Alternative fuels question

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by DWFan, May 16, 2008.

  1. DWFan

    DWFan Handgunner Forum Contributor

    Maybe someone on here can explain something. With the supposed emphasis on alternative energy, why isn't anyone looking at methane production from sewage treatment plants and isopropyl alcohol (instead of ethanol or methanol).
    With all the landfills and the need to treat the increased sewage being pumped into our water supply, I would think simultaniously refining methane for heating to augment, not replace, natural gas would be a good thing.
    Ethanol, at present, cuts into our food supply while methanol is considered too toxic. Isopropyl alcohol is neither and it's already in most fuels as an additive to prevent water buildup. It can also still burn while in combination with water and can be separated from water with a treatment with salt. There are already countless distilleries in place world wide to produce it.
  2. jmp8927

    jmp8927 G&G Evangelist

    Because when a car gets in a wreck and the methonal tank is punctured, you get big boom and people die.

  3. neophyte

    neophyte Wonderment :) Forum Contributor


    DWFan: Sir; it has been cost prohibitive to develop any out sources.
    Molecular chemical breakdown is expensive, with volatile as with many other sources.
  4. Legba

    Legba G&G Newbie

    [FONT=ARIAL, HELVETICA] Volvo Cars’ Bi-Fuel technology for methane made its debut in 1995 in a Volvo 850, and the technology has undergone steady refinement during its ten years on the market. Since production of the latest generation of Bi-Fuel engines got under way in 2001, sales have met with considerable success and more than 12, 000 Bi-Fuel cars have been sold in Europe.[/FONT]
    [FONT=ARIAL, HELVETICA]Volvo has a leading position and the company’s largest markets for methane-powered cars are Sweden, Germany and Italy. Several of Volvo’s car models feature Bi-Fuel engines, running on methane with petrol as back up, a combination that offers benefits to consumer and environment alike. The methane Bi-Fuel cars offer better environmental properties and lower running costs without impairing the driving pleasure, comfort, safety or versatility which are such renowned hallmarks of any Volvo car.

    The five-cylinder 2.4-litre methane Bi-Fuel engine for the Volvo S80, Volvo V70 and Volvo S60 is powered by methane (natural gas or biogas). Maximum power output is 140 hp with both methane and petrol.

    Two kinds of methane. Methane is a combustible gas, which is obtained in two ways. It can be extracted from the earth’s crust in the form of natural gas, or from waste sludge and biological waste as biogas. What is more, carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to the greenhouse effect, are about 25% lower for methane than when running on petrol. Biogas forms part of the natural ecocycle and therefore makes a zero net contribution to the greenhouse effect.

    Available in most European countries. Methane gas is available in most European countries, with a total of about 2.000 public filling stations - and the number is increasing rapidly, especially in Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. A few examples:

    In Germany, three new filling stations open every week. In Italy there are no less than 400,000 methane-powered vehicles. The pace of growth in Switzerland is high, both as regards vehicles (+62 per cent) and filling stations (+80 per cent).

    Up to now, biogas has been produced on a small scale but interest in this clean fuel is growing. The Volvo Car Corporation’s home country of Sweden provides an excellent example of how biogas is produced from waste and is systematically added to the existing distribution of natural gas.

    An economical choice for the environment and the wallet. The increasing focus on the need to limit greenhouse gas emissions has led to initiatives that support the establishment of alternative fuel systems in many countries. In some regions, owners of methane-powered vehicles are offered exclusive advantages such as free city-centre parking, access to bus lanes and to parts of towns normally closed to traffic, or permission to use their cars when restrictions apply to conventional cars. In several countries, the tax system favours ownership of cars that can run on alternative fuels.

    The cost of a methane-fueled engine makes the price of a new car slightly higher, but driving on methane generally means significantly lower operating costs - and the higher purchase price is quickly recovered through lower fuel costs. Depending on the market, the cost of driving on methane is 20 – 60 percent lower than for petrol and between 20 and 40 percent lower than when running on diesel.

    Long range - without affecting load space. The original Volvo 850 estate car model had the gas tank installed in the luggage compartment. Since 2001, however, the gas tanks have been concealed under the floor. This gives the owner access to the same generous load space as in petrol- and diesel-powered models. The ability to create an individualised car is of course also the same. You can cover about 250 – 300 km on a tank of methane. The backup petrol tank gives you an additional 300 – 350 km of range. The ability to switch from methane to petrol gives the flexibility to fill up everywhere.

    Bi-Fuel engines are factory-fitted and the cars are collision-tested to meet Volvo’s strict safety requirements.

    This is what I got when I Googled "Methane as a fuel"
  5. Alternative problems

    It will take billions in dollars and possibly decades in time to build an
    infrastruction for gases such as methane and hydrogen which, as
    some other poster sort of noted, are extremely dangerous.

    Ethanol is a negative situation for all involved as it really costs more
    to make than the sales price when you take away the tax advantages
    given the industry, the loss of food for people and animals, and so on . . .

    Alternative fuels are very fascinating in the media yet very
    hard to make work in the real world.
  6. Windwalker

    Windwalker G&G Newbie

    Gasoline prices between 5 and 10 dollars per gallon are very hard to make work in the real world also.9
  7. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    Ethanol can work as an automotive fuel, but only if you can produce it cheaply. If you are in a region that raises sugarcane, it works well. It also won't corrode the valves and injectors.

    Methanol could be made from slash and waste wood from sawmills and pulp mills. The downside is that it is corrosive and will eat the injectors in about 50,000 miles, requiring a complete injector change-out; and that's not cheap.

    Both alcohols also have the disadvantage of high vaporization temperatures, which makes using them in cold climates problematic. It's one reason E85 is being pushed by the auto industry. Adding 15% gasoline to the alcohol will vaporize the fuel effectively no matter how cold it is outside.

    I like the idea of methane as an auto fuel, since it's renewable if you make it in a methane digester. Digesting the poop produced by a major city to produce methane gas would at least let the city run its buses and taxis on biogas. The closed landfills mostly have vents to vent off the methane that the decomposing trash produces. I don't think it would be terribly expensive to run lines from those vents to an accumulator and capture the gas that way. Install a methane digester on a dairy or pig farm and you'd have enough methane to make the place self-sustaining in energy, plus run all the farm vehicles; and after the methane is extracted, what's left is ready-to-spread fertilizer that doesn't stink.

    The catch is that I don't think you could produce enough methane gas to support the quantity of trucks and cars currently operating. I think we might be better off looking at the superstrong tanks NASA developed for the Apollo spacecraft and filling them with hydrogen generated by electrolysis using water, wind or geothermal power.

    The problem, as noted, is at this time no infrastructre exists in America to support flammable gas-fueled cars. The gas is not as dangerous to handle as you think; I had a huge propane tank in an RV bus conversion I did, and filling that tank was no problem. You wore insulated gloves and made sure your fittings between the fill line and the fill valve were tight, then opened the fill valve at the RV tank, then the feed valve on the fill line, then the fill valve at the propane storage tank. Gas pressure in the tank did the rest, and a flow meter told you how much propane you had taken. You watched the gauge on the RV tank and when you got to the Full mark, shut off the valve at the hose, then at the propane tank, then at the RV tank. Disconnect the fill hose, cap the RV rank, and that was it. Really, it's not much harder than filling your car with gas; it just takes a little longer and a little experience.

    To establish the infrastructure, much as I hate to say it, we simply have to give the franchise to the existing oil companies. They already have automobile filling stations in place. Installing the necessary storage tanks and fueling points would not be difficult for them. If the government got serious about making the change, once Detroit started building the cars you could have somewhere between a quarter and a third of all currently operating gas stations equipped to handle hydrogen or methane in less than 6 months.

    But it isn't going to happen here until Washington makes it happen here. At this point the auto makers have no incentive to build methane or hydrogen cars; and until they start, no one is going to make the fuel they need to run, and Big Oil won't install the requisite fueling equipment. It's a potential solution to the oil crisis, but we need an Administration and Congress that can see the need to make it happen. When will we get both those things at the same time in America?
  8. Rave

    Rave G&G Evangelist

    About the most redicullious thing going is the used of oil fired power plants!:34:
  9. DWFan

    DWFan Handgunner Forum Contributor

    I don't propose methane in vehicles, but as a fuel source in support of natural gas for heating and in power plants for generating electricity. The methane created from sewage treatment plants might not be a great amount, but it's better than wasting it. People have been complaining for decades about the large poultry and livestock farms polutting the ground waste with their waste, mostly feces; so why not kill two birds with one stone and make fuel from it instead of poisoning ourselves with it?

    Isopropyl alcohol isn't as toxic or as corrosive as methanol and less expensive to produce than ethanol. At the present standard of 89-91%, that translates to 188-192 proof, which any internal engine can be made to run on. The medical community alone wastes tons of the stuff pouring it down the drain after sterilizing instruments and surfaces. The infrastructure already exists to produce isopropyl alcohol in sufficient quantities to reduce our dependence on gasoline as a fuel. When you add de-icer to your fuel tank or in your window washer tank or adding any polyethelene glycol based anti-freeze in your radiator, you are using isopropyl alcohol.
    Part of the problem with gasoline fueled engines is that present octane levels prohibit compression ratios above approx. 10:1 so maximum power isn't extracted from ANY fuel used, where isopropyl alcohol can be used in engines up to 15:1 compression even with a 10% water solution with no problems at all. "Water" injection systems created for turbo-charged cars and for the mid-to-late 60's high compression muscle cars to enable them to run on pump gas without engine knock use isopropyl alcohol.

    Adding gasoline to ethanol, such as E-85 blends, actually reduces the octane rating when compared to straight ethanol.
  10. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    CNG is actually a great fuel for making cars go. The Honda Gen site advocated this as well.
  11. Persoanly I like the concept of water operated motors (Hydrogen) I learned about here last week.
    What is said here, now is a good way to produce energy for Industries.
    It's just a matter of saying lets do it and all this will come into being.
    But it seems our federal goverment is the cause to why none of these alternatives are comeing about.
    So we'll still end up paying out the butt for fuel refined from crude oil.
    We need a new goverment that is honest and will do right LOL But how likely is that going to happen ?
  12. Lng Rng

    Lng Rng G&G Newbie

    I think any type of alternative energy deserves a good look. I always hear people complain about the rising costs of fossil fuels, but it seems to me that when a new source of energy comes by, people are quick to think up ways as to why it won't work, and quickly write it off. I just hope something happens, and fast.
  13. damage855

    damage855 G&G Newbie

    I have a 74 VW Karrman Ghia and have seriously considering converting it to an electric car. My estimates show itwoul run me $5,000.00 to $7,000.00. about the cost of a nice hot-roded motor. One reson to convert this car is that only the engine has to be replace since the sterring,brake,ect all are manual and dont use any power from the engine makes it a little simpler. Even if we ran out of oil totaly we have enough coal to keep the lights on in the house for at least 200yrs and of course there is always nuclear. Just an option I am looking at.
  14. A-10

    A-10 G&G Enthusiast

    Unlike corn ethanol which has a 1 to 1.3 yeild (which means that for every gallon of fossil fuel you burn producing it, you yeild 1.3 gallons of ethanol), switch grass, which is a common prarie grass that grows like a weed in the west with very little rain, when converted to fuel, produces a 1 to 13 yeild.

    Why is more attention not given to this possibility?
  15. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    I heard it was a 1 to 5 yield, but that's still much better than corn. But Big Agra doesn't grow switchgrass, and no plant toi convert it into ethanol exists. Frankly, this whole corn ethanol business is simply a way for Bush to funnel federal money - OUR MONEY - to his rich cronies in the agribiz.

    I'm on your side, but you did ask.
  16. Have any of you guys heard of salt cedar? It is an invasive species that sucks 200 gallons of water a day per plant and lives on the river banks of places like the Rio Grande out here in the desert. it likes being cut, burned, and poisoned. it doesn't stop growing. Why do I mention this plant? You can produce ethanol from it inexpensively and get rid of the water sucker at the same time. I think the plant evolved just to be killed and used for ethanol. it will be a win win situation out here for us desert rats who are going to run out of water within the next 20 years.
  17. ATAM

    ATAM Guest

    I am a farmer and I do take some of my corn to an ethanol plant. There, I believe is a big miss conception out there about ethanol plants. the biggest gripe I have is that they are not the major reason that food prices a going up. A plant that uses 10,000,000 bushels of corn a year produces 666,666 bushels of feed a year. There is roughly a third of the corn that gets used up in the making of ethanol. Has anybody put a thought into the fact the energy cost are though the roof and that the processing and shipping cost in producing food are adding a significant cost to the end product. Not to mention drought the have devastated many of the major wheat producing areas of the world. Also the added burden on the supply that is caused by the growing demand in many 2nd and 3rd world countries that are emerging in to Industrialized nations.

    That all being said I personally think it is a pipe dream to think we can make enough Bio-fuels to run this country. They all serve a purpose though when used in the right situation. Ethanol in my opinion makes a great additive but a terrible fuel.

    Why don't we start drilling are own wells and build some nuclear plants.