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I saw an article on the web where this guy made like 1,000 gallons of ethanol from the bad peaches that fell off his trees in his large orchard. In the middle and eastern part of WA state there are hundreds of thousands of acres of apples and pear trees. I'm sure there are millions of pounds of fruit that fall on the ground or go bad every year. I wonder why someone doesnt get all this waste for free and make alot of ethanol? moonshine and ethanol are the same thing right? ethanol is just moonshine with a little gas added, is that correct? I don't have alot of knowledge about ethanol production so I was wondering what your opinions were about my "bad fruit for ethanol theory" Thanks, Mike.
 

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Master Of My Domain
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with all of the crab apples i have laying about, i wonder the same thing, lol. i imagine one could even make a solar still as alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature.
 

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The only problem with making your own fuel that I see is the governments taxes... They have been busting people for not paying fuel taxes/road taxes, what ever name they want to call them. So if you do decide to do it yourself, keep it to yourself or only tell those you trust, unless you enjoy paying taxes..
 

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I expect close to as much energy would be expended gathering and processing the fruit as could be produced from the fruit. Here again, nutrients (the fallen fruit) that would otherwise return to the soil would be removed prompting the need for even more fertilizer (manufactured with oil and gas).
 

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hillsidedigger said:
I expect close to as much energy would be expended gathering and processing the fruit as could be produced from the fruit. Here again, nutrients (the fallen fruit) that would otherwise return to the soil would be removed prompting the need for even more fertilizer (manufactured with oil and gas).
All the commercial orchards that I know of remove the fallen fruit anyway as a form of desease control. The only added expense would be shipping to the refining location and processing into ethonal. The shipping might not even be a factor as they have to do something with them.
 

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hillsidedigger said:
I expect close to as much energy would be expended gathering and processing the fruit as could be produced from the fruit. Here again, nutrients (the fallen fruit) that would otherwise return to the soil would be removed prompting the need for even more fertilizer (manufactured with oil and gas).

I would expect the only thing removed would be the sugars, which plants make on thier own.
 

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hillsidedigger said:
I expect close to as much energy would be expended gathering and processing the fruit as could be produced from the fruit. Here again, nutrients (the fallen fruit) that would otherwise return to the soil would be removed prompting the need for even more fertilizer (manufactured with oil and gas).
Its not always a question of the 'energy in, energy out' balance. Yes, it would take effort to gather and process them, but one must also consider the end result, that is, a concentrated energy source that could power an engine. Bacteria does most of the work, the main energy input in ethanol is recovering the alcohol by distillation. Very energy intensive, but you can use 'low grade energy', ie, wood, to produce 'high grade energy', ie ethanol. And with modern methods, such as vacuum distillation, the energy input is even lower.

I think about this subject every autumn, as the apples ripen and fall, with many bruised/wormy ones just going to waste. SOME DAY, i will have the time and energy to deal with them... I usually just compost them, or chuck them into the woods for the wildlife...
 

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Wish I would have thought of this last year with my first attempt at peach wine.....Result ended up somewhere between vinegar and rocket fuel....wonder if it would have run in my engine as it sure wasn't fit to drink LOL
 

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This idea works great as a small scale hobby type thing - for yourself.

Where it falls apart on the commercial scale:

Most of these fruits come ripe at about the same time. You get a whomping big amount of fruit coming to your ethanol plant all in the same 2 months or so.

The other 10 months of the year - pretty much nothing.

Rotten fruit stors for perhaps - a week?

So, what do you do with all your equipment for the other 10 months of the year?

Can we come up with some sugar sources to run through this ethanol plant all 12 months of the year? And then, do they all grow near it? Would be great.

But, I don't think there is anything for most of the year. Using corn or other starch based product is really a whole different thing, would take too much to swap the big plant back & forth - I think.


Near me a rendering plant is making bio-diesel from the tallow from the dead critters. It is very small scale, but it is adding to the process. (As I've mentioned, Minnesota mandates 2% biodiesel - most comes from soybean oil.)

They have the advatage of having a year-long supply of dead things. Not seasonal like bad fruit would be.

--->Paul
 

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i think that if people/companies/farmers would focus on the long term business plan, 30 years or so, and incorporate multiple technologies into their business plan on a smaller scale, many of the alternative energy ideas would be very feasible. for example, lets say you have an orchard of 100 acres. why not build a small processing facility, a several thousand gallon fermentation vat and a small scale solar distillery yet to be invented...but do-able i think, and harvest the useless fruit from the 100 acres. this facility could also incorporate wind or solar power, even passive solar ideas like hot water into the plan. the various methods of energy production could be utilized all over the orchard for fuel heat and processing. many of these methods are only marginally productive looking out 5 or 10 years, but looking at that small margin over thirty years is totally different.

i think the ideas of patience and diversity should be used in many areas. too many businesses look short term and the numbers just don't work for that plan. part of the diversity could be in seasonal cooperation. maybe that several thousand gallon batch tank could be used during the winter deer harvest and slaughter season in biodeisel production, etc. or maybe it could be a huge heatsink for solar hot water used to heat the local home and buildings. these are not well thought out and detailed ideas, but the concept is good.

i am reminded of the compost greenhouse idea. lets say you have a farm that boards horses. why not work out a deal to have someone run a greenhouse, rent it out, and supply the greenhouse with heat from the composting manure and straw or sawdust. the greenhouse stays warm and the operators get a good supply of compost to sell.

too many folks want to pigeon hole themselves and their businesses to a single idea. so much stands to be gained from joint ventures.
 

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You mean a commune????

No, no - just kidding. :) :)

I like the diversity of what you are thinking.

At times it becomes overwhelming tho - it's tough to be a good apple grower, taking all one's time.

Then one needs to be an expert on fermenting sugar.

And an expert on composting manure.

And an expert on.....

One can only bite off so much.

Sharing between people is cool, but then how do you value the horse manure in the big picture, who gets what from the whole deal...... If the pie gets split up between 15 people, and only one portion of it actually takes off & is very successful - then what?

I like it. I see problems as I always do, but problems can get solved.

Many homesteads & off-grid things I hear here are based on getting it done, not on being efficient or profitable. Can be done with ethanol or biodiesel as well.

--->Paul
 

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another example of diversification is a segment i saw on "dirty jobs". a dairy farmer has bought the machinery he needs to extract the liquid from his manure and use the fiber to make "poo pots" for flowers. he presses the fiber into pot shapes and bakes them in an oven. he has found a use for his abundance of manure, reduced the stress on his manure facilty and has created a new market with a little income. he even pre-digests some of the effluent and collects the methane for use on the farm.

i know this is a bit removed from the original thread, but the concept is the same. find a use for that processing equipment in the off season. think outside the box.
 

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mrglock27 said:
I wonder why someone doesnt get all this waste for free and make alot of ethanol? moonshine and ethanol are the same thing right?
No.....you get three stages from a still.....the head, middle and tail.......the head and the tail is used in cosmetics and ethanol and is posioness to drink......moonshine is the middle.....it is the starting product for bourbon prior to being aged in oak casks....... You need a distillers license to operate a still and the ATF doesn't give them out very often.....most of the stills that are licenced right now have been around for 100 years or more and have had the license from the beginning..... the new ethanol energy stills are licensed differently and cannot produce the middle product that is safe for human consumption....... It takes alot of startup capital to get the technology to build an ethanol still and obtain that license which is why only energy companies and a few mid- size venture capitalist companies are doing it.
 

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Year-round supply is one reason corn is the leading inputs for ethanol - it can be readily stored for year-round access. Sugar cane, sorghum and sugar beets are seasonal and don't store very well in the plant stage. From what I have seen most new ethanol plant have a cattle feedlot associated with it.

For fruit you would essentially first have to make wine (normally requiring additional sugar), then distill out the alcohol out of it, essentially creating brandy.

Home-made grape brandy is quite popular in Croatia. The stuff my cousin made could be imported to strip paint off of cars.

Perhaps said in jest, but don't consider pouring even high-powered wine in your gas tank. Much of it would still be water.

I have friends in IN who make wine on a regular basis. They made a cart. A sink at one end has a garbage disposal in it. Fruits are run through it, with the pulp going from the disposal to a 5-gallon bucket. Other end is press. They put the pulp into an old pillow case, then squeeze juice out of it, which goes into 5-gallon water bottles. Extra water (as needed), sugar and champaign yeast (which they like better than wine yeast) is added, mixed and the bottle capped off with a bubbler.

Remember heading somewhere a guy made wine using a clean plastic garbage can and using a 2" x 4" board as his beater.

Personally I think you would be better off using the fallen fruit to make home-made wine. Distilliing off some brandy with a small home-made still is a possibility.
 

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I see alot of people saying it cant be done but I dont see any reasons that make any sense. While it is illegal to distill alcohols for human consumption an energy bill passed in the 70s made distillation of ethanol legal. You can even legally produce a limited amount of alcohol for your private consumption under the same clause that allows home brewing of beer and wine making
The argument concerning the fruit not having enough sugar to ferment is simply a joke, even grass clippings will ferment and make minute amounts of alcohol.
Starches easily convert to sugars which is why potatos and fruit are make such neat applejack :rolleyes: .
No you can not simply dump fruit into a still and make alcohol any more than you can dump corn in one and make it . First you have to allow the mash to ferment(which makes some fine pig feed even after distillation)
 
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PyroDon said:
I see alot of people saying it cant be done but I dont see any reasons that make any sense. While it is illegal to distill alcohols for human consumption an energy bill passed in the 70s made distillation of ethanol legal. You can even legally produce a limited amount of alcohol for your private consumption under the same clause that allows home brewing of beer and wine making
If you can find anything on the ATF website that indicates you can do either of these things without that good old government license I and many others would surely like to see it. The last I looked neither fuel ethanol or beverage ethanol for personal consumption can be legally distilled without first getting a license. The fuel ethanol license is doable if you really want to. The beverage ethanol license seems to be deliberately set up in such a way as to prohibit home-scale producers.

But maybe I missed something.

.....Alan.
 

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PyroDon said:
You can even legally produce a limited amount of alcohol for your private consumption under the same clause that allows home brewing of beer and wine making
QUOTE]
Actually not true.....you can make up to 100 gals of beer or wine for personal use per year.....you cannot operate a still without a license......A school can get a temporary license for science class, but the average person would not beable to.... The ethanol license is also nearly impossable to obtain because in the process of making ethanol one of the by products is safe for human consuption.
 

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A.T. Hagan said:
If you can find anything on the ATF website that indicates you can do either of these things without that good old government license I and many others would surely like to see it. The last I looked neither fuel ethanol or beverage ethanol for personal consumption can be legally distilled without first getting a license. The fuel ethanol license is doable if you really want to. The beverage ethanol license seems to be deliberately set up in such a way as to prohibit home-scale producers.

But maybe I missed something.

.....Alan.
I will have to double check though not all things that appear to be illegal at first glance are . I believe if one looks in the alternitive fuel bills passed under carter you will find an exception . Something one has to realize about the BATFE is they regulate interstate commerce not intra state so much would depend on what is legal according to your state laws.
My dealings with the BATFE have all so far delt with explosives and fireworks. Most LOEs and even BATFE agents will claim anyone making fireworks with out a license is breaking the law . This is simply not true , there is a hobbiest clause that allows making them for personal use. This clause is buried deep in the Orange book and consists of two lines with roughly a total of twenty words. It is easily missed.
There are such Hobbiest clauses in many of the BATFE regulations, Basicly if you read most of them depend on one very important word "Manufacture" which by the BATFE's definitions means to produce for sale or commerce. which exempts private individuals who are producing for their own use.
Where people run astray of the law is when they sell what they have produced and in the case of alternative fuel alcohol when they fail to pay fuel taxes.
 
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