Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

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Posted by Ulysses on April 3, 2009, 4:33 pm

Well, I do.  I charge my batteries every night with a gasoline generator and
use about 2 1/2 gallons of gas a day.  Rather expensive electricity.  I'm
not convinced that making biodiesel is the answer for me.  On top of that
I've been seeing people giving away their "waste vegetable oil" containers
on Craig's List.  Makes me wonder.

Since I have a small forest of oaks I'm leaning more toward using woodgas
but I can't even find a 55 or 30 gallon steel drum to start with.  The
process seems simple on paper but when you actually start gathering together
all the stuff you need to build a woodgas generator it's fairly complicated,
at least if you want to use stuff that's already available.  Since I live in
South California some kind of solar-thermal device is appealing which takes
us back to the "small turbine" thread.  I have an idea for a steam turbine
that more closely resembles an air motor.  But that's a different thread.

Posted by Curbie on April 3, 2009, 7:12 pm

Currently commercial bio-fuels come in two basic forms 1) bio-diesel
and 2) ethanol, I know there are other forms hydrogen, methane, and
others although I never heard of wood gas (I have to look that one

BIO_DIESEL comes from oil producing plants, but only provide 1 of 3
components necessary to produce bio-diesel the oil, the other two
components are alcohol, either ethanol (plant based) or methanol
(normally fossil-fuel based), and lye either sodium hydroxide or
potassium hydroxide. The purpose if the alcohol and lye is to separate
the glycerin that is naturally associated with vegetable oil from the
lipids (oil) thereby increasing the oil's viscosity.

ETHANOL comes from sugar producing plants.

My personal bio-fuel conclusions is that I lean towards ethanol which
is a process you would have to master to home produce bio-diesel
anyway. Either fuel can be 100% home produced with relative ease if
you have some land to devote to fuel crops. (potassium hydroxide is
just wood ash and water, distilled).

1 to 2 could easily cover your generator and lawn tractor (planting
and harvesting) needs and 4 or more acres could put a serious dent on
vehicle fuel needs (driving miles dependant).

If you're interested in researching the idea of ethanol, Mother's
Earth News did a project and published the results on the somewhere
for free. Also there a ton published on converting a gas ICE to

If you're interested in researching the idea of bio-diesel, "From the
fryer to the fuel tank" by Joshua Tickell covers not only the waste
cooking oil idea but growing from scratch. I not real big on the idea
of being dependant for critical components such as oil or methanol, if
I'm going to be force into a solution, I'm going to solve the problem
just once.

Google it but e-mail me if you can't find what you're looking for.

Also look-up GDD (growing degree days) for whatever plant catches you

RE: solar-thermal device. I don't want to sound like the smartest guy
in the room because I'm not, but this was this first thing I went
after (first in the early 80 and again in 05) and not half-heartily
spent a year on and off full time and desperately wanted to get the
idea to work. I closely studied the big buck efforts for failures that
I could approach differently and could never find a clear path, the
conversion piper just had too high a toll on a home scale. I wish you
luck (truly) with air motor, maybe I'm too jaded by the numbers.


Posted by Ulysses on April 7, 2009, 4:24 pm

Woodgas, also known as producer gas, was in use in many parts of the world
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for such things as cooking and
light.  Generally it was produced by burning coal but other fuels can be
used too.  One appealing aspect is that it is fairly direct--you burn the
wood and get gas (mostly CO) to run an engine.  Basically it is a controlled
burn inside an airtight container that doesn't quite burn off the gases that
are released when the fuel is heated and the gases are drawn off by vacuum
(ICE engine piston pulling it).  The gases need to be filtered to prevent
crud from building up inside the engine.  A blower is used to get it started
and it takes supposedly about 20 minutes to get everything going so some
electricity is needed.  Of course a battery could be recharged once it
starts producing so that's fairly simple.  Woodgas lost favor once they
figured out what to do with Natural Gas as NG is less toxic and a whole lot
less messy.  During WWII woodgas generators were used to power many vehicles
due to the shortage of petroleum.  I read that the ICE was originally
designed to run from producer gas so probably only a few minor modifications
would be needed.  So far I have found no comments about changing the
crankcase oil but it seems to me that if petroluem was scarce then motor oil
would be hard to come by.

To me either of these options seems very complicated and labor intensive.  I
won't even go into what the local authorities might have to say about it.

Posted by Bruce in alaska on April 3, 2009, 11:58 pm

Biodiesel can have some serious consequences if you live in a very cold
climate,like I do.... Much better to not have to worry about your fuel
turning to sludge at -40F.....

Bruce in alaska

Bruce in alaska
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Posted by Steve Ackman on April 18, 2009, 7:07 pm
 12:18:25 -0500, z, z@yada.yada.com wrote:

  Since the advent of the Ultra low sulphur diesel fuel, it's pretty
much more expensive everywhere.  The other day I did see a station in
Farmington, NM where regular (86 octane) was $.05 and diesel was $.99,
but over the entire trip which spanned a pretty good chunk of the
country, that was the only instance I saw.

  Our 2005 Liberty CRD with 2.8L turbo diesel weighs in at around 4000
lbs., has a cargo capacity of 1150 lbs. and a rated towing capacity of
5000 lbs.  It's not really a "truck" in the true sense of the word, but
certainly exceeds most passenger car capacities, and verges on basic
"half-ton" pickup abilities.

  We just drove it from northern NH to the four corners region of NM and
averaged ~30 mpg (haven't gotten around to totalling gallons used yet).  
Worst and best tanks were 27.6 mpg and 32.0 mpg respectively.  Contrast
with the V6 gasoline version of the Liberty which has pretty much the
same specs, but is only rated at 18 mpg highway.  Maybe someone who has
the V6 Liberty could chime in with some real-world numbers for that.

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