Fuel Alcohol

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Biofuels - for the temperate climate, alcohol derived from Jerusalem artichokes or waste orchard fruit appears to be the proven, sustainable route of fueling cities. Crop productivity and fuel usage calculations indicate that most cities, worldwide, scale in size in such a fashion that they can produce all their vehicle fuel needs from a land area equivalent to the size of the city - as long as this calculation is not based on the inefficient, though touted, alcohol from corn - but on perennial crops such as Jerusalem artichokes. This would not contribute to the food-or-fuel scenario that detractors of this proposition point out. Key: this is proven technology, and vehicles can run on alcohol with minor modifications. In the tropics, palm oil appears to be the solution for fuel needs, based on yields.


Engine stills.

If ethanol is used to power a stationary engine, or a tractor that needs ballasting, then an engine block still should work. The beer mash is plumbed through the engines cooling system, if your brave, or through a heat exchanger with the engine coolant on the other side. A thermostat keeps the beer at the boiling point of ethanol by diverted some water to the radiator. The ethanol vapour is condensed in a tower condenser on the vehicle or beside the stationary engine. A small insulated tank holds the 100 proof (100%) ethanol for start up in hot or cold weather.


  • The engine is the still using heat that would otherwise be wasted.
  • There's beer on tap on your tractor.


  • The beer fuel tanks need to be much larger your carrying around a lot of excess weight as water.
  • It smells like a brewery and the fuel tanks will need cleaning.
  • It could fail in cold weather if too much heat from the engine is diverted to heat the cabin of the vehicle or tractor,
  • there's beer on tap on your tractor.;-)

The extra weight problem can be solved by partly distilling the beer to 60 Proof (34%) ethanol. It will re-absorb water but that's not a problem if your using an engine still. A properly insulated flat plate solar collector like a solar hot water system will achieve 60 proof easily. None of the above is new every thing has been tried in the 1970's oil shock, the patents if there are any are not a problem, they will have expired and any slight plumbing change with a real effect will allow a new patent, etc. Wesley bruce 04:01, 13 July 2011 (PDT)

Ethanol protein by-products use and safety.

One key to considerations is the safe handling of the protein by-products. For every ton of fuel you get a ton a Dry Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distillers_grains A little history: This is what the Bush government botched (to George W's screaming horror) in the 2005 corn ethanol boom. This is food and always was but it was not cleared fast enough be the FDA for human use so much of it wound up pet food. In Europe more of it made it into the food chain. The food vs fuel debate is moot if your handling the DDGS properly and using it as either human food: Bread, gravy mix, Vegemite, boveral, etc or stock feed. Its a safe protein source: no chance of mad cow disease or problems with toxins in fish meal or overfishing.

A village scale ethanol plant can easily get its DDGS or even wet distillers grains -- the raw beer mash -- back to live stock after ethanol extraction. An optimal means of storing for human consumption is to dry wet distillers grains to 15% moisture content and freeze it for storage in a cold cellar. Don't try to augur DDGS it turns to glue. In the Ethanol boom FDA mandates that demanded augurs destroyed dozens if them and bankrupted some producers. A village can have its fuel and eat it too. This allows most grain and starch crops to be used as fuel and food crops simultaneously. If 50% of the effort is put into managing the protein then these by-products can be over 50% of the profits.

A useful book to be added to the library: Sustainable Ethanol by Jeffrey and Adrian Goettemoeller. http://www.sustainableethanol.blogspot.com/

Wesley bruce 04:01, 13 July 2011 (PDT)

From unidentified collaborator

It is legal to make alcohol for fuel - illegal to make it for beverages without a licence. An engineering diagram is available on the web for building a distillation unit. Plans are $30. Materials are $600. The unit was designed about 30 years ago and can be found in assembled form on Ebay & Craigs list for less than the cost of materials. You simply Google the model number <charles 803> to find one. The equipment could easily be modified slightly and added to the open source inventory.

I've spent the last six years trying to develop gaseous fuels into a viable, decentralized fuel source. These include biogas, process gas and Magnegas. While useful for many stationary applications, I've found them to be impractical for transportation because of their low power density. The cost of increasing the power density - compressing them or cryogenically condensing them, makes them impractical in my view.

In reviewing the possibilities of liquid fuels, I learned that my bad impressions of ethanol were the result of oil company propaganda - especially the "food vs fuel" issue. I learned this from Permaculture designer David Blume who wrote the book, "Alcohol can be a gas". See his YouTube interview if you wish to pursue this.

I'm writing to you specifically because there are no commercial engines designed to exploit the high octane ratings of alcohol. There are custom-designed units used in racing. Saab makes a 2-liter roadster that puts out 300 hp. (150 hp/liter) Any ordinary IC engine will run on alcohol but the low gasoline compression ratio penalizes its fuel economy. Increase its compression ratio and it approaches diesel in fuel economy.

The Charles 803 allows you to make consistently pure E85 at the rate of 7.5 gallons per hour from sour milk, cattail rhizomes, fruit processing waste - any source of sugar or starch. Fuel production is now included in David Blume's permaculture garden designs.

See Also: http://permaculture.org.au/2010/06/02/biofuels-and-confirmation-bias/ Biofuels and Confirmation Bias

What is required to distill the alcohol?

Where will the energy come from to distill the alcohol?

What is the fruit to alcohol ratio?

I've visited plum brandy distilleries and they said that it was a 50:1 ratio...--Dennis 08:15, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Answer from random contributor:

What is required to distill the alcohol?

Graphene may be a game changer for many technologies but for ethanol I think it is especially promising as it has the potential to distill ethanol for very little energy cost as it lets water through and pretty much nothing else.

Check here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120126100639.htm


Cellulosic Ethanol

Ethanol from cellulosic biomass is definitely the preferred way to make ethanol in North America. There are already companies doing this, and, it appears to be the case that hemp has the most potential to do this. Being able to grow pretty much anywhere and being able to grow really fast, with a high cellulose content up to 85 percent and being able to use the oil for biodiesel and/or other purposes it would seem hemp is the best single crop for liquid fuels since Ethanol is probably the best liquid fuel there is.


See Also