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Compare Fuels Chemically - Page 6

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Posted by Jim Wilkins on February 12, 2010, 1:01 am

The chemical apparatus to mix or distill is about the same for a wide
range of chemicals, the important differences are heat and corrosion
resistance. If you set up to make any oil it's likely you can reuse
the same equipment for another one.


Posted by Curbie on February 12, 2010, 4:45 am


The spread-sheet is nothing more than a way to objectively calculate
heat values for different alternative fuels in comparison to standard
fossil fuels (gasoline and diesel). I'm looking at DIY home-scale
alternative fuels, mainly ethanol vs SVO or bio-diesel.

I feel it isn't good enough for comparison purposes to just look at
crop yields per acre and then energy values per yielded unit of oil or
ethanol. There is also the issue of processing costs both in terms of
initial equipment costs and then per unit processing costs.

I think that crop yields per acre are pretty well known and energy
values per yielded unit of oil or ethanol are less well known in an
"apples to apples" sense, and not well known in an "apples to oranges"
sense, especially when you start trying to consider the energy
required for processing.

SVO seems to have oil pressing and filtering processing costs.

Bio-diesel has all of SVO's initial cost plus the transesterification.

Ethanol has the cooking, fermenting, and distilling costs.

All have planting, fertilizer, and harvesting costs.

The devil is in the details and I'm just starting to sort through all
the details and their associated costs in order to choose the best
path for me.


Posted by Jim Wilkins on February 12, 2010, 12:16 pm

You're quite right there, I just think you will encounter problems
beyond what the very necessary literature search will reveal, that's
why I suggested making small samples of the better options. Assuming
you can still buy it without alarming DEA or FBI, laboratory glassware
is fine for small-scale trials. You should be able to use rubber
stoppers instead of ground glass or teflon joints.


Posted by Curbie on February 13, 2010, 12:27 am


The more I think about this, the more I think that small scale testing
from planting to final product seems in order. Getting a jump on
growing a small feed-stock of several varieties seems valuable in and
of itself just to have seed for production planting.

I'm not too sure how scaleable things like screw presses are, but I
think the literature is pretty clear on most of the mechanical stuff.
For the stills I think I would be better off building a small one,
need the practice with these smaller and newer designs anyway.


Posted by Jim Wilkins on February 13, 2010, 3:18 pm

Small presses are easy to find. You could use a drill press, a bottle
capper, an ammo reloading press, an arbor press, etc. I would look for
one that allows pressure measurement, such as a drill press large
enough to center a bathroom scale on the table. You will also need a
weighing scale that resolves milligrams or better.

You could extract a dried, crushed and weighed sample with solvent to
determine the total oil content, then see how much pressure you need
to squeeze most of that oil out of another sample.

A 3/16" piston and cylinder on a 300 Lb bathroom scale gives you

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