Backcountry Pilot • availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

Nothing happens without it. Discuss fuel locations, quality, alternatives, and anything else related to this critical resource.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

Emory Bored wrote:
How do you get rid of the alcohol/water mix? Will it burn? No, not at the ratio Flap is talking about. Distilling? Heat the hangar/garage with the alcohol?



Last I heard, water evaporates and so does alcohol if it is in an open container. You're talking about a few gallons in a week, not a truckload.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

EZFlap wrote:Last I heard, water evaporates and so does alcohol if it is in an open container. You're talking about a few gallons in a week, not a truckload.

I hear ya. Just thinking out loud (over thinking it?) . Make it pay all the way around.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

180Marty wrote:....I would be interested in seeing what hotrod150's mileage is if we took the ethanol out of the fuel he is burning. From what I understand, you guys out there are getting sub-octane gasoline that needs help from ethanol. I assume the energy content in the 84 octane is the same but would the engine like it?......


I'm not gonna remove the ethanol form the E10 that i run in my car- I would then have sub-octane "blendstock" eh? Probably run like crap & get evenr worse mielage.
When I referenced getting better gas mileage, I was referring to when I could buy regular grade 87 octane non-ethanol gas- like up to about a year & a half ago.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

EZFlap wrote:Guys.... TAKE THE F**KING ETHANOL OUT OF THE GAS !! Some of you guys have spent more time arguing about it than it would have taken to rig up a simple system to remove the ethanol and make your own E-0. ............Put 91 octane E-10 into a translucent tank. Pour 1/4 more water into the tank. Mix it up real well so the alcohol binds with the water. Let it all settle out into two layers. The water/ethanol mixture will be at the bottom of your tank. Drain this mixture off. You are left with E-0 gasonline in your tank. ....


I fly pretty often. Burning about 8-1/2 gph, I went through about 110 gallons in the month of September. The set-up you describe might be OK for a gallon at a time, but precipitating out the ethanol on a larger scale sounds pretty impractical to me.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

hotrod150 wrote: I fly pretty often. Burning about 8-1/2 gph, I went through about 110 gallons in the month of September. The set-up you describe might be OK for a gallon at a time, but precipitating out the ethanol on a larger scale sounds pretty impractical to me.


I suspect quite the opposite, Hotrod. The more of this you do the better it gets... because your time spent doing the removal stays the same but the number of gallons (and dollars saved) goes up. So if you went through 110 gallons, your avgas cost at $5.50 would have been $605. If you bought 122 gallons of car gas at $4.00 ($488), and took out the 10% ethanol, it would leave you with 110 gallons of mogas airplane fuel.

Assuming you had made a one-time investment in a large 120 gallon size tank to do this in, you would have spent about one hour of additional "hassle time" to get the savings, but that hour would have been split into three 20 minute steps at different times:

1) Putting water in the tank and agitating the crap out of it to emulsify the water into everything and pick up the bad stuff.
2) Draining off the water/alcohol mixture (after letting it settle out thoroughly).
3) Testing the fuel for water again before filling the airplane at each of three or four airplane fill-ups from your tank.

So in September, you would have spent one hour of hassle time, and saved $117 . If your avgas is higher than $5.50, and/or if your premium car gas is less than $4.00, you would have saved a little more.

Put another way, that $117 would have allowed you to buy 30 gallons of additional gas, which is another few hours of flight time in September.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

Got to thinking if you like what EZ is saying, that you could probably drink the ethanol/water that is separated :D ----just depends on how many gasoline additives stay with the water. Ethanol is denatured with "natural gasoline" that is to vaporous to use in regular gasoline but it probably would phase separate also. I've been told that the stuff from most ethanol plants doesn't taste as good as the more processed stuff. There is an ethanol plant in Minnesota that does make some drinking stuff as well as fuel but it goes through a few more steps.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

EZFlap wrote:...........Assuming you had made a one-time investment in a large 120 gallon size tank to do this in, you would have spent about one hour of additional "hassle time" to get the savings, but that hour would have been split into three 20 minute steps at different times:
1) Putting water in the tank and agitating the crap out of it to emulsify the water into everything and pick up the bad stuff.
2) Draining off the water/alcohol mixture (after letting it settle out thoroughly)..........


Lessee, a 120 gallons of gas weighs about 720 pounds-- not the easiest thing to agitate, I suspect. Then, how do I drain off the water/ethanol-- a spigot in the bottom of the tank? How do I know when to stop? Also, what's the octane of the remaining brew after removing the ethanol from 87 or even 92 octane E10? Do you know? I sure don't.
Luckily, I still have a source of E-zero 92 octane mogas, at $4.32/gallon, so I don't have to work out the actual logistics of the de-ethanolizing process. Still seems impractical to me.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

You wouldn't need to agitate it at all. All you would need to do is get a black 55 gallon drum. Put a drain on the bottom and one about a third to half way up. Put a couple fittings on the barrel near the top and bottom and install a clear hose between them. It would show you exactly where the water and ethanol level is because it's obvious to see the line between the water/ethanol mix and the gasoline. Put 5 gallons of water in the barrel.

The sun would warm the fuel on one side and it would rise while going down the colder side. Or use a barrel heater. It would keep the fuel moving inside the barrel and eventually all the ethanol would be absorbed by the water. Just test the ethanol content from the higher drain. When it reads E-0, it's done. Drain the gasoline off the top and the Ethanol/water mix off the bottom. The clear tube will show you when all the ethanol has been drained.

I've done something similar with Waste Vegetable Oil. With the oil you just spray it down with water a few times a day. The water flows through the oil pulling all the crap to the bottom where it gets drained out. Gasoline would flow more freely and wouldn't take long to separate it.

But before you do that you might want to figure what your time is worth. If your just saving 1.00/gal I wouldn't even think about it. When I was doing WVO in my cars it was great driving around for "free" but it actually takes quit a bit of time. Plus, gasoline is a lot more volatile and I doubt it would be worth the risk of burning down your house, garage or you, to save a few bucks. Would just be a lot better it they would just sell us real gas again.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

Jaerl wrote:.......... Would just be a lot better it they would just sell us real gas again.


Amen, brother.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

hotrod150 wrote:
Lessee, a 120 gallons of gas weighs about 720 pounds-- not the easiest thing to agitate, I suspect. Then, how do I drain off the water/ethanol-- a spigot in the bottom of the tank? How do I know when to stop? Also, what's the octane of the remaining brew after removing the ethanol from 87 or even 92 octane E10? Do you know? I sure don't.
Luckily, I still have a source of E-zero 92 octane mogas, at $4.32/gallon, so I don't have to work out the actual logistics of the de-ethanolizing process. Still seems impractical to me.


Put something large inside the tank that moves back and forth as you drive it to the airport from the gas station. If they can mix a couple of tons of cement in a truck as it goes down the road, you can figure out something with momentum, buoyancy, a hinged plate inside the tank, something to accomplish this for a few hundred pounds of thin viscosity gas.

Yes, a spigot at the bottom of the tank. Use a translucent tank so you can see the demarcation line between water and gas.

You stop when you have drained off the bottom liquid to where the demarcation line is down at the bottom of the tank. Remember, you're going to check it once or twice more for safety before you actually put it in the aircraft.

The octane can be figured out by someone who knows fuel chemistry more than I do; I cannot and will not claim I'm the rocket scientist with all the answers. But if you start with 91, chances are you would still be above 87 when you take only 10% alcohol out? There3's store bought octane boosters, or you can throw in a few gallons of 100LL, etc. Again that is a question for someone smarter than me on the issue of fuels.

With this idea, I have nothing more than one potential answer for the cost of avgas and getting around the supply issue of E-0 mogas. However this solution may not also answer the question of convenience or effort. Chances are that lowering the cost and lowering the effort will not happen at the same time, just like everything else in life. So my idea may only be of interest to those who do not have a supply of E-0, rather than people lucky enough to still has a source for it. Sorry for the intrusion.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

So does anyone know what the octane would be if you pulled 10% of ethanol out of 91 octane Gasoline? Some of the low compression planes are approved for 87 octane Mogas.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

180Marty wrote
30% ethanol would raise the octane rating about 7.5 points.

30%/3=10% therefore 7.5/3=2.5
91-2.5=88.5

P.S. I think Hotrod150 and EZ should try this ethanolless 91 octane fuel in their car and see what the mileage is compared to E10 87 octane.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

Can't speak for Hotrod (boy he'd be pissed), but I would be very happy to try the E-0 fuel in my Volvo. My O-300 engine is certified for 87 octane and probably less than that. The A-65 if I recall was certified for 73 octane.

Despite having been the one most loudly putting the idea out on this forum, I have not built the system I described for removing the ethanol... haven't been doing enough flying for other reasons, so the fuel cost is not the big deal-killer for me at this stage. Also I fly from a municipal airport and they would have a big orange conniption if I rolled onto the airport with a tank on a trailer. This E-0 fuel idea needs to be tried at a field where those problems do not exist.

But just to put my money where my mouth is, if anyone in the SoCal area is willing to try a batch of this E-0 using the water removal method, I will do the stealth test flight myself, with my airplane, and with my butt on the line.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

Keep in mind that if there is MTBE in the fuel, it is also soluble in the water. The water/alcohol mix you get would be pretty toxic. While you can put substantial ethanol amounts into the water treatment system (the bugs love it like sugar in moderation), MTBE is a no-go.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

180Marty wrote:.....P.S. I think Hotrod150 and EZ should try this ethanolless 91 octane fuel in their car and see what the mileage is compared to E10 87 octane.


I know the 87 octane E-zero I could buy locally up until about a year & a half ago gave me 2-3 mpg more. Why test again with a witch's brew-- I'm already convinced.

Hotrod (often mistaken, but never uncertain)
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

lesuther wrote:Keep in mind that if there is MTBE in the fuel, it is also soluble in the water. The water/alcohol mix you get would be pretty toxic. While you can put substantial ethanol amounts into the water treatment system (the bugs love it like sugar in moderation), MTBE is a no-go.


That is why MTBE is now outlawed in most states, especially the big ones like CA and NY. Ethanol at the 1 - 3% level can replace it, no reason for E10. I'm not sure MTBE is found in any gasoline in the U.S. anymore.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

EZFlap wrote:> ...
But just to put my money where my mouth is, if anyone in the SoCal area is willing to try a batch of this E-0 using the water removal method, I will do the stealth test flight myself, with my airplane, and with my butt on the line.


You would certainly be putting your butt on the line. If you are planning to do this test in a TC'd aircraft, even one with a mogas STC, be aware that unless you send a sample of the resulting gasoline to a lab to ascertain whether it is still ASTM D4814 compliant, your insurance is void, since you are not using fuel that meets the specification of the STC. You can do this test in a homebuilt, but the label on the tank must include whatever this swamp gas is since you, as the manufacturer of the homebuilt, are certifying that it flys on "washed" E10, whatever that resulting fuel is.

If you decide to do it, please let us know what the lab test results are. I would love to know what the refineries are using to make E10 out of these days. They do not have to start with legal gasoline, and probably don't. Only the resulting E10 must be ASTM D4814 compliant and legal finished gasoline.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

What does the STC say, as far as the actual specification of the mogas that is legal to use? I do not have a copy of the STC in front of me.

My (admittedly vague) understanding is that the two autogas STC's are not limited to one brand of fuel, or an ASTM spec, since an average STC holder probably cannot guarantee the ASTM spec of gas from any given gas station anyway.

It would be hard to believe that those thousands of STC holders have to do a lab test on the gas before they can use it legally. The alcohol test is easy to do, but a full ASTM spec test before each flight?

Re-edit: After visiting your website, I see that mogas meeting ASTM D4814 without ethanol is approved for use in aircraft with the appropriate STC. Is there any proof one way or another that removing the ethanol from a fuel originally meeting D4814 makes it no longer meet D4814? In other words, does D4814 require the addition of ethanol?

If so, how did the pre-ethanol auto gasolines meet D4814 when the STC was first done?

This is not confrontational, I'm sincerely interested in what would work and what would not.
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Re: availability of alcohol free fuel in the future???

EZFlap wrote:> ...

Re-edit: After visiting your website, I see that mogas meeting ASTM D4814 without ethanol is approved for use in aircraft with the appropriate STC. Is there any proof one way or another that removing the ethanol from a fuel originally meeting D4814 makes it no longer meet D4814? In other words, does D4814 require the addition of ethanol?

If so, how did the pre-ethanol auto gasolines meet D4814 when the STC was first done?


The only ASTM spec for unleaded auto fuel is, "ASTM D4814 - 11 Standard Specification for Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel" Just like the only spec for all avgas, no matter what the octane rating, is ASTM D910.

ASTM D4814 has a list of approved additives. Ethanol blended up to 10% is one of the approved additives. But the gasoline does not have to have ethanol in it to be D4814 compliant. Clearly that addition of ethanol was a later addition to the spec, but I don't know what year. Notice that ASTM D4814 does not allow any blending level above 10%, so ASTM D4814 is only for unleaded gasoline up to E10. It does not cover E15 on up to E85. Right now there is no ASTM spec for E15.

So what happens when you "wash" the ethanol out of E10. That all depends on what the refiner started with. The refinery does not have to start with legal "finished" gasoline to make E10, they only have to end up with gasoline meeting ASTM D4814 once they add the 10%, or so, ethanol. And that's the rub. When the federal RFS mandate for blending large quantities of ethanol into gasoline hit the books in 2008, refineries were not making much dedicated blendstock for oxygenated blending, or what they call BOB. They were primarily making it in those areas of the country that require Reformulated Gasoline, which is a large chunk of CA and other large urban areas like New York. In fact 99+ % of all RFG made today is E10, and it represents about 1/3 of the gasoline pool.

However now it is a different story. You have several states the have mandatory E10 laws, MN, MO, HI, FL and my state Oregon. When Oregon's mandatory E10 law went into effect late in 2007, the refineries in WA that supply most of the state weren't making BOB, so the legislature gave the terminals a 1 lb. Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver so they could blend ethanol into finished legal gasoline and still meet state RVP requirements. (Ethanol at the 10% level will raise the RVP of gasoline about 1 lb.) Of course that also meant that the resulting gasoline was giving away "octane" too because ethanol at 10% will raise the AKI of auto gasoline about 3 points. Obviously the gasoline producers do not like to give away octane so BOB is a sub-octane blending stock with lower vapor pressure and some other trade secret tweeks so that when E10 is made at the terminal, it comes out as legal finished gasoline meeting ASTM D4814. So when you "wash" the ethanol out of E10, you end up with something approaching whatever the refiner shipped to the terminal, and that wasn't necessarily any legal finished gasoline that we know of. It certainly doesn't have to be. Two of the four refineries in WA, that supply OR and WA now only make suboctane BOB and the only product coming down the single major pipeline from WA to OR carries only BOB for Oregon terminals.

The point is you don't know what you have left when you "wash" ethanol out of E10 and it will vary from producer to producer and the season of the year. Which is why you would have to send a specimen of every washing to a lab to see what the "octane" level is and to verify that it is still ASTM D4814 compliant if you want to use it in an STCd aircraft.

Of course you can use the product in a homebuilt, but you would need to put a label on the gas tank indicating that you are certifying that your homebuilt will run on Washed E10 swamp gas. It truly is your butt when you do this stuff.

Your time and effort would be better spent lobbying the FAA and aviation alphabets to get mogas on airports and to lobby the EPA to insure that there will be a source of ethanol free unleaded auto fuel. As it stands today there are no state or federal laws that require producers to make any ethanol free finished gasoline and by the end of 2012 the ethanol quotas in EISA 2007 will swamp the gasoline pool and it may become impossible to find E0, while the producers will be swimming in ethanol going forward, because the ethanol quotas increase every year until 2022.

BTW, it is possible that by the end of the year, up to three airports in CA will have mogas again. Now whether than can find a supplier at the end of next year is anybody's guess.
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