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Remove Ethanol/Alcohol Separation System


Guest teknosmurf
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Guest teknosmurf

Hi Everyone,

I am new to the antique auto industry as a whole, so I freely admit that I have no credability, knowledge, or understanding as of yet.

With that full disclosure out of the way, the reason I am here is because my company (portablefuelsystems.com) recently introduced our Alcohol Separation System at a local airport fly-in event. Interestingly enough, while there was a lot of interest in the aviation community, there was a common theme amongst the visitors to our booth. Many of them said the antique/classic car folks would have a huge interest in removing ethanol from gasoline.

When I did a search on this forum, sure enough, there was over 350 "hits" just fromt he first search, and most of those hits had negative things to say about ethanol.

Now that I am beginning to understand that it is a real problem in your industry, I would love to have some direct feedback from you all. The questions I have are:

1) How big of a problem is ethanol really?

2) What kind of issues does ethanol create that cannot be overcome?

3) For the issues that cannot be overcome, what are some of the ways people "deal with" those issues to lesson the pain of having to endure them?

4) In aircraft (and I suspect is the case with classic cars) the main concerns are things like fuel tanks/bladders, fuel plumbing, carb rubber, phase separation/water absorbtion. Are there any other considerations for your cars?

Thanks all, I appreciate the feedback!

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Guest teknosmurf

Hi Wayne,

In a nutshell, the A-S-S (yes, we get a lot of play from the acronym ;) ) removes ethanol/alcohol from gasoline. I am an embedded software engineer by trade, so of course, it is completely automated...set it up, press the "go button" and come back to "clean" gas in the tank and a can full of waste.

In the interest of not turning this into a commercial/advertisement, maybe the best thing would be to post a couple of links for people to review:

A brief description:

Alcohol Separation System - PortableFuelSystems.com

FAQs:

FAQs - PortableFuelSystems.com

I am not looking to turn this into an adertisement thread, I mainly want to know if and how people are already dealing with this issue in classic cars, and what issues are specific to the classic car industry regarding ethanol.

Thanks for the interest!

Nick

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One thing to remember is that most real vintage cars are exempt from having to use ethanol fuels. so this product would only be a convenience to someone without a source near enough to be practical.

That about covers what I deal with here in Virginia, non-existant non-ethanol gasolines. I try to drive everything I own at least once every 3 months for at least 45-60 minutes, then refill with new gasoline.

Ummm, Maybe in this sense, ethanol is a little good if it gets us to share our antique cars on the highways with others?? :)

Wayne

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Luckily, I still have a local station selling ethanol free gasoline, so I am not yet in the market for anything like this. One question, What do you do with the ethanol after it has been removed from the gasoline?

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Guest teknosmurf

What do you do with the ethanol after it has been removed from the gasoline?

Toung-in-cheek answer: Send it back to Washington!

Official response: local rules vary, dispose of it responsibly, safely and in accordance with local rules/laws.

Generally speaking, the ethanol is considered environmentally friendly, water is considered environmentally friendly, but the trace amounts of gasoline may not be. This is generally (but not always) where local laws differ.

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teknosmurf,

I wish you well in this endeavor. I suspect that the cost of the equipment and the difficulty to come up with an easy universal answer to the disposal issue will be the two most difficult issues for you to deal with as you market this product to the average antique car owner.

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I also wish you good luck.

With the attitude of our wonderful benevolent government in Missouri, I would personally be reluctant to purchase such as item without some legal guarantees that it would be legal to use, and legal to burn "real" gasoline in an automobile. I haven't checked the phraseology recently, but at one time Missouri law REQUIRED all automotive pumps to have ethanol (this as a result of a dumb campaign promise that was actually kept).

I doubt seriously disposal of the waste would be much of a problem in any locality with a race track. Regardless of all of the other issues with ethanol, engines specifically built for ethanol will produce more power than those on gasoline (of course you use a little more than twice as much!).

As to what we do to combat ethanol in old cars??? That would require writing a book!!!

I pretty well have mine working (short term) and hope the politicians wise up before the long term issues set in!

I am really more concerned with small engine use. We have 4 acres of yard plus a 3 acre cemetery for which we care. When the ambient hits 85 degrees plus ALL of our air-cooled lawn and garden tractors vapor lock in direct sunshine. This means either mow in the shade, or mow in the early morning.

Jon.

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Technosmurff, I wish you well in your enterprise, also . . . but I'm not sure how well it might go over.

If you use Google to do your searches, you'll find that the issue with ethanol-in-fuel dates back to the original ReFormulated Gasoline (RFG) of the earlier 1990s. And prior to that with the oxygenated fuels used in Colorado during the winter months. Such a Google search will yield massive amounts of forum posts from wooden and other boat owners/enthusiasts. They were one of the first groups to notice equipment issues, especially after MTBE was replaced by ethanol levels "Up to 10%". Previously, ethanol levels had been about 5.67%. What happened to them was that the ethanol attacked the fiberglass fuel tanks in their boats, partially "melting" the plastic and it then settled to the bottom of the tank during "phase separation" later on. All fuel pickups are at or near the bottom of the fuel tanks, so you can imagine "the gunk" suddenly in the fuel filters, carb float bowls, etc. The fix was new metal fuel tanks, hopefully stainless steel for the best longevity, all of which would be custom-made for the particular application.

Ethanol also "dose not play well" with older rubber compounds in engine parts and fuel systems. All rubber produced since about 1992 has been "RFG resistant" and I believe that somebody has recently released an "E-85 resistant" product line of rubber fuel line hose.

There are some alcohol-fuel classes in dirt track racing. I'm not sure if it's ethanol-based or otherwise. All I've heard is "alcohol".

You might also check out www.fueltestkits.com

Best of luck!

NTX5467

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Waste contaminated ethanol would be considered D001 hazardous waste by the EPA if generated in any commercial endeavor. If one were to have significant quantities generated in the home in a hobby situation it would not legally be considered a hazardous waste, but the practical aspects of disposal would be the same. There isn't a municipal waste hauler in the U.S. who would knowingly accept any quantity of this material, and would almost certainly sue the he!! out of anyone who tried to do so (especially when the truck catches fire--I've seen it done!). Most haulers today won't take any liquid at all over 1 gallon, which is actually a legal limit in some states.. Also to dump it down the drain would be criminal offense by state law at least virtually everywhere.

It may be possible, once there is enough of an infrastructure present, for certain fuel facilities (including those at race tracks) to accept and reuse the ethanol (either as a fuel or to be re-blended with petroleum feedstock). It would require a very close relationship with the facility accepting the waste. Not everyone is going have open ears to the guy wandering in the front door asking to take his 3 drums of flammable liquid that he says is "mostly" ethanol, and those that do are probably not the sort of people most would want to associate themselves with. In that respect commercial producers would have an advantage here, because hazardous waste (like the D001 previously described) is much less expensive to get rid of when it's being reused instead of being disposed.

Frankly, I'd find it a much less obtrusive solution to make sure the tank is full (to prevent water absorption) and to replace a few diaphragms, gaskets, and fuel lines.

Again, cars of all stripes have been running on this stuff almost exclusively for 30+ years in large sections of the country. It's just not that big a deal when dealt with intelligently.

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We all know the ethanol has taken the place of many anti knock additives. If we remove this from our fuel what can you use for anti-knock compounds to put back in??? If you look at most of the anti detonation additives out there on the market they are all alcohol based too.

Alcohol burns very clean..... so Dave, why can't we use this just like we use used motor oil for heat??

Don

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If what is removed is ethanol/alchohol, couldn't you "dispose" of it by adding it to your modern car tank?

antique car ---0% ethanol

wife's car -----20% ethanol

If I read the description on the web site properly, the alcohol is removed from the gasoline by mixing it with water. So the waste is a water/alcohol mix. Not sure of the proportion, but I don't think I'd want to be intentionally adding water to the fuel system of my daily driver.

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Original poster states: recently introduced our Alcohol Separation System at a local airport fly-in event

I find this a bit confusing, as I was under the impression that by law no aircraft was permitted to use ethanol blended fuel? If this is correct a "fly-in" sure seems to be a strange venue to intro the separator device?

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Has anyone personally and surely experienced any alcohol related failures or problems in their collector cars? I've been using whatever pump fuel I happen to buy for the last 15 years in everything from my 39 Chev to the 69 Vette and everything in between and have suffered no ill effects from alcohol that I know of. Maybe I've just been lucky but it's been a non issue.............Bob

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Has anyone personally and surely experienced any alcohol related failures or problems in their collector cars? I've been using whatever pump fuel I happen to buy for the last 15 years in everything from my 39 Chev to the 69 Vette and everything in between and have suffered no ill effects from alcohol that I know of. Maybe I've just been lucky but it's been a non issue.............Bob

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Certainly it is a failure on governments part to mandate what a car can burn in cars that were not designed to run on such fuel. On one hand they mandate better fuel economy and on the other hand they make cars less efficient. Where can I personally see failure on cars??? Premature vapor lock on cars,much larger amount of water accumulation in fuel tanks which leads to rusty tanks and clogging up fuel filters, hard starting on some cars, Engine dyno comparative test, drag strip time slips, most importantly fuel mileage test. Think of all the fuel we are wasting because this fuel has less BTU's!

Don

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You could always just leave the open container of "removed" ethanol outside until it evaporated.

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At least use it to light up the barbecue.

Don

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Has anyone personally and surely experienced any alcohol related failures or problems in their collector cars? I've been using whatever pump fuel I happen to buy for the last 15 years in everything from my 39 Chev to the 69 Vette and everything in between and have suffered no ill effects from alcohol that I know of. Maybe I've just been lucky but it's been a non issue.............Bob

Bob - YES!

As stated earlier, I pretty well have my older cars set up to handle short term. When the long term effects occur, I will fix them. But then I have redone THE ENTIRE FUEL SYSTEM on each of my older cars, modifying as best I can for ethanol.

My daily failures are with aircooled engines. NONE of our lawn and garden fleet will operate above an ambient of 85 degrees F. in direct sunlight on this stuff. No issues if I go to the marina. Same is true with the weed-eaters, tillers, what-have-you. And I truly dislike working on small engine carburetors!

Several years ago, I did have a fuel line coupling (neopreme) failure, but replaced all of the neopreme couplings with alcohol resistant stuff, and have had no more failures.

But anyone who even remotely believes there are no problems should be sentenced to a week of answering our shop telephone!!!

Jon.

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Bob - YES!

As stated earlier, I pretty well have my older cars set up to handle short term. When the long term effects occur, I will fix them. But then I have redone THE ENTIRE FUEL SYSTEM on each of my older cars, modifying as best I can for ethanol.

My daily failures are with aircooled engines. NONE of our lawn and garden fleet will operate above an ambient of 85 degrees F. in direct sunlight on this stuff. No issues if I go to the marina. Same is true with the weed-eaters, tillers, what-have-you. And I truly dislike working on small engine carburetors!

Several years ago, I did have a fuel line coupling (neopreme) failure, but replaced all of the neopreme couplings with alcohol resistant stuff, and have had no more failures.

But anyone who even remotely believes there are no problems should be sentenced to a week of answering our shop telephone!!!

Jon.

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Jon, I have two restored VW's (64 & 65) and have no problem with them. I have garden equipment that is a 1963 com. front throw and a 70's vintage edger with no problems. I do have problems with a 90's rotary with plastic internal parts/non rebuildable carburetor.

Don

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I dunno. I run my lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, leaf blower and 6 collector cars on the stuff and they all seem to digest it OK. Maybe it's only a matter of time but so far so good. Remember, back in the day, when folks used to dump cans of DriGas in their tanks all winter long? Wasn't that just alcohol that mixed with any water?.............Bob

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Guest Bob Call

Restorer32

Ethannol is "grain alcohol" the active ingedient in whisky, wine and beer. Any alcohol made by fermenting grain or high sugar vegatable juice, carbohydrate feedstock, is ethanol. The other alcohol is methanol, used to be called wood alcohol, and is make from hydrocarbon feed stock like natural gas. Methanol is is poison! Motor racing "alky" is usually methanol as it is cheaper to make than ethanol.

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One of the ways to remove ethanol from gasoline is to "wash it out", which is deliberately adding water to encourage "phase separation", with the "gunk" ending up on the bottom of the fuel container. Then it's sucked out to leave "gasoline" as the result.

Getting the ethanol out does lower the octane rating by a few numbers. For an older engine with 8.0 to 1 compresion ratio, it probably will not make any difference, but for a engine with a 10.0 to 1 compresioin ratio, it'll probably need some good octane booster (without any alcohol-based additives in it).

For vehicles which see somewhat regular use, phase separation does not have too much of a chance to happen, as the fuel mixture in the tank is "agitated" by vehicle use. It's when things sit for extended periods of time in a humid environment or an environment with significant temperature swings (which can allow small amounts of condensation to happen inside of the fuel tank). Once phase separation starts, it happens--only way is to remove the "combined fuel/water mixture" from the system. These things are mentioned on the fueltestkits.com website.

In prior times, any gasoline additive which claimed to "remove water", contained alcohol. The alcohol combined with the water so the resulting mixture could be burned in the engine. Plus a certain amount of fuel system cleaning at the same time. I guess we should be glad we now get that at "no extra charge" with every tank of fuel . . . in certain areas of the country????

Regards,

NTX5467

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You could always just leave the open container of "removed" ethanol outside until it evaporated.

That's called "disposal in the atmosphere", disposal by evaporation", or "atmospheric disposal". It might be legal locally for a homeowner, but a commercial operation would definitely have serious problems trying to do this. It's also very risky and dangerous.

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Certainly it is a failure on governments part to mandate what a car can burn in cars that were not designed to run on such fuel. On one hand they mandate better fuel economy and on the other hand they make cars less efficient. Where can I personally see failure on cars??? Premature vapor lock on cars,much larger amount of water accumulation in fuel tanks which leads to rusty tanks and clogging up fuel filters, hard starting on some cars, Engine dyno comparative test, drag strip time slips, most importantly fuel mileage test. Think of all the fuel we are wasting because this fuel has less BTU's!

Don

Fuels are legally defined and controlled for the consumer public, not the collector market. We are a tiny subset of the mass market. Our special needs will be increasingly hard to meet in the future as renewable fuels become a larger part of the market. There will certainly come a day VERY soon when we'll be pining for the days when we could still reliably buy gas anywhere with only 10% ethanol in it.

Hopefully there will always be "real" gas available for us commercially in some form. Ensuring that this is the case should be the #1 priority of any efforts in this area, but don't expect it to be cheap or easy. Any attempt to use our cars to define what everyone else should use is a hopeless cause.

As to the lower BTU content..., obviously almost nobody cares. Any fuel injected car in good condition should lose less than 5% of it's mileage, and carburated cars normally can be calibrated to match that. In a 2006 Honda Civic it's immaterial compared to environmental savings afforded already, and we haven't even begun to synthesize cellosic ethanol yet (which is expected to be vastly more efficient). The idea that a Super Duty Pontiac still being run on pump gas is half a second slower in the quarter on summer Saturdays is practically meaningless in the larger scale of things.

Edited by Dave@Moon (see edit history)
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My daily failures are with aircooled engines. NONE of our lawn and garden fleet will operate above an ambient of 85 degrees F. in direct sunlight on this stuff. No issues if I go to the marina. Same is true with the weed-eaters, tillers, what-have-you.

Then how have people in Iowa been mowing their lawns for the last 30 years? Non-ethanol containing fuels there have been all but nonexistant there since 1979.

Yes, there are all manner of things that can go wrong with ethanol, but all of them are easily fixed with proper handling and minor upgrades to older equipment. If it were a big deal, society would come to a halt.

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Alcohol burns very clean..... so Dave, why can't we use this just like we use used motor oil for heat??

Don

If an approved burner were commercially available like there is for motor oil, this would be a possiblity in areas where oil burners are also allowed (which isn't everywhere). Given the low likelyhood that this will be a viable sourse of waste for an extended period of time, and the small quantities of ethanol that any non-commercial application of this process would produce, I think it's very unlikely that a manufacrturer would find it worthwhile to pursue this market.

Edited by Dave@Moon
bad typo! (see edit history)
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Gasoline with ethanol in it seems to have a very short shelf life. In other words, if you buy it you better use it up quickly. It becomes a real problem when stored in a can for a few weeks or left in a mower over the winter. Adding preservatives to it does not help in the long run. First thing you know you have a layer of black gum in the bottom of gas cans and of course in gas tanks and gas lines. The people that dictated it for automobiles should be strung up by the thumbs.

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It becomes a real problem when stored in a can for a few weeks or left in a mower over the winter. Adding preservatives to it does not help in the long run. First thing you know you have a layer of black gum in the bottom of gas cans and of course in gas tanks and gas lines.

Another in a long list of bad things about ethanol that I've never seen. I keep 5 cans of gas in my shed, rotating them so that none get stored for more than 3 months before it's burnt. I've never even seen a hint of a "black gum" in anything I've used, and 2 of my (plastic) cans are so old they've been faded almost translucent by the sun.

Of course, I know better than to leave gas in the mower over the winter. It's run dry on the last mowing of the year.

And I've been putting preservative (usually Sta-Bil but this year I have some Gumout brand stabilizer that I got a deal on) for about 15 years now, the last 5 years or so with E-10 the only fuel available. Thus far I've never even heard of any issues with ethanol and fuel preservative.

It's pretty obvious that ethanol is becoming the fall guy for just about everything, whether it's even related to the problem or not.

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That's called "disposal in the atmosphere", disposal by evaporation", or "atmospheric disposal". It might be legal locally for a homeowner, but a commercial operation would definitely have serious problems trying to do this. It's also very risky and dangerous.[/quote

I guess it wasn't obvious enough that I had my tongue planted firmly in my cheek when I typed that post. We pay Safty Kleen almost $400/month to dispose of our paint waste.

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I guess it wasn't obvious enough that I had my tongue planted firmly in my cheek when I typed that post. We pay Safty Kleen almost $400/month to dispose of our paint waste.

It's been a long time now, but I have actually cited people for doing exactly this when I was a PA hazardous waste enforcement officer, including one body shop in Pittsburgh. Sadly there are many for whom such concepts as letting bad stuff evaporate are perfectly legimate.

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Actually in PA evaporation is the suggested method for disposing of household paints such as latex but of course we are talking about a whole different thing. We add a hazardous waste disposal surcharge to any paints, primers, thinners etc we use on a customer's vehicle. In the 20 years or so we have been doing this not one customer has ever complained about the charge. As much as they whine about rules and regulations, and some regs are indeed ridiculous, most folks understand the importance of properly disposing of these wastes.

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Then how have people in Iowa been mowing their lawns for the last 30 years? Non-ethanol containing fuels there have been all but nonexistant there since 1979.

Yes, there are all manner of things that can go wrong with ethanol, but all of them are easily fixed with proper handling and minor upgrades to older equipment. If it were a big deal, society would come to a halt.

Dave - I did not say I could not mow the yard. What I said is I cannot mow in direct sunlight when the ambient is above 85 degrees F. Which means mow earlier in the day. Maybe at my age I have no business working in the hot sun anyway ;) I will have to try that excuse! :P

And just for the record, we have Onan, Tecumseh, Briggs, Kawasaki, and Kohler engines in our various L & G fleet. They ALL experience the same symptoms. I at first thought it was electronic ignition issues, but after replacing a couple of ignitions, I still had the problem. Real gasoline solved the problems.

Jon.

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[quote name=Dave@Moon;950573

As to the lower BTU content...' date=' obviously almost nobody cares. Any fuel injected car in good condition should lose less than 5% of it's mileage, and carburated cars normally can be calibrated to match that. In a 2006 Honda Civic it's immaterial compared to environmental savings afforded already, and we haven't even begun to synthesize cellosic ethanol yet (which is expected to be vastly more efficient). The idea that a Super Duty Pontiac still being run on pump gas is half a second slower in the quarter on summer Saturdays is practically meaningless in the larger scale of things.

________________________________________________________________

Dave, I have two current model fuel injected cars that are in perfect order. Both cars have lost a consistent 4mpg since 10% ethanol was introduced. I'm not just talking about SD Pontiac's, but everything we drive. There is plenty of oil around so lets use it. Lets get rid of a EPA and other agencies that have no accountability to government or the people. BTW that was not a political statement it is merely saying No agency should be allowed to make policy without the governs consent.

Don

Edited by helfen (see edit history)
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