Topic: Is Ethanol really worth it?  (Read 10006 times)

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Offline Panzergranate

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2007, 10:02:44 pm »
Ethanol can be spiced up with a good shot of Toluene!! It is Toluene that gives gasoline its oomph. 

With out Toluene, you just have lighter petrol and that won't power an engine.

Leaded Tetra Ethanol gasoline was between 20 and 24% Toluene, which is why engines put out more power on this than with unleaded. They had to drop the Toluene content (the energy compnent in gasoline) to keep the Octane level high.

And for thise who still confuse Octnae ratings with potentcy of gasoline, it isn't measuring that at all!!The Octane rating just specifies how much the fuel can be compressed before it self ignites (diesels) and causes "Pinking" and "Knock" in the engine. Tetra Ethanol Leaded gasoline allowed higher energy content in the fuel whilst keeping the Octane rating high.

Diesel fuel has a very low Octane rating, obviously, by comparison.

Unleaded originally was 8% Toluene to Inert Xylene and Petrol mix. They gradually brought it up to 12%. generaly, in the UK, unleaded gasoline has about 80% of the energy content as the leaded gasoline it replaced. The result is that vehicles have a poorer MPG rating than they originally did and poorer performance.

Racing Fuel is 86% Toluene mixed with Xylene. That's what race cars and bikes run on.

I used to drag race bikes in the Ultimate Strret Bike class, here in the UK, back in the late 1980's. Unlike other classes such as Top Fuel, etc. we could run all kinds of concoctions.n

OK, Top Fuel is Methanol mixed with Nitric Acid (Nitro Methanol)

Anything mixed with Nitric Acid goes bang very well.... Nitric Acid and Cod Liver Oil = Nitro Glycerene, Nitric Acid and Mercury = Formanite of Mercury (percusion caps on bullets, etc.)

I used to use Nitric Acid cold mixed with Toluene (Nitro Toluene). If the same mixture was mixed at boiling point then I'd have Tri-Nitro Toluene (TNT), which would have made my bike go like a bomb for sure.

So how does an ebgine run on this highly corrosive fuel??

OK we put some in a Suzuki GP100 comuter bike, which has a stock speed of 70 MPH exactly. It made 94 MPH!!

I managed to pull a 1/4 mile in 9..91 seconds on a stcok Suzuki GT550B 3 cylinder 2 stroke and fragment the clutch basket with the monster torque increase whilst doing it!! The Suzki GT550B is not a a light bike at 651 Pounds weight and carrying a 188 Pound rider.

Ethanol would work better if they spiced it up with Toluene and Nitric Acid!!

Having worked with electric propulsion motors I can state the following.

Right a 2 stroke engine is 3 times as powerful than a 4 stroke of the sam capacity. A 1 litre 2 stroke enegine has the same power output as a 3 liter 4 strioke engine.

2 strokes reburn their own exhaust gases for extra power (Klaaden Principle), 4 strokes dump unburnt fuel out of the exhaust pipe.2 Strokes are actually cleaner, N2O wise, than 4 strkes!! Ironically, 2 stroke don't need a catalytic converter as they only produce traces of N2O and not the huge farts of the gas out of the tail pipe.

Right, now an electric motor produces 5 times more power than a 2 stroke motorr of the same mass!!

It is only the lack of development of the fuel ceel that is holding back the electirc car and motrcycle. The mass of batteries and their limited range plus long charging times has what has been holding up the electric car, not oil companies, whose lubricants will still be required.

As for nuclear power.... if they plough the money into Fusion research or Sub attomic Impulse or Zero Point research, we'd have more progress.

Iceland uses Geo Thermal power and has since the 1970's.

Solar power is a bit feeble, from my experiences. The amount of power per square inch is abismal atthe moment, but is a vast improvement over what it was 15 years ago.
 
I can see solar power creeping into the home in subtle ways. For instance, occasionally used household appliances could be battery powered and charged up by a solar panel outside.

Take a Kettle, for instance. This is used maybe a few times a day. The stand it sits on could contain a battery and this could be under constant charging from a external solar panel. The same could be said of Torches (we already have those solar garden lights), Dust Busters, DIY Cordless Drills, Radios, Food Mixers, Cell Phone, etc.

A lot of occasional use low powered devices aound the home, could be charged up by solar power.

I use solar powered fans around the home and also have been using solar panels to charge up spare motorcycle batteries. A few friends have started doing the same.

In theory I could hook up tis Laptop to a 12 Volt 10 solar panel and charge up the battery on this for free, instead of paying for the power through the mains adapter.

Now if the world wakes up to this idea, well then....

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Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2007, 11:15:29 pm »
Eh, we've had a couple of close calls on nuclear power. Three mile island being one of them. The problem is that the permit process can take up to 10 years, with tens to hundreds of millions in investments before even a watt of electricity is generated.

And the problem of storing and transporting the waste also comes into question. No one wants the waste going through their town, much less being stored near their town.


Three mile Island was certainly not a Candu reactor. Canada has no problem disposing of nuclear waste. We can even burn in it our fast-breeder reactors that we do not sell internationally.

Damn greenpeace stopped shipments of bomb grade plutonium to Canada for safe disposal. That was dumb. Canada is the safest place in the world for disposal of nuclear waste and bomb grade fissile materials. Though I suspect that Greenpeace only objected to the transportation of the materials.

I am making this post using energy generated by an early Candu running since the 80's not a single incident except one where a wacked out manager spiked the juice dispenser with heavy water... (WTF?).

Point Lepreau is even going to be refurbiushed to allow it to run safely for another 25 years. It CANNOT meltdown, it is impossible. It does not produce bomb grade waste... the ony drawback is the rquirement for heavy water cooling, but that is well worth the gains.

I would be proud to have a Candu in my backyard, or even a fast breeder to dispose of messes made by other countries.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2007, 11:33:04 pm by Bonk »

Offline Dash Jones

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2007, 11:22:27 pm »
Where would I get small portable solar panels if I want to do something similar as what you are doing with the solar panels?
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Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2007, 11:25:50 pm »
And for thise who still confuse Octnae ratings with potentcy of gasoline, it isn't measuring that at all!!The Octane rating just specifies how much the fuel can be compressed before it self ignites

Nope. Octane ratings are a measure of the quality of gasoline. (the reason European gasoline can be used in small aircraft, as eu gasoline is of higher quality).

Octane (CH3CH2CH2CH2CH2CH2CH2CH3 - that's n-octane, there are iso-octanes as well) is the primary constituent of gasoline and the more of it the better. Trace toluenes and other aromatics may enhance combustion in some engines, however is guaranteed to produce more combustion byproducts (other than CO2 and H2O that are pollutants that contribute to smog and ill health - especially if you ride a bike in the city).

A little methanol (about 150 mL) from time to time is good to flush out any water that has condensed in the tank or lines and to prevent freezing of said water in very cold conditions.

I'm a chemist (well, former chemist) with 15 years experience in industry, government, university and public sector labs. I know my solvents.

Now, I'll take a look at the rest of your post. (I'm not trying to be confrontational here, I just like a good techie discussion! :))

Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2007, 11:34:38 pm »
Where would I get small portable solar panels if I want to do something similar as what you are doing with the solar panels?


I would go to Canadian Tire or Princess Auto, both have good deals on solar panels and power systems.

Offline Panzergranate

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2007, 12:14:00 am »
I bought my solar panels from a Maplins chain store. Sort of like Radio Shakc but a lot bigger. A electronics superstore that provides for home and industry.

They cost me 9.99 each.

Power output is 16 Volts @ 1/11th of an ampere. They're intended to trickle charge boat and car batteries. MIne are on the inside of the garage window, which just happens to face the midday sun square on, and held on wit suction cups (provided). The panels look just like the mirror thing that a barber holds behind you to show you the back of your head.

I used to mix my own fuel for drag racing, bying the Nitro Toluene in a special safety flask from the PJ1 oil company, if I remember right.

Anyhow, the container flask , which would not look out of place in a Bond film, had the best safety warning I've ever seen on anything in my life....

WARNING!! NITRO TOLUENE!! FATAL IF SWALLOWED!! IN EVENT OF INGESTION NOTIFY CORONER!!

We used to mix it with leaded gasoline to suit, using cups fixed to brrom handles, wear protective goggles and gloves. On and always out doors and up wind of the stuff!!

The exhaust fumes were also pretty foul from the drag bike too!! I wouldn;t say that the taste it left in the mouth was bad, but it used to last for days afterwards and nothing would take it away.

The fact remains that the energy content of unleaded fuel is 80% lower than the leaded it replaced, when one lokks at the Calorific values. Performance of classic vehicles is down and fuel consumption is up. MOst of my classic bikes are 15 to 25 MPH slower than they were.

Also unleaded increases cylinder and ring wear on older non-Nickaseal coated bores. The wear rate is 5 times higher than that of an engine run on unleaded, due to the increased acidity of the fuel. I use Tin pellets on one bike to try to drop the acid content, but if I've just filled up, they have no effect.

The lead in te feul was also to drop the acidity of the fuel. The additives they put in recently have dropped it a bit more since teh early days, but unleaded does wear out engines a hell of a lot quicker than leaded ever did.

It is a cmmon fact known to mechanocs everywhere.

The addives are another pain in the butt to mechanics as the residue leaves "fish paste" in the fuel systems.

I might try some Ethanol in one of my bikes for a comparison test. 2 strokes will happily run on fuels that 4 strokes would just refuse to start on. I've seen a 2 stroke bike run on Methalated Spirits and Mazola Oil. Also Parafin and 2 stroke oil. I ran a 2 stroke 350cc bike and sidecar on pure Diesel for a few hundred miles and it ran batter. I returned it to Petrol just out of paranoia.

Converting a 4 stroke to another fuel type requires cylinder head alterations, valve duration adjustments and a whole host of fettling. I've a friend who converts petrol bikes to run on Methanol for Grass Track Racing.  He explained some of the science to me years ago. It yakes a lot of redesign and machining of the cylinder heads for the new fuel to run well.

General Motors reckon that by 202 cars will be either powered bya Direct Injected 2 stroke engine or somethng else. The N2O emissions problems that 4 stroke engines suffer will eventually kill them off.

Here's another ironic fact that was in an industry magazine a few months ago.... If you fit a catalytic converter onto a 4 stroke engine to reduce its N2O emmissions a few percent, you trebble its CO2 emissions!!

Roll on cheap fuel cell technology!!



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Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2007, 12:28:54 am »
OK Panzer, I just read the read of your post and yes, aromatic rich fuels may be good for racing engines designed for them, however I would strongly advise against putting millions of such engines on the roads, as it would aggravate smog, acid rain and make cycling or jogging in the city near impossible without a respirator. Toluene and xylenes are present in gasoline as they co-distill in the tower at the refinery. Better fractional distillation takes more time energy and equipment, thus the higher price of higher grade gasolines.

Aside: n-octane is odourless, iso-octane has a faint minty smell (and nearly pure works great in a zippo lighter!), toluene and xylene are responsible the majority of the smell of gasoline, each with a similar but distinct odour... at one point I could even distinguish ortho, meta and para xylene by smell... solvent exposure was one reason I left chemistry... ;)

As for fuel cells, well, again - combustion is combustion is combustion... CO2 is the enemy, and fuel cells still produce it even if not through traditional combustion but by catalysed oxidation (which is equivalent to combustion for all intents and purposes), though they would burn cleaner than internal combustion engines.

I still maintain (and have for the last 20 years) that flywheels for storage and power supplied by Candu nuclear reactors is a solution that could be implemented today, with existing technology, would solve many problems and work great, yet it does not happen.

Is ethanol worth it? No.

Ethanol is a great government approved narcotic for the masses and an excellent antiseptic and multipurpose solvent, but it is not a solution to the problem of anthropogenic CO2. In fact ethanol is much worse than gasoline for anthropogenic CO2 because not only is the same amount of CO2 generated in combustion for the same amount of energy, but huge amounts of CO2 are generated in the fermentation process (perhaps even more than the CO2 produced by the combustion of the produced ethanol itself?). Ethanol, therefore is much worse for the environment than gasoline and also has the undesireable effect of raising the price of food.

P.S. Panzergranate, how did you find us here at Dynaverse.net? You fit right in! :) I enjoy reading all of your technical posts.

Offline Panzergranate

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2007, 03:17:54 pm »
The fact that 98% of the world's CO2 comes from the oceans seems to have escaped some people. Perhaps if we increased the polution there we could bring down the global CO2 emmisions.

The Sun's past energy output hike, over the past decade and a but, is what is driving climate change. The effects on the Ionisphere has been aparent to radio operators for years and is inccreasing, hence the move towards digital television and radio, to cope with the "skip"  and "lift" interference. This used to be in 11 year cycles, now it is continuous.

Another problem with the Sun's increased activity is the increased untraviolet radiation we receive here on the Earth. Noticed how we have to use higher and higher factor sun blockers over the years.

The 1% CO2 the total human race produces has no effect on the climate. It is a good "King Canute" cover scam to keep our eyes off of the ball.

Climatologists and Cosmologists have been trying to point out that CO2 isn;t the problem.

As for the smog thing with Toluene.... It took the best part of a week to loose the taste of the exhaust fumes from my drag bike when I follwed a mte riding it on a test ride on lacal roads.

Electric poweris the way forward but is held up by battery and power generating technology.

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Offline Nemesis

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2007, 08:36:39 pm »
Combustion is combustion, to produce the same amount of energy from a hydrocarbon fuel, the same amount of CO2 must be produced. I have worked out the balanced equations to prove it. (octane vs ethanol) Do a little chemistry research. The drive for ethanol fuels is an effort to protect the future of the parts industry for internal combustion engines (which just happen to wear parts out quite efficiently).

Granted, incomplete combustion of ethanol in worn engines does not produce the same combustion byproducts, but the main enemy CO2 is unaffected.

The plant which produced the ethanol removes CO2 from the atmosphere in the production then we return it in the combustion.  The net change in CO2 is zero. 
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Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2007, 10:50:34 pm »
Nemesis,

Fermentation by yeast releases CO2, as the yeast respire while consuming the grain. Growing corn may fix carbon, but fermentation releases huge amounts of it. A typical large whisky distillery here in Canada can produce over 10 tons of CO2 per day through fermentation alone. (Now scale that up to fuel production levels...) Then when you burn the ethanol there is additional CO2 released of course. Ethanol as a fuel is most certainly a net source of atmospheric CO2. It is not neutral.


Panzer,

The oceans are a carbon sink, not a source. (e.g. Great Barrier Reef) As well as the aqueous carbonic acid - carbon dioxide equilibria, yada yada yada...

I will not discuss this any further here, as it is too much a matter of religion and politics for most while science is ignored. I had decided some time ago not to care anymore anyway despite the knowledge I have. I have no kids and never will.

There is no sense fighting or worrying about something you cannot change. As I get older, more and more I realise that we are here for a good time, not a long time, and there is no sense being miserable fighting an unwinnable battle. The future of humanity is at stake, but what do I care I'll be dead in 20-30 years anyway.  :)

So... lets go find some good radio and electronics or software threads for neat discussions, I like those. I don't know much about radio but I find it fascinating. My father was into ham radio for a while and still has a lot of gear around. I know electronics and radio as far as mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance are concerned but not really so much for actual radio use, which I find most interesting to read about.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2007, 11:07:57 pm by Bonk »

Offline Panzergranate

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #30 on: September 20, 2007, 09:12:06 am »
Climatologists and Biologists will disagree with this.

The fact is that most life lives in the ocean. Life stated there and that's where the greatest diversity is. The wildlife documentaries and Biologist keep expounding this fact.

When the Sun is at an energy output high, Plankton thrive (they produce CO2), things eat them and thrive (more CO2) and so on all the way up the food chain. That's way the oceans make most of the CO2. It is a biological fact.

Some CO2 is absorbed by Crustaciians in their shells and later as Limestone. However, not that much. If CO2 was absorbed by the oceans, animate life couldn't exist in it.

Another fact is that CO2 levels were 4 times higher during the 1940's then they are now. We suffered the coldest winters of the 20th century during the 1940's!!

Having reviewed climate changes in written history (the last Global Warming event started in 900 AD, peaked at +6 Degrees Celsius between 1200 and 1400 AD and dropped to eventually cause 150 year Mini-Ice Age during the 1600 to mid 1800s. Back then it was the Sun that drove it, not us.

It does amaze me that  they are making such a fuss about Greenland returning to the state the Vikings found it in back in the 1,000's, with forests, vegetaion,  teeming with game and ready for agriculture.

Having worked with both internal combustion engines and propulsion electric motors, the future is with electric power. On the torque per weight comparison, a twin field suirrel wound electric motor produces more torque and accelerates far quicker than any internal combustion engine. All that has ever held up the electric vehicle industry is batteries and electrical storage.

A friend is building an electric motorcycle. He's replaced the crankshaft with the brushless electric motor (electric vehicles still need flywheels, clutches  and gearboxes) and is aiming to build a 60 to 70 MPH 20 mile range bike. Only the weight of the batteries limit range and performance. It will be fuel cell ready, whenever they appear cheaply on the market. It's just a fun project at the moment.

However, in the meantime, ignoring the CO2 myth, there is a need to find less smog producing fuels just for cleaner air.

Here's an interesting medical fact.... The average healthy adult human being emits the same levels of CO2 in a year as a family car left running continuously for a year.

If you take regular exercise (jogging, weights, etc.) you can double your CO2 emissions.

Because of how the human digestion system works, eating high fibre and roughage foods with cause increased exhalation of CO2. Strangley enough, Vegans and Vegetarians have higher CO2 exhalations than normal eating omnivorous humans. They are also the types that yell the loudest about reducing Carbon Footprints.

OK so a simple way of reducing your Carbon Footprint is as follows.:-

Be lazy!!

Avoid exercise!!
 
Eat junk food!!

Drink Beer!!

Play games on a Solar Powered Laptop!! ;D

At this very monent, I'm effortlessly reducing my Carbon Footprint as I type this!! :angel:

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Offline FCM_SFHQ_XC

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #31 on: September 20, 2007, 11:44:12 am »
True that most of the CO2 comes from the oceans, however Earth had a delicate balance between CO2 generation and absorption(i.e. Forests grew as CO2 increased which in turn stabilized the CO2 /Oxygen balance. Now even the slightest addition or subtraction of this balance will cause it to go out of whack. While industrial grow would have been compensated with trees growing(as there is more CO2 for them to breath), however since we've prevented the Earth from taking its natural course toward balancing the additional CO2, CO2 levels rise.
Now while I am personally still uncertain if the rise in temps is Human caused global warming or just natural warming, any chance we can get to reduce bad emissions(not just CO2, but ALL lethal and poisonous gases produced is a good thing. Ethanol is just a highly-imperfected method to attain this, and I seriously doubt Ethanol will take over full popularity before other fuels become more cost effective.
Now, while I do think Ethanol is better overall then say Gasoline/Oil(as its more renewable then Gas/Oil), I do think we should be putting more of our money into Hydrogen research as it produces pure water when burned, and also wont have the controversy of high CO2 level productions.
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Offline The Postman

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #32 on: September 20, 2007, 04:13:51 pm »
panzer, lead was put in gas as a lubricant for valves and valve seats. When the lead was removed from gas is when stellite became so popular for valves and valve seats.

Also Diesel fuel has a Cetane rating instead of octane and it is a measure of the unit energy contained in 1 unit volume.

And yes, Bonk is right, CO2 will be the byproduct of combustion of ANY carbon based fuel no matter what the source was.



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Offline Nemesis

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #33 on: September 20, 2007, 09:17:39 pm »
Nemesis,

Fermentation by yeast releases CO2, as the yeast respire while consuming the grain. Growing corn may fix carbon, but fermentation releases huge amounts of it. A typical large whisky distillery here in Canada can produce over 10 tons of CO2 per day through fermentation alone. (Now scale that up to fuel production levels...) Then when you burn the ethanol there is additional CO2 released of course. Ethanol as a fuel is most certainly a net source of atmospheric CO2. It is not neutral.

Where does the carbon and oxygen that is released as CO2 come from?  The Oxygen from the air and the carbon from the plant material.  Where did the plant get the carbon in the 1st place?  From the air, it extracted carbon from the CO2 and released the oxygen.  The fermentation merely completes the cycle and is still carbon neutral, extracting from the air then returning it.

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Offline Panzergranate

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #34 on: September 20, 2007, 09:40:16 pm »
To answer Bonk's earlier question about how I found Dynaverse....

The usual way, whilst trawling shipyard sites for suitable models to include in our LAN games here in the UK.

I just happened onto Dynaverse, felt ant home and moved in.

As a qualified engineer I'm trained to question everything, study problems carefully, and expect Sod's Law to throw in many Red Herrings when it come down to discovering the real causes of any problem....

As Enstien once stated, "The Obvious in never always appparent!!"

If the figures don't add up or make snse, then the theory regarding the causes of a problem is in question.

The secret of fixing anything is that if the problem system was working correctly, how would you sabotage it to be in the state it is in now. You then explore all of these options and one will be the poblem. Of course, one needs to understand how the system works in the first place.

Note: It does not work on women as even God hasn't quite figured out what's wrong with them. However, it was the last time he trusted Microsoft to programme a brain's operating system!! ;D

Being someone who rebulds engines and fixes his own bikes, I experienced forst hand, the damage the early unleaded did to engines.

Since then, it has improved a lot. It is stiil lacking in the performnace that leaded fule gave and MPG figures are lower on vehicles designed for leaded fuel.

The main problem currently with leaded fule, if you ask any mechanic are increased piston ring and cylinder wear on unplated bores.

"Pin Burn" on 2 stroke pistons using Brass ring locator pins. The gasoline disolves them in 10,000 miles.

Poor economy when compared to leaded.

20% drop in engine performnace and output.

The "Fish Paste" sludge that gradually clogs up carbs and fuel systems caused by all the additives now in the fuel.

Apart from that, it runs the engine adequately.

The other thing.... when unleaded first came in, all garages in the UK received Health and Sagety warnings about the increased risk of cancer from direct skin contact with the fuel. Plus the increased flamabilty of the fuel.

The 1980's unleaded was akin to AVGAS when it came to accidental fires. I have first hand experience of a mate accidentally setting first to another mate's bike simply by testing a spark plug half and hour after a few drops of unleaded had been spilt on the engine cases. I was in MY garage at the time!!

The early unleaded was terrible!!

I'm hoping that it will continue to improve, as it still has a long way to go!!

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Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #35 on: September 20, 2007, 11:40:58 pm »
I'm glad you found us Panzer. I get the feeling you're an old SFB player too.

I know I said I would not post further on this subject, however I cannot stand scientific misinformation. I gotta get over that, what other people believe is not my problem... that said, take a look at these links:

http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/CO2/CO2.html
(Note that the solubility of gases increases as the temperature decreases, so the solubility figure there would be greater for water at typical ocean temperatures.. though colligative effects are also a factor) Take a close look at the equilibra presented there as well.

Quote
If CO2 was absorbed by the oceans, animate life couldn't exist in it.

Horrifically wrong. Not to be ornery, or discredit you, I just like accuracy of information and would prefer if our readers were not misinformed by what they read here.


Also, every single carbon cycle I have ever seen since grade school shows the ocean as a carbon sink.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle
http://www.whrc.org/carbon/index.htm
(note the graph of long term data, there is no peak in the 1940s, there is a steady increase)

Quote
Another fact is that CO2 levels were 4 times higher during the 1940's then they are now.

Not a fact. Again, horrifically wrong. (again, nothing personal).

It never fails to amaze me how much misinformation and propaganda surrounds this issue and who it is coming from. Why are people unable to believe chemists (not biologists) who have studied this stuff as their life's work?

I have no agenda here, simply scientific accuracy. As I implied, I could not care less if the entire world went to hell in a handbasket tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM GMT. I just have a love of scientific knowledge and its accuracy and integrity.

I still maintain that use of ethanol as a fuel in not carbon neutral. I do not have the patience to prove it but I am sure that I can.

Does anybody here understand infra-red spectrophotometry and its implications in this subject? Does anybody here have experience with Fourier transform infra-red spectrophotometry instrument maintenance, data analysis and atmospheric interference and the techniques to get around it? How about gas phase IR spec of synthesised gases such as germane and their purity and the interference that CO2 would represent? I do. This knowledge is very relevant. I have no idea where politicians and environmentalists get off.

Want to know about chemistry? Ask a chemist. What to know about physics? Ask a physicst. (Biology? That's pretty much useless - yay! lets make up and memorise names of structures we do not understand! - a short definition of biology).

Why would you believe a politician or an environmentalist, or a businessman? Why? Why? Why? Are pure scientists like chemists and physicists so unbelievable? Perhaps people just cannot understand us?

Anthropogenic CO2 is significant, and will have an effect.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2007, 11:54:51 pm by Bonk »

Offline marstone

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #36 on: September 21, 2007, 01:31:05 am »
Have to support Bonk on this topic.  Everything I have read and studied supports him.  Ocean absorbs a huge amount of CO2.  Plankton turns CO2 into O2 just like trees (they are plants after all).  The carbon cycle gets messed up when you take carbon that has been bound and kept out of the cycle and bring it back into it.  (e.g. burning oil, coal.)
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Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #37 on: September 21, 2007, 10:48:37 am »
Thanks marstone.

Has anyone else here used the solubility of carbon dioxide in aqueous solutions to adjust pH in the synthesis of organometallic compounds? I have. (with both dry ice and exhaled carbon dioxide)

Now this one I woke up this morning thinking about:
Quote
Here's an interesting medical fact.... The average healthy adult human being emits the same levels of CO2 in a year as a family car left running continuously for a year.

I can't let that go, there is no way that is a "fact". This whole "truthiness" concept has got to go.

Lets work it out. While the lung capacity of a large and healthy human might reach as high as 6L, larger than a performance automobile engine displacement, the average tidal volume of human respiration is in the range of 0.5L. (at "idle")

So lets be conservative and assume a small and efficient car engine with a displacement of 2.0L and an idle speed of 800 RPM. (e.g. a VW Golf, an extremely fuel efficient car)

And a typical human at idle: 0.5L and 30 "RPM".

Since the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in exhaled human breath is certain to be less than that of automobile exhaust, the volume and frequency would have to be equal or greater than that of a car engine...

Do you know anyone who has a tidal lung volume of 2L at rest and a respiration frequency of 800 breaths per minute? That's 13 breaths per second... that's 76 milliseconds per breath... now that is hyperventilation! The resulting respiratory alkalosis would almost certainly be fatal, should such a person be able to remain conscious. This alone should indicate that the human body cannot produce that much carbon dioxide.

I should not need to go any further to prove that "fact" is horrifically false. But let's go the extra mile...

OK, to the nitty gritty:

Lets assume a conservative fuel consumption at idle of approximately one liter per hour. (~16 mL/min)
For the sake of this calculation lets assume gasoline is 100% n-octane.
The density of octane is: 0.7028 g/mL (STP)
The mass of one liter of octane is therefore: 702.8 g
The molecular weight of octane: 114.23 g/mol
The number of moles of n-octane in one liter: 6.15

Assuming complete combustion (which of course is not true at idle):
2 C8H18 + 25 O2 -> 18 H2O + 16 CO2
therefore burning 6 moles of octane (lets ignore the 0.15 - making this estimate even more conservative) will produce 48 moles of CO2.

The molecular weight of CO2 is (12+16+16=44g/mol)
so the mass of those 48 moles of CO2 is 2.112 Kg

So, lets make this estimate even more conservative by assuming less than 50% complete combustion at idle so the idling car engine produces roughly 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide per hour.

Now on to the human:
Exhaled breath is roughly 5% CO2 by mass.
0.5L (the average tidal volume) of air has a mass or approximately 0.636 g
0.05 * 0.636 = 0.0318g
Normal rate of breathing = 15 cycles per minute = 900 cycles per hour
which corresponds to an hourly total respiratory CO2 output of a human at rest of 28.62 g


Car at idle = 1000 g CO2 per hour (very conservative)
Human at idle = 30 g CO2 per hour

Ratio: 1000/30 = 33

So an idling car puts out approximately 33 times more CO2 than a human at rest.

Where are you getting these "facts" Panzer?

To equal the output of an automobile a human would have to breathe at 495 breaths per minute, that's 8.25 breaths per second, or 121 milliseconds per breath. I'm pretty sure that would be fatal under any conditions.

All that said, automobile exhaust is by no means the largest source of anthropogenic CO2, coal and oil fired power plants and cement production would represent a much larger portion of the carbon dioxide that we produce.

You really have to watch these medical "facts". Medicine is not a science, it is an art and will be for quite some time to come. Most medical doctors have no real science background, the majority have biology undergrads, and as discussed, biology is not a science. It irks the hell out of me how biologists and medical researchers are destroying the name of science (example). Worse, the general public does not realise that biologists and doctors are NOT scientists, so we pure scientists get lumped in with these charlatans.  >:(

I just might find the motivation to do a detailed carbon analysis of ethanol as a fuel and expect to have a similar result as this analysis.


P.S. My apologies to any doctors or biologists present, it's nothing personal, it's just how I feel.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2007, 11:15:24 am by Bonk »

Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #38 on: September 21, 2007, 11:28:50 am »
OK...   PART I - An analysis of the combustion of ethanol and octane:

From an old post of mine on slashdot (I don't care so much anymore):

Quote
Ethanol, burned to produce an equal amount of energy to a specific amount of octane is going to produce an equal amount of carbon dioxide. The whole motivation to use ethanol as fuel is completely misguided. (Or a not so clever ploy.)

Heats of combustion of Ethanol vs n-Octane from my 1989 CRC Handbook (in kilogram calories per gram molecular weight):
Ethanol: 326.68 (~327 kcal/mol ~= 1367 kJ/mol)
n-Octane: 1302.7 (~1303 kcal/mol ~= 5450 kJ/mol)

Complete combustion reactions:
Ethanol: C2H5OH + 3 O2 = 2 CO2 + 3 H2O (-1367 kJ/mol)
Octane: 2 C8H18 + 25 O2 = 18 H2O + 16 CO2 (-5450 kJ/mol)

...equalised by moles of CO2:
Ethanol: 8 C2H5OH + 24 O2 = 24 H2O + 16 CO2 (-10.9 MJ)
Octane: 2 C8H18 + 25 O2 = 18 H2O + 16 CO2 (-10.9 MJ)


So, you can see that to produce equal amounts of energy by combustion of either fuel, one must produce equal amounts of carbon dioxide.

In fact, ethanol from corn will produce more carbon dioxide overall, as the carbon dioxide produced by fermentation of corn to produce ethanol will more than offset the benefits of its relatively clean combustion.

Burning ethanol does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a convenient way for the petrochemical industry to prolong its inevitable death. A number of petro stations in Canada have been selling gasoline with up to 15% by volume ethanol for decades now (Sunoco in particular).

Granted, gasoline is of course not pure n-Octane, and contains lots of other crap. Its mostly the toluenes and related aromatics that give gasoline its smell, pure octanes have very little aroma, slightly minty if anything.

Combustion of gasoline is less likely to be complete, so burning ethanol is going to be cleaner in terms of emissions and will produce fewer toxic byproducts of combustion, but will do NOTHING WHATSOEVER to help global warming. I find it amusing how easily the public and businesses are fooled.

Now, what does make some sense to me is to produce biodiesel from rapeseed (canola) or hempseed (marijuana), in terms of ease of production and sustainability, but again, burning these fuels for energy is not going to help global warming, the same amount of CO2 will be produced.

The answer obviously is CANDU nuclear reactors and electric/flywheel vehicles, but this would destroy the profits of many powerful corporations, and so will not happen under democratic capitalism. The market indices must never decrease, regardless of the cost, even if that cost is the future of humanity. We are on a path to self destruction and violent revolution is the only way out, but I fear that will never happen.

The price of corn has nothing to do with it, feeding the poor has nothing to do with it, its all about protecting the financial interests of those in control. The future of man be damned.

Sleep well.

Coming soon... (if I find the motivation):

Part II - An analysis of carbon fixation by corn.
Part III - An analysis of carbon dioxide output of yeast in fermentation processes.

Offline Bonk

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Re: Is Ethanol really worth it?
« Reply #39 on: September 21, 2007, 11:47:59 am »
Part II(a) - An analysis of carbon fixation by corn.

OK, I already have a pretty much definitive, logically strong and non-chemical counter argument to Nemesis' point about corn fixing carbon during growth offsetting fermentation.

If the land being used to grow corn for ethanol was left alone it would support vegetation that would fix carbon at similar (or greater) rates, and would not be then fermented to produce ethanol and its subsequent combustion. Even if said land was used for normal agriculture the resultling release of carbon dioxide would be far less through human consumption of the produced food products. Ignoring the possibility that the land could be used for non-consumable agricultural products...

That said, I will still consider a detailed analysis of the carbon fixation of growing corn. (Damn carbohydrate chemistry... always a pain.)