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Old 06-12-2008, 12:56 AM   #1
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Default ZOMG! Racer friendly sustainable/renewable/alternative fuel

It's called SwiftFuel. I think this is the real deal guys. I'm not seeing any 'gotchas' with this one.

How does this sound? 104 Octane, higher energy density than gasoline, net zero carbon footprint, cheaper than gasoline, and currently in FAA trials as an aviation fuel!

Wait there's more:
"SwiftFuel mixes with gasoline, can be stored in the same tanks as gasoline, and be shipped in the same pipelines as gasoline." (unlike ethanol)

Here's the Kicker:
"it is made from ethanol yet contains no ethanol."

Below is the relevant excerpt from a rather lengthy PBS editorial column which can be found here:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2...06_005036.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by PBS: I, Cringley
Piston-powered airplanes have a unique fuel problem. Their high-compression air-cooled engines require higher-octane fuel to avoid destructive engine knock. This higher octane is achieved through the use of tetraethyl lead as a fuel additive. Remember lead was outlawed from car gas in the U.S. more than 30 years ago to good effect: we all have significantly less of the toxic metal in our bodies than we used to. But lead is still used in aviation fuel, which accounts for an infinitesimal portion of total U.S. gasoline consumption. Lead is on its way out for aircraft use, too, with international treaties scheduling its demise in 2010.

If we aren't going to retire all the little airplanes in America -- force a total platform change -- we'll have to come up with a replacement for tetraethyl lead. The additive used most for this is ethanol added to gasoline to bump up the octane number. But ethanol does a number on seals and hoses typically used in aircraft to an extent that it is specifically prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration from being used in certified aircraft. At the same time, U.S. energy policy is moving toward the mandated use of ethanol in ALL motor fuel, meaning there may be nothing available two years from now to fuel your Piper Cub.

Enter SwiftFuel, the Splenda of motor fuels because it is made from ethanol yet contains no ethanol. SwiftFuel is the invention of John and Mary Rusek from Swift Enterprises in Indiana. To your airplane SwiftFuel looks and tastes just like gasoline. It has an octane rating of 104 (higher than the 100 octane fuel it replaces) yet contains no lead or ethanol. SwiftFuel mixes with gasoline, can be stored in the same tanks as gasoline, and be shipped in the same pipelines as gasoline. It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint and does nothing to increase global warming. Its emission of other polluting byproducts of burning gasoline are significantly lower, too. SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.

Oh, and based on an average $1.42 per gallon wholesale cost for the ethanol used as its feedstock, SwiftFuel costs $1.80 per gallon to produce, meaning that it ought to be able to sell for $3 per gallon or less no matter what happens in the Middle East.

Heck of a deal.

The ethanol used to make SwiftFuel can be any type, according to Mary Rusek, president of Swift Enterprises. The pilot plant they are building in Indiana will, interestingly, make ethanol from sorghum, not corn. The Ruseks claim that sorghum, which isn't a typical U.S. crop, can produce six times the ethanol per acre of corn, turning on its head the argument that ethanol production consumes more energy than it produces. China, the third largest producer of ethanol after Brazil and the U.S., is switching entirely to sorghum for its ethanol production.

The FAA is already testing SwiftFuel with the goal of approving it for use without modification in all aircraft, leaving the platform unchanged while improving its impact on almost any scale. Hopefully by the 2010 cutoff for tetraethyl lead SwiftFuel will replace the 1.8 million gallons of 100LL aviation fuel used every day.

"But what about cars?" I asked Mary Rusek. "We don't say much about that," she replied. "The aviation fuel market is tiny and has a real need we can fulfill so everyone wants us to succeed. Cars are different and we don't want to make any enemies."
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:07 AM   #2
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where do i sign up?
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:30 PM   #3
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Can some disect this for me cause I don't speak tech.
What's the deal with this? Is it real, will it work, why has the government not picked it up yet and try to monopolize on it and sell for $5 a gallon?
Someone with more sense than me explain this to the ESL folks.
Thanks
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:44 PM   #4
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IF it works as stated, the fact that they are targeting the aviation market instead of the automotive market is that it will be selling for a premium. Otherwise, why jump through the regulatory hoops for the tiny market?
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:53 PM   #5
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Zabac, pretty much all it is saying is that they found a better way for the fermentation process to work and can make a cheaper biologically made fuel. It has a higher octane rating, so you can't just shove it into your average daily driver and go with it. If you either mixed it with gasoline and got the octane value down that way, or raised the compression in your engine (hmm, I think a few people around this forum could help you with that...) you could use it in your car without changing your ECU. The reason you need to get the octane value lower, as I hope you know already, is because higher octane values are used to prevent early combustion of the fuel, which causes detonation, and higher compression "sport car" engines need the higher octane values to prevent that.

Ethanol requires you to have larger fuel injectors, so that may be needed, or may not, I don't know because there isn't a detailed report on the exact make up of the swiftfuel. The government has to "review" it like everything else, and are probably debating whether to help fund them or not, because the oil companies are already in their pockets.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:00 PM   #6
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so let me get this straight,
they have an alternative fuel source potentially, but they "don't want to make any enemies." I'm skeptical of this product and its feasibility, but this kind of confirms that there's an influence somewhere which is going to keep gasoline prices nice and high.

So can I fill up at an airport?
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:13 PM   #7
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Sounds like a win to me. I hope Popular Science/Mechanics do articles on this to get the word out. It's not something I think even the aviation market will see until it has to (2010ish) but if it's really that good, it'll trickle down to automobiles.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hustler View Post
So can I fill up at an airport?
They don't have it yet, and unless you have a friend that works there and can get you some, I don't think so. Maybe But as with everything, there is always some way to get your hands on it. But, you know that oil companies always end up buying the patents for new technology to make fuel economy better. The latest technologies aren't going to succeed unless their creators don't succumb to the dollar signs thrown into their heads from oil companies and government offers, but have a true passion to help the world and rid us of the corruption and dependence on oil. I want to see those stupid companies fall and die.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:21 PM   #9
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gasoline companies are ******* gay.
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:20 PM   #10
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Chris for the detailed explanation, however it is not what I had asked, I understand what 104 octane is and what it does, but thats not the question...

I want to know if this is some bullshit or is it actually a reality, I want the cliffnotes.
Is this gonna happen, when? Who the **** do they think they are to sell this to airliners and not to everyone else? I just don't want to get my hopes up about a alternative fuel if there is no chance in hell it will happen or is not logical like corn ethanol.
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabac View Post
Can some disect this for me cause I don't speak tech.
What's the deal with this? Is it real, will it work, why has the government not picked it up yet and try to monopolize on it and sell for $5 a gallon?
Someone with more sense than me explain this to the ESL folks.
Thanks
Zabac, this is America dude. The US Governement isn't in the business of stealing privately developed intellectual property, producing products, or making a profit.

Basically they are converting ethanol into something more friendly to current vehicle platforms and existing fuel transport infrastructure. Ethanol has high octane, but it sucks becuase is very corrosive and has low energy density.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stein View Post
IF it works as stated, the fact that they are targeting the aviation market instead of the automotive market is that it will be selling for a premium. Otherwise, why jump through the regulatory hoops for the tiny market?
My take is this is a small company going after a small market they can actually handle without stepping on the toes of the big boys.


HackerChris some of your statements are off base.

They are chemically converting ethanol into something else. They can use ethanol from any source. They only mention sorghum as an ethanol source because it converts to ethanol (six-times) more efficiently than our current ethanol crop, corn. Critics claim that corn based ethanol takes more energy to to produce and distribute than you get out of it.

The reason you have to use larger injectors with ethanol is because it has a lower energy density than gasoline. This stuff claims a higher energy density so you need less injection capacity than gasoline. Theoretically you can just dial back the duty cycle of your current injectors.

I am pretty confident cars on the road today can run on 104 octane fuel without modification, they just won't be tuned to take advantage of all the ignition timing head room (and extra horsepower) afforded by the higher octane.
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:29 PM   #12
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I assume this is sarcasm

Quote:
Originally Posted by MazDilla View Post
Zabac, this is America dude. The US Governement isn't in the business of stealing privately developed intellectual property, producing products, or making a profit.
And thank you for the cliffnotes, that's what I needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MazDilla View Post
Basically they are converting ethanol into something more friendly to current vehicle platforms and existing fuel transport infrastructure. Ethanol has high octane, but it sucks becuase is very corrosive and has low energy density.



My take is this is a small company going after a small market they can actually handle without stepping on the toes of the big boys.


HackerChris some of your statements are off base.

They are chemically converting ethanol into something else. They can use ethanol from any source. They only mention sorghum as an ethanol source because it converts to ethanol (six-times) more efficiently than our current ethanol crop, corn. Critics claim that corn based ethanol takes more energy to to produce and distribute than you get out of it.

The reason you have to use larger injectors with ethanol is because it has a lower energy density than gasoline. This stuff claims a higher energy density so you need less injection capacity than gasoline. Theoretically you can just dial back the duty cycle of your current injectors.

I am pretty confident cars on the road today can run on 104 octane fuel without modification, they just won't be tuned to take advantage of all the ignition timing head room (and extra horsepower) afforded by the higher octane.
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabac View Post
Chris for the detailed explanation, however it is not what I had asked, I understand what 104 octane is and what it does, but thats not the question...

I want to know if this is some bullshit or is it actually a reality, I want the cliffnotes.
Is this gonna happen, when? Who the **** do they think they are to sell this to airliners and not to everyone else? I just don't want to get my hopes up about a alternative fuel if there is no chance in hell it will happen or is not logical like corn ethanol.
Zabac, this is significant because it is for piston engined airplanes (as opposed to jets). They have to make every drop of power they can just to stay in the air. That's why they have been allowed to keep poisonous lead in their fuel 30 years after it was banned in everything else. There was no substitute that would allow them to run the trimming and compression necessary.

This is significant to us because us "hot rodders" use the same techniques to extract extra power out of our cars.

Leaded aviation fuels are to be phased out by 2010. This is one potential substitute for 100LL gasoline that is currently in trials by the FAA.

Who knows if it will actually pan out. I was just pointing out that it has a ton of potential and I see no technical reason that it is doomed to fail based on the information presented. (unlike other alternative fuels)
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:33 PM   #14
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gasoline companies are ******* gay.
damn character limit
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:36 PM   #15
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Thats why I wanted to know more, everytime I saw something about the other ethanol fuel, I ignored it, to many factors, and that is a problem since we are a nation that doesn't want to change our ways...
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:42 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Zabac View Post
Thats why I wanted to know more, everytime I saw something about the other ethanol fuel, I ignored it, to many factors, and that is a problem since we are a nation that doesn't want to change our ways...

BAM! You hit the nail right on the head. No change in ways required. If this stuff pans out, it will be the first truly practical stepping stone away from gasoline.

Get those planes flying boys and scale up for general transport!
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MazDilla View Post
I am pretty confident cars on the road today can run on 104 octane fuel without modification, they just won't be tuned to take advantage of all the ignition timing head room (and extra horsepower) afforded by the higher octane.
Mazdilla, wouldn't higher octane cause them to detonate if the engines were designed for 87 octane? Octane is an anti-detonation, and if it combusts later than it was designed to for a particular engine, then wouldn't detonation occur? That would mean a stock daily driver wouldn't be able to handle it unless the compression and ignition timing values were all changed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating

If I am wrong then by all means correct me, but that is what I believed to be the case.
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:03 PM   #18
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So can I fill up at an airport?
You can by us at the small airports. Pull up to the credit card pump and all the 100LL that you can handle.

Going the other way, one of the planes I had a couple of years ago had a type certificate that allowed me to run 87 octane car gas. Some aircraft engines are only 8:1 and can handle it. (High compression is 9:1 to them.)The previous owner paid $325 for a piece of paper that said "yep, you can do it". Zero changes to the aircraft or motor. Just a piece of paper. But, God forbid if you ever got caught doing it without that little piece of paper, the FAA came down on you hard. Or if you have an accident and they found regular gas in it, (assuming you weren't a smoking hole) your insurance company could deny the claim. Funny thing was, there have been "several" instances where someone successfully crash landed, got out and then the airplane mysteriously burst into flame. "Nothing left to see here, folks. Move along..."
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:12 PM   #19
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Chris, higher octane allows you to run more timing and get more power, lower octan is what causes detonation, not higher.
Higher octane on a car tuned to run on 87 will simply waste usefull energy, that's all, it will not burn all the gas and will be inefficient.
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:19 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabac View Post
Chris, higher octane allows you to run more timing and get more power, lower octan is what causes detonation, not higher.
Higher octane on a car tuned to run on 87 will simply waste usefull energy, that's all, it will not burn all the gas and will be inefficient.
Ya, tuned. That's my point. Everyone would need their car tuned and wouldn't be able to run fine without it.
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