Skip to main content

Ethanol in fuel - Up close and personal

Five years ago, I published a short letter to Science about the real biofuel cycles.  The letter was published after a long struggle with the journal's Editor of Physical Sciences, Dr. R. Brooks Hanson, who limited my letter to 150 words, and tried to prevent me from putting in a link to these supporting materials. The whole fight was for not, because the link has been broken since I left Berkeley.  In these supporting materials, I made the following two statements:
Furfural in an impure ethanol mixture will gradually dissolve almost any rubber or elastomeric seals or ducts in storage systems and car fuel systems. (Page 13)

Finally, ethanol dissolves a large number of substances insoluble in water and acids, such as many inorganic salts, phosphorus, sulfur, iodine, resins, essential oils, fats, coloring matters, etc. (Wright, 1994).  Therefore, the metal-rich sludge in fuel tanks of most older cars will dissolve in ethanol-containing gasoline and accelerate corrosion of fuel systems and engines in these cars. Older fiberglass fuel tanks will dissolve in ethanol concentrated in the omnipresent trace water, causing gradual failure of many motor boat engines. Because fuel tanks in gas stations are made of steel, there will be increased corrosion from the metal salts-ethanol-water electrolyte. This corrosion will ultimately eat through the tank walls. (Page 38)
Almost no one paid attention.

Today, I had a personal encounter with my own predictions.  My Stihl chain saw stopped working.


Click on the image to see the full size
My Stihl chain saw with the replaced carburetor membranes, fuel filter and spark plug 

The competent local dealer told me cheerfully that the carburetor membrane in the saw got stretched and lost elasticity because of ethanol in the gasoline.


Click on the image to see the full size.
Here you can see the ethanol-damaged bulging elastomer membrane in the carburetor that no longer could maintain fuel pressure, causing the primed saw to stall after 5 seconds or so.

In short, the carburetor stopped functioning because of ethanol in all gasoline I can buy in Texas.  For my three different saws, I only purchase the highest octane gasoline at a local Exxon station, hoping that they do not add ethanol crap to their best product.  Obviously, I have been proven wrong. The cost of rebuilding the carburetor was almost $100, plus two car trips to the dealer.

Given my long track record with the ethanol biofuel additive, I really do not feel disposed to subsidize this racket from my own pocket.  It is enough that my tax money is being wasted every day to keep corn ethanol on a life-support system.

What do you think?  If you have a similar story, please drop a comment.  Perhaps together we can do something about it.

Comments

  1. I too have laid my Sthil saws down to the repair man every other year. I am a conservative environmentalist that can't stand any subsidies that test out to be pure scams. It is bad enough to burn food, but to argue this is good for us is just silly. I like to keep my tools and vehicles until I get tired of them not when when government decides I can't buy fuel that doesn't hurt them. My 1990 Camry and my 1995 Lexus get 33%-24% less MPG in Dallas then last year in Tulsa where I had a choice. They both have over 200K miles and will last another 10 years or so. Unless the state of Texas finds out about my monthly trips to refill a 300 gallon tank in southern Oklahoma.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Requiem for the Beautiful Earth

First, let me remind you that a pessimist is an optimist who shed his delusions and denial, and educated himself. Please keep this in mind, if you continue reading. If you don't, that's fine too. You will remain in your blissful bubble of denial and ignorance, which are the dominant genetic traits of most denizens of the fossil superorganism. Please understand that many democratically elected governments know very well about your truth aversion and are making best use of it.

Imagine now that your favorite airline offers a vacation package to a world-class city like the one shown below. That city is Beijing. China is the rising economic superpower that will collapse rather immediately, because there is not enough of the environment left to protect her 1.4 billion people from disease and death. But before China collapses, she will suck dry most of the world that remains. The brutal global competition for resources may precipitate a war between China and US.

By the way, a famous …

Green New Deal II - Population growth and control

In Part I of this blog, I explained difficulties with comprehending the astronomical scale of change that is awaiting us, the rich people in the developed countries, in our journey to a more sustainable, greener future of humankind.  I have also pointed out a few of the many ways people escape responsibility for the crimes against the Earth we  - you and I - have committed.  And, please, let's not blame the poor people in Honduras or Gabon for our sins, plastic in the oceans and greenhouse gas emissions.


Exponential growth.  Remember a lonely lily pad floating on an empty pond?  She multiplied daily, so after day one, there were two lilies; after two days, four lilies; then eight; and so on.  After 20 days, there were 1,048,576 lilies. After 21 days, there were  2,097,152 lilies that covered the pond, exhausted nutrients and died. Question: After which day was the pond half-filled?  You already know the answer, it was day 20.  On that fateful day, 95% of the time allotted to our li…

The New Green Revolution, a.k.a. The Grand Transition to... ?? - Part I

Jeff Bezos,Elon Musk and others have been touting the multitudinous advantages of colonizing the Moon and Mars. The scientific idiocies of these proclamations are so outlandish that I will not bother commenting on them. But, at the same time, Stephen Hawking's name has come up in the context of Mars colonization.

Dr. Nate Hagens uses Hawking's ideas about Mars colonization in his Reality 101 course at the University of Minnesota to illustrate the point that human society is composed of tiny islands of high competence floating in a vast sea of narratives.

Let me start from quoting a recent email by JDW on the subject of human escape to outer space:

"Without a synthesis which shows how different narratives relate to one another, people are free to use “verbal logic” to create properly-constructed sentences which don’t correspond to possible realities. “Verbal logic” is nearly an oxymoron, because there’s not much in the way of error-correction built into it. Anything that …