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Why is ethanol a better fuel?

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By the way, most I would think, now, agree to the following. That the regulations of ethanol consumption a bad idea. The RFS, blender credit, production credit, tax credit all of it, mostly worked to impugn ethanol industry and empower petrol to sabotage the benefits and image of ethanol. It is a good environment for petrol to do its' dirty deeds and put the fuel within control of petrol. Never a good place for competitor to be in. Now, we know the political system is a sausage machine that works to accomplish things in most inefficient and compromise condition. That Petrol is a powerful force in either political aisle and carry max influence upon candidates that want wealth, success, or re-election. This is the real world that has been created not by citizens, but by the needs of the political class.  So, I congratulate the effort and success of this change of fuel supply as it did result in a whirlwind production of ethanol to the E10 threshold. I believe ethanol does petrol a favor up to E10. But, they will fight ferociously the mid grade market as that will doom their propaganda efforts and ability to formulate blend stocks to minimize ethanol advantage. E85 is handicapped per the auto industry inability to maximize the benefits.

 

A better path of ethanol would have been to eliminate as many roadblocks to the production and distribution of the fuel as possible. To pull off regulation shackles off and learn per the Brazilian experience. Put in place blend pumps without delay, keep octane rating even with ethanol blends and labeling of mid and high grade fuel. Require a strict gasoline formulation standard that works well with ethanol and eliminate boutique seasonal blends per RVP. One must understand the benefit of low vapor pressure lies with infrastructure. Meaning keeping ethanol separate is half the battle as the infrastructure does have the vapor emissions. As you know ethanol has extremely low vapor emissions. Nothing to worry about. Keep the fuel separate as long as possible a good idea and mix at the refueling pump. Even petrol emissions would vanish if they were regulated to RBOB fuel only. This is good fuel if ethanol is added. RBOB is cheaper too and easier for refiners to produce. If the regulators absolutely need RVP control they could easily require higher blends of ethanol during summer heat season and eliminate the costly changeover of refinery equipment. This is a piece of cake for blender pumps. But, I do believe the auto industry could come up with zero emissions of vapor including the refueling process as well.

 

Also, per Brazil, the ethanol pipeline construction should have been promoted. Maybe per tax incentive? Same with incentives per transportation industry to produce efficient high octane vehicles. Better to ease up on strict controls and inspect real world improvements to air quality. Engineering is more capable of efficient trade offs to accomplish goals as compared to legacy evolution of obsolete government control. I think the prohibition leftovers of denatured ethanol fuel is past due to be updated. Maybe a extremely low alcohol denaturant such as 01% designed not to kill those that attempt to digest the liquid, but to give them an bad experience of the effort. I supposed this would be required per law that could be strengthened to prosecute the sale and use? I'm not so sure this is even a consideration currently or much of a problem since a 40oz Mickey or Malt beer cost maybe 1 dollar a good for a drunk at no health or legal risk. If we enter again into a Great Depression, well, maybe that would be a advantage ethanol? I think the regulation just creates gov't work and employees of little value. It costs the ethanol industry and not required for public good. Besides, upon a time of natural disaster I do think the fuel could come to the rescue for cooking, heating, and lighting needs of the public. You don't want gasoline content upon this use.

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If anyone is interested, a few things happening in the regulatory world...

 

ASTM has been attempting to set a minimum octane standard for quite some time now. The proposed minimum that would be required at the dispenser is 87. The oil companies have successfully introduced suboctane as low as 83 today, and I know of E85 being created with that 83 octane and denatured ethanol. 

 

The conversations with the autos continues on the future High Octane Fuel (HOF, formally known as Renewable Super Premium, or RSP). They believe that they will need a minimum of 98 RON and part of the reason for the ASTM movement.

 

RFA and the automakers have both approached EPA recently to eliminate the one pound waiver for E10. This would eliminate the discrepancy between E10 and E15, and solve some issues the automakers seem to be having with catalysts failing with higher RVP fuel. You can read more here: http://www.ethanolrfa.org/2015/12/rfa-to-epa-new-gasoline-volatility-regulations-needed-to-level-playing-field-encourage-investment-in-higher-ethanol-blends/Autos letter went in the day before to EPA.

 

Finally, EPA has a draft proposal that will be released as formal in the next couple of months for blends of ethanol from E16 - E50. There seems to be a strong chance that they will classify these blends as an alternative fuel vs gasoline, which will eliminate the need to register these fuels, do health effects testing, etc. It will also remove the concern of RVP.

 

More to come.

 

Robert 

RFA

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Also, per Brazil, the ethanol pipeline construction should have been promoted. Maybe per tax incentive? Same with incentives per transportation industry to produce efficient high octane vehicles. Better to ease up on strict controls and inspect real world improvements to air quality. Engineering is more capable of efficient trade offs to accomplish goals as compared to legacy evolution of obsolete government control. I think the prohibition leftovers of denatured ethanol fuel is past due to be updated. Maybe a extremely low alcohol denaturant such as 01% designed not to kill those that attempt to digest the liquid, but to give them an bad experience of the effort. I supposed this would be required per law that could be strengthened to prosecute the sale and use? I'm not so sure this is even a consideration currently or much of a problem since a 40oz Mickey or Malt beer cost maybe 1 dollar a good for a drunk at no health or legal risk. If we enter again into a Great Depression, well, maybe that would be a advantage ethanol? I think the regulation just creates gov't work and employees of little value. It costs the ethanol industry and not required for public good. Besides, upon a time of natural disaster I do think the fuel could come to the rescue for cooking, heating, and lighting needs of the public. You don't want gasoline content upon this use.

 

I had a chemistry teacher in high school that would make her own ethanol for class use, and let us know what it was and that had made it undrinkable, yet wouldn't kill us if one of us were to try it.  What she did was mix it with Phenolphthalein, which has been the active ingredient in many laxatives for a long time. Won't kill who ever drinks it, although they may wish that wasn't the case with that as the denaturant :lol:

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BJoe- That's a funny story and the teacher proactive to make sure no problems with students.

 

Robert- Great news of the possibility of new fuel classification of mid level ethanol blends. It makes common sense since these fuels not that popular yet. In other words lift the burden off of promising environmental solutions as they are yet to establish benefits or problems. Good to inspect real world emissions and report back to media on both benefits and things to watch or improve. If this is the case, why bother with RBOB II formulation? It would be silly for parties to get in a huff and puff of E15 to E16 change? Could regulators and the rest be this nonsensical?   

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Laser ignition + sensor technology = better ethanol engines

 

Did you read the Archates Argone National Lab funding. Argone is experimenting with improvements in fuel injection to progress the opposed piston engine for gasoline compression ignition. They expect a 50% improvement in fuel consumption measure. The big selling point is efficiency gain upon compression ignition. The spark plug is really a pathetic single point ignition technology. Also, the two cycle opposed piston has natural efficiency gain yet to be readily exploited by the transportation sector. The key technology, apparently, to make it work is stratified fuel layers within combustion chamber. Like the old Honda engines of past they utilize a lean fuel mix, below a top rich fuel mix layer that will ignite the rest. The technology utilizes precise timing of multiple fuel squirts. This allows the engine to operate with much reduced BMEP pressure. Diesel operate typically in the 14-18 bar pressure range. A gasoline compression ignition engine would normally operate 20-25 bar. That would require a expensive heavy engine. The lean burn technology clips the combustion chamber pressure to 14-15 bar. This will keep the low cost, light weight engine, typical of light duty vehicles. 

 

As we know ethanol is a poor choice fuel for compression ignition. But, the laser ignition is getting much attention per the invention of low cost solid state device. This technology very promising. It looks to level the efficiency gain of compression ignition, but has much more accurate control. This may be the technology to empower lean burn. Know that we're just entering into the 4th industrial revolution of utilizing low cost sensors. With the incredible computer control and sensor technology, the ethanol engine need not be a heavy, stout, engine to gain efficiency. Up to present the danger of ethanol per increasing efficiency was the extreme BMEP pressure and incredible crank breaking torque. This is great stuff, but comes with penalty of more expensive engine albeit at half the size. The future technology is capable of governing the physics per lean burn. So, a light duty four cylinder gas engine may be converted to high efficient ethanol. Also, the laser ignition most powerful for cold starts and decreasing cold start emissions. Both sorely needed within ethanol engine. E100 engine may develop with minimal need of expensive emission hardware?

 

http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/laser-ignition-demonstrated-in-real.html#more

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Clean diesel = advantage ethanol

 

Have you noticed a flurry of diesel R&D to clean up PM emissions? The pollution control equipment and fuel mix. Transportation manufacturers fear Europe may turn their shoulder from diesel as well as metro areas. The most problematic of emissions being  direct injection of diesel. Following that DI of gasoline. The problem being, turbo charged gasoline DI and diesel engines have been placed as the solution to meet CAFE standards of mileage. The recent health finding of horrible PM emissions from DI engines running fossil fuel very concerning. They are bi mixing gasoline with diesel to reduce PMs within the diesel engine. They accomplish that with port injection of gas or use of the bifuel injector invented for E85 and gasoline.

 

The problem is the fuel. Enter the ethanol solution as ethanol has very low PMs and very pure chemical composition to control combustion process. The fuel produces max torque, much needed within heavy truck industry. The fuel naturally produces the least NOx of which appears to be the primary concern after PMs. As we know ethanol is a lousy diesel fuel and within the bifuel engine this is a good trait. It is relatively easy to adapt a diesel to ethanol. There was a kit manufacturer that had such a product and may still have? However, the optimized bifuel diesel should be several notches above this. Such as spray pattern and engine control to maximize advantage and minimize diesel fuel use. Think of the diesel as ignition fluid and stored within 5 gallon tank. Ethanol port injected or within the bifuel injector for DI advantage.

 

Now, the problem, EPA still utilizes CAFE standards of bygone era. It makes no sense per environmental needs. Carbon efficiency measure is preferable as well as other health harming emissions per mile. My growing understanding of EPA biases leads me to believe they left the outdated measure in place to undermine ethanol solutions. First they have quite an inbreeding of fossil fuel advocates and secondly the same with wind solar via BEV advocates. In other words the agency is directing economy to their solutions. The unelected agency has power of law, not good.

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CO2 sequestration and mitigation = advantage ethanol

 

I was listening to a round table discussion of GW solutions from leading science participants. Very interesting, that there is no one solution. Not even solar or wind energy. The solutions will come from wide array of improvements all across the technological map.  While some claim carbon tax or some other expensive incentive a must to afford change, others not so sure than "change" will require huge investments from economy. 

 

From the ethanol solution standpoint, it's interesting that a small minority of scientists are quick to depict ethanol as just another carbon fuel. While the fuel mitigates carbon emission not a good solution. They represent the old propaganda of powering everything off of solar or wind and that corn is horrible feed stock per farming practices. But, the most recent info, from the participants that appeared nonjudgmental and more knowledgeable, did not go there. In fact a majority of the opinions stated that all of the above improvements were needed and not to fixate on solar or wind alone. One interesting example, planting trees and reforesting benefit is challenged per studies that claim after 40 years the forest does little for CO2 sequestration. Also, that transportation sector contributes only 20% of GW emissions, so all in all not as important. That while wind and solar very low CO2 emitters, they are rated to only mitigate damage. Meaning they do nothing to reduce current CO2 within atmosphere. 

 

Enter into the discussion the huge potential of agriculture. One must know that ag has a deserved bad reputation for GW emissions. This is quickly picked up on opponents of ethanol solution and they successfully formulated a large land use penalty upon such history.  But, science is just know upon a steep learning curve of Ag power to sequester carbon and mitigate emissions. This is indeed fertile (pun intended) ground. The biological solution to GW needs is very powerful, much more so than man made emissions tooting about the tailpipe. Scientist are just now awaking to the mass of GW improvement possible per global scale of each small improvements in agriculture.  The bonus is this change not only costs little, but makes money, and feeds the populace. In fact the land use penalty is actually 180 degrees out of kilter. The magnitude of scale is potent and the by product of feed stock for ethanol fuel magnifies Ags ability within the GW solution's spectrum. Understand Ag is climbing out from a deep emission hole and climbing up a large mountain of solution. The net value to environment is staggering as compared to other solutions. But, it appears these other solutions will be utilized as well within the Ag. The Ag solution is just a subset of the biological. For example solar or wind producing fertilizer, biomass gasification producing power, hydrogen, and soil amendments that sequester carbon for centuries i.e. charcoal. The GMO engineering of plants that actively sequester carbon in soil for farm and forest plantings. The active management of forest aka farming and better forestry, to maximize environmental benefit.     

 

I read a petrol article report of Saudis evaluation of future market. Their was a vague statement that once competitive and better energy technology becomes reality, history indicates a rapid changeover. There was no explanation of this statement. BEV proponents will probably claim the lithium battery with wind power the biggest threat. I haven't read any credible info to make that judgement call, but ethanol et all alternative fuel surely appears ready to make inroads. Did you read that micro hybrids hybrids powered by E20 fuel will propel CAFE standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025? Yes, the class of vehicle does utilize a small 48v lithium battery, but does so upon maximum cost vs benefit. This class of vehicle is expected to be widely accepted per superior value and convenience and thus make the biggest improvement to environment. Also, we need to take note that if this does progress, it will be the first class of vehicle optimized for mid level ethanol blends. The public will get a true evaluation of benefit of such fuel. Expect the petrol industry to declare war. 

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R-factor = advantage ethanol

 

How many aware of this EPA factor to award CAFE credits to automotive? This formulation a inheritance of the 80's. It's a complicated formula, but as I understand it's a volume metric benchmark per fuel Btu content and offset of petrol aromatics within the fuel. It's hasn't been updated per the ethanol's ability to increase engine efficiency. Most within automotive industry claim the accurate factor should be close to one and if updated this would provide a big incentive for manufacturers to build mild level ethanol optimized vehicles.  

 

It's hard to get good inside info from this industry. Keep in mind the risks and rewards are great and they participants don't like change. They like a subtle collusion to stick up for each other's wealth and control ability for it. Government agency in the mix, as well. They have experts on each side that could embarrass each other or earn a lawsuit. So, this stuff is closed door, stiff lip service to keep average consumer scratching heads as why so much nonsense within the big players. They don't appreciate competition, especially if it makes them look less capable, less efficient, or they lose income stream. You notice the convenient fog of complexity works best for the big players. This just the juice to keep competition away. If ever the voting public wanted to understand the truth and invigorate the best of our economy, we would demand that regulations be simplified and understandable per 8th grade skill set. Just the exercise in doing so will foment better understanding of the law's intent and keep the public informed of the big picture and most important elements. Were spending way to much of our time and GNP on regulation compliance. Complicated does not equate to better or more accurate. Pareto analysis. If all this complication is deemed required per our litigious modern society. Start their to end the nonsense.    

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Coming from the same profession I am keenly aware of the myriad complexities that engineers enjoy when attempting to solve a problems with unlimited time and resources. It's a little like political bureaucracy wherein their is no penalty to pay for inventing impressive structure. Most managers (and politicians) are threatened by the complexity and at the same it gives them a sense of security that the problem is well address. The EPA apparently has long sailed this ship. The methods and procedures developed for vehicle emissions per government control is a study on bureaucracy creep/bloat. Looking at the net result, you know the original mission, one could safely guess that it could be progressed with minimal oversight. The manufacturers are well equipped to manage the change if legislature had in place performance benchmarks with incentives and penalties. Sure, do the real world testing to keep the industry honest, but don't get out the ticket pad if someone misses the target. Big deal, it will just cost them loss of incentive or burden cost of the extra pollution. Also, legislature should be concerned of maximum competition within the market. They shouldn't attempt to allow petrol to swallow up ethanol or control the fuel. Government agency can promulgate standards within the sector, this would be good to get everyone paddling the same direction. The best agency to date I've witnessed is the quasi government such as electrical code development per senior elected staff members (within the industry) and equal representation from interested parties.

 

This R-factor (fudge factor) utilized since the '80s to smear ethanol per emission rewards and mileage ratings a lame tactic. It does make the job of rating CAFE standards easier for EPA. It was scientifically established per performance of auto technology back some 35 years on providing a 40% penalty to the ethanol portion of fuel per certification. I'm sure petrol loved the rating system. Automotive usually doesn't really care as they have long understood they are in the business of jumping through government hoops. Problem is now that up coming tier III regs are maximizing the Mpg need of autos, mid level ethanol must be introduced as a fuel blend. Automotive is kicking that the only cheap and readily available source of the most important fuel character, octane, is ethanol and that it is wasted on E10 mix. It seems all parties need to incentivize petrol to make the fuel change. They must be happy or they have ability to make trouble makers suffer. So, since they don't like ethanol, Mercedes Benz has a plan offering to change the fuel mix. To pull more ethanol into high octane tier III fuel supply. Rob peter to pay Paul scenario. This will keep petrol happy.        

 

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/05/f15/b13_woebkenberg_2-b.pdf

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When you evaluate petrol and their antics to dis ethanol, you realize they have a constructed a narrative the "blend wall". My observations this wall represents their wall of advantage. Meaning ethanol up to this percentage is a net asset to petrol. Utilized to boost inferior RBOB octane has helped petrol per cost. They have in place a mix of distillation, crude oil,  and distribution system that maximizes their return more so with E10 additive. This additive, also, a convenient whipping boy to prove how petrol is savaged by regulations and offers many an opportunity to blame the additive for just about anything bad, thus offering politicians a convenient excuse to voting public and accept generous donations. Mid level blends screws everything up for them. This fuel will boost octane per ethanol additive and prove to public ethanol true benefits to improve plain gasoline. It's not the suffering oil companies forced to sell inferior fuel per lack of open market justice, just the opposite. It's a protected market to afford more fair competition. Legislatures should work to make ethanol a competitor and not a subset of petrol control. The below Mercedes Benz mid level ethanol presentation alludes to the two tank solution. This is the solution, with a blender sitting in the middle. E10 in one tank and either E100 or strict control of mix E85 in the other tank. The E85 or E100 choice not important as that depends on local supplies.

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