10% ethanol

Submitted: Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 08:14
ThreadID: 6440 Views:2237 Replies:7 FollowUps:6
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growing up on the farm 50 odd years ago our cars etc. were fuelled from mainly 44gal. drums. Every few fills dad would pour some metho. into the tank, he claimed this broke down any water which through condensation etc. was often in the 44's. Thinking about this other day realised "metho" is ethanol, and we are going to get (already have?) 10% in our petrol.
I thought I might put some petrol in a jar and add a spoon of water. As expected the water settled to the bottom. So I then added a couple of spoons of metho. Hey presto the water dissapeared but the result was a quite cloudy looking cocktail.
My question is, am I way off beam, or are we being sold a pup. ie. will we end up with something like 90% petrol, 9% ethanol, 1% water.( Assuming the water is put into the ethanol before adding to the petrol.) and even greater profits to the Co's.
Perhaps an Industrial Chemist could comment
Cheers haze
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Reply By: phil - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 08:50

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 08:50
The Ethanol which is added is anhydrous. However you are correct in that it can absorb moisture and keep it in solution, up to a point.

The other issue about Ethanol in fuel is that it has a lower calorific value than hydrocarbons. This means that you can expect an increase in fuel consumption of about 2% when using a 10% Ethanol blend. On the other hand the extra Oxygen in Ethanol helps reduce exhaust emissions of some types. There is more to making a satisfactory Ethanol/petrol blend than just adding Ethanol. The additives and hydrocarbon blend of the base petrol need to be optimised also

AnswerID: 27133

Reply By: joc45 - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 13:12

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 13:12
Cupla things here-
Ethanol is very hydrophillic, and when produced thru normal distillation, it still contains no less than about 7% water; ie, the max purity obtainable is about 93% - trickier means are used to remove the last of the water to make pure alcohol. I guess this means that it would make your fuel also an attractant to water?

I recall an article a few years ago on Brazil's "success story" of using ethanol, produced from cane sugar, in cars. Only thing was that to make the ethanol cheap enough, they had to employ a sub-strata of extremely low-paid workers to make the whole business viable. In addition, valuable food-producing land, plus deforestation for more land was being taken up just to run cars.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen (Broken Hill) - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 15:06

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 15:06
Not detracting at all from any of the points made in the previous replies, I'm pretty sure that "metho" is Methanol CH4O. Ethanol is also the alcohol found in beer, wine etc.. and is a larger molecule C2H6O. I SUSPECT that ethanol and methanol have different water dispersing properties when added to other fuels.

Stephen J.Don't die wondering !!
AnswerID: 27164

Follow Up By: haze - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 16:31

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 16:31
G'day Stephen. Just looked at 2 bottles of metho (no-- not used for human consumption!) Both labelled "Ethanol 95%"
cheers haze
FollowupID: 18653

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen (Broken Hill) - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 17:25

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 17:25
I stand corrected.

Stephen J.Don't die wondering !!
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Reply By: Mick - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 17:17

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 17:17
A lot of high performance race cars have water injection systems. Have a think about that!
Other countries have been using a methanol mixture for years, its the oil company's who are not pushing it as they will lose money.
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Follow Up By: haze - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 20:35

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 20:35
Mick, you are a thought provoker! In those days I originally refer to my passion was those noisy, oil leaking Pommy motor bikes. And even if they could go like stink we were always looking for more. So there is nothing new about water injection, in fact in the 50's a particular BSA twin could be ordered with it. I believe the main benefit was in cooling to allow a higher comp. ratio to be used. As to Methanol, well that put one in a different league. If your motor would cope, comp. ratio of 16-18:1 (thats diesel range) fuel/air ratio triple + and performance to be experienced. The other interesting thing with Methanol was its very cool burning. To get one of those old motors hot you had to virtually cut off all the cooling fins! I also recall Methanol exhaust had no smell, and burnt with a colourless flame.But we certainly got our kicks from the Castrol R oil fumes!! I must be having flashbacks.
Last thought, please tell, which other countries are using it (Methanol)
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Reply By: Slammin - Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 21:52

Friday, Aug 08, 2003 at 21:52
I thought the water injection was to increase the oxygen content and therefore the amount of bang. So wouldn't water/metho/fuel give better performance?
AnswerID: 27199

Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 01:03

Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 01:03
Not quite. It acts to cool down the charge and occupy some space therby increasing both the amount of fuel/air going in (cooler, more dense) and also the effective compression ratio (as the water has a definite volume).
FollowupID: 18700

Reply By: Hugh - Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 00:22

Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 00:22
Hi all,

I am engineer who has contributed to an extensive and ongoing assessment of the use of Ethanol blended fuels in a variety of engines and vehicles commonly found in the Australian market place. I am not at liberty to discuss our findings, however the attached links take you to the Federal Goverment's Environment Australia site, providing a good overview of the Ethanol issue, and links to a number of reports we have authored which are now in the public domain.

I hope this proves useful to those with interest. Happy reading.

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Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 01:05

Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 01:05
....and the links are???
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Follow Up By: Hugh - Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 21:54

Saturday, Aug 09, 2003 at 21:54
Sorry about forgetting to include the link - here it is


FollowupID: 18770

Reply By: Mick - Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 09:20

Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 09:20
In contrast, ethanol adds oxygen to the fuel burn making petrol and diesel burn more efficiently and cleaner, with reduced particle emissions, especially fine particle emissions, and substantially reduced carbon dioxide and harmful carbon monoxide emissions.

Generally, for each 10 per cent ethanol added to fuel particle emissions reduce by 10 per cent. If ethanol were mandated for fuel, replacing other harmful additives, it would have major health benefits for the community and savings on health budgets.

So why have the petroleum and motor vehicle companies run a media campaign against ethanol claiming it damages some engines?

Their campaign has come at the same time as the Federal government has been considering mandating ethanol in fuel. Clearly, if the government mandated say 10 per cent ethanol in fuel it would mean the oil companies would lose 10 per cent of the fuel market to ethanol producers.

Yet in the US, the same car companies are recommending ethanol for many of their vehicles. Two papers citing 22 car companies and 12 small engine producers recommending ethanol for their engines can be found at www.iowacorn.org/amro.htm and www.iowacorn.org/semr.htm.

In Brazil cars run on up to 85 per cent ethanol, and some of these cars are produced in Australia.

Car companies accept that up to 10 per cent ethanol in fuel requires no engine modifications, while over 10 per cent requires engine timing and minor component changes.

AnswerID: 27414

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