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Old 03 March 2012, 05:38   #1
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Fuel and the alternatives UK?

Asf uel prices go through the roof again, what alternatives are open to us folk in the UK/Ireland?

I have though about distilling Ethanol for fuel (ONLY FUEL) and as we Irish are good at it using potatoes :-) I was wondering could Ethanol distilled from potatoes be used as a fuel for outboards?

OK first the legal aspect. Just what way does the law stand in the UK/Ireland on distilling for FUEL?

Ethanol can be used for two stroke engines with a fully synthetic oil without a great deal of modification to the engine.

So what else is available?
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Old 03 March 2012, 09:35   #2
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Sorry but....using even a 10% ethanol blend in a modern outboard engine will completely wreck it. I know that many modern car engines need little or no modifications to run on 25% or higher but I'm afraid this is definitely not the case for outboards. In the US people have to drive tens of miles to fill up their boats because finding ethanol free fuel over there has become very difficult.
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Old 03 March 2012, 09:36   #3
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Originally Posted by gotchiguy View Post
Sorry but....using even a 10% ethanol blend in a modern outboard engine will completely wreck it. I know that many modern car engines need little or no modifications to run on 25% or higher but I'm afraid this is definitely not the case for outboards. In the US people have to drive tens of miles to fill up their boats because finding ethanol free fuel over there has become very difficult.
He's right about not using ethanol fuels. Not sure on the 10%, but you definitely won't be any good running on a high % of the stuff.
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Old 03 March 2012, 10:38   #4
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Even getting the stuff to the engine in the first place can be problematic...off the shelf plastic fuel tanks and hoses (of the sort designed for marine use) not specifically designed for ethanol contact can demonstrate accelerated degradation.
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Old 03 March 2012, 11:04   #5
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Sorry but....using even a 10% ethanol blend in a modern outboard engine will completely wreck it.
I'm not sure this is true. There's a lot of hyperbole out there about ethanol laced gasoline, and very little in the way of hard data on failures. Do a search for ethanol-caused failures in the marine industry and you'll probably be surprised at how much theoretical evidence you come up with, how much supposition exists on failures ("it broke, so it must be ethanol"), and how few can be positively attributed to ethanol. The phase separation thing that scares most people off doesn't seem to be an issue (phase separation occurs when the alcohol absorbs moisture either from water ingress or from the atmosphere; in certain circumstances, it will cause the water and alcohol to drop out of the gasoline.) I have not heard of any more phase separation occuring than I did about water contaminated fuels using straight gasoline (which implis that it's simply water contamination rather than phase separation.) There is a known issue with some 1960's fiberglass fuel tanks that are not alcohol intolerant, and helped fuel the alcohol debate (if you'll excuse the pun), but they were limited to just a few makes: Bertram, Hatteras, and one other, as I recall; due to a specific vinylester resin used in the fiberglass itself.


Brazil has been running E85 for quite a few years, with minor alterations to vehicles and boats. As stated, it's mostly a matter of ensuring that plastic and rubber components are alcohol-compatible. There is a reduction in power using ethanol, as it's a lower energy fuel compared to gasoline (at least that's what I've heard.)

That said, production of ethanol is not exactly cheap. The arguments against include diesel costs for ethanol production at 2 gallons per gallon of yield (this being corn-based ethanol in the US.) Any end user savings tend to be offset by the increase in food prices due to shortage of the base stock (i.e. corn prices went up here since so much was diverted to ethanol production.


Quote:
In the US people have to drive tens of miles to fill up their boats because finding ethanol free fuel over there has become very difficult.
Yes, but people in the US are terror-stricken and misinformed, in the same manner that you are. E10 has been quietly run in about half the gas stations in California (and probably elsewhere) for about 20 years without anybody noticing or complaining. I'm sure a good deal of this went into marine engines on trailer boats. I use it without a thought and have for the 6 years I've been running this boat (and 5 on the last one) and have yet to experience any fuel related problems.

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Old 03 March 2012, 11:16   #6
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I know of several people in the USA that run home produced ethanol in both car and boat in Evinrude 75 and 150 outboards and all they changed was the type of oil used?

They have run it since new and one is 1975 vintage.
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Old 03 March 2012, 11:32   #7
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4.2.1 Exempt producers/users

If you have produced or used less than 2,500 litres of:
any biofuel, or
any other fuel substitute or additive

within the last 12 months, and/or expect to produce or use less than 2,500 litres in the next 12 months, you are an exempt producer and do not need to register with us and account for duty. However, there are simple record keeping requirements, which are described in paragraph 4.9.1.
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Old 03 March 2012, 11:55   #8
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Wonder how much the cost of producing ethanol in low volumes compares to the cost of buying petrol?

S'pose it depends on whether you have a still?
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Old 03 March 2012, 12:23   #9
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When the petrol prices went up to 30p a gallon the 1970s our company converted all the petrol cars to Lpg ,suppose one advantage nowadays is that the valves on older cars couldn't cope without absence of the lead in the petrol and every 60 miles or so you had to switch back to petrol for a few mins.where as modern unleaded valves could cope better with gas.

Speaking on the subject I have a few liters o emergency synthetic petrol,
engine needs to be hot to run but it's not a petrol Or alcohol based.
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Old 03 March 2012, 15:35   #10
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Also Ethanol absorbs water which causes even more problems its hygroscopic so it attracts water.
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Old 03 March 2012, 17:51   #11
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If you were running a Yammie V6... then I take your point about alternative fuel... but sh*t you could run your 30hp flat out for a day for £35... cheap at half the price.
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Old 04 March 2012, 03:29   #12
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LPG is popular round here for taxis. Simple enough to convert. Wonder what the power would be like? Harder to fill up as you would not be able to take the fuel to boat in a can?
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Old 04 March 2012, 03:35   #13
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Now we are cooking until the government get their hands on it.

http://crave.cnet.co.uk/cartech/uk-r...itre-50002478/
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Old 04 March 2012, 03:38   #14
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Quote:
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If you were running a Yammie V6... then I take your point about alternative fuel... but sh*t you could run your 30hp flat out for a day for £35... cheap at half the price.
Yes agreed. But even at 35 it's a rip off. Fuel at 20p a gallon has a lot more appeal :-)
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Old 04 March 2012, 03:40   #15
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Originally Posted by Leapy
Wonder how much the cost of producing ethanol in low volumes compares to the cost of buying petrol?

S'pose it depends on whether you have a still?
A still can be built for £10 to produce ethanol
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Old 04 March 2012, 04:25   #16
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A still can be built for £10 to produce ethanol
Perhaps it can but I'm struggling with the notion of having to distill a highly volatile compound in a most probably domestic environment every time I want to take my boat out. Too much hassle and risk...boating is about boating for me not playing with a chemistry set.
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Old 04 March 2012, 04:38   #17
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A still can be built for £10 to produce ethanol
I'd be surprised if a £10 still can produce enough ethanol (relatively dry) to be of use as a fuel. A £10 still also will be relatively unsafe device and potentially a good way to kill yourself or at the very least destroy your garage!

I don't know if you can distill fuel without appropriate licenses but I assume the Irish tax man is sensitive about stills that could be used for making drinkable spirit without paying tax.

Assuming you can convert all the energy in raw potatoes into energy stored in ethanol (probably unlikely - but lets assume you could) then 1 kg of raw potatoes has about 3350 kJ or energy. This is roughly about the amount of energy in 140 mL of Ethanol. i.e. it will take at least 7 kg of tatties to make a litre of "pure" ethanol. So unless you are going to grow them yourself (and have a very big field and enough time to do that) or have access to some ridiculously cheap source of tatties I think you will not be able to do it cheaper than petrol.

Worse than that (even if you could find a farmer with half a tonne of tatties to get rid of) is that first you normally boil the tatties. That takes energy. Then you let it cool down (that wastes that energy) so the yeast can do its work, Then you heat it all back up again to boil off (and condense) the ethanol. Now if your giant vat of tatties was perfectly insulated and efficiently heated (and for simplicity assuming the heat capacity of tatties is similar to water) then for each kg of water/tatties it is going to take about 0.1 kWhr to bring it up to boiling. Assuming you have equal quantities (by mass) of water to tatties that would be 1.4 kWh just to do the first stage of bringing the tatties to the boil. I'd guess you need at least the same amount of energy to keep them boiling until cooked. Then after the yeast has done its magic (you will have about 10% ethanol) you'll need roughly the same energy again to bring it to the boil again, plus another 2.4 kWh to vaporize the ethanol. So the energy requirements will be at the very least 6.6 kWh per litre of ethanol (and even an "efficient" system is probably 2x that - and a hombuilt system probably 4x it). Domestic electricity costs something around 15p per kWh. So its going to cost £1/L in energy absolute minimum to distill your ethanol... and potentially way more.
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Old 04 March 2012, 04:43   #18
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BBC News - Signs of alcohol-making at Boston fatal explosion site
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Old 04 March 2012, 05:14   #19
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I'd be surprised if a £10 still can produce enough ethanol (relatively dry) to be of use as a fuel. A £10 still also will be relatively unsafe device and potentially a good way to kill yourself or at the very least destroy your garage!

I don't know if you can distill fuel without appropriate licenses but I assume the Irish tax man is sensitive about stills that could be used for making drinkable spirit without paying tax.

Assuming you can convert all the energy in raw potatoes into energy stored in ethanol (probably unlikely - but lets assume you could) then 1 kg of raw potatoes has about 3350 kJ or energy. This is roughly about the amount of energy in 140 mL of Ethanol. i.e. it will take at least 7 kg of tatties to make a litre of "pure" ethanol. So unless you are going to grow them yourself (and have a very big field and enough time to do that) or have access to some ridiculously cheap source of tatties I think you will not be able to do it cheaper than petrol.

Worse than that (even if you could find a farmer with half a tonne of tatties to get rid of) is that first you normally boil the tatties. That takes energy. Then you let it cool down (that wastes that energy) so the yeast can do its work, Then you heat it all back up again to boil off (and condense) the ethanol. Now if your giant vat of tatties was perfectly insulated and efficiently heated (and for simplicity assuming the heat capacity of tatties is similar to water) then for each kg of water/tatties it is going to take about 0.1 kWhr to bring it up to boiling. Assuming you have equal quantities (by mass) of water to tatties that would be 1.4 kWh just to do the first stage of bringing the tatties to the boil. I'd guess you need at least the same amount of energy to keep them boiling until cooked. Then after the yeast has done its magic (you will have about 10% ethanol) you'll need roughly the same energy again to bring it to the boil again, plus another 2.4 kWh to vaporize the ethanol. So the energy requirements will be at the very least 6.6 kWh per litre of ethanol (and even an "efficient" system is probably 2x that - and a hombuilt system probably 4x it). Domestic electricity costs something around 15p per kWh. So its going to cost £1/L in energy absolute minimum to distill your ethanol... and potentially way more.
Lovely story...in fact, one of your best researched and presented efforts and almost worthy of a PhD Only your lack of academic referencing contributes a demerit.

But, you either have way too much time or you're a practising or wannabe ethanol distiller
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Old 04 March 2012, 05:21   #20
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and almost worthy of a PhD
He already has one - bit of a lab-rat as it happens...

That said, he knows very little about real world fermentation
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