HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range electric vehicle after all...

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jdh2550_1
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HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range electric vehicle after all...

I'm starting to favor bio-diesel made from algae oil as a good long range transportation solution. I'll still use my scoots for short trips but for longer trips I'm seriously considering a Jetta TDI running on B100 (that's 100% bio-diesel). As necessary in colder months (say 3 to 4 months of the year) I'll probably run a B50 blend (that's 50% regular #2 diesel with cold weather capability). At some point I'm sure someone will come up with a fool proof cold weather solution for bio-diesel which will negate the need for the "fossil fuel fix"

My first step is to start using bio-diesel from converted waste vegetable oil (WVO). I have a friend who has just started down this road and I'm going to join forces with him.

B100 burns cleaner than regular diesel (less emissions - aside from NOx (I need to understand the NOx problem and how bad it is)) and it's a solvent so it can clean your engine. All modern vehicles are capable of burning B100 just fine (because it ultra low sulfur blends of diesel exhibit the same solvent properties).

I think B100 is considered carbon neutral even when made from WVO because the CO2 released during combustion would have been released by the plants decaying anyway. I'm not exactly sure about this!

B100 made from algae oil definitely has the advantage that CO2 is sequestered by the algae during growth. I am playing around with ideas for an "open source" algae photo-bio-reactor. Algae can be rapidly grown (around a 2 day "doubling" under the right conditions) and a bio-reactor can create an efficient use of space and doesn't need to be anywhere special (you could stick 'em in a warehouse somewhere).

B100 from WVO costs about 75 cents a gallon to produce. My "guesstimate" for Algae oil production puts it at about 55 cents per gallon - so B100 from algae oil would cost $1.30 a gallon. A Jetta TDI gets around 42 mpg.

If I'm right in thinking that this is a carbon neutral solution then I don't think I even need to worry about a plug-in hybrid. I still want to use electric for short trips (electric is still better at helping with air quality in cities)

What do you guys think?

reikiman
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV....

I've been thinking the same thing (though not going so far as to do the WVO thing). The author of The Zero Carbon Car did something like this -- he wanted to validate the reasoning he put together about what it would truly take to have a zero carbon footprint car. So he built a hybrid electric Miata, using a marine style 10kw diesel generator in a series hybrid arrangement, fueling the generator with biodiesel. Okay, that's not quite what you're suggesting but close.

I've been pondering getting a diesel pickup .. and maybe if (uh) I didn't live in California I might actually take Winter seriously. Here winter is a bit of a joke (ducking) and I imagine if I lived in a place where it wasn't a joke that I'd be more concerned about what to do for a vehicle in the winter. Last winter I was able to motorcycle most of the time. (ducking)

The reason for a pickup is to be able to haul the motorcycle when e.g. it needs to go to the shop.

reikiman
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

Hey John, got a different idea for ya. For my birthday I bought myself a speshul book that just arrived tonight, and it has an interesting bicycle design that's supposed to be good for winter. "Atomic Zombie Bicycle Builders Bonanza" ... It's available through better bookstores everywhere or at least Amazon.com and if you yahoogle Atomic Zombie you'll find the author and several designs.

The Hammerhead is a bicycle with two front wheels. The author lives in Canada so I suppose he knows something about Winter (unlike me). He describes having taken an "adult trike" out in the snow and had a horrible time. He thought two front wheels were important for getting through the snow. He explains how a tadpole recumbent is a bad idea because of being so low to the ground in winter the car drivers aren't going to be looking for bicycles and the low-slung recumbent is gonna be even more invisible than normal, plus you'd be riding inches above the slush and salt and it's just best to be riding at normal bicycle height to be more visible and well above the slushy icey salty road.

It looks like a simple build with only a little bit of welding. And it could be electrified.. possibly having two front hub motors...?

But for what you said about true long range driving .. hey .. biodiesel vehicle is a good idea.

jdh2550_1
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

I dunno - I guess I'm too staid and boring but I've never warmed to these three wheel designs. I don't even like the Aptera.

Sorry - I know I'm a Luddite! ;-)

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

gushar
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

Hey this "hybrid" sounds interesting. Did a search and found this on the "Mother Earth News" website. Looks like the guy doing this was doing it even way back in 1979!
David Arthur's Hybrid Electric Car

And for only $1500! Wow...and I see the ME News even sells his plans for $25.

Gushar

Gus

depetro
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

John, your ideas about biodiesel are fairly sound. The beauty of biodiesel production is that it scales very well. Meaning, you can start extremely small (say a pot and pan on your stove) or a hot water heater. The other beauty is that on the small scale there is a boatload of literature and home-brew experience so dispersal of knowledge is fairly simple. I'd suggest finding "From the Frying pan to the Fuel Tank" at your local library (or amazon). It's a great read chronicling some of the finer details of grassroots biodiesel production.

The only downside to using biodiesel for long range trips (and I was/am still considering a similar strategy) is that currently biodiesel/petro-diesel is selling for a hefty premium over gasoline. (about 50 cents extra per gallon in the 3 parts of the US I've been in the past month). For me, a standard combustion engine driven car fits into the 30-900 mile trip category. Obviously, the lower end of that scale can be easily serviced by biodiesel (on tank or less) its just that if you go on a longer road trip, you start to lose out as you have to fill up along the way, but in the end I still think its a better idea than just grabbing a gasoline car and going. (how ho-hum anyway).

I've been wondering when someone would combine an efficient, small diesel with hybrid technology so I guess someone finally is.

jdh2550_1
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

Yep, biodiesel from WVO is very well covered (I actually just borrowed that book from a friend).

However, do you know of any books for "algae farming"?

At first I hope to be able to secure a good WVO supply and not incur the cost of algae oil production (if such a process is even feasible for the "backyard"). However, as WVO processing becomes more popular I suspect WVO will be harder to procure. And anyway, algae farming looks like an interesting challenge!

As far as longer trips - my usual long trip is about 600 miles. A Jetta TDI has a 12 gallon tank and a (conservative) 40mpg efficiency (especially since most of that is on the freeway). That's 480 miles on a tank. Theoretically I'd only need an extra 3 gallons to reach my target distance. Taking along a 5 gallon "gas" can seems reasonable.

Even on your 900 mile trip you're still far better off financially, even without a reserve supply.

The first 480 miles takes 12 gallons @ 75 cents per gallon (assuming free WVO). The next 480 miles (just to make the math easy!) takes 12 gallons @ 5 dollars per gallon (I agree it's a 50 cent premium over gas). Total trip cost = $9 bio-diesel + $60 petro-diesel = $69

With a gas car with (a generous) 30 mpg 960 miles takes 32 gallons at $4.50 giving a total trip cost of = $144. My gas car only actually gets 22 mpg, so that 960 mile trip would actually cost me $196. Driving a Prius at 45mpg (highway mileage) would cost $96 - but the bio-diesel is carbon neutral and the Prius isn't.

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

depetro
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

About the algae. Its a very nascent subject. The only decent data concerning the subject came from a DOE study about 3 or 4 years ago. I haven't had a chance to track down the study, but I'm very interested in it.

Actually, about 2 months ago I began kicking around the idea of starting up a small company to produce biodiesel. You mentioned that WVO might be hard to come buy, in reality its fairly hard to get in some areas of the company. Ann Arbor might not be too rough (I'm from Cincinnati and that was still fairly easy to find places) but a lot of friends elsewhere have had issues getting steady supplies. I'm in the Bay Area now and I haven't tried to find any, but I'd guess its a bit hard.

Either way, I'm still fairly interested in seeing how a small diesel hybrid would be efficiency wise. I know one of the issues with diesel engines is that they have issues with low rpm horsepower for small engines (< 4 cylinders), but I'm not really an expert in diesel engines (thankfully, one of my brothers is...)

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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

I have a copy of the study - I'll send it to you. My thought for a small business would be to try and sell algae oil to biodiesel processors. They'd get a steady supply of clean oil for a modest price (say $1 per gallon). I wouldn't have to worry about taxation issues (it's still a vegetable oil at that stage - not a fuel).

Of course, there's the small fact that I haven't grown my first Petri (sp?) dish of algae yet - never mind the several hundred pounds of the stuff I'd need! If you want to kick around algae oil ideas drop me a line...

My friend owns an A&W drive-in restaurant. It's seasonal and as a burger place it has the lowest quality WVO (apparently Chinese restaurants are best). He has access to about 600 to 700 gallons per year. The trouble is he drives a big truck and will be using all the diesel for that. However, at least we can share processing facilities - we're off to the local drag strip to buy a 55 gallon drum of Methanol...

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

reikiman
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

I'm in the Bay Area now and I haven't tried to find any, but I'd guess its a bit hard.

I assume you mean the SF Bay Area ?? There are other places called "bay area" even in CA. Anyway, there are a few biodiesel selling stations in the area but very few, partly because California doesn't have many diesel's to begin with. There is a station in Mtn View a short way from my house that sells B20 and I've seen a sign along Hwy 17 near where Hwy 85 crosses it for "Good Guys Biodiesel" ... http://www.goodguysbiodiesel.com/

Oh.. and I just remembered another gizmo which went on the market recently for brewing fuel at home.

http://www.7gen.com/article-summary/ethanol/24142-efuel100-microfueler
http://www.7gen.com/blog/20080602/24222-ethanol
http://www.7gen.com/article-summary/efuel100/24225-efuel100-opening-video

It kinda reminds me of this book I bought in the 80's when I lived in kentucky -- Making Moonshine Fuel by Ozzie McCoy (of the McCoy's of the Hatfield/McCoy feud fame) -- the EFuel100 is a home based ethanol making machine. You give it sugar and a couple days later ethanol pops out the other end. This gizmo is a lot more advanced than the still, er, brewing facility which Ozzie McCoy showed how to build in his book. It's computerized and everything. They sell you sugar (non-food-sugar) which is shipped in from somewhere down south (??BRAZIL??).

jdh2550_1
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

reikiman, Thanks for the link - the bio-diesel process uses methanol but I think I read somewhere you can use ethanol instead. So...

I can ferment my sugar to brew ethanol. The fermentation process will produce CO2. The CO2 can be used to help the algae grow. The ethanol can be used in the biodiesel transesterification (sp?) process. The waste from the algae press can be used to fertilize the algae growing. The glycerol from the biodiesel process can be used to make soap. The algae growing process will consume electricity - from a biodiesel powered generator (or Hydroxy powered if the WFC works!) - another source of CO2 for algae growing. And around and around we go!

Hmmm....

I need to win the lottery so I can start playing with this stuff ALL the time! Anyone have any hints on the getting rich part? ;)

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

deronmoped
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

There is a guy that has been on the radio promoting alcohol fuel. It sounds interesting, it can be used in gasoline and diesel engines according to him. It can be made out of pretty much anything that grows. Flex fuel vehicles which are getting a lot of talk are designed to run on alcohol and gasoline.

Another idea was the Honda car that runs on natural gas. I saw this one at the Earth Fair. I really liked the fact that you could buy your own natural gas compressor and put it your garage. Cost about $2.50 a gallon equivalent to gasoline. The other nice thing is there is a estimated 6,676 trillion cubic feet of known gas reserves.

Looks like the ICE is not going away anytime soon, people are just finding new ways to power it.

Deron.

Morrison
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

Algae biodiesel is the best biodiesel solution from the standpoint of the feedstock. It won't interfere with food and it won't use up good farmland.

The current technology however costs about $20 per gallon to produce algae biodiesel. That is the projected cost for a full scale facility built next to a powerplant. It would utilize the CO2 emmissions from a natural gas or coal power plant. In theory, this would reduce the coal power plant carbon emissions significantly and absorb it into the algae biodiesel. However, this same CO2 would be released when the biodiesel is burned in the vehicle.

So it is not a carbon neutral fuel, it is a carbon recycling fuel to marginally reduce the impact from coal power. It can be argued that it will displace the burning of some oil/diesel. But in reality, we will keep pumping oil until it is all gone and it will all be burned, so the end result will be the same amount of CO2 in the atmosphere at the end of the century.

The best solution is to get our electric grid as carbon neutral as possible (wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, geothermal) and get our transportation system as much on electric (plug-in hybrids) as possible.

depetro
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

Yep, you certainly can use ethanol in the transesterifaction process. The thing why methanol is more commonly used is merely economic. Most methanol is produced from either wood or natural gas and has a much smaller market than ethanol. Large amounts of ethanol are consumed by the gasoline industry as an octane enhancer or out right replacement for gasoline. That's the point to the flex-fuel vehicles. The fuel system and engine is manufactured in such a way that it can run on high concentrations of ethanol (up to 85%). Also, back to the original point, I think it requires a little bit more ethanol to run the biodiesel process with ethanol. I'd have to check my notes though.

reikiman, sorry, yep I meant SF. I guess I could have been equally vague and said the valley. I'm actually in Sunnyvale at the moment, so Mt. View is right next door. I might check out that gas station at 17 and 85 as I have a friend out there that I'm visiting this weekend. I might try to track that book down. I've always heard that one of the biggest problems with ethanol was that its a bit difficult to scale from small to large. Basically, that unless you were going to run a large process it wouldn't be too efficient/economic.

depetro
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

Yep, you certainly can use ethanol in the transesterifaction process. The thing why methanol is more commonly used is merely economic. Most methanol is produced from either wood or natural gas and has a much smaller market than ethanol. Large amounts of ethanol are consumed by the gasoline industry as an octane enhancer or out right replacement for gasoline. That's the point to the flex-fuel vehicles. The fuel system and engine is manufactured in such a way that it can run on high concentrations of ethanol (up to 85%). Also, back to the original point, I think it requires a little bit more ethanol to run the biodiesel process with ethanol. I'd have to check my notes though.

reikiman, sorry, yep I meant SF. I guess I could have been equally vague and said the valley. I'm actually in Sunnyvale at the moment, so Mt. View is right next door. I might check out that gas station at 17 and 85 as I have a friend out there that I'm visiting this weekend. I might try to track that book down. I've always heard that one of the biggest problems with ethanol was that its a bit difficult to scale from small to large. Basically, that unless you were going to run a large process it wouldn't be too efficient/economic. I'm interested to see how efficient it is on say... the bathtub scale.

Mik
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

The best solution is to get our electric grid as carbon neutral as possible (wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, geothermal) and get our transportation system as much on electric (plug-in hybrids) as possible.

And design a multi-fuel,open-source, portable generator that can be built in various sizes to serve as a "portable electric grid" on rare occasions....

To be used rarely enough so that the average household WVO supply will do. (Or a bottle of canola oil for emergencies. Or "John's Virgin Algae Oil. First squish".)

Mounted on a sturdy trailer, or to fit in saddle bags or top box for smaller vehicles.
Or fixed installation into EV conversion cars.

Use whilst lobbying for more recharging stations or when the grid is down or to "bridge" between recharging points on that publicity ride around the continent...

Maybe even made from commonly available parts taken out of unsustainable gas guzzlers!

Mr. Mik

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

racermike39
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

Does this mean the PASTA JAR OF DEATH is DEAD?

Racermike
5 years ago I met Jesus and he total ruined my life. I have never been happier.

jdh2550_1
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Re: HERESY! Perhaps I don't want a long range EV

1) $20 a gallon!? I guess we'll just have to wait until next Summer's driving season before it's economically viable, huh? I was hoping for a buck a gallon on the small scale - although I wouldn't be surprised to be an order of magnitude out - those dang decimal points can be so tricky!

2) Mik - do you want a job in marketing? I can already see myself selling early look "first squish" batches - just like it's the first Bordeaux of the season! rotfl! Unfortunately my imagination is always far better than my reality. But, hey, that's where the FUN is!

3) Mike - Nope, the pasta jar of death will be getting it's first voltage this weekend. Don't expect mass hydroxy production for another couple of months though. Although, if I do stop posting you can be the first to start the conspiracy as to why! Free fuel falling from the sky - just imagine! ;-)

Thanks all - please keep the discussions coming... (and someone tell me how to get rich quick!)

:-)

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

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