Anyone tried making Ethanol Fuel?

Jun 10, 2010
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Been reading up on it, I suppose making Ethanol fuel in large quantities would be difficult but as a test I might try and make a couple of liters and see if a lawn mower runs on it.

Early days of research but it's seems basically you can make it out of sugar, yeast and water.
Takes about 3-4 days to make.

Anyone else ever had a go?
 

Crispin

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Swap the sugar for barley, tastes better ;)


Intersting idea to make yourself. Any idea on what is would cost on a larger scale?
 

Chas

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James Rothwell said:
Been reading up on it, I suppose making Ethanol fuel in large quantities would be difficult but as a test I might try and make a couple of liters and see if a lawn mower runs on it.Early days of research but it's seems basically you can make it out of sugar, yeast and water.Takes about 3-4 days to make.Anyone else ever had a go?
Hi James,
Do you have a 'recipe' ie; quantities, method, etc :cool:
Chas
 

Andrew Prince

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Crispin said:
Any idea on what is would cost on a larger scale?
You will suddenly find petrol, even at UK prices, very cheap by comparison ;)

Fermentation is pretty simple but you have to distill the ethanol, which requires a fair amount of energy and your home distillation kit is not going to give you high purity ethanol. Ethanol is an azeotrope so getting 100% purity is not possible with conventional distillation. So you're going to be pumping some water through your fuel system, which will suffer for it long-term. The ethanol will also continue to absorb water from the atmosphere so leaving it to stand in your fuel tank isn't smart. Obviously you would run it as a petrol/ethanol mix but the water issue remains a big drawback for the injection system etc.

In case you haven't already guessed, :roll: I do not think this is a great idea as a cost-saving exercise but give it a bash to satisfy your curiosity! :mrgreen:

If you want to know why the economics are going to be very uncompetitive, shout and I'll put my anorak back on and drone on some more :geek:

Cheers,
 
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Crispin

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Andrew Prince said:
If you want to know why the economics are going to be very uncompetitive, shout and I'll put my anorak back on and drone on some more :geek:
If you explaining, I'm listening :geek:
I just learnt a new word: Azeotrape :ugeek:
 

Andrew Prince

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Basically it boils down (no pun intended!) to the sugar source to make the ethanol needing to be cheap. In Brazil (biggest ethanol producer in the world and I think the biggest sugar producer) they have very cheap sugar. The commercial process involves squeezing the juice from the sugar cane and then simply fermenting the juice - the distillation removes the alcohol from the impurities and most of the water.
The sugar you're buying in the shop is made from the same juice but the juice is purified, concentrated, crystallised, separated and dried - each step involving energy (= cost). That sugar is then transported to port and then by ship to the UK, where it is bagged and distributed... all adding cost.
IIRC you will need more than a kg of sugar (1.1-1.2kg?) to produce 1 l of ethanol (dunno what a kg of sugar costs?) plus the costs of your fermentation equipment and the energy to distill.

I'm a bit rusty on the details and it's getting late - as a rough guide I believe Brazilian ethanol costs about $0.25/l to produce, whereas petrol costs about double that (Obviously this depends on the current price of crude etc - taxes then go on top to get the price we see at the pump) so Brazilian ethanol is much cheaper than petrol hence the big ethanol component in their petrol at the pump.

Just to make this worse, the ethanol needs to be around 30% cheaper to be equivalent to petrol because its energy density is lower, i.e. you consume 25-30% more ethanol to produce the same power as petrol!

I feel like I need to drink some ethanol after waking up some braincells that have been in long hibernation :mrgreen:

Cheers,
 
Jun 10, 2010
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That's interesting Andrew, thanks for explaining.

Like you said, I think I'll have a go just because I'm curious.
See if I can make some and run a mower on it. Actually somewhere in the shed I've got an old engine that I mounted on a big flat piece of wood. Think it's an old Briggs and Stratton engine. I remember taking it to pieces when I was 14 and being so happy when I put it all back together and it ran!

Ahhh... Memories of a bygone era...
 
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