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My Experience - Removing Ethanol from Gasoline

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posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:00 AM
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Hello everyone!

It's been a while since I started a thread, but today I've got something I can't help but share. Put it in the Science forum, since it's pretty interesting science stuff!
If anyone has documentaries on ethanol fuel, I'd love to know of them.

Anyone with any experience working with engines in the US will tell you that ethanol belongs in your drink, not your gas tank.

Of course, due to stupid politicians, Around here you can't buy fuel that isn't tainted with 10% ethanol.

Here's what I've picked up over the years:

-Ethanol, if exposed to air, will suck water right out of the air, and deposit it neatly into your gas tank.

-Once the percentage of water gets over a certain point, the ethanol/water mixture will phase-separate out and sink to the bottom of the gas tank. This process can be triggered by a sudden drop in temperature- see the chart below. Got a snowblower, and a cold wind just came in? Have fun starting that engine on 120 proof hooch!


-Ethanol burns HOTTER and SLOWER than gasoline. Gas wants to explode, it's unstable. Ethanol wants to burn slowly.
Video shows ethanol burning in a container. Note the flame moving through initially consuming all the available oxygen in the bottle. A car running at 1000 rpm (my car idles high, okay?) will do four strokes per explosion, and each cylinder will have 16.7 strokes a second- so each cylinder will have a small explosion four times a second. That seems high- feel free to check my math... but I did it twice!

Now, that means that each explosion has a fourth of a fourth of a second to complete before the exhaust valve opens and that piston starts moving back up- that's 1/32 of a second. Research indicates that the blink of an eye is closer to 1/3 of a second, so if you blink you'll miss about ten strokes, and 2.5 explosions.
If someone wants to re-math that for me I'd appreciate it, those numbers all seem awful high...

At any rate, the point stands- ethanol burns SLOW, and HOT- gasoline explodes violently very quickly without releasing nearly as much heat.
That makes it an excellent (and cheap!) way to boost OCTANE, which is essentially the measurement of how likely a fuel is to up and explode. Coleman fuel (white gas) is something like 60 octane- that stuff will go bang at the drop of a hat. Throw it in a car and you'll get knocking- compressing it in a hot engine causes it to blow up before the spark plug goes off. Add some ethanol, it's now a more stable fuel.

I read somewhere 10% ethanol adds about 3-4 "points" of octane to gasoline. I looked in how to math this out once and it checked out, but I don't remember how I did it.

This friend up north gets it- but he can still go to the pump and buy the good stuff. I can not!


Now, onto the good stuff!

Turns out, if you're handy, you can make your own ethanol free gas.
I've been doing it by accident for years, resulting in more carburetor rebuilds on small engines than I care to talk about- because I didn't understand what was happening.
The ethanol in the gas was sucking moisture out of the air. As the temperature crashed, the percentage of water in the gas eventually reached the point where it would phase separate out- See chart above. It never had anything to do with that last bit of water getting in there, it was the temperature all along! One day, BAM! Engine won't run for #. Drain the fuel out, dispose of it, go buy a fresh batch.
"She ran fine three days ago, no water got in the tank.... I just don't get it!"
Sure enough, that water sitting in the jug on the workbench has a clear distinct line between what I thought was WATER and what was actually PURE gasoline. The WATER was actually 120+ proof ethanol. Never could figure out how it got in my tank overnight- now it comes together.



Turns out, the trick is to put water in your gas on purpose. Maths out to about a pint (16 ounces) per 5 gallons of 10%. A little more won't hurt. The guy above had the clever idea of putting water based food coloring in the stuff to make the line easy to see- very clever, works a treat!

I can't figure out how/where to buy his fancy tool so I made my own out of an old plastic brewing carboy, PVC, marine epoxy, and some brass bits.


Rig it upside down in a milk crate in the shop and there you have it.
I let it sit overnight, 16 ounces of water pulled out about 1.5 liters of high proof ethanol. I have past experience with producing ethanol, but didn't measure this stuff- the way it burned off implied it was well over 120 proof though. (Proof being ethanol to water content ratio)
That's still not all the ethanol, so perhaps more water is needed next time.

The proof, though, is in the pudding. I can't measure my octane, but I started with the high octane stuff at the pump- around here I think it's 91. Figure I dropped it four points, now it's 87. Threw it in the old carb'd snow tractor and took her for a spin.
The results are uncanny. That tractor has never run so well. I started it up last night with the fuel and let it run for ten minutes to get it all through the carb and burn off any of the old ethanol gas, then shut her off for the night knowing we had snow to clean today.

Today, she started easier than either of my fuel injected cars. That tractor has NEVER started easy. Had to turn the choke completely off almost immediately after starting- for years I've had to run it with the choke at least 1/3 on just to run well enough to clear snow. It had more power than ever, didn't bog under load, the governor did it's job properly. At high speed, the engine wouldn't hunt. When I was done, I backed it back into it's parking spot, and had the "I've done it!" moment- Normally, the tractor won't idle below 1/3 throttle, it just misses and dies... backed it down to 1/3, and it didn't skip a beat. 1/4. 1/8. All the way down, I nearly had to bite my lip as it idled low and steadily. I've never seen a small engine that happy.
Grabbed the fluke and took it's temperature, heads were 400F and the exhaust headers were 700F. I don't have numbers to compare to- but my brother happens to own the same tractor and is still running that devil-fuel, I'll try and get him to take readings for comparison.

Almost like it was built for it.




posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:12 AM
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a reply to: lordcomac


So lemme see if I understand.

Politicians wanted ethanol in my gasoline to put less carbon into the atmosphere, but puting ethanol into my gas means that gas burns less efficiently and thus causes me to burn more gas to make up the shortfall caused by ethanol?



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:27 AM
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a reply to: Bluntone22

Better, the ethanol is actually pricier than gasoline, but has less fuel value. So to entice the distributors to provide it, the gubmint gives them a tax subsidy (takes it out of your pocket!) to pay them to sell it to you.

The distributor pockets that. None of it gets passed on in the form of cheaper fuel.

You can still get straight gasoline - but now it's super expensive because they figure you'll pay for it. And I do, for the power tools, riding mower and similar things that may set up for a bit. Otherwise, the ethanol will absorb water and rust out the tank and fuel handling bits.

On topic, I wonder if a phase separator would remove ethanol? It probably would if it had enough water in. Make that process in the video a lot simpler.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:28 AM
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originally posted by: Bluntone22
a reply to: lordcomac


So lemme see if I understand.

Politicians wanted ethanol in my gasoline to put less carbon into the atmosphere, but puting ethanol into my gas means that gas burns less efficiently and thus causes me to burn more gas to make up the shortfall caused by ethanol?



Also, the oil companies get to sell a cheaper to make product with a shorter shelf life that people need to buy more of for the same price.
At the same time, the farmers get tax money to grow corn to make the ethanol.
That substandard product makes older engines into junk, forcing people to go out and buy newer things.

I bet there are some really good documentaries on ethanol in gasoline.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:32 AM
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originally posted by: Bedlam
a reply to: Bluntone22

Better, the ethanol is actually pricier than gasoline, but has less fuel value. So to entice the distributors to provide it, the gubmint gives them a tax subsidy (takes it out of your pocket!) to pay them to sell it to you.

The distributor pockets that. None of it gets passed on in the form of cheaper fuel.

You can still get straight gasoline - but now it's super expensive because they figure you'll pay for it. And I do, for the power tools, riding mower and similar things that may set up for a bit. Otherwise, the ethanol will absorb water and rust out the tank and fuel handling bits.

On topic, I wonder if a phase separator would remove ethanol? It probably would if it had enough water in. Make that process in the video a lot simpler.


Can't buy the stuff around here. Hardware stores sell it in metal cans for 40 a gallon, but that's about it. Supposedly you can get it at a marina about 50 miles northeast of here, but I've not made the trip to find out.

What do you mean by a phase separator? I'm fairly certain that's exactly what I've built, and it works a treat



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:33 AM
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a reply to: lordcomac

How far are we as humanity, from proving the science and filing a class action lawsuit?



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:41 AM
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a reply to: lordcomac

All I know it what they tell us....that the 10% ethanhol is supposed to help clean your fuel injectors if you have them...or your carburators on older cars.

That being said? Mr. or Mrs. "John Q. Public" thinks "Wow! Thats a great idea for keeping our engines from clogging up! And the gas lines from the tank from ever freezing in sub-zero temperatures!"

O----kkkkkk...dumb down the general public to the real reasons youve stated here...nice thread

Thanks!



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:52 AM
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a reply to: lordcomac

I buy gas that is ethanol free. It is called recreational gas. That is all I run in my small engines. This is what I run in the Hog also. Most small engine manuals tell you to run ethanol free gas. I also use sea foam when I store my engines during the winter months. When it is cold out I throw a bottle of heet in all my vehicles along with keeping the tank full.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:59 AM
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originally posted by: lordcomac
Can't buy the stuff around here. Hardware stores sell it in metal cans for 40 a gallon, but that's about it. Supposedly you can get it at a marina about 50 miles northeast of here, but I've not made the trip to find out.


It's all over my home area(s), but it's generally at a station that's sort of seedy and they've got one pump with it at about $3.50 a gallon. The problem there is that you don't really know how old it is. But there's one pretty heavily trafficked station that moves it fast enough, I put that in my motorcycle and riding mower, chain saws etc.



What do you mean by a phase separator? I'm fairly certain that's exactly what I've built, and it works a treat



They make specially treated filters that will pass solvent phases and retain aqueous phases. So if you've got a mixture of solvent and solutes, some of which are water based and others not, you pour the whole glop through the filter and the solvent phase will go right through, leaving all the water bound stuff in the top. It's magical.

I've got separator cones in the lab I use when I'm doing chemical crap. The paper filters for lab work are pretty cheap, look like a coffee filter cone, and they're reusable if you don't booger them up. You could rig a diesel fuel-water separator to do the same thing, but you'll want the filter paper sort and not the spiffy centrifugal ones.
edit on 8-1-2017 by Bedlam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 11:59 AM
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originally posted by: Tarzan the apeman.
a reply to: lordcomac

I buy gas that is ethanol free. It is called recreational gas. That is all I run in my small engines. This is what I run in the Hog also. Most small engine manuals tell you to run ethanol free gas. I also use sea foam when I store my engines during the winter months. When it is cold out I throw a bottle of heet in all my vehicles along with keeping the tank full.


Aye- Lucky you!

Can't seem to get the stuff around here.

www.pure-gas.org...

This site says there are 16 places in the whole state that sell it. I can confirm that one of them doesn't appear to exist at all (Portland- been there twice, can't find anything open to the public, just a lot of barbed wire fence)

Next closest place, Oxford, is an hours drive each way to a marina.
Oh how I wish I could just pick up real gas at the local pump!

Can't wait to make enough of this stuff to try it out in my car, an '85 toyota with primitive fuel injection engineered for use with real gas. I bet it loves the stuff.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 12:02 PM
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a reply to: lordcomac

Just be careful. Handling gasoline is a crap shoot. Easy to pop a spark or have the vapor drift to an ignition source.

What would be FUNNY is if a diesel fuel-water separator would remove the ethanol without having to dick with it (adding water etc). In which case you could rig one on your vehicle and just tank the ethanol for later use elsewhere.
edit on 8-1-2017 by Bedlam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 12:05 PM
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a reply to: lordcomac

What you have posted is nice to know. TPTB might not like us commoners using real gas for much longer.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 01:12 PM
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originally posted by: Bluntone22
a reply to: lordcomac


So lemme see if I understand.

Politicians wanted ethanol in my gasoline to put less carbon into the atmosphere, but puting ethanol into my gas means that gas burns less efficiently and thus causes me to burn more gas to make up the shortfall caused by ethanol?


Generally speaking, that's true. A gallon of E-85, for example, has less energy than a gallon of gasoline which results in worse mileage. But most gasoline today is E-10, so the resulting mileage drop is slight to the point that you probably cannot measure the difference accurately.

One of the big issues with Ethanol is the political side. Critics feel the corn lobby wants to push ethanol and get government subsidies. But growing corn for ethanol effectively takes it out of food production, thus raising the cost of food and/or feed since "cow corn" is used extensively as animal food. Net result: Less food at higher prices.

Now, about the effect of ethanol on your engine: Virtually none. Yes, everything OP said is true. It's just that it doesn't matter that much. Today's engines run fine on E-10. They don't fail any earlier than an engine not running E-10. In fact, today's engines get better mileage and run longer than any engines in the past. It's not unusual for today's engines to run 250,000 miles with no major failures. Could you do that with a 57 Chevy? Not even if you babied it. Today's engines also have valves and tubes that do not deteriorate under the influence of ethanol (unlike older engines where the rubber hoses would deteriorate.)

There's a lot wrong with ethanol on the political side, but it is not worth it to "make" ethanol-free gas. The time and effort required far exceeds the benefit from any metric you care to chose: mileage, efficiency, or engine-wear. It's one of those "spend a dollar to save a nickel" propositions. If your OCD kicks in to the point that you just have to have it, check out Pure Gas for places near you. Quite a few are marinas, so if you live near water, it ought to be easier for you. Stay away from Aviation Gas (avgas) though. Not only is it more expensive, but it has lead in it and that will kill your catalytic converter. Today's engines are very "ethanol-aware." It's not something you really have to worry about unless it becomes your favorite Social Justice cause.






edit on 1/8/2017 by schuyler because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 01:46 PM
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a reply to: schuyler

I will agree that for modern vehicles, it's not worth the time or effort to remove ethanol from gas.
Heck, I might try it for my '85 toyota, but there's no way I can go through all this effort for every tank!


I will, however, VERY much disagree that it's not worth it to DIY ethanol free gas for small engines- my garden tractor, any lawn mowers, weed whackers, chainsaws, etc- especially if these things will sit for any period of time (it's rare for someone to let a car sit for a month, but a chainsaw, or a pressure washer...)

Anything air-cooled, too- if you run your small engines hard (Like a garden tractor running a tiller in the spring) than the added heat of ethanol in the fuel, combined with running it harder to get the same power, is a good way to cook the thing.

After this experience using real gas in my snowblower, I'll gladly go through the effort for all of my small engine fuel



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 02:00 PM
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a reply to: lordcomac

And motorcycles. A friend of mine used pump gas in his Kawasaki, let it sit up for the winter with preservative in, next spring it was a rust lump. Will have to replace the tank, the plumbing, the fuel filter and maybe the injector pump. It's probably a loss, TBH.

I will use pump gas in my Triumph, but when it's going to be put up, the last two tanks are ethanol free. AND preservative.

Oh, yeah, Stihl is now doing something like doubling the warranty on all their two cycle products if you'll use their mix gas without ethanol in. You have to save receipts for the fuel.
edit on 8-1-2017 by Bedlam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 02:31 PM
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originally posted by: lordcomac
a reply to: schuyler

I will, however, VERY much disagree that it's not worth it to DIY ethanol free gas for small engines- my garden tractor, any lawn mowers, weed whackers, chainsaws, etc- especially if these things will sit for any period of time (it's rare for someone to let a car sit for a month, but a chainsaw, or a pressure washer...)


Penny wise and pound foolish, not to mention dangerous. I have every small-engine device you can imagine and have had them for 20 years. Stick some Stabil in them for the winter and they're good to go. I have NEVER had any tank "rust out" or an engine become disabled by using normal E-10 fuel. It's a waste of time unless you have a lot, in which case knock yourself out. No one else does it.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 02:48 PM
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Originally, ethanol was prescribed for poorly tuned engines to reduce emissions. It does nothing for modern engines and it actually increased the aldehyde emissions in older engines but that was ignored. At present, it is a vestigial solution to a problem that no longer exists and that is kept alive by big agribusiness.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 02:58 PM
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originally posted by: Bedlam
a reply to: lordcomac

Oh, yeah, Stihl is now doing something like doubling the warranty on all their two cycle products if you'll use their mix gas without ethanol in. You have to save receipts for the fuel.


Misleading at best. Their primary focus here is the OIL--not the gas, in a precise 50:1 mixture with synthetic oil. In other words, this is specifically for 2-cycle engines--not cars. Their double warranty requires you to buy EITHER the OIL or the pre-mixed gas. Buying the gas itself is not required. But at $7.95 a quart, the stuff is about ten times more expensive than gas.


Double limited warranty protection applies to most STIHL gasoline-powered products purchased for personal non-income producing household purposes only. At the time of your equipment purchase, simply purchase a 6-pack of STIHL HP Ultra Oil (any size containers) or a minimum of 1-gallon of STIHL MotoMix® premixed fuel to qualify for the double limited warranty coverage.
Source

So, buy a single gallon of Motomix for $32.00 and this will double your warranty! or just buy their oil and mix your own, and double the warranty there as well.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 03:15 PM
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a reply to: lordcomac

Thanks for the thread.
I'm one of those guys you might see riding a chainsaw powered bmx, if the weather is good and I feel young again, or nutty, take your pick...I call it my 2-speed hemi. Husqvarna 288. Used to cut trees now it cuts trails. Anyways...

I got it put away for the changing seasons, and your thread got me thinking, looking for more info/videos on utube...

So, thanks for teaching me something new today...



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 04:49 PM
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Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO of Briggs & Stratton, weighs in on the issue of E15 fuel in the outdoor power equipment market.







 
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