Another dumb question

I own a 2002 Trailblazer with 80,000 miles. I now get between 15 to 20 mpg.
Here is the dumb question; Is it possible/feasible to convert my truck to
burn Ethanol and/or E85? My owners manual recommends to NOT burn Ethanol. If possible, how much mpg would I give up to do it? And if I burn Ethanol with the current setup, what damage am I risking?
Thanks, OUS
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Most vehicles not specifically set up for E85 will have problems.
First of all, the engine won't be properly calibrated to run it. You'd need an engine capable of running gas, E85, or a combination of both properly. I'm not sure how well it would actually run as you'd need a different timing curve, as well as a richer mix, etc... I'm sure there's plenty of other technical reasons why it's not feasible.
Second, the ethanol can eat through the seals in your fuel system. You'd need a completely non-corrosive fuel system, starting with the tank, and including all the fuel lines and fittings, all the way till it gets to the engine. Simply putting E85 in your tank could end up doing more harm than good.
Third, as others have mentioned in previous threads regarding E85 conversions, the EPA has yet to certify a conversion kit that will allow the use of E85 yet still meet emissions standards. Yeah, I know, E85 is supposed to burn cleaner and all...I bet it does...but the EPA has to approve it or else you'd actually be breaking some law(s).
I've looked into this. It seems it wouldn't be too awfully hard if you converted a carbureted vehicle and set everything (air/fuel mix, timing, etc...) to run E85 exclusively. But if you want to be able to switch back and forth at will, you're going to need a pretty complicated electronic setup that can automatically adjust the engine parameters to the fuel being used.
And again, doing so is probably illegal.
~jp
OUS wrote:

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Jon, on target answer.

-
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wrote:

Nicely worded answer except I do not think it is illegal. Biggest proble with conversion is that it takes a lot more fuel flow with E85 because it has lower energy contaent and fuel system has to be able to do it. ALso aLchol is no more corrosive than water and so I do question the usage on that term seal compatabilty aside. One more thing, if you live in a cold climate it could be very challanging at times to start a motor below zero running on E85 as it can require a very rich mixture to light off (but once it starts it would be oaky)
----------------- The SnoMan www.thesnoman.com
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Thanks... The legality was something I've seen mentioned in other threads. Something about messing with the factory fuel system (which may affect the emissions). I do remember that, from what I've heard, the EPA hasn't certified a conversion kit/process for the aftermarket.
I would like to be able to run E85 myself. But a conversion is a long way off I'm sure.
I think a not-so-modern EFI setup would be able to do it if you were able to get the proper code programmed into the ECM. As you stated, having a fuel system that could keep up would be crucial. I assume that the current "Flex Fuel" systems monitor emissions via the multiple O2 sensors and adjust accordingly.
I'm curious...EFI systems "pulse" gas into the intake, correct? Meaning, it's not a constant flow of gas, rather it's a series of properly timed pulses of fuel through the injectors? Is that also true for TBI? If so, provided the injectors were up to the task, increasing the duration of the pulse would lead to a richer mixture, correct?
I only ask, because I've started learning assembly language (machine code) programming. I'm still beginning, but I'd like to play with writing my own code for an ECM once I put TBI in my truck.
Ideally, I'd like a system that gathers data from several sensors (vacuum, O2, etc...) and controls both fuel/air mixture and timing. I'm pretty sure that's what the ECMs control on TBI setups. I just want a little more elaborate setup...something that includes some sort of cam-position sensor (not crank--because the cam will only turn once for all 4 cycles of all 8 cylinders). An optical position sensor, depenging on resolution, could report accuracy well beyond 360 degrees of rotation. That way I could nail down pretty precise timing and fuel/air mixture combos. If I got all that working, it wouldn't be hard to program the thing to take advantage of E85 or a mixture of E85 and regular gas.
It's not something I need or anything. Just my undying desire to "play" with stuff.
~jp
SnoMan wrote:

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Correct.
Correct. Unfortuneately, one can not always just turn the injector on for twice as long to get twice as much fuel. Injectors have a very finite duty cycle, exceed it and you'll likely experience component failure.

The only reason for a cam position sensor is to sequence the fuel injectors. sequencing fuel injectors on a TBI set-up is totally unnecessary since the injector are mounted outside the intake manifold above the throttle plate.

This level of accuracy is totally unnecessary on a TBI system. Hell, even lowly Chrysler was varying timing cylinder to cylinder 20 years ago with just 4 shutter vanes in a distributor.

Bit redundant, don't you think? E-85 -is- ethanol and regular gas. As for taking advantage of E85, get yourself a herd of cows since animal feed is likely to be the only advantage to E85, but once production of E85 increases to the point where animal feed co-products exceed the need for animal feed, those co-products will just become another waste product that will need to be disposed of at a price.

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aarcuda69062 wrote:

Yeah, I knew that much... I know you gotta get injectors capable of flowing more. It seems running them open for a shorter period of time would be much less problematic than running existing injectors wide open for longer.

The cam position sensor would be for ignition timing. I want a distributorless system. Yes...I'm fully aware that I can just buy one, but where's the fun in that?

Hmm...I'd like to know more about this setup...

Redudant...probably. I know E85 is gas AND ethanol. I meant, if you had half a tank of 89 Octane, and you topped it off with E85. Then you'd have like...E42.5, LOL. The engine should ideally be able to run any ratio of gas/ethanol.
I wouldn't want to run E85 because I could buy it...rather I'd want to run it because I could make it. But this is more about being bored and starting a neat and fun project than actually burning ethanol.
For example, the distributorless ignition system...You can buy one, but a lot of that is paying for the controller and associated hardware. I know one could be built on the cheap. How effective it would be, I don't know...but it'd sure be fun.
BTW, I would look to install this on a donor/experimental vehicle. Whatever was cheapest and most readily available. An older 4cyl car would be preferable actually. Something small that would easily fit in the car yard. I wouldn't install this on my K5, unless I got something that actually worked *very* well.
~jp
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Shorter isn't necessarily better either, there is coil rise time to consider when discussing injector on time, a fair amout of injector on time is the injector doing nothing until the coil becomes saturated. There is no easy solution, especially when you mention (further down) about running various concentrations of ethanol.

Again, not necessary. GM has been doing it for over 20 years without a cam position sensor. You ID #1 cylinder and let the software do the rest. The first generation of GM four cylinder w/DIS had a disc on the crankshaft with six equally spaced slots and one slot (total of seven) a specific distance from the one for #1 cylinder, the first generation of 60* V-6 used the EXACT same disc layout with the same number of slots with the same spacing. They could accurately time a 4 cylinder engine using the same physical cylinder identification as used in an even firing V-6. All done thru the software.

1986 or 87 Chrysler Laser Turbo or Dodge Daytona Turbo. Hell, back then, they even controlled idle speed by varying the ignition timing (less wear and tear on the IAC).

Yes, but you'll need a sensor in the fuel tank capable of 'reading' the mix.

You are in which country?

I'm sure there is a hospital nearby hat could use some volunteer help...

You do realize that there are miles of wire that you'd be winding for the ignition coils?

Now you're coping out... cast your own engine block, cast your own cylinder heads, grind your own camshaft and crankshaft.

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aarcuda69062 wrote:

All of which could be compensated for in the software.

A side effect of having the setup I want would be that I could monitor ignition timing on the dash. Do you know of such a device?

Interesting...
Is that what the current Flex Fuel vehicles have now?

Southeastern US

Probably...
Well... I wouldn't necessarily want to make EVERYTHING. I'd probably try to get several used but otherwise identical coils from a junkyard or eBay or something.

Ha! How about I start making my own frames and body panels too! I could single-handedly put K5 Blazers back in production! LOL...
Seriously though, the cam might not be unfeasible. I'll be getting a small, 4-axis CNC setup sometime in the near future. It's a very accurate little model. It's made for small work, but a cam wouldn't necessarily be too big as long as I had a way to move it left-to-right far enough to do the whole thing in one pass.
I could probably use the same mill for valve seats and stuff.
Concerning EFI/TBI and max fuel flow... I saw this a while back:
http://www.customefis.com/images/qjettb.jpg
The dude said this about it: "Below is a Q-Jet throttle body. I built this throttle body as a replacement to a Q-jet carb on a multi-port EFI kit for Oldsmobile motorhomes. The stock cast iron intake had to be used to clear the engine cover in the motorhome and an adapter couldn't be used due to clearance issues also. So I made the Q-Jet throttle body and directly mounted it on the intake. It has ball bearings and I radiused the air inlets and installed locating pins for the air cleaner. Also note the idle control motor and throttle position sensor. By adding injector pods over the bores I can make a Q-Jet replacement TBI."
A 4bbl TBI unit would probably be able to keep up with the necessary flow requirements of E85.
Hell, even if I never do what I'm talking about, I'd like to have that Q-Jet style TBI unit.
~jp
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Not necessarily. Software will only do so much when the physical components lack the necessary parameters.

One could just extract the timing as PID from the EFI computer data stream.

Old hat.

Yes. They run about $700.00 + or -

The cost of the necessary permits would make this venture not very worthwhile. Also, why would you want to put yourself and your family under the scrutiny of the BATF?

As I understand it, making the ignition components from scratch would be far easier than getting a permit to distill ethanol. Oh yeah, what are your plans for disposing of the waste products from your still? Open the door and welcome in the EPA and what ever state agencies regulate toxic waste.

Atta boy!

Very cool. 8-)

Sounds like one of those motor homes that used a Toronado drivetrain.

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I was wondering... does the ECM on a TBI setup pull timing data from the 7-pin ignition module on the HEI distributor?

Not worried about that...

Was just saying... I know there's legal issues if I were brewing enough ethanol for anyone to notice. I'll cross that bridge once I get there. Besides...certain members of my family have been known to...make "ethanol" from time to time <grin>.

Yeah... I can't wait to get that thing. Gonna hopefully prototype and produce some low quantities of guitar parts with it. But I see so many other uses as well. Engraving, gun parts, car parts... It could be *really* cool.
~jp
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Well, since you're admitting to engaging in a criminal enterprise, I'll refrain from any more posts with you.
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Hey... *I* have never made that stuff. But making small quantities for personal use (consumption) is often not illegal as long as it's not for distribution. Those laws can and do vary from place to place.
Little paranoid? I highly doubt having an internet conversation about the possibility of ME burning home-made ethanol on MY private property in a test environment (off road) will get YOU in trouble.
LOL...It's not like I plan on setting up a brewery in the back yard or anything. I only got a half acre!
~jp
aarcuda69062 wrote:

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On Mon, 05 Jun 2006 13:25:11 GMT, aarcuda69062

It is not illegal to brew ethanol for motor fuel as some have be doing it since the 80's. It is illegal to make it for "consumption". If you brew it and have a car to run on it, nobody is going to bust you on it today and besided you could "taint" the brew with a little bit gas or other additive like methanol (that is what denured alchol is) and redure it unfot for consumption. (that is what denured alchol is) ----------------- The SnoMan www.thesnoman.com
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It's legal if he applies for and receives the necessary licenses from the BATF. Since he's counting on no one noticing, it appears that he's intending on skipping that step.

I seriously doubt that it's up to you...

All well and good as long as he gets the licenses and pays the taxes.
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aarcuda69062 wrote:

Whoa dude... hold up.
I said: "I know there's legal issues if I were brewing enough ethanol for anyone to notice. I'll cross that bridge once I get there."
Translation: If I get to the point of needing ethanol or E85 and there is indeed a legal issue I will deal with it... By "dealing with it" I don't mean building a shed in the woods to make up some of the good stuff... I mean dealing with it legally. Got it?
I also said: "Besides...certain members of my family have been known to...make "ethanol" from time to time"
Translation: I have family members who have the brewing process down. If I wanted some "test" fuel, I could acquire it without making the stuff myself. And again, they brew for consumption, which is actually legal in many places IF you keep the volume down below a certain amount. If you were producing 500 gallons a month, that would probably be illegal. In some areas it can LEGALLY be produced as long as it's under a few gallons a month--and you're not selling it. It has to be for yourself. I don't believe giving it away is a crime as long as you meet the legal requirements for brewing.
This ain't the 1930's...although some towns think it is... Nobody said anything about anyone breaking any laws...except you.
Actually, I take that back... *I* told the original poster:
"as others have mentioned in previous threads regarding E85 conversions, the EPA has yet to certify a conversion kit that will allow the use of E85 yet still meet emissions standards. Yeah, I know, E85 is supposed to burn cleaner and all...I bet it does...but the EPA has to approve it or else you'd actually be breaking some law(s)."
...and I followed that up with: "And again, doing so is probably illegal."
So obviously I am aware of legal issues and advised the OP to proceed with caution.
Are we clear now?

"The Revenue Man wanted GrandDaddy bad.... He headed up the holler with everything he had. Is' before my time, but I been told, He never come back from Copperhead Road..."
Gotta watch out for those damn revenue men... They're everywhere!! Lurking...scouting out people's backyards for signs of moonshine stills.
I think they use black helicopters now ;-) Although it'd be a whole lot cooler if they looked like that Sheriff from "O Brother Where Art Thou".

Licenses and taxes aren't applicable everywhere. As stated earlier, brewing moonshine isn't necessarily illegal if done in controlled quantities and if it's not resold. Local laws will vary, and in some places (even today) alcohol is still completely prohibited (Dekalb Country, Alabama, for instance, is completely dry). But what you're saying isn't concrete across the board.
Besides...we're talking about FUEL, not liquor. And when burning fuel OFF ROAD on PRIVATE PROPERTY they're not going to screw with you. You know, it's illegal to rip out the modern EFI engine from a new Corvette and replace it with a carbed 454 with racing headers, IF AND ONLY IF you plan on driving it on the street.
Off road, is perfectly legal. That's why so many aftermarket products specifically state "FOR OFF ROAD USE ONLY" on the package.
Chill out...
~jp
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Jon I've debated playing around with an ECM myself as I know assembly language. Let me know how this goes... I've been meaning to get around to it but never have. Also if you have any assembly lang questions I may be able to help out
Jon R. Pickens wrote:

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I may have some questions when the time comes...thanks. I'm just getting started. My books revolve around x86 assembly, but I know that many of the concepts used will apply across many different platforms.
I did see a class online at a local university for microcontroller programming. It was a different platform, but honestly I'd rather work with microcontrollers than PCs anyway. My company does tuition reimbursment, so I'm thinking of signing up.
It may be a while before I play with this. I need the ECM first, and then the associated sensors to connect to it, as well as a test engine/vehicle.
It would also be a great help if I could get some info on how the ECM in '87 and later pickups works (which microcontroller is used for instance) that'd be a great help. Although nothing would be stopping me from using a completely different platform (8051 for example) if it achieved the same goal.
Thanks,
~jp
89GMC wrote:

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EPA considers modification of the vehicle to burn E85 to be emissions tampering and it is illegal. They also will NOT certify a kit for the conversion. They will only certify a complete vehicle.
Can a vehicle be converted to E-85?
While conversion kits have been offered in the past for vehicles to convert to the use of alternative fuels such as natural gas and propane, today nearly all alternative fuel vehicles are produced by the original equipment manufacturer (the auto maker) to ensure they meet exhaust emission standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the present time there are no conversion kits or aftermarket parts that have been certified by the EPA as meeting exhaust emission standards. In fact, converting a vehicle that was designed to operate on unleaded gasoline only to operate on another form of fuel is a violation of the federal law and the offender may be subject to significant penalties.
http://www.e85fuel.com/e85101/faqs/conversion.php
All vehicle conversions must be certified according to Mobile Source Enforcement Memorandum 1A (Memo 1A), the Addendum to Memo 1A, and the Revision to the Addendum to Memo 1A, which were issued by EPA. There are three options specified under the Addendum to Memo 1A through which a converted vehicle may be certified. Since Option 3 of the Addendum to Memo 1A expired on August 29, 2002, only companies who obtain either a EPA Certificate of Conformity according to Option 1 or a retrofit system certification from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) according to Option 2 of the Addendum to Memo 1A may perform alternative fuel vehicle conversions.
EPA now certifies converted vehicles, rather than conversion systems or "kits." Typically, EPA refers to a fuels converter (the certificate holder), as a "small volume manufacturer." An individual or entity that wishes to have a vehicle converted to operate on an alternative fuel must do so through a company or organization associated with a certificate holder. Examples of types of companies or organizations that hold Certificates of Conformity issued by EPA include the designer of the conversion equipment, the producer or manufacturer of the equipment, and the person or entity that plans to perform installations. It is the responsibility of the certificate holder to ensure that the equipment is properly installed and that the system is safe, durable, and results in the vehicle meeting the emission standards of the original model year of the vehicle. Certificates of Conformity for "aftermarket" conversions (conversions on vehicles that are owned by an individual, company, or organization rather than the OEM) are signed by EPA and certify that the appropriate sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Parts 85 through 88) have been met. Certificates indicate the following:
The original test group of vehicles as determined and provided by the OEM. Engine families (since the 2001 model year, light-duty vehicle engine families are known as "test groups") are a subset of vehicles that the OEM certifies and have certain common operating characteristics in terms of emissions control systems. There are many different test groups; for example, the Ford F-150 could have 10 or more test groups, depending on the engine size, gross vehicle weight, and drive train of the vehicle. The evaporative emissions family. The state(s) in which the test group is certified (e.g. California vs. 50 state sales areas). The "car line." For example, "F-150, 2 wheel drive, extended cab, 5.4 Liter engine." The model year of the vehicles included in the test group. The emissions standards that are met. An aftermarket conversion may only be performed on a vehicle if a Certificate of Conformity or a CARB certification has been issued for that vehicle's particular model year and exhaust and evaporative emissions test groups.
For aftermarket AFV conversions, potential certificate holders must complete an application and submit emissions test data to EPA. Each year, certificate holders must file a new application to renew their certificates for a test group of a specific model year, but they do not need to submit new test data in order to renew. For example, for the conversion of a model year 2003 vehicle, EPA can issue a 2004 model year certificate (enabling the certificate holder to convert that model year 2003 vehicle test group through the end of 2004 calendar year) or a 2005 model year certificate (enabling the certificate holder to convert that model year 2003 vehicle through the end of 2005 calendar year). The certificate holder could later apply for a 2006 model year certificate, once EPA begins issuing those certificates (enabling the certificate holder to convert that model year 2003 vehicle test group through end of 2006 calendar year). The certificates are valid through December 31 of each certification year.
--
Steve W.



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