cold!

I don't know about you, but here, its cold and snowing!

I hadn't thought about it before, but the main thing that may stop me from going fossil-fuel-free may be the winter weather.

Electric cars already have relatively short range, and the cold only shortens that.

Diesel vehicles can sometimes have problems starting in cold weather, but with Bio-Diesel, the problem is even worse.

Some bio-diesels can turn into a gel at 40 degrees F. That's pretty much October through May by me.

Although bio-diesel sounds like a great way to go, not being able to use it (or at least having to blend it with mostly petro-diesel) in the winter kinda defeats the point.

Perhaps what's really needed here is some Eco-Tinkering. It's not that you CAN'T use bio-diesel in the winter, it the temperatures that are the problem.

So, perhaps B100 could be used year-round IF the vehicle was modified with a block heater, insulated fuel tank, extra powerful battery, etc.?

Anyone here have winter bio-diesel experience?

I did find some good tips at Biodiesel in winter: Journey to Forever

It looks like a vehicle would need to be heavily modified to run year-round on biodiesel, but when HAVEN'T I been modifying my vehicles any ways!
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Old 12-03-2008, 08:52 PM   #23 (permalink)
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How cold of weather do you need to start it up in?

I'm thinking that if you are willing to plug a heater in and are willing to make bio-diesel then you'll be good to go year round.

Right now I have 13 gallons of bio and 2 gallons of Petro in my tank and it started right up yesterday with 28F water temp. I'm about 75%penut 20% soy and about 5% beef drippings.
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:49 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Typical winter weather around here ranges between 0 and 20-some degrees F.

If it gets below 0 F, that's pretty darn cold, but usually only a few days like that a winter.

A block heater would definately be used at home. Right now, I don't have any spare garage space. My wife's car is on one side, and my electric car on the other of a two car garage (crummy, detached, uninsulated garage...)

I wouldn't want to have to kick my wife's car out of there to put a diesel in just to make it start in the morning.

I would typically NOT be able to plug in a block heater at work (there simply ARE NO EXTERIOR outlets there!) or other locations I would drive out to.

I could imagine insulating the fuel tank, adding battery powered heaters, etc. to make this all work.

EDIT: I just looked up the weather report for Scott, LA - Low of 53! You have it easy down there! It's 21F here right now, and that's not cold yet!
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Old 12-04-2008, 12:45 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I still think making moonshine will be your simplest bet.

Home Distillation of Alcohol

Don't have to worry about cold weather or finding a new truck. A reflux still looks pretty simple to operate and will give you the best fuel without a lot of work even if you use an electric heating element it looks pretty cheap to operate really.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:56 AM   #26 (permalink)
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What ya need is an extra (deep cycle?) battery (or two?) that can be isolated and charged to power a block heater as well as an in tank fuel heater, fuel line heater right before the IP, and a heated fuel filter. You would also want some sort of electric motor that could spin over the motor and move the cold biodiesel out of the IP and the warmer biodiesel from the heated lines/heated filter into the IP so you don't have cold clumps of biodiesel screwing up your engine on startup. You should also toss a coolant to fuel line heat exchanger so you aren't using electric power all the time, just at startup. IMO of course...
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:11 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Rolfwaffle: what you just said was the sorts of things I was thinking to be able to use full biodiesel year-round.

Coyote X: I am also interested in home-ethanol, but don't know anyone who does that. I do know some people working with bio-diesel.

I did brew my own batch of beer once. It does take some work. I imagine making ethanol would only be a few steps more complicated.

I also talked to an alternative energy guy the other night who knows something about both bio-diesel and ethanol production. His big thing is "closed-system renewability": doing energy production where whatever waste there is becomes the source material for something else. In his opinion, ethanol fits into that much better than biodiesel.

At this point though, it looks like biodiesel is much more within my reach than ethanol.

(I do love the idea of ethanol in terms of temperature range!)
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:24 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I did a little more reading on Ethanol and E85.

There are several kits about there for fuel-injected vehicles to convert to being a "flex-fuel" vehicle.

Basically, it's a little computer box that connects in-line with the fuel injector signals and the ECU.

It gives a longer fuel injector PWM signal and adjusts the timing as needed.

The web site for one that I was looking at is:
E85 conversion kits FLEX FUEL CONVERSIONS - Full Flex International is now Fuel Flex International- Full Flex Gold and ECO Flex Platinum USA Distributor flex fuel - Pulstar Spark Plugs

I looked and found that they have a local distributor in Wisconsin:
Flex Fuel Conversion Kits - E85 Conversion Kits - Drive Flex Fuel - Home Page

I was able to talk to Douglas Sr. on the phone for a while today. He was a pretty nice guy and helpful in answering a few of my questions.

When I asked, he said that a drop of 5-15% in fuel economy is pretty typical, although he did have one customer with an old Ford Explorer that actually went UP a tad.

He also said that there's no reason why the system shouldn't be able to do E100, assuming that I can find a good source for it.

I did call an ethanol refiner about an hours drive from me, but haven't heard back from them yet.

This E85 kit should allow me to go pretty much straight to E85, and hopefully to E100 later. I would still need to check the fuel filter and change that a while after converting, as ethanol likes to clean out the gas tank.

There is an E85 pump about 2 miles from my house, it there wasn't, I don't think I would even be considering this.

Starting a cold engine on E85 is still an issue. This conversion kit has "cold-start technology". Basically it has a temperature probe on it, and can run the fuel rich when you are starting in the cold. I would imagine a block heater would help with this as well.

Anyone have experience with E85 conversion kits or swapping out fuel injectors to run ethanol? Please share your experience.
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:41 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Ethanol And Food Supply?

I read that to fill an SUV tank with E85 represents a removal of 1 year food supply for 1 person (if they only ate corn). Saving the earth is hard work. There's a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul that can happen. What I don't get is why is the corn no good anymore after making ethanol? Can't you just extract whatever makes the ethanol, and still have some sort of grits stuff left over?

I mention this because when I was in Kenya, each person there eats a brick of mashed up boiled corn for every single lunch and dinner every single stinking day! (it's called Ugali)
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:13 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Ethanol in and of itself is a great fuel.

Questioning if it is properly made or not is a legitamate and resposible question to ask.

My current understanding is that, in the Midwest, it is made from corn that isn't sold for human consumption anyways.

Corn is milled and mashed, and made into ethanol, CO2 (sold to beverage companies) and the leftover mashed up corn becomes animal food.

I spoke on the phone yesterday to a distillery less than an hour from my house. (United Ethanol LLC)

Ethanol can be made from many sources, including compost and other things people don't eat anyways.

An E85 conversion would let me run a vehicle on commercially available fuel right now, with the idea that ethanol production will only get better in the future.

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