Let's talk about biobutanol

Watch out ethanol! 

Still corn based, so I'm not sure what the corn grower crowd has to say about this.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/energy/epas-new-super-fuel-could-spell-trouble-for-ethanol

BP is looking to roll out production in the next couple of months. Apparently it is not as corrosive as ethanol, so says the EPA.

Other benefits, in the words of the original article:

  • "higher energy content" than most gasoline alternatives such as ethanol.
  • It has lower Reid Vapor Pressure than ethanol, which means lower fuel volatility and emissions.
  • It also provides for "Increased energy security" because it can be produced "domestically from a variety of feedstocks, while creating U.S. jobs."
  • reduces carbon dioxide emissions
  • Biobutanol can be shipped in steel pipelines with gasoline and diesel, unlike ethanol which must be shipped via plastic pipelines (so it's not)
  • Packs more power than ethanol, more closely resembling gasoline
  • Ethanol makes cars less efficient when added to gasoline as it is less energy dense

 

What say you all? 

[ducks]

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Yet the proposal refers to blending in the biobutanol into gasoline to produce a 16% additive mixture; there is no discussion of using biobutanol "straight," as a stand-alone fuel.  No reason is given for that approach.  It would seem to me that if biobutanol or any other alcohol is a great fuel, it should be able to run at 100%.  

Ethanol and methanol are both 100% fuels.They don't get used that way for reasons that remain obscure.  There has been some discussion about certain synthetic rubbers and silicone seals not standing up to the alcohols, but that becomes a factor to be dealt with in the manufacturing of the engine plant. 

Biobutanol strikes me as something that is going to be a big money earner down the road.  Meanwhile I am developing a biomass solid fuel as a drop-in replacement for industrial furnace fuels, including coal, wood, sawdust, woodchips, and straw furnaces. As the feedstock is free, all I have is processing costs to format. Should be interesting.

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Give biobutanol a chance as a fuel and see how it works. 

Here's an old article, for some background on why I am certainly not opposed to finding alternatives to gasoline for transportation:

Oil is too Precious to be Used as Transportation Fuel

An oil executive once observed that burning oil for energy is like burning Picassos for heat. Oil is extraordinarily valuable as the basis for so many products we use every day that the thought of simply burning it ought to be unthinkable. So versatile are oil molecules that they can be transformed into substances that serve as clothing, medicines, building materials, carpet, skin care products, sporting goods, agricultural chemicals, perfumes, and myriad other products.

... In the United States 71 percent of the petroleum products consumed are used in transportation. If the country were able to run its transportation system entirely without oil, the United States would not only cease to import oil, but would have significant surplus oil production. Of course, such a change could only take place over many years. But the advantages to such a transition are so numerous that we should not dismiss it as too difficult or costly.

Only 5 percent of all oil is used to produce petrochemicals--chemicals which form the basis for the almost miraculous materials and substances that we now take for granted. By ceasing to burn the bulk of our oil to move goods and people, we could sustain the production of these products for a very long time. 

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(edited)

9 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Ethanol and methanol are both 100% fuels.They don't get used that way for reasons that remain obscure. 

Could ICEs be converted cheaply and easily into engines running on alcohol? If not, here's one reason. If yes, then it's really strange why alcohol is not more widely used and on its own. But there is the oil industry, of course. They do make a lot of money from fuels and are notoriously slow to change.

Edited by Marina Schwarz

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1 hour ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Could ICEs be converted cheaply and easily into engines running on alcohol? If not, here's one reason. If yes, then it's really strange why alcohol is not more widely used and on its own. But there is the oil industry, of course. They do make a lot of money from fuels and are notoriously slow to change.

Take a gander at Brasil.  All the autos there can run interchangeably on either, and motorists routinely pull up to the pumps and check the prices, do some quick math, and select their fuel, either straight alcohol or straight gasoline.   No conversion necessary.

 

That said, remember that certain rubbers and sealants may have been used in the specific engine's construction outside of Brazil that would lead to a different result.  Apparently some tubing gets attacked by alcohol and you cannot use that stuff, so a motorist desiring flexibility would have to pull out the offending stuff and install the good stuff. 

Out in the US Midwest you have these pickup trucks that can run on E85, which is 85% alcohol. Why they did not go to E100 capability is beyond me.  Might be a need for a squirt of gasoline vapor for starting issues when cold, I dunno.  Will alcohol vaporize at 40 below? 

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That's really interesting stuff. The conspiracy theorist in me says "It's the Big Oil lobby." Of course.

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9 minutes ago, Marina Schwarz said:

That's really interesting stuff. The conspiracy theorist in me says "It's the Big Oil lobby." Of course.

Nah.  There is not enough corn grown out there to whack the big consumption markets in California and the East Coast. The Lobby ignores Ethanol, and grudgingly puts it into gasoline because they are forced to.  Stick around to when cellulostic alcohol hits, then you will see serious squawking!

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(edited)

Here's the Open Letter I published today on TheAutoChannel.com:

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
"Oh great, BP has a new product they want to sell to humans!"
PHOTO
Marc J. Rauch

Hi John -

I just finished reading your article "EPA's new super fuel could spell trouble for ethanol" that was published June 5th in the Washington Examiner.

I couldn't help but notice that you are listed as the Examiner's Energy and Environment Reporter, and in a very brief search I discovered you have been in this position for about three years now.

I'm wondering at what point do you feel that you might begin to acquire some knowledge about energy and the environment? I'm not saying that you can't become super knowledgeable about a subject in three years - a person can - I'm just wondering how long you think it might take for you to become knowledgeable about the subject.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
"And they say it's safe! Hahahahahaha."

In your story you report that "The boating industry has identified biobutanol as a suitable and safe alternative to ethanol, which can damage engines, including those that power recreational boats." When they and you say that biobutanol is a safe alternative to ethanol, what do you mean by safe? Are you suggesting that you can rub biobutanol over your hands? Are you suggesting that you can drink biobutanol? In case you don't know, you can't because butanol (regardless of the raw material used to create it) is highly toxic - so to whom is it a safe alternative? You can drink ethanol. You can rub ethanol on your body. You can use ethanol to clean an open cut. Sure, ethanol can be made poisonous by denaturizing it with gasoline, but that's because of the gasoline, not the ethanol.

In reporting the statement "The boating industry has identified biobutanol as a suitable and safe alternative to ethanol..." don't you know that the boating industry has already stated that ethanol-gasoline blends are better than ethanol-free gasoline and that it can be used in marine engines? Are you unaware of the statements made by Mercury Marine, the world's largest manufacturer of marine engines, that E10 will not cause any engine damage? Did you not know that Mercury Marine and many other marine engine manufacturers sell their engines and boats in Brazil where standard fuel is E27? Are you in possession of any documents from Brazil that show E27 to be specifically damaging to marine or automobile engines?

And when you report "damage," did you ask anyone what they mean by damage? You use the words "damage," "damaging," "corrosive," and "harmful effects." Like what? You quote John McKnight, of the National Marine Manufacturers Association as saying that they tested E15 and that they "helped conduct a number of tests on the effects of 15-percent ethanol blends on the engines in collaboration with the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and we have pictures. They just blew up...I mean, they could not run through a normal durability cycle on E15."

What tests is he talking about? What year were those tests? Where is the report of those tests? Where are the pictures? What does he mean that they just blew up? WHAT BLEW UP? DID SOMETHING ACTUALLY EXPLODE?

By the way, I'm not saying that butanol is a bad fuel for internal combustion engines, but I have trouble understanding why America and the world would want to use another poisonous fuel made by the oil industry when we have the opportunity to finally get away from that? Why do we need more neurotoxins in the air we breathe, wasn't six decades of tetraethyl lead bad enough? Don't we have enough respiratory illnesses? Don't we have enough children with autism?

And while I'm on the subject of aren't things bad enough, why would anyone in their right mind want to listen to anything that BP has to say? Haven't they already proven that they have no interest in humans and other living animals?

By the way, you mention ethanol's "energy density" as a problem by making cars less fuel efficient when it is added to gasoline. Energy density (energy content) is irrelevant in an internal combustion engine. Mechanical engine optimization is the key. An engine mechanically optimized to run on ethanol will provide comparable or better MPG than a gasoline optimized engine running on gasoline, and tests have shown that certain blend levels (i.e., E30) will deliver more MPG in a non-flex fuel vehicle than E0.

 The Irrelevance Of BTU Rating - Big Oil's Gimmick To Hoodwink The Public

 Fuel Economy and Power Generation of 30% Ethanol (E30)

 Effects of High-Octane Ethanol Blends

 Study Finds Certain Ethanol Blends Can Provide Better Fuel Economy Than Gasoline

 The Effect of Ethanol-Gasoline Blends...

 The Effect of Ethanol-Gasoline Blends

 High performance Wayne State ethanol car wins 1998 Ethanol Vehicle Challenge

 Ethanol Vehicle Challenge

John, why does the Washington Examiner continue to publish absurd, incorrect stories about ethanol. Don't you understand that intentionally publishing incorrect information about one subject negatively affects your credibility on all other subjects?

Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL

Edited by Marc J. Rauch

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