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Old 10-10-2011, 08:09 PM
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Advantage of an Alcohol Engine

I have always wondered what is the advantage of an alcohol engine for drag racing and a daily driver over gasoline?

I you know any good tech articles please post them

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Old 10-10-2011, 09:06 PM
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It runs cooler, if there is any advantage to that?


For street, much less(if any?) pollution. This is why i think alcohol is the answer for the future. No dependency on outside(foreign) suppliers Who says alcohol and driving don't mix?

Yes, i understand (well really i don't fully understand) what it takes to produce the equivalent amount of alcohol to gasoline power-wise but i still think it would work.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MXrider13
I have always wondered what is the advantage of an alcohol engine for drag racing and a daily driver over gasoline?

I you know any good tech articles please post them
Alky will allow a higher compression ratio w/o detonation or needing to back the ignition timing down from the max power timing to avoid detonation damage. This means a larger cam can be used, all else being equal. A side benefit is the engine will run cooler than if run on gasoline.

If alky is used, the fuel system has to be up to the demands- both volume (fuel pump and lines, jets, ports, etc. all need to be sized appropriately) and corrosiveness. Alky engines are routinely fed gasoline after the alky is disconnected to prevent corrosion caused by alky sitting in the carbs, etc. The oil will become contaminated after running alky so it's usually changed much more often than if gasoline is used to prevent bearing erosion and acidic compounds forming in the engine. Often steel needles are used for the needle and seat assembly to prevent the rubber tips found on some needles from disintegrating. Same thing throughout the fuel system- alky-resistant materials have to be used.
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:26 AM
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For a daily driver, the only advantage would be emissions. The extra volume that has to be carried along with the more expensive hardware makes it problematic.

For racing, an alcohol engine will make more power if built for using alcohol. Because of the volume of fuel and air required, the ports, manifolds, carbs, valves, etc. all have to be larger.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:04 PM
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Fuel consumption is more and air fuel ratio is lower then gasoline. The parts from the gas tank to the carburetor has to resistance to corrosion.
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:03 PM
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Bad=Really hard to see it burning during the day light hours.
Cool=Pretty blue flame at night.
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Old 10-12-2011, 09:40 PM
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Advantage of Alcohol Engine

I have campaigned an Alky burner for over twenty years in the southwest circuit and occasionally in the northwest. Fun car to race, and it is a clean burner too. While you hear about cooler running the power in the combustion chamber does increase a bit. What is fun is Night Drags. Blue flame exhausts and all. Mine is a 261 Chevy six inline with a twelve port head. Fun car and fun to watch the small block V-8 folks look surprised when they see your tail lights at the finish line. Not the fastest car in the world but who gets down there first wins.
Highball
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:05 PM
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Well there is a difference in alcohol fuels, and what you need to do to run them. Ethanol is very different from methanol.

Methanol is the toxic stuff that is HIGHLY corrosive, needs and after lube or gas run through the lines and engine after running. It also requires methanol compatible fuel system parts since it eats almost everything. It takes roughly twice as much methanol as gasoline, but it makes LOTS more power due to having its own oxygen. RC airplanes and alcohol dragsters as well as the non nitromethane part of what the fuel cars run is methanol. All the benefits of alcohol are present with methanol, but it has some drawbacks that most people assume are also present with ethanol.

Ethanol is the same stuff you go to a bar to drink, or in the 12 pack you enjoy during the game on Sunday. It is nowhere near as corrosive as methanol, is vastly less toxic, doesnt require an after run lube, and only requires between 15% and 30% more fuel than gasoline does, but it will also make more power. You can run ethanol in steel lines and pretty much any rubber fuel line made after 1983. If its E85 then you dont have to worry about corrosion at all. Home brewed ethanol contains some water, but you can have over 20% water in it before it becomes a problem. That is two gallons of water in a ten gallon tank, so it takes LOTS of water to make ethanol a problem.

The less mileage thing is true, but not for the reasons most will state, its not about BTU or energy content, its much more than that. Ethanol and methanol are oxygenated fuels, meaning they carry O2 with them. Engines are air pumps, so put more air in them and they make more power. If the fuel already has O2, then you need more fuel to get to stoich. You cant make the ports and valves smaller to make up the difference, but if you did it would make similar power to gas but with less airflow through the heads.

BTU is a red herring. BTU is a measurement of how long it takes a specific fuel to heat one gallon of water one degree. It isnt a measurement of how efficient a liquid fuel is in an engine.

Gasoline most certainly has more BTU, but gasoline also burns differently than alcohol, and most of it becomes waste heat. You need lots of cooling capacity for gasoline engines, and you need to run them cool to prevent detonation and knock. Its very easy to overheat a gas engine, since less than 20% of the fuel goes to actually powering the vehicle, the rest is waste heat. Heat that has to be shed through the radiator and exhaust system or the engine will seize.

The mileage issue with ethanol comes more from having low compression than it does with having less BTU. E85 can run well over 13:1 compression easily, and neat ethanol without gasoline can handle over 19:1. Most engines arent built for that kind of compression as it stresses the rods, pistons, cranks, and blocks. Diesels are, and they can be run on ethanol with a spark ignition and some sort of fuel system that doesnt use the diesel injector pump.

With an increase in compression you get an increase in efficiency, meaning you use less fuel to do the same work because you are working the fuel harder. Torque goes up and thus the engine works less to do the same work. Not working as hard means less throttle angle so it will use less fuel. Ethanol on its own will produce more torque between idle and 4500 rpm, but increasing the compression shows even more gains in torque throughout the entire rev range. An ethanol specific engine with high compression and an optimized fuel system will get better mileage than a gasoline engine, and make lots more power doing it.

Some other benefits of alcohol engines.

Cooler operation, less waste heat needs to be shed due to how it burns in the engine, and more of the fuel going to actual work than heating engine parts. Alcohol also has a very high latent heat of vaporization, which means it sucks the heat out of the intake tract as it vaporizes. You get frost on blower manifolds, and usually you can run it without an intercooler in a boosted application requiring less weight and complexity.

Increased longevity and oil change intervals. Gasoline has lots of carbon in it that ends up in the oil and caked on the engine parts. You have seen it as the black soot and stuff caked on pistons and valves, or clogging oil passages and turning the oil black. Alcohol fuels dont do that, they burn clean and the oil doesnt turn black, the engines look new when you tear them down since there is no grit floating around in them.

Increased resistance to knock. E85 is rated at 105 octane, but really it will handle much more compression than 105 octane gas will. The latent heat of vaporization means it is much more resistant to knock and preignition since it cools the intake charge, and it just doesnt fit the test used to determine octane. You can run lots of compression easily and the tuning is very forgiving with alcohol fuels. Rich just makes more power, and lean in a NA application isnt nearly as bad as it is with gasoline. Lean in a boosted engine is bad no matter what fuel is used, but alcohol fuels have more room.

I have heard lots of people say that the fuel system on old cars needs completely reworked to run ethanol. I have found that to be not entirely accurate. I have a 1970 GTO with a Qjet I drilled to run E85, and its been running ethanol since 2007. It is running the stock tank, lines, and an electric Carter pump that it needed because it ran out of gas at the top of second gear before I put it on ethanol. The Qjet has been drilled, and when I built it I bead blasted it, so its pretty much bare aluminum inside and out, so far no corrosion or problems with any of the Qjets I have modified. The only issue with the Qjet was a very old accelerator pump cup didnt like ethanol, but those go to hell with gasoline after 20 years too, and they havent been produced in 20 years, so the ones since 83 should be ok.

Ethanol does clean out all the varnish and gunk that collect in the tanks, lines, pumps, and injectors when you run straight gasoline. If you have never run ethanol, even the 10% with gas, you will have a problem with clogging the fuel filters the first time you put ethanol in it. Its going to clean that stuff out. If you have been running 10% as is mandated in some states, you should not have a problem. My GTO ran 10% for twelve years before I ran it on E85, so if it was going to have a problem like people claim, it would have by now.

The nice thing about ethanol is you can make it yourself, legally. Anything with starch or sugar in it can be consumed by yeast and turned into ethanol, which you can then distill and run in your car. Bread, donuts, spoiled fruit, candy waste, even waste paper can be used to make fuel. A friend of mine in Wisconsin makes fuel from paper and cardboard then runs his truck on it.

There is so much you can do with ethanol that you cant with gasoline, and it is much better for your engine, no matter what people say. Try it out and see for yourself, just be aware of the cleaning properties it has or you will go through lots of fuel filters.
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Old 10-14-2011, 01:30 AM
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Actually, Q-jets are made of zinc. Zinc is fairly reactive, I'd advise against removing the protective chromate finish or reapplying it if it's removed.

Many guys will remember Mark Thomas who drove a methanol-fueled TA/FC on the IHRA drag circuit. His sponsor was Ethanol/Ohio Corn Growers Association. I do not recall anyone else running it, though.

To see if there are E85 in your area, go to www.e85fuel.com and click on your state for a list of stations.
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Old 10-14-2011, 06:41 AM
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Ethanol fuel.

I wrote a blurb that was in a 78, automotive industries magazine when Alcohol was all the talk. Another problem with ethanol is it needs a new separate distribution system, Pipelines, different or new tanker trucks, storage tanks at gas stations or the cleaning effect contaminates the fuel from the old system, I read that Saab had a new twin turbo engine the ran a lot of boost for alcohol fuels and got the power and milage Thumpin talks about. Back in the 70's farmers that were running home brew on their diesel tractors used an extra alcohol fuel tank, pump and a Holly on top of the air intake, The alcohol never went thru the diesel pump and injectors. The engines ran both fuels at the same time. . GM experimented mixing fuel and had a lot of problems. There are a few new Alcohol producers in central Calif that are tied in to dairy farms. The wet feed stock grain byproduct is mixed into the cattle feed and results in more milk and meat production than if the livestock had been fed the grain. The fermentation makes the feedstock more digestable for livestock. An integrated system eliminates the drying process others used for the grain and longer transportation.
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Old 10-14-2011, 12:42 PM
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Cobalt, they havent had any issues yet, and one of them has been sitting in a jar of E85 since 06. I would rather not remove the coating, and usually I dont. The first one I did, and havent had any problems with it.

I found the later APT style Qjets work better than the early carbs, much easier to tune and get running good.
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