alcohol for fuel?

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appollonious
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alcohol for fuel?

Post by appollonious » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:51 pm

I caught a talk radio program about alcohol as a fuel alternative. The guest was david blume http://www.permaculture.com/ basically he was saying all motor vehicles can run on 80% alcohol with minor adjustments. He even has generators that run on 50% along with alcohol cook stoves and heaters. Concidering alcohol can be made from any plant that produces starch/sugar and the by products (mash cakes) can be used for animal feed, I feel it has potential for a renewable energy source that can be produced on your farm.

Does anybody have first hand experience using alcohol as a fuel? Is this an efficient method of producing energy? Do you know of other sources for information? Is it worth while to turn your food into fuel?

Ive only skimmed the surface of my research and my time is very limited this month. Im looking for facts not opinion.

Any further info is appreciated

Thanks



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Denob
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by Denob » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:49 pm

Everything in this post is hypothetical...
That being said, I did get my hands on a recipe for producing ethanol.
It was a sugar based recipe and called for 2 kg of brown sugar and 2 kg of sweet molasses.
This was mixed with 10 liters of water and 4 packets of wine yeast.
Total cost if I were to have hypothetically done it?
Molasses & brown sugar - $10.00
Yeast - $4.00
total - $14.00
Now, if I were to have distilled the mash, I would have hypothetically produced about 2.5 liters of useable alcohol at about 80%.
This would equate to about 2 liters of 100% (you can't get there from a home setup, but let's just say you could get close)
This would make the fuel about $7.00 per liter...not economical.
HOWEVER...
This recipe was sugar based, and therefore not suited to fuel, but other, more recreational intentions.
If you were to start with vegetable matter that you grew yourself then the only cost would be seed and yeast (other than labour that is)
This would bring the costs way down and be a true renewable source of fuel.
I have heard of making your own yeast, something like they do for sourdough, but haven't seen it done.
If you were to use home grown vegetable matter using saved seeds from your own plants, and natural yeast, I would imagine that you could get the costs down to very close to nill.
The main issue I have had with this theory is converting the engines...from what I hear, it's not actually all that easy.
I checked into this to be able to convert an old lawnmower engine to alcohol, so that I could use it to turn an alternator and charge batteries.
My biggest hurtle was the conversion.
If you did get an engine to run on 80% alcohol, then you could drastically reduce your fuel costs.
There is also the time consideration though. It can take 10 days to 2 weeks to ferment, then distilling time. You would need to produce it in a batch large enough to last until the next still run.

appollonious
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by appollonious » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:18 am

Thanks for the info D. Regarding converting a gas engine to run alcohol. My understanding is that a modern fuel injected engine needs only a software upgrade to run alcohol. (An ajustment to the fuel/air mixture.) This will still allow your car to run on alcohol, gasoline or any mixture of the 2. Carbureted motors require physically altering the carb and will no long be able to run on gas. All "FLEX FUEL" vehicles are upgraded to run on any mixture of gas or alcohol.

Warning: alcohol and water mix. Alcohol and gasoline mix. Gasoline and water do NOT mix. So if your mixing gas and alcohol in the same tank. It better be 100% or else the water will be left in your tank.

This is all based off the radio program I caught and a little of my own research. (Im in a remote work camp and the internet's spotty)

Perfesser
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by Perfesser » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:54 am

The problem is that you have to distill 3 times to get to 95% and then some drying agent (zeolites?) to get pure. Then you can mix that with gas at 80%. That's a lot of energy and time but it certainly can be done. Learn now and when gas is $20 a gallon it will be worth it.
Steve Harris did a good show on it (thesurvivalpocast.com) and there is the possibility of a drying agent in the works that will net you pure ethanol with a single or double distillation. That would make it much easier.

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BelowTheRadar
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by BelowTheRadar » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:56 am

Going back to the days of carburetors the jetting had to be opened way (and I mean WAAAAY) up to run alcohol.

14.7/1 air to fuel ratio (by weight) for top grade gasoline vs. 6.4/1 air to fuel ratio for alcohol. While 'alcohol fueled dragsters' sounded really cool at the track decades ago alcohol powered commercial cars didn't make the grade because they couldn't pass a fuel pump. Fuel economy takes a huge decline when alcohol is used as the primary fuel. That said, 43.5% of your gasoline fuel economy goes a lot farther than not having fuel at all. Just for fun, record your mileage for a couple of tanks of regular gasoline and then record your mileage for a couple of tanks of 'ethanol blend' gasoline. I think you will notice a difference.

One other thing to keep in mind, if you distill 100% alcohol in a lab, very shortly after you expose the alcohol to the air we breathe you will have 97% alcohol due to the alcohol absorbing water vapor from the air. I have no idea of what happens if you were to somehow mix the alcohol with gasoline before exposing it to air.
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Perfesser
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by Perfesser » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:48 pm

These days cars are fuel injected and it's just a matter of extending the time the injectors open to get the right fuel air mix. A dual fuel engine wastes most of the advantage of ethanol though, 90 octane gasoline needs a 9:1 compression ratio whereas alcohol could use a 12 or 13:1 ratio to get all the potential.

For making mash you wouldn't buy refined sugar.
Day old donuts that go in the garbage, grocery store expired food all have lots of sugar. For plants you would grow sugar beets or just collect cattails from the ditches. I think I read that 1000 lbs of cattails will net about 45 gal of ethanol.

appollonious
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by appollonious » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:05 pm

Thanks prof. It seems Jerusalem artichokes, cattails, and sugar beets are pretty high yielding (either in starch or sugar) and potatoes are apparently pretty easy to work with too. I know there's potential here. Im just too busy with work for proper research. I have 1 day off a week and am 4 hrs from home! Just enough time to hug the wife n kid catch a nap and back to work:( Come march Ill actually have time to use my secret weapon. .. a library card! Till then, I sure appreciate all the help I can get.

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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by Perfesser » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:13 am

Go here and download this podcast. It will tell you most everything you need to know at this point.
http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/episo ... ven-harris

Danux
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by Danux » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:09 am

Sorry for the necro-post, but the topic has been on my mind lately, and it came up in my search...

What are thoughts on having a small engine, built to run on alcohol? Most of what I've encountered online is in the context of power a vehicle with alcohol, e85 to e100, but I've been thinking more in terms of swapping it in place of a traditionally-fueled engine, powering a generator with well-distilled homemade alcohol. It would seem most carbureted engines can be "jetted" to run on alcohol, but I think I've read that a much higher compression ratio (14:1?) goes a long way to using alcohol, effectively.

I seem to recall that Brazil ran a lot of E100, in the recent past. And a lot of air-cooled VWs - I think they were the last country to stop making the air-cooled Beetle. Is anyone familiar with South-American hardware to convert a VW flat-four to E100? I can't say I've run across any kits to convert a stand-alone Honda engine, or some small carbed motorbike, for instance, to alcohol. Small quantities of methanol can be purchased at the hardware store, so a guy (sorry, "person") could even use the engine from time to time, just to make sure it's ready.

Does a small engine built for alcohol seem like something worth pre-making?

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Last edited by Danux on Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

scrounger
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Re: alcohol for fuel?

Post by scrounger » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:12 pm

Friend of mine had some of this guys books some years back. It looked interesting but I was more interested in the stuff that came in 40 oz bottles.

http://www.mikebrownsolutions.com/alcohol/
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