Alcohol as a dual fuel

Alcohol is neat stuff. We can talk more about it in this thread, specifically regarding use as a fuel.

But here’s a little side note, alcohol seems to dissolve tar! Test video I did:

Hi Admin Chris
You might want to change the topic thread to “Motor Fuel Alcohol”. Keep the revenuer web crawl-ies from the Fed and individual States Tax divisions directed correctly.
80’s experiences says they will even follow up on motor fuel operations and insist on thier pound of $'s flesh in licences and fees.
Ha! Ha! They have to be paid to check up that you as required are “denaturing” motor fuel alcohol undrinkable with gasoline.
Steve Unruh

Hello Steve and Chris,

Only for ethanol, not for methanol, butanol or any other kind of alcohol that you can’t drink. Steve already knows that my ultimate goal (pipe dream) is to leave the gasifier home making methanol and just be able to drive on the alcohol. I have it worked out on paper, and designed the gasifier I built to include a catalyst bed, but the problem is bringing up the H2 content more to be able to start off catalytically making methane. I did an air preheat as best I could with my quasi-Imbert design, but it’s nothing compared to Wayne’s preheat. So my question is, does Wayne’s higher temps produce more H2 than the Imbert? From the gas readings in the book, H2 and CO seem to be about a 1:1 ratio. I’ve not seen any test data that I can recall on the Imbert.


HI guys,

If you don’t know about this guy here is a link to his site.

There is link in there somewhere to the ethanol producer application to own operate a distiller to produce ethanol for fuel.

Edit: I couldn’t find the link to the form, it used to on there somewhere and probably still is. But here is a direct link for anyone interested in pursuing making there own fuel legally.

Lots of good info on this site!!!

Steve, noted and changed. Terry, methanol is corrosive and toxic, plus not as potent - has half the energy of gasoline, vs ethanol with 2/3 the energy of gasoline

I would call this the ethanol thread, but most folks think of E85 and government sponsored boondoggles. This is more about the 180 proof home brew you can easily make yourself (not to drink though). No need for difficult to make “anhydrous” 200 proof alcohol (water free) if you’re not mixing it with gasoline.

To make enough to actually drive down the road is difficult and not cost effective (yet). But to replace gasoline as a starting fluid when no petroleum was available, that would be handy. Also it will allow much higher compression ratios, if/when we get into purpose built woodgas engines.

One thing I’ve been trying to find out, is pure ethanol corrosive? I read somewhere that only the additives/denaturants are, but not the ethanol itself. Methanol certainly is corrosive.

So a test I’m about to run is to soak some rubber seals in rubbing alcohol. It is denatured though. I’ll see what happens.

Chris, I found this to be mostly accurate.

Thanks Peter. That seems to suggest the corrosion is coming from the absorbed water in the fuel?

OK, after reading Wikipedia, I found a little more info.

Three articles to read:

Quoting from the first one.

“Methanol and ethanol fuels contain soluble and insoluble contaminants. Halide ions, which are soluble contaminants, such as chloride ions, have a large effect on the corrosivity of alcohol fuels. Halide ions increase corrosion in two ways: they chemically attack passivating oxide films on several metals causing pitting corrosion, and they increase the conductivity of the fuel. Increased electrical conductivity promotes electrical, galvanic and ordinary corrosion in the fuel system. Soluble contaminants such as aluminum hydroxide, itself a product of corrosion by halide ions, clogs the fuel system over time. To prevent corrosion the fuel system must be made of suitable materials, electrical wires must be properly insulated and the fuel level sensor must be of pulse and hold type, magneto resistive or other similar non-contact type. In addition, high quality alcohol should have a low concentration of contaminants and have a suitable corrosion inhibitor added. Japanese scientific evidence reveals that also water is an inhibitor for corrosion by ethanol. The experiments are done with E50, which is more aggressive & speeds up the corrosion effect. It is very clear that by increasing the amount of water in fuel ethanol one can reduce the corrosion. At 2% or 20,000 ppm water in the fuel ethanol the corrosion stopped. The observations in Japan are in line with the fact that hydrous ethanol is known for being less corrosive than anhydrous ethanol. The reaction mechanism is 3EtOH + Al -> Al(OEt)3 +3/2H2 will be the same at lower-mid blends. When enough water is present in the fuel, the aluminum will react preferably with water to produce Al2O2, repairing the protective aluminum oxide layer which is why the corrosion stops. The aluminum alkoxide does not make a tight oxide layer, which is why the corrosion continues. In other words water is essential to repair the holes in the oxide layer.”

If that all looks like chemistry gobbledygook, here’s the most important line:

“It is very clear that by increasing the amount of water in fuel ethanol one can reduce the corrosion. At 2% or 20,000 ppm water in the fuel ethanol the corrosion stopped.”

So. “dry” alcohol will be corrosive. “Wet” alcohol isn’t corrosive, but also won’t mix with gasoline. Simple enough!

It seems that everyone who has been into alternative energy for a while has gone through the gamut and been through the various groups and we all ended up at woodgas. Aside from the poor or negative return on energy investment in ethanol, (also, I don’t recall off the top of my head the gallons of alcohol that can be produced per acre of corn), but with soybeans it’s only 60 gallons per acre for biodiesel. But, the main point (at least for me) is that it makes no sense to use food crops for fuel, it is unsustainable. Because we use corn ethanol in our gas in the US we’ve caused food riots in Mexico because the price of the basic food staple tortillas went up. Also, corn in one form or another is in just about every food product so we’re driving our own food prices up. This all became clear to me when I was in my biodiesel phase and realized that ethanol was being promoted by the corn people and biodiesel by the soybean people to raise the price for their crops to the farmers.
Having said that, I am all for ethanol produced from biomass like wood, but it’s an expensive and tedious process. Methanol on the other hand can be made directly from gasification of biomass. It is already being done on large scale by two or three processes. I would like to see it being done on the backyard scale.
Rubber fuel lines have to be changed out with any alcohol or even biodiesel,it’s just part of the game.

Hi Terry & Chris … Good to see the brains are still working … I consider it to be HIDEOUS to be using corn to drive cars. Starting fluid, OK … I am the canary in the coal mine. ROUNDUP is bad news for me and I have to breathe piles of it along with the 2-4-D and other stuff added to grow these magnificent crops … I have taken in enough of that stuff this year to kill me … My BP is off the scale. I took a small dose of some snake venom a friend gave me today to experiment and my BP went way below normal for around 2 hours but the side effects we can discuss on the phone. I think I enjoy having high blood pressure … Better living through chemistry :o) … ML

Agreed on no corn for fuel… there are a lot of other better fuel crops. Cattails being one of my favorites. Feed em sewage wastewater and they can yield around 2500 gallons per acre.

I don’t hold much hope for cellulosic ethanol. It’s not a DIY friendly technology. Personally I can think of a much better place to put all that woody biomass.… :slight_smile:

My plan is tune my truck to run on either ethanol or woodgas with gasoline as a last resort fuel. I have a spare engine that I plan on rebuilding for higher compression. Running 100% ethanol and woodgas are both optimized with higher compression and advanced timing. As for my ethanol, I’m hoping to make it from cattails but have considered getting the stale beer from a local beverage distributor as well as culled fruit.