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fleebut

Why is ethanol a better fuel?

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Read a Green Car Congress post of research results from Oak Ridge National Lab. They have achieved a new metal mix for lowering cost of automotive catalytic converters and the new alloy had the much sought after ability to preform at lower temperatures. Oxidation of emissions occur under simple conditions and lower temps.  Chemist had commented "The hundreds of species of hydrocarbons pose perhaps the biggest challenge." Enter advantage ethanol as the fuel has only one simple carbon molecule. Doesn't that drastically reduce the complexity of the emission side? What if chemist worked to control emissions of an E100 ICE. Can you image the progress, control, and ability of such an engine designed for the fuel and the pollution control designed for such an engine. This engine should easily achieve magnitudes less harmful emissions. Their are some particular fuel characteristics of ethanol that would only activate upon an engine specifically designed to exploit the fuel character. This is common knowledge upon combustion engineers that already know how to produce such an engine. So, what's the holdup? Have politics of international corporations and politics of choosing BEV solution joined hands. Bedfellows to dis a low cost, easily adaptable, and low tax payer subsidy solution. Have they invented theoretical hurdles to prevent the ethanol solution. Are government agencies tilting at windmills per political compromise, thus avoiding conflict.    

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Was reading an engineering board with comments on the VW diesel EPA violations. The diesel cost for proper control of emissions in the $6,000 range. Larger trucks can support the heavy cost burden, but the competitive light vehicle light vehicle fleet can not. Auto companies claim they need the diesel to meet EPA CO2 standards for fleet average. Enter advantage ethanol, that can be utilized to propel corporate fleet averages for CO2 if given half a chance by EPA rating system that has been proven inaccurate by all independent agencies. Either convert the diesel engine to spark ignition optimized E85 fuel or utilize E85 fuel to minimize pollution of diesel in bi-fuel motor. Isn't this just the ticket to improve biofuel sales, distribution, and solve the ethanol blend wall? They can achieve a double win if acting.  Wouldn't this be a natural solution to EPA and vehicle emission problems? The optimized E85 is the best low cost alternative as the engine can be downsized to half the typical diesel and needs only the typical lower cost pollution control of gasoline engine, but offers the auto company dramatic decreases in emission rating. The engine has yet to be engineered to minimal emission and allows wide path to do such. 

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We need to emphasize the non-fuel advantage of ethanol as compared to gasoline. The fuel has wide diversity of feed stocks and production paths that make for hardy resilience when economics or war make for difficult times in citizens lives. The simplicity of elementary or basic ethanol production process enables common man to brew and distill his own fuel much like plain spirit production.  The gasoline pathway is highly dependent on technology and hyper expensive equipment and infrastructure. When this fails upon tumultuous human events, were out of luck and stranded at home. As a result the economy will quickly implode. Think of the U.S. SPR that attempts to offset some of the risk, but given the huge supply needs of country just ineffective as the supporting failure of weak infrastructure will probably fail as well. Petrol is a good product for International corps that want to eliminate small business competition and  provide products without fear of substitution, but shouldn't good governance do everything in their power to eliminate this risk to citizens? The easy to store corn kernel may be more important asset than the SPR to safeguard country and costs nothing to taxpayers. How about the fact that ethanol can be utilized within home for cooking and heating needs with minimal safeguards. In emergency this may prove to be extremely valuable. Haiti is experiencing this first hand. Citizens scrounging for cooking firewood has devastated their island forestland and polluted indoor air quality. They have discovered producing ethanol feed stock upon farmland many times more productive and creates domestic jobs let alone eliminating  indoor air quality health problems. Costly imports reduced as well.

It would be easy for terrorist to strategically knock out a section of pipeline of any fuel source supply or knock out a refinery. The results would be economically expensive, especially if the practice continued. Conversely, we have a magnitude more ethanol process plants that can deliver product by truck or per local refueling. Very tough for terrorist to knock out this production with large impact. How much is energy security worth to nation? We spend a fortune to fortify such as national defense strategy. Wouldn't this factor alone demand more flex fuel vehicles and small power generators with ability to flex to ethanol? This should be a requirement for every state to produce ethanol for citizen's safeguard. To have feed stock reserves upon national emergency. To have 100% ethanol in the supply chain for emergency heating and cooking needs. Ethanol camp stoves upon store shelves. Ethanol is extremely flexible both in production and use. The nation needs to exploit this fuel to the max for national security benefits, alone. Even common diesel engines should have back up hardware upon emergency needs of low diesel fuel reserves. Simple port or throttle body injection of ethanol to greatly reduce use of diesel fuel. The military one would think would already have an emergency adaptations supply  for such events. 

Edited by fleebut

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Evaluate ethanol advantage per meeting more of the military needs compared to diesel fuel. This is an extension of the below post. I've heard the most dangerous occupation of soldiers within military is fuel transport. This fuel is critical to military needs and has always been the focus of maximum concern from WWII to present day. It is a point of maximum susceptibility as the tanker truck are easy to blow up and identify. They can't travel at high speed per the road hazard risk and can easily tip over. The military force is powered by this fuel and the supply distributions are complex and over great distance with poor or slow equipment and often transported within risk of the conflict. Why is ethanol a superior alternative? First military is receiving much condemnation from environmentalist that hate their huge carbon footprint. So, to improve their image and meet concerns they are currently spending a fortune to stimulate production of green diesel fuel. Ethanol is cheap and produced upon easy well defined processes. Ethanol can be produced from wide array of feed stocks and requires low cost infrastructure, well understood by mechanics and repairmen. Production equipment for ethanol can be streamlined per military need to be forward strategically positioned. Feed stocks are not explosive and can be transported by wide variety of vehicles. If captured the feed stock not valuable to enemy. Sugar probably the most useful. All diesel engines can be easily modified to the fuel and receive a boost in horsepower and cooler operation temperatures. Turbines, run well on the fuel and best guess aircraft, too. Once engines and turbines optimized for the fuel, a big improvement in weight saving, increased power,  lower emissions, and quiet operation.

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Have the transportation manufactures allowed themselves to be pushed to corner? Consider Volt's attempt to solve the BV shortcomings. I would say an unattractive solution given the price and complexity. Fiat recently described the market for alternative vehicles as totally regulation driven. So, consumers are happy with their ICE. They like these lower cost vehicles. Manufactures and suppliers of auto markets know this and attempt to minimize the environmental harm of this low cost automobile.

 

An exception may be mild hybrids. These vehicles take the sweet spot parts of BV operation and leave the bad parts behind. Auto market analyses predict the market will shoot up after 2023. For example, the Bosh 2rd generation 48v mild hybrid will power A.C. with engine off, offer low speed electric power for maneuverability upon traffic jams, parking, etc. Improved start stop technology, regenitive braking, coasting with engine off, and power electric turbo. Another promising technology for ICE is the hybrid electric turbo that will generate power.

 

Probably the most significant auto for GW concerns, not powered by the grid, but by ethanol fuel. Engine manufactures already know how to maximize the fuel potential efficiency and can do so with current technology. This class of auto would continue to offer low cost attractive solutions to the consumer and at a convenience. This may become doubly important given the news of damming diesel emissions and cheating. No taxpayer incentives required for ethanol powered vehicle as the vehicle will be less expensive than current gasoline alternative. Field testing of these E85 optimized engines prove to have better mileage than current gasoline models and do so with cheaper fuel. These engines have reduced emissions as compared to both gasoline and especially diesel. The ethanol optimized engine does need to be beefy, even more so than diesel. Longevity should improve per better engine design. Overall, the engine should weigh less and be less costly per half the size and half of the displacement. Heavy duty truck engines would benefit per the low cost fuel, high torque and elimination of expensive high pressure injection equipment as well as loosing the very expensive exhaust treatment. The fuel appears to be able to do it all. Did transportation manufactures put themselves in a corner by over reliance of diesel technology, battery power, and fuel cell? They best wake up and empower e85 optimized engine to magnify cost effective solutions, if they want to keep sales growth. I don't think the consuming public will put up with inferior costly solutions and ride the bus. Neither would the rest of the international customers.

Edited by fleebut

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Supply route safety; advantage ethanol!

 

Petrol industry advocates attempted to fear monger ethanol production upon RFS regulation back nearly a decade. Their canards claimed ethanol is transported by dangerous rail instead of safe pipeline. Whoops , they don't bring that point up anymore. Why is that? Also, they claimed ethanol is dangerous because fighting the fires is different than petrol. O.k? Just a stupid argument they present in an attempt to get some traction upon citizen concern.

Info I've read say, stats that track biofuel accidents and fire not available, not biofuel specific. Chemistry of gasoline vs ethanol claim same spill size of fire more severe for gas per the physical properties, enthalpies of combustion, and emissions of the flame. Flash point of ethanol 55 vs gasoline -45. Autoignition of ethanol 793 vs gasoline 495. So, the chemistry suggest ethanol is more difficult to catch on fire and once on fire less dangerous.

The logistics favor ethanol and may be the largest factor. Feed stock of gasoline must be transported long distance to refinery and then transport finished product back to consumer. Path of transport bumps up against environmental sensitive areas and populous zones. Super tanker transport has very large potential for disaster as well as off shore drilling. Ethanol feed stock has extremely low risk to health and environment and transported short distances usually upon rural areas. Most of the transport is within 50 mile radius of processing plant. Modern cellulosic ethanol requires short supply route to lower cost. Since ethanol plants are less costly and smaller as compared to petrol refinery, they're numerous and spread diverse upon land mass. They present lower terrorist risk, economic risk per loss of production, and lower finished product supply chain distance and ensuing risk. However, petrol does currently have a very efficient supply chain per the huge investment and long development time span. Ethanol has just started to improve the supply efficiency and have a long catch-up. The natural advantages of ethanol should make the job easier.

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Funding terrorist; advantage not to do so, ethanol

 

I was listening to Joint Chief of staff claim the ISIS funding primarily funded by oil wealth. They sell black market oil and receive support from others in the trade. Also, he claimed wrecking the infrastructure like the Gulf War is not an option per environmental harm and the lost of valuable infrastructure once Syria is liberated. Juxtaposed this concern to the most potent act to destroy terrorism influence. To remove their sources of revenue. This action more important than bombs and bullets and the point goes mostly unreported. My guess there is just to much State Department objections to utilizing trade of oil as a weapon against terrorism. It appears the world is held hostage by producers of oil energy. That the oil trade makes for odd bedfellows and odd compromises within our international relationships. No country wants to curtail this trade, especially since oil is so important to economics and our economies so fragile. Better to use expensive military hardware.

 

This compromise appears to meet qualifications of insanity. Can't we as a civilized society take a step back and do a historical review of a bad path for energy needs? Administrations come and go every 4-8 years and since they have such a short time upon reigns of nations success they need relatively quick options to build upon a future that would be complementary to themselves. This is why they spend treasury money at such a reckless rate as they know they can shove the repayment penalty to other administrations. Same with pushing easy mortgage money, hoping the economics blow up after leaving office. Same with not rocking the oil wealth industry. Administrations have no incentive to set up future CICs to better condition if doing so they would need to suffer repayment or pick up the tab to invest in brighter future. Politicians would need to stand up and lead even if offending their own constituency. 

 

To this, one can only conclude it is best to not be blackmailed by oil markets. To have other competing markets that would empower a country to hold the trade of oil to the highest standards. 

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Lean burn = Advantage Ethanol

 

I was reading Argonne National Laboratory computer simulation of fuel spray. The basic idea is to produce fine spray pattern that penetrates deep into combustion chamber, mixes well with intake air, and vaporizes. This will improve efficiency of engine, decrease emissions, and improve flame speed. Maximizing flame speed is good as it will always generate higher pressure or torque. Ethanol has very fast flame speed under such conditions. So, the question becomes, "why not vaporize fuel beforehand?". Read this link for an easy to read short explanation. http://www.mpgresearch.com/groups/induction-and-exhaust/fuel-vapor

 

Interesting the failure of such a system was the complexity of hydrocarbon fuel and the need for catalytic converter. That NOx decrease upon lean burn conditions. Know that lean burn conditions produce a very fast flame speed and double that effect with ethanol. Remember the HCCI GM engine and improved mileage. Well this all points to the benefit of ethanol fuel. The chemical exact nature of the fuel is perfect for a vapor fuel engine. Probably with no need of catalytic converter.  However, due to the desire to have maximum power during acceleration and trailer towing the engine probably would need conventional DI operation as well and cat converter. Engines typically operate within just a fraction of this max horsepower and ideal for optimum lean burn technology. Know that this technology alone has been rated to improve Mpg 30%. So, a light duty gasoline engine may operate well on E100 fuel with mileage above gasoline with vapor fuel system and heated intake air and may not need a turbo. 

 

Ultra high torque engines such as the Cummins E85 engine still require maximum stiffness and strength above diesel engine, but need only half the size and can eliminate most of the expensive air pollution equipment. 

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That's an interesting article. I did read some of the high mpg engine invented by mechanics stuff, but put in the class of hype and "run your engine on water" category. Smokey's technology appears to me to be correct. Automotive and EPA decided to utilize catalytic converter technology. Cat's have to operate on strict air to fuel balanced ratio's. The problem per the linked article clams the variety of chemical makeup of gasoline could not guarantee complete vaporization or combustion, hence the need for catalytic combustion. Also, the gasoline was reformulated that hurt the lean burn technology. Thermodynamics computations of ICE have compression ratio as basic indicator of engine efficiency. That is because of increase heat. So, smokey maxed out intake air heat to accomplish the same. More heat as compared to ambient heat. That's why I thought a exhaust heat exchanged heating intake air may replace a turbo? Turbo's do heat the air, however. Also, heating or vaporizing the fuel within an exhaust fuel boiler a big improvement for engine efficiency per the high energy gas stream that would quickly fill engine chamber and offer suburb mix of fuel air. This is the holy grail of fuel conditions that can burn at fast rate. Actually, better than a diesel as the diesel has multiple ignition paths superior to spark plug ignition, but has an inferior path to max out air to fuel mix. The engine runs rich. The lean burn hot vapor fuel like the GM HCCI appear to ignite in one big mass. Smokey's biggest problem was the fuel he used. Same for the HCCI engine. E100 has specific chemical burn control and consistency, much easier to engineer to. The technology combined with EGR dilution has tremendous ability to tune engine to power need. Low hp needs would be much more efficient. I think Smokey used the technology to develop high power as well, but that would produce NOX. Combustion temps must be kept down to prevent this. Under high HP the engine would have to switch to fresh air and DI of liquid fuel. This condition less efficient and more polluting, but usually temporary.

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