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Thread: Best gasoline substitute?

  1. #1
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    Best gasoline substitute?

    Let us suppose the world supply of petroleum were to suddenly cease to exist tomorrow. What fuel(s) would be available/preferable for non-diesel internal combustion engines? Follow up, what modifications would have to made to those engines in order to run on that fuel?
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  2. #2
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    Most obvious is alcohol, either methanol or ethanol. Brazil uses the latter extensively. May require replacement of seals and recalibration of fuel systems. Quite a few American cars are already set up to run on 85% ethanol.
    But why do you exclude diesel? Biodiesel is gaining acceptance.
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    On the subject of ethanol, here's the wiki page for ethanol / petroleum mixtures.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comm..._fuel_mixtures

    As from September 2019,all UK fuel pumps will be displaying the relevant codes.
    The names "petrol" and "diesel" will remain but apparently are deprecated.
    https://www.theaa.com/driving-advice...sel-pumps-2019

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    But why do you exclude diesel? Biodiesel is gaining acceptance.
    I'm thinking about all the already existing gasoline engines. What would they run on? They can't be converted to diesel engines. For diesel the solution is, as you said, already solved.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  5. #5
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    Which problem are you trying to solve: The lack or the how?

    Both diesel and gasoline engines can be converted to alcohol or natural gas. Alcohol requires what I would call minor changes to the distribution system. It's a liquid like diesel or gas, so the number of changes to your pumps and things is minor. Natural gas needs to be pumped up to high pressure for transport and probably a completely different pressure for storage. Technically, at high pressure, natural gas is a liquid but isn't anything like gasoline. You'd have to tear old old infrastructure and replace with completely different infrastructure. Even if you had to dig out old tanks to replace with new tanks for alcohol tanks and pumps, that is a much smaller change than what natural gas would need.

    Personally, I'd lean towards natural gas, but that is a huge investment and it comes with it's own set of problems. In my mind, you'd shoot for fewer vehicles to have few environmental problems, but I could see someone going nuts and doing the opposite. Once you have a fleet of NG cars, someone's going to bring up "Town Gas", which is just coal converted to hydrogen and natural gas. If you want to do that, you can convert coal to gasoline and diesel, which brings the problems of a couple different industries together in to one massive problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I'm thinking about all the already existing gasoline engines. What would they run on? They can't be converted to diesel engines. For diesel the solution is, as you said, already solved.
    I don't think the problem is any more solved for Diesel than for gasoline. Just different biofuels. I frequently see cars, especially GM, with a "dual-fuel" or some such tag. That means they are ready for E85. E100 probably wouldn't be much problem except for lower energy density. The amount of modification required for most modern cars to run on ethanol would be fairly small: Some seals and reprogramming of the ECU.
    Hydrogen, Methane, LP, etc would be much more difficult.
    GM, back in the 1980's ('70's) did try converting some existing gas engines to Diesel. It did not go well.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  7. #7
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    I just worry about trying to grow both fuel and food at once--and how much soil could play out from such a one-two punch

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    We're already heading toward an unprecedented scale of global megafamine anyway just from the soil depletion and well depletion associated with our current amount of farming. All that adding even more farming would do is speed that up while causing even more deletion of remaining natural environments for conversion to farmland. So whatever solution we came up with wouldn't last long anyway unless it was grown in some kind of fully self-contained system of vats of algae, rather than on farms. I don't believe there is such a system that's really ready to go on a mass-production scale yet. I know that experiments have been done running jets on algae-derived fuel, but the reports I've seen on that have been about the engines, so they had nothing to say about how the fuel was produced or how the production method would need to be changed before it could scale up.

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    Coould bio-ethanol from corn lead to corn prices going up.. and more famine in south america?







    Impacts of ethanol policy on corn prices: A review and meta-analysis of recent evidence
    Author links open overlay panelNicoleCondonab1HeatherKlemicka
    2
    AnnWolvertona2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.12.007
    Get rights and content
    Highlights



    We review 157 estimates of the effect of US corn ethanol expansion on corn prices.


    Differences in corn ethanol volume explain why corn price impacts vary widely.


    Other factors such as projection year and model type are also important drivers.

    Abstract

    The literature on the impacts of biofuels on agricultural commodity prices is characterized by contradictory findings. We review studies published between 2007 and 2014 that estimate the effects of U.S. corn ethanol policy on corn prices and find estimates ranging from nil to over 80%. Such divergent results make it difficult to assess the merits of alternative biofuel policies. To bring more clarity to the issue and facilitate comparisons across studies, we assemble a database of over 150 medium-to-long run estimates of the effect of corn ethanol production on corn prices from 29 published studies. We first normalize corn price impacts by the change in corn ethanol volume to control for the large differences in ethanol quantities across scenarios. We then conduct a meta-analysis to identify the factors that drive the remaining variation in corn price impacts across studies. In addition to ethanol volumes, we find that modeling framework, projection year, inclusion of ethanol co-products, and biofuel production from other feedstocks explain much of the differences in price effects. The results indicate that a one billion gallon expansion of the US corn ethanol mandate in the year 2015 would lead to a three to four percent increase in corn prices, with smaller price changes projected in future years.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I'm thinking about all the already existing gasoline engines. What would they run on? They can't be converted to diesel engines. For diesel the solution is, as you said, already solved.
    They could be run on gasoline, if another hydrocarbon was available for feedstock. I remember various articles on synfuels when it was popular to claim oil would run out before now, and chemists turn out to be very good at manipulating hydrocarbons. Methanol and some other hydrocarbons could be converted fairly efficiently to gasoline. It worked in pilot plants, but the economics were never right. Oil was just too inexpensive.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    Coould bio-ethanol from corn lead to corn prices going up.. and more famine in south america?







    Impacts of ethanol policy on corn prices: A review and meta-analysis of recent evidence
    Author links open overlay panelNicoleCondonab1HeatherKlemicka
    2
    AnnWolvertona2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.12.007
    Get rights and content
    Highlights



    We review 157 estimates of the effect of US corn ethanol expansion on corn prices.


    Differences in corn ethanol volume explain why corn price impacts vary widely.


    Other factors such as projection year and model type are also important drivers.

    Abstract

    The literature on the impacts of biofuels on agricultural commodity prices is characterized by contradictory findings. We review studies published between 2007 and 2014 that estimate the effects of U.S. corn ethanol policy on corn prices and find estimates ranging from nil to over 80%. Such divergent results make it difficult to assess the merits of alternative biofuel policies. To bring more clarity to the issue and facilitate comparisons across studies, we assemble a database of over 150 medium-to-long run estimates of the effect of corn ethanol production on corn prices from 29 published studies. We first normalize corn price impacts by the change in corn ethanol volume to control for the large differences in ethanol quantities across scenarios. We then conduct a meta-analysis to identify the factors that drive the remaining variation in corn price impacts across studies. In addition to ethanol volumes, we find that modeling framework, projection year, inclusion of ethanol co-products, and biofuel production from other feedstocks explain much of the differences in price effects. The results indicate that a one billion gallon expansion of the US corn ethanol mandate in the year 2015 would lead to a three to four percent increase in corn prices, with smaller price changes projected in future years.
    Let's not get into discussions of policy, as that will violate our no-politics rule.
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  12. #12
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    Corn, as I understand it, is not a particularly efficient means of producing ethanol anyhow. It's used in the USA for reasons we've just been reminded not to discuss. Brazil uses a lot of ethanol and gets it from sugar cane.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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