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A flex-fuel pump in every gas station

  1. Jun 4, 2006 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    Senator Biden suggested this on Meet The Press today: Mandate that every station must have a flex-fuel pump.

    This sounds like a very tempting idea. Whether the best approach or not, I think we need to set national goals to convert the US to alternative fuels as the standard within ten years. I also believe that right now we could convert much of the diesel fleet as fast as we can build bio-diesel refineries. But in the case of both diesel and gasoline, IMO, the price of crude makes alternatives competitive and this the time to act.

    I been looking and intend to get involved in promoting and assisting the biodiesel industry here in Oregon. I don't know exactly how best to contribute, but I want to start taking action to help this change happen. I also hope to buy a flex-fuel vehicle as our next car.

    Suggestions? What can each of us do to help make the change? Where are the opportunties? What can students do? What opportunities exist for science and engineering students in this new growth industry?
     
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  3. Jun 4, 2006 #2

    LURCH

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    I think students can do more than anyone.

    When my shop closed, I had the option of taking some college courses to help me get a new job. I don't have the math skills for a chem. major, so I'm taking CAD and robotics. Once I have my degree (hopefully "degrees"), I plan to apply for work at the new methenol refinery that just broke ground the month I started school. I'm too old to ever be on the forefront of the new tech, but I could be involved in one of the many millions of jobs it could create. And, if I don't get in at the refinery, maybe I'll try GM or Chrysler, and try to get into the fuelcell work that they're doing.

    But these are extreme examples involving devoting one's entire life to this cause. Alternatives could be just shopping for a flex-fuel vehicle the next time you have to buy a car. Or buying your gas at the station that has biofuel. The major fueling stations will get on board as soon as they see that there are financial benifits.
     
  4. Jun 4, 2006 #3

    Pengwuino

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    Why don't more people devote their lives to such causes anyhow? I can see if you're older, but with all the complaining kids out there marching on the street its a surprise there is such a low enrollment in science colleges. No one seems to want to actually work to make a difference.
     
  5. Jun 11, 2006 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    They say talk is cheap, but one thing seems to be working. I have been talking with customers and "selling" the idea that biodiesel is great for Oregon. "Wouldn't you prefer giving your money to Oregon farmers, rather than Saudi oil tycoons?"

    I see the lights turning on upstairs...
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2006
  6. Jun 11, 2006 #5
    And the more people who convert to flex and bio fuels the brighter those lights will shine.

    I remember a few years ago when I was in Astoria Oregon I saw a small electric trolley. It had a small flat car hitched to the rear on which was mounted a diesel powered generator. The generator, of course, provided electricity for the trolley.

    At the time I thought it was a very novel idea to have a wireless electric trolley. If That diesel generator was to run on bio, if it isn't already, it would be a great example to the public.

    This post may not sound political, but it always takes political pressure to get any changes up and running in our society.
     
  7. Jun 12, 2006 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Last night a saw a short story on DSC about a guy who plans to break the world's record for traversing the globe in a boat. A high tech craft that goes under the waves in rough seas, the tail section boldly displays - BIODIESEL. In fact he had to make special arrangements to make biodiesel available at refueling points.

    I was too busy to get the name and didn't spot a link, but worth a look. I'll try to find it again later. It is a very cool boat.
     
  8. Jun 12, 2006 #7

    Pengwuino

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    mmm i'd rather see people sold on a scientific basis then a xenophobic basis. Then again i'm far too optimistic of a guy.
     
  9. Jun 12, 2006 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep our money at home or helping farmers. The idea of xenophobic is taken way out of context here. In fact it's a unique argument because it completely avoids issues of evironmentalism, which does turn many people off.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2006
  10. Jun 12, 2006 #9

    Pengwuino

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    Considering you specifically target Saudi's, i think it's one of the best words for describing such reactions. Maybe racism is a better word however. How about something less barbaric like "Why boost foreign economies when we can strengthen our own?". And why are you avoiding the environmental issues? Keep money a priority and you can still toss in a few environmental snipits here and there and keep people turned... on :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    hey according to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodeisel#Environmental_benefits

    (uncited however)

    You can impress them by drinking some then tossing it in an engine :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2006
  11. Jun 12, 2006 #10

    NateTG

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    Well, you can already do that with most any food grade oil and a diesel car as long as you dilute the vegetable oil. I don't recommend drinking too much of the vegetable oil at once though.

    For the alterantive fuel extremist, fuel gassification (used in WWII during fuel shortages) opens up a *huge* variety of possible fuel sources you could run an engine off of just about anything that burns from Anthricite to Zebra Corpses.
     
  12. Jun 12, 2006 #11
    Hey whats with you and your apparent love for saudi oil tycoons?:wink: If anyone on this forum even mentions keeping wealth in this coutry the word Xenophobic always pops up.

    If bio and flex could just supply 20% of our fuel needs, and that can easily be accomplished, we wouldn't have to start a war in the middle east everytime an Islamic leader passes gas.
     
  13. Jun 12, 2006 #12

    Pengwuino

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    Yah why do you guys always bring up xenophobia in your threads :wink:

    And can you source a reputable source that says such a thing can "easily" be accomplished?
     
  14. Jun 12, 2006 #13
    It depends on what you consider "easily accomplished". The hardest part is convincing politicans to require its availability so that people can make their own choice.

    Both bio and alcohol could be mixed with standard fossil fuels at the refineries. Vehicles run great and run clean with a 20% mix with either bio or alcohol. That would accomplish the 20% decrease in use of fossil I mentioned as being easy.

    The ideal situation would be to have the "real thing" available at the pumps.

    The production process for bio and alcohol is quite simple. Both burn cleaner than regular fossil sources of fuel.
    BTW Willy Nelson, the pot smoking , guitar playing old geezer, sells bio in California. Try it you'll like it.:smile:
    http://www.wnbiodiesel.com/products.html
    http://www.house.gov/etheridge/Press-BiofuelsLegislation.htm
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2006
  15. Jun 12, 2006 #14

    NateTG

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    Can you quantify easily? It's definitely possible for example in Brazil.
     
  16. Jun 13, 2006 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Ah, you think using the word Saudi makes it racist? Doesn't that in itself seem a little racist? You could say, UAE, Brazilian, or Texan, and it would work just as well. The real point is to showcase personal wealth of the elite - esp the OPEC elite who have held this country hostage in the past - as opposed to the working farmer.

    Because many people will automatically reject the idea if they think it is good for the environment. Sad but true.

    Never sell science when you can talk money.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2006
  17. Jun 13, 2006 #16

    Moonbear

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    One question that comes to mind when discussing bio fuels or ethanol: is it sustainable? Obviously, fossil fuels aren't, so it's not necessarily something that kills the concept, but let's say you got your way and everyone started using a 20% mix of bio or ethanol added to fuels, is there enough farmland to support this? Currently, crops are grown for human food, then the leftover portion inedible for humans is turned into animal feeds. Is there still an excess sufficient for fuel production, and if not, how much new cropland would need to be planted to provide this fuel? Considering how many former farm fields have been sold to developers for building homes, how much land is left to be planted for such a purpose? And, what would be the environmental impact of using that land for crops rather than whatever it's current state is?

    Another related concern is if it becomes more profitable for farmers to sell their crops to companies using it to manufacture fuel, what will that do to food costs?

    I don't have any answers to these questions at the moment, but before we jump into this based on feel-good reasons, it's worth a deeper look into the long-term economic and environmental impacts if large-scale production of these fuels were implemented. The environmental impact is more than just what's coming out of the tailpipe of the car. If we can really support that sort of growth in the agricultural sector, that's great, but if the demand would quickly outstrip the supply capacity of that sector, then we're in trouble. Has this sort of analysis been done, and if so, where is it available?
     
  18. Jun 13, 2006 #17

    brewnog

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    Nope Moonbear. The USA alone would require over half of its entire land area to be able to support itself on bioethanol.


    Ooh, real facts here:
     
  19. Jun 13, 2006 #18
    Yes half to support itself 100%, but only a fraction of that to give us a break from using nearly 100% imported crude. And we don't all have to continue driving 8mpg behemouths. Run the numbers with vehicles that average 40mpg and that land area drops impressivily.

    We have become spoiled with the feeling of having 230 HP or more under our right toe. To continue using 20million barrels of cuude per day is not sustainable either. We havent even looked at developing bio engineered grains grown especially for alcohol or diesel fuel production. Cellulose is also in the running as a biomass fuel producer. Cellulose would include using all waste farm and forest products.

    There is a whole new world of possibilities that have never been explored because oil has always been so cheap.

    When the price of gasoline gets high enough people will change. Honda dealers can't keep Civics in stock now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2006
  20. Jun 13, 2006 #19
    But this is all based on the current yields of corn. I wonder what steps are being taken to genetically alter fast growing corn. If you could grow 2-3 times the corn from the same field in one season, you can drastically reduce the amount of land you need to support the consumption rates.
     
  21. Jun 13, 2006 #20
    Exactly. Sorry I had to go outside and check on my grandson and I didn't notice that you had already posted on the possibility of GE crops when I came back to the desk and edited it into my post.
     
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