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Thread: Convert Cars to Methanol?

  1. #1

    Convert Cars to Methanol?

    This article makes a damn good argument in favor. What are the cons?

    [QUOTE]Yossie Hollander has a concise way of summarizing our dependence on foreign oil. “We get 36 percent of our energy from petroleum in this country and 20 percent from coal,” says the California entrepreneur turned philanthropist. “Yet we spend only $35 billion a year on the coal and $780 billion on oil products – most of it going into foreign pockets.”
    The successful founder of a software enterprise, the 54-year-old Hollander is co-founder of the Fuel Freedom Foundation, which is trying to open up the transportation sector to more competition and replace imported oil with cheaper, American-made fuels. One candidate that Fuel Freedom believes could be a game-changer – methanol.
    “Methanol gets only two-thirds the mileage of gasoline but it’s a liquid and goes easily into your car engine,” says Hollander. “It would require the auto companies to make a factory adjustment that would cost only $100. It’s very similar to burning ethanol. But methanol has a much more abundant feedstock - natural gas.”
    Running cars on methanol would be the logical conclusion to a chain of events that began in the 1970s when the Carter Administration decided that converting crops to ethanol was the road to energy independence. The federal tax deduction plus a variety of other incentives have produced 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol a year – and an environmental disaster. More than 40 percent of the American corn crop now goes into our gas tanks (it recently surpassed cattle feed as the principle use). This has pushed up corn prices around the world while producing only negligible energy savings. Even environmental groups now oppose ethanol and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization regularly calls such biofuels a “crime against humanity.” Yet with much of the Midwest now geared to ethanol production, change is not likely to come soon.
    When the corn ethanol push began, natural gas was scarce and considered best suited for heating homes and a providing feedstock for the plastics and fertilizer industries. Supplies ran even lower after 2000 and a good portion of those gas-dependent industries left for Mexico and the Middle East. But all that has now changed. The hydraulic fracking of shale deposits has opened up previously inaccessible resources and the nation is suddenly awash in natural gas.
    The glut has prompted several efforts to move methane into the transportation sector. A few companies are trying compressed natural gas (CNG) but the process is complicated since the fuel must be stored under very high pressure. 3M has developed a sturdy gas tank and the trucking industry is showing interest, but only a few models are available and conversion of older vehicles would cost $10,000 apiece.
    To this, Hollander poses a simple question: “Why not add methanol to the mix?”
    Methanol is the simplest alcohol molecule with one hydroxyl ion (OH) attached to methane’s one carbon atom. It does not require the expensive distillation if corn ethanol or high-energy catalytic cracking of oil refining. Methane can be “reformed” into methanol by bathing it in steam. “It’s early 20th century chemistry,” says Hollander.
    We already have a thriving methanol industry. There are 18 production plants in the U.S. putting out 2.6 billion gallons a year. It is used widely as a manufacturing feedstock and makes up 30 percent of the windshield fluid in your car. Methanol is also the principle racing car fuel on the NASCAR circuit. The conversion began in the 1990s in order to avoid deadly gasoline explosions. But drivers have grown very fond of methanol because it burns cleaner and gives almost the same octane rating as gasoline.
    Of course ramping up the industry to replace a significant portion of the 136 billion gallons of gasoline we consume every year would be a monumental undertaking. But it would not involve any technological breakthroughs. “You could build a conversion facility at the end of each gas pipeline and have tanker trucks transport it to every gas station in the country,” he says. “The infrastructure wouldn’t have to change much.”
    So what’s the problem? Well, unfortunately putting methanol into car engines is illegal.
    “When the EPA wrote its regulations for auto emissions it approved only one fuel – gasoline,” says Hollander. “Ethanol only makes it because it’s classified as an `additive.’ The EPA could easily add methanol to the list. It’s just a question of getting them to do it.”
    Fuel Freedom is running a smart national campaign, enlisting both free market advocates and environmental organizations to the cause. “Methanol burns cleaner than gasoline,” says Hollander. “It would make a big improvement in air pollution.” With bi-partisan backing, the Open Fuel Standard Act is also making its way through Congress. The law would require automakers to produce cars that can run on multiple fuels, including methanol. “Right now the auto companies could produce flex-fuel vehicles any time they want,” says Hollander. “Their answer is always that they’ve tried before and nobody wanted to buy them.”
    California actually put tens of thousands of methanol cars on the road in the 1990s through a state-sponsored program but the effort eventually fizzled because gasoline only cost $2 a gallon and natural gas was $6 per mcf. Now the price differential has reversed. “You could sell methanol today at the octane equivalent of $2 per gallon,” says Hollander. “You wouldn’t need any subsidies. The market would handle everything.”
    The elements for this historic transformation are all in place. With a strategic push, the auto industry could soon be launching another methanol experiment, this time under much more favorable circumstances. If so, Yossie Hollander and the Fuel Freedom Foundation can claim at least part of the credit.
    [/QUOTE]

  2. #2
    I really like this concept. We need a monumental and sensible shift like this to completely transform our energy structure. I'd like to see more research as well as any potential arguments against but the concept itself is very attractive.

  3. #3
    Well, sounds good to me.

    That said, I'm no expert. I'm sure corn ethanol was a "can't miss" once, too.

  4. #4
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    [QUOTE=sackdance;4490578]Well, sounds good to me.

    That said, I'm no expert. I'm sure corn ethanol was a "can't miss" once, too.[/QUOTE]

    It was by some, who didn't consider how the demand for ethanol would affect the price (:huh:). Article doesn't really address if that would/wouldn't happen with methanol. What are production costs? If demand for methanol increases X-fold, will it continue to be done here in the US?

    That, and fracking will increase. And we all know how popular that is with the enviro-crowd.

  5. #5
    [QUOTE=doggin94it;4490542]What are the cons?[/QUOTE]

    This?

    [QUOTE]Of course ramping up the industry to replace a significant portion of the 136 billion gallons of gasoline we consume every year would be a monumental undertaking.[/QUOTE]

    How many Cars/Trucks/Other Vehicles than run on Gasoline in America today?

    How many American Jobs and Businesses tied directly into Gasoline production, shipment, sales and more in America today?

    The economic cost of a wholesale shift, even done in stages, from Gasoline to Methanol would be titanic.

    The burden then, to justify the costs in dollars, jobs and more is on those who wish to convert, not those who are fine with teh existing status quo.

    So.

    Whats the gain by conversion? Domestic supply, for now? Cleaner (but still dirty) Fuels? Less need for involvement in the Middle East (assuems we wouldn't stay involved anyway)?

    The argument for any conversion has to make a clear-cut case on unquestionable grounds. The average american does not care about where their oil comes from nor it's effect on the theory of man-made climate change. They care about costs, to themselves, and ease of use, for themselves.

    I'm not for or against it myself. But I'd have to see a seriously well presented case why we should, and the article is ok, but not enough.

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=Warfish;4490664]This?



    How many Cars/Trucks/Other Vehicles than run on Gasoline in America today?

    How many American Jobs and Businesses tied directly into Gasoline production, shipment, sales and more in America today?

    The economic cost of a wholesale shift, even done in stages, from Gasoline to Methanol would be titanic.[/quote]

    Sure. The question is "would it be worth it"?

    The burden then, to justify the costs in dollars, jobs and more is on those who wish to convert, not those who are fine with teh existing status quo.

    So.
    [QUOTE]
    Whats the gain by conversion?[/QUOTE]

    Well, for one thing, the conversion effort itself would be a boon to the economy; it would basically be a massive infrastructure project here in the US, requiring significant injections of capital into the US market that would not otherwise be made.

    For another, once the conversion was done, the use of a resource found in abundance in the US to power cars would both dramatically reduce the costs of transportation (by eliminating much of the transportation costs built into current gas prices as necessitated by the fact that oil is, for the most part, shipped from overseas) and would ensure that a decent portion of the money that today is heading to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other oil exporting states would instead shift to the US economy. That second point would have both an economic impact on the US and a national security impact; as oil revenues drop, the ability of Middle East states to support terrorist groups and prop up dictatorial regimes will decrease.

    Their are major gains to be had, IMO, from turning the US into a net energy exporter rather than importer - or at least shifting the balance significantly in that direction.

    [QUOTE]
    Domestic supply, for now? Cleaner (but still dirty) Fuels? Less need for involvement in the Middle East (assuems we wouldn't stay involved anyway)?[/QUOTE]

    All of the above. More fundamentally, requiring cars to be flex-fuel capable would allow transportation costs to stay lower, since cars could shift from natural gas to oil based gasoline if the price situation ever reversed.

  7. #7
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    googled methanol vs gasoline horsepower and got this:

    Everyone seems to have their own ideas about running alcohol. Facts are facts and here are some about alcohol versus racing gasoline.

    Pros:

    Methanol makes less BTU's than gasoline per gallon but because you need to burn almost twice as much more horsepower and torque is produced. One reason is that the chemical structure of methanol contains oxygen molecules. Depending on the volumetric efficiency of your engine, you'll pickup anywhere from .3 to .7 of a second in ET just by switching to methanol.
    Overall, methanol is cheaper to run than racing gasoline. Methanol needs to run at a mixture of about 6.7 to 1 so you will burn about 2 to 2.7 times the volume of fuel. You must have a fuel system capable of flowing high volume. Methanol costs much less than racing gasoline and has a higher octane rating.
    Methanol is not affected as greatly by changes in atmospheric conditions as with gasoline. It is only affected about half as much as gasoline. If the air changes and your opponent running gasoline slows by .01 of a second, you will only slow about .005 of a second running methanol. Think about this the next time you're sitting in the staging lanes waiting to run.
    Methanol runs much cooler than gasoline so if you have overheating problems, converting to methanol can cure them very quickly. You can remove that huge aluminum or copper rad and install a tranny cooler or a small import car's radiator for a rad thus saving weight off the front of the car.

    Cons:

    Methanol is highly corrosive and has no lubricating qualities so you must use an additive that will protect your fuel system and cylinders from being eaten up. There are many additives more commonly preferred to as top lube. They also come in different scents so your exhaust can smell like cherry, chocolate, blueberry etc.
    The increase in horsepower comes low in the rpm range so your low end torque is increased dramatically. Over 7000 rpm the effect wears off. If your car is having traction problems with gasoline, you will have twice the problem when you switch to methanol. This is why most Super class racers run gasoline. If you spin a tire, you lose. A gasoline dragster with a heavy big block over the rear wheels is less likely to spin a tire in high gear or coming off the throttle stop than a methanol burning lightweight small block. There are ways to eliminate this problem and if you can, you will be twice as consistent as the other combination.
    Increased maintenance of the fuel system. Usually at the end of the race day you should lean out the engine and get it hot before shutting it down. This will help burn off any moisture in the crankcase. Then spray the carb down with WD-40. If the car is going to sit for longer than a couple of weeks, flush out the fuel system with gasoline.

    Okay, the Pros out weigh the Cons but don't go out and spend too much money on parts you don't need. Do NOT buy a belt driven mechanical fuel pump. I don't care what you read in advertisements, you don't need or even want a gear pump of any kind unless you are running fuel injection (Ron's Toilet etc). A BG 280 electric pump and two Holley blue regulators, one for each bowl is all you'll need.You'll also want to add bowl extensions to increase the fuel capacity of the bowls. You don't need to buy bowls with more than one needle and seat. One needle and seat with an orifice of .150 per bowl is more than adequate. If your fuel cell is not located in the front of the car, you'll want to step up to a BG 400 or equivalent pump to compensate for the G force when leaving the line. Do the math. Based on your estimated horsepower output, figure out how many pounds of fuel you are going to use on the run then convert that to gallons per hour and then fractional gallons per second. Then do a fuel volume flow test to insure that your system will flow that much fuel.

    The Holley carburetors are getting much better out of the box, are still not perfect, but are the best deal on the planet. Don't waste your money on some exotic highly modified carburetor. You don't need it. Most of what you're paying for is all cosmetic. Get a Holley HP 950 alcohol carb. Add bowl extensions, secondary jet extensions, remove the power valves (install plugs) and start with a primary and secondary jet size of about .172. You may have to go leaner but it is better to start rich than lean. Buy an EGT kit and use it every run that you make. Look for an EGT of about 1250 degrees as you cross the finish line. The engine should idle around 450 to 550 degrees. Also install an engine oil temperature gauge. Since the coolant never gets very hot, the only way to tell if the engine is hot enough to run is from the oil temperature. If you do it right, you'll never look back. I guarantee it!

  8. #8
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    same reason they killed the electric car the fat cats in big oil will not allow something to hinder their monopoly and have given great amounts to the government to keep their threshold on america and the american person bending over and getting a fist up their ass...............other than that sounds good. :D

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=Warfish;4490664]This?



    How many Cars/Trucks/Other Vehicles than run on Gasoline in America today?

    How many American Jobs and Businesses tied directly into Gasoline production, shipment, sales and more in America today?

    The economic cost of a wholesale shift, even done in stages, from Gasoline to Methanol would be titanic.

    The burden then, to justify the costs in dollars, jobs and more is on those who wish to convert, not those who are fine with teh existing status quo.

    So.

    Whats the gain by conversion? Domestic supply, for now? Cleaner (but still dirty) Fuels? Less need for involvement in the Middle East (assuems we wouldn't stay involved anyway)?

    The argument for any conversion has to make a clear-cut case on unquestionable grounds. The average american does not care about where their oil comes from nor it's effect on the theory of man-made climate change. They care about costs, to themselves, and ease of use, for themselves.

    I'm not for or against it myself. But I'd have to see a seriously well presented case why we should, and the article is ok, but not enough.[/QUOTE]

    If the article is true and with a $100 part cars would be flex fueled with the ability to take both gasoline and methanol I don't see the problem. They were able to mandate ethanol at gas stations, why not methanol?

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=chiefst2000;4491271]They were able to mandate ethanol at gas stations, why not methanol?[/QUOTE]

    Cheifs ol' bud, it's lines like this that make me so deeply distrustful of Romney Republicans such as yourself.

    As this line so gracefully illustrates, you have no problem with overwhelming Govt. power over anything.....as long as it's something you're ok with or support.

    I don't support the Govt. "mandating" ethanol, mathanol or healthcare. But apparently Romeny supporters support all three.

  11. #11
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    Methanol or wood alcohol is alleged to be more more poisonous than ethanol; replacing the harmful Lead-Ethyl additives of yore, MTBE was an effective additive derived from byproducts then added to fuel in the 80s/90s but was found to be toxic in ground water and the EPA doesnt want it...less efficient but higher octane

    FFVs that can accept E85 exist today (85% Ethanol). Yet E10, 10% Ethanol has been said to produce more smog than gasoline and consumers find it to be unsatisfactory from a perfromance standpoint (e. g. the folks who zoom around the Autobahn in Germany)...global demand is growing for MTBE, methanol/MTBE producers blame ADM et al for being more effective lobbyists for ethanol.

    I don't think there is any car that can officially use E85 and M85 (methanol) due to the corrosive effects of methanol / computer adjusting timing etc. although anecdotally some have done so

  12. #12
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    Here is a crazy idea to figure out if "it is worth it":Remove all fuel subsidies and let the market/consumer decide if it is worth it. As the article (corn ethanol) and many things in history demonstrate government intervention is always burdened by "unintended consequences" and usually costs much more due to bureaucracy than it would have in the free market. Get government out of the way and let innovation begin.

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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4491300] I don't support the Govt. "mandating" ethanol, mathanol or healthcare. [U]But apparently Romeny supporters support all three[/U].[/QUOTE]

    Coming from a 0 enabler, that is just nuts. I bet you got a Bag O' Glass as a kid and found it to be entertaining.

    But seriously E-10 for regular is standard in America. [B]It's already been mandated for decades.[/B] The 5c a gallon subsidy was recently discontinued but tariffs on ethanol imports (54c / gallon) were also dropped (US ethanol is made from corn, Brazil makes theirs from cane sugar) so if prices drop /money is saved that's a good thing. The inefficiency is a tradeoff for pollutants, you have to spend more to drive the same amount on E-10 vs regular without ethanol

    [B](At the time of the study below) Ethanol blending in the U.S. is keeping U.S. retail gasoline prices about 17 cents per gallon lower than they would be with no ethanol (14 cents if we subtract the cost of the ethanol subsidy. (strictly from an economic and not requirement/mandate standpoint taking into effect the inefficiency of ethanol)[/B]



    [URL]http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/pdfs/44517.pdf[/URL]
    Last edited by Jungle Shift Jet; 06-14-2012 at 10:36 AM.

  14. #14
    [QUOTE=Warfish;4491300]Cheifs ol' bud, it's lines like this that make me so deeply distrustful of Romney Republicans such as yourself.

    As this line so gracefully illustrates, you have no problem with overwhelming Govt. power over anything.....as long as it's something you're ok with or support.

    I don't support the Govt. "mandating" ethanol, mathanol or healthcare. But apparently Romeny supporters support all three.[/QUOTE]

    I'm not saying it is the solution or that it should be done but at the moment we have a mandate on Ethanol that is a disaster in every way. It is expensive to produce, drives up the cost of food, and wastes more energy then gasoline. I personally like the idea of running cars or fleets on natural gas. The infrastructure is already available in most peoples houses. CNBC did a segment on this and they were converting pickups to run natural gas. They cost was under $1 per gallon and they indicated they could get up to 70 Miles per gallon. Seems like a no brainer.

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=Jungle Shift Jet;4491337]Coming from a 0 enabler...[/quote]

    I'll say it this one last time, you posess no knowledge of who or what I've voted for. My vote has not "enabled" anyone other than the person I voted for, nor has my one lone vote ever played any meaningful role in any election in my State in which I've taken part. Your repeated claim against me is inaccurate. End of story.

    [QUOTE=chiefst2000;4491347]I'm not saying it is the solution or that it should be done but at the moment we have a mandate on Ethanol that is a disaster in every way. It is expensive to produce, drives up the cost of food, and wastes more energy then gasoline. I personally like the idea of running cars or fleets on natural gas. The infrastructure is already available in most peoples houses. CNBC did a segment on this and they were converting pickups to run natural gas. They cost was under $1 per gallon and they indicated they could get up to 70 Miles per gallon. Seems like a no brainer.[/QUOTE]

    If this is true, I have one simple idealogical question my friend.

    Why is Govt. the solution to this, and not the free market acting freely to fill a need at a more efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective price point?

    Why does the Govt. have to make a mandate, when the free market can fill this desire, should the desire exist in the population to utilize it? A more green fuel, that costs less and has (apparently) few downsides.....and we ned the Govt. to MAKE us use it, some business or entreprenuer cannot sell it and convince us it's in our own interests (and his profit) to use it?
    Last edited by Warfish; 06-14-2012 at 10:53 AM.

  16. #16
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    [QUOTE=chiefst2000;4491347]I'm not saying it is the solution or that it should be done but at the moment we have a mandate on Ethanol that is a disaster in every way. It is expensive to produce, drives up the cost of food, and wastes more energy then gasoline. I personally like the idea of running cars or fleets on natural gas. The infrastructure is already available in most peoples houses. CNBC did a segment on this and they were converting pickups to run natural gas. They cost was under $1 per gallon and they indicated they could get up to 70 Miles per gallon. Seems like a no brainer.[/QUOTE]

    Partially true, but there was a tariff on imported ethanol and there are other factors which drive up the cost of food. (only 10% of corn price increase attributable to ethanol). CNG is great except no one is producing many models that can run nor are there lots of places to fill up. As you noted the sweet spot is trucks and that is where savings will be realized.

    [URL]http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10057/04-08-ethanol.pdf[/URL]

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4491357]I'll say it this one last time, you posess no knowledge of who or what I've voted for. My vote has not "enabled" anyone other than the person I voted for, nor has my one lone vote ever played any meaningful role in any election in my State in which I've taken part. Your repeated claim against me is inaccurate. End of story.[/QUOTE]

    Stop the dumb "Ronmey" assertions about what his supporters are for and I'll drop my hurtful but well-founded crypto-liberal accusations about you.

    By your casual assertion above - e. g. some/limited government protections are invalid, and government sans public protections are utopia - your last name might as well be MacSoetoro.

  18. #18
    [QUOTE=Warfish;4491357]I'll say it this one last time, you posess no knowledge of who or what I've voted for. My vote has not "enabled" anyone other than the person I voted for, nor has my one lone vote ever played any meaningful role in any election in my State in which I've taken part. Your repeated claim against me is inaccurate. End of story.



    If this is true, I have one simple idealogical question my friend.

    Why is Govt. the solution to this, and not the free market acting freely to fill a need at a more efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective price point?

    Why does the Govt. have to make a mandate, when the free market can fill this desire, should the desire exist in the population to utilize it? A more green fuel, that costs less and has (apparently) few downsides.....and we ned the Govt. to MAKE us use it, some business or entreprenuer cannot sell it and convince us it's in our own interests (and his profit) to use it?[/QUOTE]

    The answer to your question is the basic FACT that Government has been the primary blockade for new innovation in vehicle fuels. The EPA uses its authoritarian powers to block Methanol in the 90's because they feared it was toxic to groundwater. As if gasoline isn't toxic? Please. You can't make this stuff up. Your concept that government should get out of the way is great in a bubble. The fact is that Government has caused most of the problems. Government blocks the implementation of new fuel sources based on bs theories and false premises. The only way to actually get something done nowadays is to have Government get on board with the idea. It sucks but that is reality. I don't advocate for subsidies on anything. I believe in the power of free markets. Government is the killer of this kind of innovation. Environmentalists and EPA cronies are the murder weapon.

  19. #19
    [QUOTE=chiefst2000;4491414]The answer to your question is the basic FACT that Government has been the primary blockade for new innovation in vehicle fuels. The EPA uses its authoritarian powers to block Methanol in the 90's because they feared it was toxic to groundwater. As if gasoline isn't toxic? Please. You can't make this stuff up. Your concept that government should get out of the way is great in a bubble. The fact is that Government has caused most of the problems. Government blocks the implementation of new fuel sources based on bs theories and false premises. The only way to actually get something done nowadays is to have Government get on board with the idea. It sucks but that is reality. I don't advocate for subsidies on anything. I believe in the power of free markets. Government is the killer of this kind of innovation. Environmentalists and EPA cronies are the murder weapon.[/QUOTE]

    So quite clearly the best answer is less Government and more appropriate less-limiting regulation, [U]not[/U] more Government via new and additional mandates, regulations and forced fuel-type monopolies by Federal fiat.

    [QUOTE]The only way to actually get something done nowadays is to have Government get on board with the idea. It sucks but that is reality.[/QUOTE]

    If you cannot beat the Big Government Leviathan, then join it?

    With respect, no thank you.

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=Trades;4491327]Here is a crazy idea to figure out if "it is worth it":Remove all fuel subsidies and let the market/consumer decide if it is worth it. As the article (corn ethanol) and many things in history demonstrate government intervention is always burdened by "unintended consequences" and usually costs much more due to bureaucracy than it would have in the free market. Get government out of the way and let innovation begin.[/QUOTE]

    I was going to post, but this essentially sums up my thoughts.

    +1

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