Fill your car for $1.10 a gallon?
Turning wood chips into fuel
Menlo Park, Calif.'s ZeaChem has come up with a
way to turn wood chips into ethanol that will sell
for around $1.10 a gallon or less when it comes
out in 2010. Brewing and petrochemical technology
go into the mix. News.com Editor at Large Michael
Kanellos talks with founder Dan Verser and CEO
James Imbler about their plans for cheap fuel.
.........Heeeheee.....Hearing and Experiencing are two different things. I was in Brazil and tried the Ethanol....it's so bad in the morning you can't start your car for 15 minutes..... Once your are is warm then you are Ok.... Before any one making a big Claim, they ought to try the real thing first!
It is true that the Indy cars are all running 100% ethanol. However, the
engine is designed for ethanol only. Ethanol has super high octane rating so
your car must be able to run 100% ethanol to use it... which is practically
none on the market.
It is likely that they will make it into E85 which can be run by alot of
cars on the market today... but the price will not be $1.10.
Wood chip is abundant... there is never a shortage of wood chips.
I've never seen evidence that ethanol creates much less of a fire
hazard. It is easy to ignite.
As far as the possibility of seeing 100% ethanol. It is nto that
engines set up to burn E85 couldn't handle the fuel. It is that it
woudl be reckless to use it on the roads. The reason that E85 has 15%
gasoline is because ethanol burns with a colorless flame. You can't
see it burn. This is a major safety issue with car fires. This is why
you see drivers getting doused with a fire extinguisher even if it
looks like they aren't on fire. It's just to be safe because it is
hard to tell if they are or are not on fire. So in order to use it on
the roads it is blended.
It is easy to wind up with crappy ethanol since it blends with water.
Ethanol actually has only abotu 70% the energy of gasoline, but since
you can run it at much higher compression ratios due to its higher
octane, you can wind up with mileage better than 70% of what gasoline
would yield ifyou optimize the engine for it. If you just run E85 in a
flexfuel engine that has the lower compression ratio so that it can
still run gasoline, you aren't realizing the potential of E85.
email@example.com turned on the Etch-A-Sketch and wrote:
That's an interesting point. I just looked it up to verify and see ethanol
is - depending on the source of my information - listed as 105 octane all
the way up to 114 octane.
At those numbers, a lower compression car/truck like my Avalanche for
example, will simply never even utilize the amount of stored energy in the
well, fortunately I never even get the chance to try.
There are two - count 'em, two - ethanol stations in Southern California.
One about 100 miles away from me in San Diego and the other in the worst
place you'd ever want to go - WestSide Los Angeles.
You have some facts skewed a bit. If you can run an engine powering a car
and get better fuel efficiency with a fuel that has 70% less energy then
gasoline you are peddling the theory that there is something like a free
The compression ratio of an internal combustion engine is what it is,
because it is optimized to get the best efficiency from a particular fuel.
You do not bet better mileage from higher octane, as octane is not a measure
of energy, but rather the measure of the nature of the way the fuel burns in
If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent.
Modern engine can adjust the timing for the octane rating via knock sensors.
If the car calls for premium fuel, then you should put premium fuel for the
best fuel mileage as specified on the EPA rating of your car.
Engine designed for ethanol use only will get the best fuel mileage using
ethanol. Those that is designed for E85 and unleaded is just capable of
burining ethanol because ethanol with water will cause multiples of problems
in fuel injection system... so they used materials that is not affected by
You can do an experiment yourself. Fill car up with regular 87 and see what
your fuel mileage is. Do not let them add 'extra' fuel to tank once it shuts
off. Reset your trip meter and drive until next refill. Record that final
trip meter reading and calculate against what you filled up at that fuel
Then do the same this time with premium unleaded 93, you will see you can
drive much further. Then compare it to your cost per mile and see which one
is worth your money. You will see that premium fuel is cheaper per mileage.
Modern cars is 1994 or newer... maybe some earlier but that depends.
2000 and 2001 E320. With regular fuel, you get around 18 MPG average. With
mid-grade, you get around 20 MPG average. With premium, you get 23-24 MPG
1995 540i... This car does not run well with regular. With mid-grade, I get
about 15 MPG. With premium, I get 18 MPG average. These are for local
driving of mixed highway and city.
You will not necessarily see an increase in mileage. Indeed, if your
car is designed for low-octane fuel, you'll likely see a decrease as the
fuel won't completely burn.
Octane is a measure of ignition resistance. You need higher octane fuel
in engines with higher compression so that you don't preignite. You'd
get better mileage in these cars with lower octane fuel, but you'd find
yourself shopping for a new engine right quick.
I just wish I could burn the WVO more completely in my car 'cause it
stinks to high heaven. Alas, is it worth rebuilding the motor? Not
To burn WVO more completely, you need three things... lots of heat to thin
out the oil, mix with diesel fuel to thin it out and higher pop pressure for
Heat is a necessity and everyone knows that... from heater in extra fuel
tank to heating unit in the filter unit and the filter unit at factory
location (Only Lovecraft got good one).
Mixing with diesel does burn more completely... not only it thins it out, it
also allows for better combustion. We did this on my friend's car and the
fuel mileage is better than factory. First experiment is 8 gallons of diesel
to 16 gallons of WVO... yield is 27 MPG on 87 300SDL.
Higher pressure POP for diesel injector will yield better combustion... only
one company does this to their WVO kit... and that is Elsbet... something
Thanks for the info. Got the heat via Lovecraft. I mix with
petrodiesel every once in a while, I've found even a gallon on top of an
otherwise full tank really helps here. I've thought about the Elsbett
kit, but especially with the exchange rate today there are other things
I'd rather buy. ...still gotta fix the heat servo; it's summer AGAIN
and I have heat all the time... <sigh>
Ahh well, still excited by the fact that I'm currently getting something
like 500 miles per gallon of petroleum. ;)
Since the fuel recirculates, I figure the fuel must (slowly) heat up in
the tank as well. I've thought about totally nerding out and throwing a
temperature sensor of some sort on the fuel lines, just 'cause it'd be
interesting to see how fast it heats up once the car is running at 190F.
You are right... fuel does get hot in the fuel tank as they do recirculate.
On my friend's 87 300SDL, if he runs pure WVO, he loses... only get 20 MPG
or lower. I think the injectors are to blame as it has 260,000 miles on
Since he had 8 gallons of diesel before I solved my WVO pump problem, we
just filled it up and he was quite happy to get 25 MPG. He said he was stuck
in nasty traffic jam a couple of times... about 3 hours worth for the tank
so we loss like 1 gallon for every hour... if he had no jams, his fuel
mileage would be 28 or even 30 MPG.
As for diesel, I think we should put diesel in the WVO regardless of season,
this way we get more fuel mileage per tank... so what's $20 worth of diesel
or even $10 diesel per tank... that's just a joke to the gas attendant... we
could tell them, budget budget budget...
As for your heat servo, I remembered someone on the web posted how to fix
it... with pictures and in great details... search for it... maybe you can
fix yours yourself.
Elsbett raised their injector 10% higher than factory... our factory is set
at 1500PSI... so just adding a shim will raise it to 1650 PSI with ease and
do same size for all your other injectors.
I don't think we need elsbett's kit at all... Lovecraft kit is all we need.
Just to go a bit extra is the injector upgrade, but not necessary. However,
having a clean injector is very very very important.
My car stink with diesel and I had it... so I changed out my injectors and
it was a major improvement by factor of 3... Maybe you do need new
injectors. You can pull one out and see if the tip is crusted with carbons.
Roger. I don't think I skewed the facts at all. I think you
misunderstood me. In fact I agree with what you have written except
for one thing. I claimed that ethanol has abotu 70% the energy content
of gasoline, which I still stand by. You apparently misunderstood me
and thought that I said it had 70% less energy. You are right that if
this were the case somethign woudl be wrong with my reasoning.
I am NOT claiming that higher octane yields higher mileage or
efficiency. As you have said, compression ratios yield higher
efficiency. However, the higher octane allows engine designers to use
a higher compression ratio because higher octane means it has a lower
propensity to knock or experience early detonation caused by advanced
timing or high compression ratios. My point was that the higher octane
of ethanol would allow an engine designer to use a higher compression
ratio than could be used with gasoline.
Let's say you could safely use 9.5:1 with 91 octane gasoline with a
particular fuel map and engine timing map. With ethanol you can go
significantly higher. I don't know the numbers, but let's say you
could go to 13:1 with the same fuel map and timing map without
experiencing knock. This higher compression ratio allows for higher
efficiency. By efficiency here I mean that a higher portion of the
energy in the particular fuel is harnessed by the engine. NOT
efficiency as in better MPG, but more of the energy available in the
Now the higher compression ratio will allow a higher efficiency, but
not necessarily better mileage. Actually not just not necessarily, but
almost definitely not. If that hypothetical 13:1 compression ratio
yielded a hypothetical increase in thermodynamic efficiency that
raised the efficiency from say 32% to 36%, then that is a 12.5%
increase in efficiency. So a 12.5% increase in efficiency on top of
the fact that you only have 70% of the energy still yields about 79%
So by my hypothetical numbers(which I believe to be fairly close, but
are more engineering estimates than calculated figures.) Your mileage
would not be as good on ethanol as gasoline even if the engine were
optimized for ethanol.
But my original point was that flexfuel engines are not even optimized
for ethanol. They are just able to burn it. That's all. They don't
have the all-important higher compression ratio needed for the
superior thermodynamic efficiency. So they wind up burning a fuel with
less energy content, and they don't realize the good side of ethanol-
the higher octane that allows higher compression ratios. So they get
the short end of the stick on both accounts. They are what is called
transitional technology. Without flexfuel there would be no need for
ethanol pumps. They are manufactured to create a demand for ethanol so
that more pumps will pop up so that cars can one day be optimized to
run on E85 without worrying about running out of fuel before finding
Years ago I attended the FSAE event in Michigan and saw Cornell's
ethanol burning car. They had turbocharged the engine, raised the
compression ratio and done some trick things like add an extra fuel
injector that sprayed upstream in the manifold so that it atomized the
fuel better and kept the engine from running to lean and destroying
itself. The intake manifold was actually cold to the touch when the
engine ran. The low temperature that ethanol evaporates at allowed the
fuel to soak up heat as it evaporated, and that injector early in the
manifold actually cooled the charge enough that an intercooler was not
necessary, and they showed that it would have done nothing but hurt
the engine. So there are even more ways that ethanol specific engines
can be optimized.
As far as Tiger's comments above, I know that increased mileage can be
realized on some cars, but not on all. I don't think that that many
cars use as aggressive a fuel map as he is suggesting. To realize such
a gain in performance by changing the octane of the fuel means really
advancing the timing a good bit. I just don't think that the amount
that the timing can be advanced to take advantage of the increased
antiknock tendency of a fuel with an octane that is 6 points higher
will yield mileage that is 25% higher. (18 to 24 MPG) That seems a
little too much to me. Especially since it is only at high load low
RPM situations that engines are close to knocking. With the huge
reserves of power that modern cars have, the engine is not often
experiencing high load in normal use.
That's been news for a few years.
Brazil is completely independent of foreign oil. If only our politicians
had the guts to do that!
It took them a few years to work out the kinks but they've been doing pretty
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