The Legacy of the man who dedicated his life teaching others how to make fuel ethanol, so that we could enjoy the freedom that we get, by producing our own fuel.
Always keeping in mind his love for our
shrinking living space this earth, we should cherish and care for so very much,
now that we have the means to do just that.
You will find answers to questions, you may not have thought of yet ...
The postings are the work of Robert Warren, unchanged. Good readings, Gilles
Good readings, Gilles
I get a lot of basic questions, over and over about making ethanol for fuel. Most of these are covered in my website,
Basics are covered in the pages entitled, Fuel ethanol FAQ, Ethanol, How pure do you want it, Mashing and fermentation, etc.
But specific questions, such as how to ferment corn, barley, bakery wastes, rotten fruit, etc.,
How to use enzymes, tips for building and running the still, and various specifics about engine conversion can be posted here.
and we can be helping each other in our quest for fuel independence.
I will try to answer most questions, but I am am human and don't know it
all. As this list grows, it will be a usable archive and open forum.
So, here's our chance to make it happen!
Q: Is alcohol corrosive to engines?
I told a friend about your website. He said ethanol was good for the
most part, but contained so much water it was highly corrosive to engine
parts and so your engine will wear out prematurely.
Had any problems with this with your cars? Mark Allen
A: Dear Mark, I have seen a couple of university studies some years ago where engines which had logged over 250,000 hours on straight 160 to 180 proof ethanol were dis-assembled, and just as clean as brand new. No carbon build-up, and strangely, no rust. Now, most of these engines were run more or less continuously on engine blocks inside their engine labs, they didn't have
time to build up rust from sitting around a lot. Even petrol engines will build up rust if they sit around for too long, though. Water is a good lubricant, and isn’t at all corrosive if something is completelysubmerged, with no oxygen available. But all water is not equal. Some water is more corrosive than other types of water, mainly depending on the pH, but this can also be adjusted. The thing is, the water in distilled alcohol is also distilled, so has a neutral pH. Alcohol is listed as corrosive, but ethanol is not nearly as corrosive as methanol. It will, however, attack the inner coating of your gasoline tank. Ideally, a car made for using 180 proof would have a polypropylene tank, but you can just use your normal tank and change your fuel filter a bit more often, as it will eventually clog with rust & other little particles. I seriously doubt that it would eat through the tank, and have never heard of this.
I ran my cars sometimes on ethanol and sometimes on gas, depending on whether or not I was able to make enough fuel that week. One time Ipulled the heads on my VW bug, to replace a burned valve and was amazed at how clean it was. (Those old VW engines were terrible for going outof adjustment). Alcohol is also a bit of a solvent when it comes to various types of plastics that may be found in a carbuerator or fuel injector. But don't let this scare you off, either. On the other hand, your first engineconversion ought to be an old junker, so you don't void the warranty on your $25,000 SUV. But the thing is, you could add an anti-corrosive agent, as do the big petroleum companies. Think about all the water and anti-freeze in anywater-cooled engine. Anti-freeze is made of water and alcohol, both of which are corrosive, so they add an anti-corrosive agent.
Q: I'm not sure how many people are subscribed to this list, but I have a
VERY keen interest, given the skyrocketing price of gas ($1.85/gal
right now), in making and running my vehicles on an alternative fuel.
A: You think that's bad. I am in
this works out to 4 x .80p x 1.6 = $5.17/gallon.
There are similar prices in other parts of
and troops into
about making the change is what types of conversions do I need to affectin these vehicles in order to feel confident about running ethanol through them? Look at my website page entitled "Going on the Road". In addition to
the text on this page, there are a couple of very good links to help you out with more recent innovations since the '67 VW Beetle.
A few other questions:There was mention of a downloadable format for the plans instead of a hard copy mailed. This option was mentioned at $20.00. Has that been implemented?
I know there was mention of a search for that also.
I sell it now for $290.00, not $395.00. You may be remembering a much older version of my web site. If I can find a cheaper one, I will sell it cheaper. I recently heard from one of my customers who is trying to work out an electric solenoid version of this. Anyone who comes up with such a device is free to post this info on this newsletter, to share with all. I will always be checking it out myself to see that it is done safely, and to make this technology more affordable for more people.
I have friends who are interested in all of this information, and even sharing a still if we can feel confident about any conversions that would need to be done on our vehicles. It is a big step to convert your car to ethanol, and even through many years of making my own alcohol, I never did a full on conversion on my own car, only on "project cars" which my friends and I put together as part of our group. We had the use of a member's automotive shop, as well as other times when we got together in groupes of 6 or 8 people to do a group effort of a major conversion in a weekend, such as on Les Wescamp's 56 Chevy pickup. We got 18 mpg on a 6-banger that formerly got 16 mpg. I think all we did to change the compression, if I remember right, was to increase the stroke with longer rods, and hemisperical heads to match the higher top dead center or the stroke. But I wan't the car guy, that was Jody. I focused on the still: making and running it. We were teaching classes as the main activity of our group,
Californian Alcohol Fuel Producers Association, back in 1979-1982.
I used to just pull out the manual choke to make for a slightly richer fuel supply, and my Volvos and Ford trucks ran just fine. But this was also
I am a big supporter of making our own fuel and am delighted tohave this forum to evangelize.
I built one of your stills and have been running it for several monthsnow. I have been going through the school of hard Knocks and loo kforward this forum to share some of the Knocks with new members. Ihave been trying to use day-old bakery products but am finding thattaking all of that stuff out of its packaging is a real pain. Theactual mixing and mashing is working fairley well but working and keeping yeast growing can be a trick too.I am currently working on sourcing and assembling kits to build your
still. I hope to have final pricing and details worked out soon.
How can Ihelp get the word out?/ This looks like it will be a cool forum...I look forward to talking with you.Tom
Thanks for your first email, hopefully, one of many.
This list, at the moment, only has 12 members, but, hey, it is only 5
days old! I have posted a link to this newsgroup on two separate pages on my Ethanol website, link below.
Q: Hi, wonder if anyone knows if you can make fuel for small engines such as lawn mowers
from grass clippings and garden plants and weeds?
cananyone tell me? thanks, Mark
A: I don't know where the rumor started about making fuel from grassclippings, but even after 25 years on promoting ethanol (grain alcohol)as a high octane, clean renewable alternative to gasoline, I still get this question a lot. Now there is something called butanol which can be made from rice straw and other cellulosic material, but alcohol is best made from simple and complex carbohydrates, not lignin materials like straw, grass, or weeds.
If you look at my website go to the "other biofuels" page and you can read about butanol, http://running_on_alcohol.tripod.com/ethanolfuel/id24.html
Butanol is a fuel which can me made from grass clippings. I have seenit done, but the smell was much worse than the large pig farm a couplemiles down the road from my Dad's old dairy some 40 years ago. I wouldnot recommend you try it yourself unless you live in the desert, milesaway from any neighbors. Grain alcohol, on the other hand, has a pleasing smell while fermenting (like beer brewing or bread rising), as it is just the smell of baking yeast digesting the simple sugars of whatever sugary or starchy waste products you can get loads of for free, and the yeast gives off carbon dioxide and alcohol as waste products.
Some of the people who have built my still are now picking up lots of sweet rolls and other bakery scraps from a big bakery, as the local pig farmers don't want all the really sweet stuff.
Other people, living out on farms have access tocull potatoes, wind-fall fruits, and other good fermentable stuff.
I live in the
convert saw-dust to a distillable liquid. This evidently involves
sulfuric acid, a chemical I am having difficulty finding a source for.
Does anyone have a source for this, or suggestions on where I could find a source?
I seem to make enough of my own!
Also, I was wondering where you go to get food fuels, especially corn,
as it seems to have the highest yield by weight.
Another question, What is the estimated materials cost of the still now,
with the lower priced valve? John
John, I don't think you could economically make ethanol from sawdust using
sulphuric acid, but if you find a good price for it, let me know and I
will work out the conversion cost for you. It is really nasty and
dangerous stuff to work with. Even in spite of my warnings, if you go
this route, you have to be pretty up on your chemistry lessons so you
don't kill yourself with the poisonous fumes. Also, you get a hell of a
lot of gooey black stuff you may have a hard time getting rid of, as it
is a toxic waste product.
sludge, you will still need to have distill it from the water you added
before you added the acid. I can provide you with an article about how
to do this, but I will not publish this on the web, because I don't want
anyone losing their eyesight or life trying to mess with something they
shouldn't be messing with.
Your cost for building the Charles 803 still will vary according to how
much you can scavenge, in the way of a cooker barrel and boiler for your
mash. But you ought to buy all new 3 inch copper pipe and fittings so
you can make he still precisely as we have designed (and modified many
times over a 25 year period). You will spend about $200 to 250 on
plumbing fittings, and $290 on the still valve. Stay tuned to these
pages, as I intend to develop an electronic version, which I expect will
be cheaper than the heavy duty industrial automatic valve I have always used.
See if you can pick up scraps from a local bakery. This would be way
easier than starting with corn and having to grind it.
Hi. I just received the plans. I have a few questions though. Sorry
if they are a little simple. Fig. 2 for continuous run or larger
boilers there is a bubbler bypass for high proof runs. How come?
Where does the 3/8 pipe from the bypass bubbler go? Does it end at the level
of the vapor recovery inlet, open to the last five inches of the cooling
section? I like the plans. Do you still recommend marbles or would rashig rings or some other type of packing be more efficient?
As soon as I get the stills finished I will send you pictures. They will be manufactured from 316 Stainless Steel.
Thank you Robert
Tim, Why make it out of stainless?
Even if you are making it for drinking, copper is fine. I am writing to you today from
300 years old.
They use copper, as do all Scotish distilleries. Stainless will cost a lot more and take special welding equipment and skills. Why bother?
this to come back into the still by adding a 1/2 inch FIP and plugging it with a brass plug, until you have the experience to deal with larger boilers and larger volumes.
Please start small, as you don't want to ruin a big vat of mash, nor do you want to lose it to over boiling because you don't have your timing right or temp control properly adjusted. It may only take a couple of runs to get to know this still, but approach it like romancing a
beautiful woman. They may take more time, but are worth the effort (sometimes!).
I have a source for Rashig rings in the
computer till the weekend. Will let you know.
Dear Mr. Warren: Hello, the other day I was in chemistry class and we were discussing the
alternatives to fuel consumption and I suggested that alcohol is a
fairly good alternative to gasoline. I even was given a few laughs from some of my naive classmates. I was simple wondering about gasohol and if it was effective. I was using simple over the counter alcohol and I found that it works alone in my lawnmower but the effects were it ran but it is now not running. The bottom line is I want to know how to change my lawnmower to be able to run ethanol in it. Sincerely, Jake
Another possibilty is that you are trying to start it on a cold day.
On a warm day it might start OK. Again, read the above pages and learnmore about how this fuel works. You didn't say what your "over the counter alcohol" was--was it booze
(if so, what proof?) or isopropyl alcohol.
I am a student in
One question I have about your still is the automatic control valve listed. This is just the valve shown in the diagram or is this the whole upright assembly you are pictured with.
Thanks for your help in clearing up my confusion. Joe
The valve is on the left side of the distillation column, and there is a1/4 inch water line which runs from the valve up to the top of thecondensor section. There is also a flexible temperature probe which runs straight across from the valve to the reflux column, just in the
middle of the photo near the temperature guage. The valve is a precisetemperature controlling device with an expensive mercury probe, and ithas to be able to handle very high temperatures, as well as to providinga really positive seal so no steam gets out of the fitting where the temp probe goes in. It costs $290. with shipping. I am always looking for cheaper places to buy it, but this is the best valve and price I have ever found. I found one made in
I am looking into making one using an electronic solenoid, which would be cheaper, but I am still looking for materials for this. Any ideas, anyone? Robert Warren
You can use ordinary brewer's yeast, but it does get expensive buying it in those little packs. You need to find a bakery or brewer's supply company to buy it in larger quantities.
A micro-brewery supply will have this, and hydrometers, etc.
One of the best on-line supply places which I have a link to on my web page on Mashing and Fermentation has Turbo-yeast, which produces at a higher alcohol content before dying off (the alcohol is the waste product, or "pee" of the yeast organism).
Click on my web page here and follow the links.