Biofuels and Small Two-Strokes

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by JAK, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    Wondering about small Two-Strokes, like small lawn mowers and weed wackers and chain saws. Wondering about using a 20:1 or 16:1 ethanol / canola oil mix and what that might do to the life of the engine. I am not sure if there is any economics or any real merits to such actions, but I was just curious whether or not it was doable.
     
  2. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    For starters all the fuel passages in the carb would have to be enlarged about 20 to 25% to handle the extra fuel so it wouldn't be running to lean.

    Then you would need to check and see if any of the materials used to build the little motors would be corroded by ethanol. Automotive motors are built to handle about 20% ethonal before corroding but an unsure if other motors are built to that.
     

  3. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...................I read in news Week that alcohol , i.e....ethanol , methanol , etc. based fuels burn clean but that they are corrosive on engines that aren't mfged specifically to utilize them . I'm going back to the Library and reread the Article just to make sure I understood what I read . I've got an Ecco weed eater about 4 years old so I'm wondering IF it is going to suffer if I run E85 fuel thru it . I believe I also read that engines with higher compression ratio's will run OK on E85 because of the alcohol content . All 2 stroke engines require high compresion ratios to produce power as far as I know since they fire everyother stroke . So I guess I'll stop by HD and ask someone in the lawnmower dept . fordy... :)
     
  4. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    Older cars were all generally built to run on a wider variety of fuels, design engineers who grew up in the depression still had in their minds, running kerosene and whiskey in their dad's model T, during 'hard times'. My first two cars were ramblers [one was a rambler american the other was a rambler classic] and either of those vehicles could run on 'lower grade fuels'.

    Into the 60s and 70s, higher octane fuels were needed and engines were designed for higher quality fuels. My 1982 goldwing for example must have 95 octane leaded fuel, otherwise it coughs and sputters.

    Do a little googling and you will find that beginning in the mid 90's Many manufacturers began modifying their vehicles to be 'E85'.

    So many vehicles already on the road could in fact run on 85% alcohol, safely and efficiently.

    Also Saab in Europe and one manufacture in Brazil, are both starting production of 'E100' vehicles. These cars will be designed to run on pure alcohol.

    :)
     
  5. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. I thought this might be a fun thread. I understand what they originally did in Brazil was chrome plate their carburaturs. I am not sure what they do now with fuel injection. In the case of two strokes I think they are somewhat more forgiving because they are subject to fewer operating hours. Also the way the lubricating oil runs through them might help. They are less efficient for sure, but I think they have there place and it might be interesting to try running alcohol and canola oil through an old one to see how long it lasts. I have a very old lawnboy so maybe I'll see what happens to it this summer.
     
  6. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    Since external-combustion engines seem to be so universally more powerful and more efficient; I would like to see more done using multi-fuel gas-turbines in automobiles and for home sized power generating.


    :)
     
  7. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    The exaust gas is hot but lends itself to combined heat and power for hot water. I think an interesting application for a homesteader would be to have an oversized wind turbine, like 5 or 10kw, and use it to produce and compress hydrogen when it generates more than 1kw. This way the 1kw will be generated more consistently and the excess power would not go to waste. The hydrogen could be uses to generate electricity and hot water on days when the wind isn't blowing.

    I am not sure how useful hydrogen is as a transportation fuel yet, but I think it has great potential as an alternative to an electric vehicle for low power and short distance applications where fuel tank size is not a great concern. I understand efficiencies are potentially very high even without using fuel cell technology. Using a converted engine and straight hydrogen there might be less power, but most cars are overpowered anyway, and more efficiency at lower power output would be a plus.
     
  8. Wildtim

    Wildtim Well-Known Member

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    The have built hydrogen powered cars, they work great and are very efficient. The problem is the crash survival ratio (think Pinto but worse). Thats why the fuel cell was such a great idea when NASA came up with it.
     
  9. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure how practical Gas Turbines are for civilian transportation. The military uses them in tanks and ships, but they are geared down extremely low in order to provide torque at usable RPMs. I remember hearing that the turbine powered Chryslers that they made back in the 60s ran so hot that they literally burned the paint off of the trunk and rear fenders.

    They might be more practical for home power generation, although they do have their problems. I spend four years on a ship that had gas turbine generators, and they were allways causing problems. Their main advantages are that they are small, compact, and can run on anything from liquid parafin to methane. However, they are not as reliable as IC engines. When they do break down it could be quite catastrophic (think flames shooting 30 feet into the air). They also aren't very user servicable, being so simple that if there are mechanical problems, it is often easier to replace the entire engine than repair it. I am not sure if the average homeowner (or homesteader) would want to deal with the aggravation of having to deal with a gas turbine generator when there are simpler, less complex solutions. Of course, you may have worked with them in the past, but most people don't have the training or experience.
     
  10. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    I do understand what your saying.

    I do not mean any insult, truly.

    But the military can screw up anything. I am not saying that Gas-turbine engines are simple, but the fact that the military uses them, means that the models the military has will always be the ones that break down constantly.
     
  11. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    You have a good point. Also, the corosive salt environment that Navy equipment is working in isn't exactly the best for complex machinery. However, I still think an old Model 'T' engine would be better for driving a generator than a hi-tech gas turbine. As long as you have some gas to start the 'T' with, it will pretty much run on any fuel. At least it won't blow up in your face, which even a well designed and maintained turbine could if something goes wrong.

    The 'SS' in your profile probably stands for 'Submarine Service', unless I am mistaken. I don't think we've had anything but nuke subs for the past 20 years, so I sincerely hope that the nuclear plants that the US Navy is using aren't as unreliable as the gas turbines. I've heard tell that is one of the few things we actually got right.
     
  12. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    True.


    Correct again.

    I did 20+ years on active duty, 14 years of which were sea-duty in the 'Silent Service' [ie, subs].

    We have operated 'off and on' diesel subs for specific purposes here and there, however our sub fleet is primarily nuclear. We have rather big nuclear power plants and we have very small ones.

    Amazingly all with a very good operating record.

    Average a hundred nuclear-powered subs, plus that many nuclear-powered target-vessels [ie, surface ships], plus a few nuclear power-plants on training bases. America does have a lot of 'military' nuclear power-plants. All without any major incidents.

    It is also amazing the differences between design of military plants and civilian plants. Just in terms of over-engineering and multiple redundancy systems. In designing the military models they took into account the idea of depth-charges, running ground, and torpedo hits; and tried their best to give us very safe systems. Granted this also took the Federal government's 'endless' flow of money for the engineering and QA.

    The point that I had meant to make was that after all these years, and considering the hundreds of vessels you do power with gas-turbine engines, it seems to me that we should have [by now] designed a highly efficient and 'safe' turbine engine that could be used by civilians. If the efficiency is so good, it would certainly stretch-out the life-expectancy of planetary oil reserves and allow us to use a wider range of fuels.

    :)