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HuskerFlex

ethanol plant idea.... cut out oil all together...

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I was wondering if there would be any way in the future if the ethanol industry could cut out all together the oil/gasoline industry from the production of ethanol...

 

My idea, if every ethanol plant had a very small "Coal to Liquids" facility located at the same site using the Fischer-Tropsch process.  Not a huge facility, just one big enough to produce the "denaturant" gasoline needed for e98, and the blending stock gasoline for e85 for local distribution.  As each plant increased their local distribution of e85 (and hence decreased their wholesale sales of e98), they would scale up their gasoline production to keep pace for blending...

 

They would be able to produce the exact quality/specification fuel that they needed, and would not be "over the barrel" with any supplier.  They would be even more immune to any spike in oil prices... making ethanol an even better fuel...  plus they could 100% guarantee that their fuel was 100% "made in the USA, with 100% American products..."

 

I know that this process is not the cheapest way to refine gasoline, but at what point would this be profitable (how expensive does a barrel of crude need to be), and could the government do anything to push for this...

 

Just a brainstorm idea I've been playing with...

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Plant manager at one of the plants I invested in says ethanol plants need to buy straight gas from oil and start blending for distribution. I said  oil would boycott us and he didn't think so---he says no matter what it is, if there's a dollar to be made people will do it. Greed works that way.

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The last F-T diesel I bought was $20/gallon in 1000 gallon quantities.  Admittedly this was a couple years ago, so the price may be down some, but it still appears to be a pretty costly process.  So it may not be economically feasible for the near future.  I would also suspect one big processing facility may be more economical than hundreds of small plants and associated coal deliveries combined with each ethanol plant.

 

Then, there are benefits to adding gasoline to ethanol (at least for the general FFV public), so the new E98 would be a different animal all together, especially an ethy/diesel mix.  I also got terrible pinging on an old 305 chevy I had when I tried to mix ~ 5% diesel in regular unleaded gas.  Seems the compression-ignition properties of the diesel were  still alive and well, even at the low blend %.  I'd be curious how an E98/diesel blend would perform in a high compression engine - especially an ethanol optimized one.  Considering F-T diesel has an even higher cetane rating (less ignition delay / easier compression ignition) compared to dyno diesel.

 

One curiosity might be to run part of the plant's feed stock through a bio-butanol process and blend that back with the ethanol.  I would think butanol should be a suitable denaturant (though maybe not?).  But that probably wouldn't get the 'blenders credit' and I worry in the future, butanol is actually the more 'attractive' fuel for the general public, but at 85-87 AKI, there goes all the high performance benefit. :(

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Corey says;

 

" I also got terrible pinging on an old 305 chevy I had when I tried to mix ~ 5% diesel in regular unleaded gas."

 

I am suprised it even would run at all. Normally this would have wetted the plugs so badly it would barely run- if at all. Transmix in the oil industry is a common issue and is spec limited to 1/2 of 1%. At approx 3/4of 1% knock becomes detectable in most gas engines.

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Well I am trying to cut oil out of it entirely, or at least as much as I possibly can. I would rather not use coal or even firewood if I can help it. If I can produce the energy right here it lowers my out of pocket for each gallon, and utilizing as much of the process for positive uses with minimal waste is paramount. I'd rather not cause a larger problem than the small one I am trying to fix.

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Use the cheapest acceptable denaturant possible to make your ethanol more attractive upon the open market. Listen to the customer or try to understand what motivates their purchasing power. IOWs do you color your fuel, make it smell good, or just provide the lowest cost fuel with acceptable quality. Fuel is a commodity, so mostly it comes down to a good price, acceptable quality, and acceptable service/location. Some will purchase premium fuel if they think the car will last longer and preform better.  Always best to promote a tad better quality. 

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Methanol is qualified denaturant, I think.

 

Methanol is also some pretty nasty stuff.  Most of the myths about ethanol come from methanol.  Methanol will corrode most things that aren't stainless steel, and generally cause problems that ethanol wont.  We don't need that mixed in with the ethanol.

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Current regulation limit methanol content in fuel ethanol.

 

You can produce synthetic crude oil at about $90/bbl oil prices at break even costs. From that synthetic crude you would get about 1/2 of it as natural gasoline, and the rest could be sold as a byproduct, such as diesel,  kerosene and naptha.

 

Do a little research on the South African synthetic oil industry -- the commercial scale production process is already well developed, although slightly more costly than natural crude at this point.

 

Larry

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