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Oil Condition Monitoring

Ethanol and Bio Diesel – What are they? Do they make sense?

Neither rain, nor sleet nor earthquakes…

Boy, that was an interesting ride. The building shook for about 15 seconds due to the 5.8 earthquake that hit not too far from us earlier today. All systems are go so I’ll go forward with today’s posting.

Working for a company that specializes in oil condition monitoring, we often come across information (relying most heavily on articles authored by technical experts) on alternative fuels, including biodiesel and biofuel (ethanol). I’ve picked out several articles that I think our worth sharing. They really helped me form a better understanding of these fuels and I hope you will find them useful, too.

First a quick explanation of these two somewhat similar, yet different, alternatives.  Ethanol is an alcohol produced  from plant materials such as corn or sugar cane, among others, which is blended with gasoline. The most common formulation is E-85 which is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline.

Biodieseluses vegetable oil (such as soybeans), recycled cooking grease or animal fats as a fuel source for diesel engines. Biodiesel is often blended with tradition diesel put can also be used in it’s pure form – B100. For a real-world example of a company using B100, check out this story of a salt-mining company that uses if for heavy equipment: Who’s Using B100? 

While both alternative fuels have definite environmental advantages over traditional fuels, they aren’t without their drawbacks including production costs (it takes a lot of oil-dependent machines to produce these fuels) and how to produce enough product on a large scale. It’s worth noting that according to the New Scientist,even if the U.S. devoted all its corn to ethanol and all its soybeans to biodiesel, we would only be able to offset our gas and diesel consumption by 5% – not to mention the problems that would cause with the food supply.

An article from the University of New Hampshire’s Biodiesel Group with lots of statistics on U.S. oil consumption and a potential solution to the issue of how to create biodiesel on a large scale – algae farms: Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae

An article from Science Daily discusses a study from Cornell University and University California Berkeley which addresses issues with production costs: Ethanol and Biodiesel From Crops Not Worth the Energy

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2 Responses to “Ethanol and Bio Diesel – What are they? Do they make sense?”

  1. Biofuels (mainly ethanol and biodiesel) fall short when compared to other alternatives, such as Natural Gas, which is currently available in abundant supply as a viable option. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Vehicle Guide, Natural Gas Vehicles are the cleanest vehicles commercially available today. In fact, in terms of pollution reduction, every CNG fueled truck (Compressed Natural Gas) that replaces a diesel-fueled truck is the equivalent of removing 325 gasoline-fueled late-model passenger vehicles from the road. While biodiesel may cut particle emissions by about 50%, CNG vehicles emit little to no particulate matter. The facts are that CNG as a fuel is consistently cheaper and considerably cleaner than any biofuel currently on the market. While we’re waiting for far off improvements in technology, we ought to improve our quality of air right now and Natural Gas is more environmentally friendly than biodiesel and ethanol. As the cleanest-burning alternative, the California Energy Commission found that Natural Gas produces up to 23% lower emissions than diesel and 30% lower than gasoline. 98% of Natural Gas is produced in North America, making it an abundant resource that is readily available. Why don’t more discussions include Natural Gas as a viable, economically-sound, and environmentally friendly investment?

  2. i would like to get some more ideals on how to change my truck into bio-fuel that would work off of transmission fluid


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