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Defining "fuel"

thegoat4

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We need to put our heads together and clarifiy what we mean when we start talking about alternative fuels. My suggestions:

Fuel: as far as internal (or external) combustion engines are concerned, anything that qualifies as a fuel is made up of molecules that have chemical bonds which when broken or rearranged yield more energy than was required to break or rearrange those bonds in the first place. You can extract the energy stored in those bonds to perform useful work. ie, a few miliamps of spark and a few horsepower of compression burn a cylinder full of gasoline vapors that yield a whole bunch of heat and pressure pushing back at the piston.

Energy source: this is limited to the above definition of fuel, so no nuclear, no 100% solar car. Any common fuel that qualifies as an energy source gets its stored energy through biological processes one way or another. Oil is what's left of old dead crap. Coal and natural gas are more of the same. Biofuels are made up from harvested crops, or fresh dead crap. The collecting/harvesting and refining processes consume some power, but it's always less than what the refined fuels will yield. The difference in energy ultimately comes from sunlight and chemical energy stored in the soil and fertilizers.

Energy storage: these are fuels that must be manufatured. Usually, manufacturing these fuels requires burning an energy source type fuel initially. The process of manufacturing these fuels will always consume more energy than what the finished fuel will yield. Brown's gas (HHO) is manufactured (in a vehicle, anyway) by burning gas to run the alternator to generate electricity to disassociate the water molecules. This process will consume more energy than the resulting gas can yield, so HHO is an energy storage type fuel.

These definitions leave out some things. There are some metals that can be "burned" to get energy. Likewise there are other non-biological sources of energy that can still be "burned," but they're uncommon enough in automotive engines to be left out. No mention has been made of environmental side-effects like how you deal with the piles of glycerin left over from biodiesel manufacture.

Anyone want to add to the above?
 


WhiteBroncoII2WD

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I would defiantly agree and add that this is the right track heading for these discussions.

I'll have to put some hard thought in what to add; you covered quite a bit
 

MAKG

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There is an existing definition for fuel. No need to make your own.

Fuel reacts chemically with oxygen or oxidizer. That's it. So hydrogen is indeed a fuel, but not a practical fuel, as it takes more energy to make the hydrogen than it produces. But it DOES produce some, and the complete process can be treated as a battery for that reason. Now, WATER is NOT a fuel.
 
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thegoat4

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Well, the point is to have the discussion, not simply to figure out a definition that already exists. Granted, it would be a good deal of reinventing the wheel, but that's how people learn.
 

krugford

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No mention has been made of environmental side-effects like how you deal with the piles of glycerin left over from biodiesel manufacture.

Anyone want to add to the above?


I'm no expert on bio-diesel production, but glycerin has thousands of uses (medical, industrial, etc). I believe the glycerin by-product from bio-diesel production will be contaminated with methanol. I don't really see a reason why they couldn't be easily disposed of or seperated to re-use the methanol and sell the glycerin. Or make soap...
 

AllanD

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Methanol recovery is a big part of Bio-Diesel production.

I just love how many people talk about aquiring WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil)
locally and making their own BioD.. they just don't understand how little WVO
there is to be shared among the potential users.

AD
 

thantil

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biodiesel

a friend of mine processed 600 gallonso wvo last month alone.
i aws checking out the process and I must say pretty cool
 
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thantil

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biodiesel

b.t.w yes the supply is limited but he still processed 600 gal last month
I am only able to give him 15 gal a month.
He has not purchased diesel for over a year and a half.
millage is not better but it runs alot better and cleaner.
 

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