Which would you choose, an analogy

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by acdii, Jul 2, 2007.

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  1. BioDiesel

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  2. Ethanol

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  3. Dont care I drive EV

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  1. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    Here is a quaint little analogy I came up with listening to Rush while he discussed ethanol.

    Lets say you are thirsty and had a hankering for a pop. Now the only way to get a pop is with a pop dollar. Now you have two choices for pop dollars, one of them is to put in one regular dollar and get back 34 pop dollars. The 34 pop dollars buy only a small amount of pop, and only 3% of the pop machines out there will take these certain pop dollars.
    There is another machine that you put in one regular dollar and get back 300 pop dollars, and the pop it buys is the equivalent of a regular dollars worth. In addition all the pop machines take these pop dollars.

    In addition to the above, the machine that prints the pop dollars for the first type of pop uses large amounts of resources to convert the dollars, and the other gets more dollars out of the same amount of resources.

    Which would you choose.

    Now as we see it, Ethanol production gains 34% BTU out as what is put in, uses a lot of corn, so much so that the price for grain and other products manufactured from corn to rise, and products produce from those products also are rising. IE Milk. The fact is only about 3% of the cars on the road, or produced, not sure the exact number, can use ethanol, and those that do, burn more of it than conventional gasoline.

    Biodiesel on the other hand, produces under the proper setup, 300% btu out than put in, is made from other resources other than corn, for example, Soybeans, which have a much higher yield per acre than corn ever will, Algae which can be grown anywhere there is water and sunlight and in fact can be created by pumping the captured CO2 from factories and power plants through tubes filled with recycled water and algae, then converted into Biodiesel, ethanol, and protein for feed stock.

    Heres the kicker, biodiesel can be run in all diesel engines, including trains, trucks, construction equipment, tractors, anything that has a diesel engine can run on Biodiesel. The one thing that needs to be done on older diesels that still have rubber seals and hoses is to replace them with Viton or other biodiesel friendly rubber.

    So, which would you, if in the government, would push to be the alternative fuel source to combat oil? Why are they pushing Ethanol? What can we do to help spread the word?
     
  2. SSimon

    SSimon New Member

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    Below is a link to how native prairies are being researched for their use as bio diesel fuel. If this comes to fruition, this would be a wonderful source of bio diesel as prairies don't require irrigation, pesticides or herbicides and in the meanwhile, these plots would serve to feed and provide nesting habitat for wildlife. My only concern is that the cutting of the prairie won't allow nutrients to return to the ground via fire, so I'd hope that they'd manage the prairie with rotational cuttings and fire. I'd also hope that they engage in both with a careful consideration to wildlife's nesting requirements.

    A snippet -

    In their previous study, Tilman and his colleagues calculated the energy outputs of ethanol and soy biodiesel and compared those numbers to the inputs of energy-mostly from fossil fuels-necessary to produce them. An input of 100 units of energy will yield 125 units from ethanol and 193 from biodiesel. In the new paper, Tilman, Hill and Lehman calculated that mixed prairie grasses, if converted to synthetic fuels by the right means, would yield 809 units. According to a Nov. 29, 2006 New York Times article, the yield for petroleum is now calculated at about 1,500.

    http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/Feature_Storie...ie_grasses.html
     
  3. Godiva

    Godiva AmeriKan Citizen

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    In this Utopian future of no gas where my only choices are ethanol or biodiesel I choose....an EV.

    I'm having PV panels put on my roof this month. I'll be able to expand the system in the future to accommodate an EV when a production model is once again offered. I figure that will be way before I have to choose between ethanol or biodiesel.
     
  4. JSH

    JSH Senior Member

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    I'm at least glad that you put your bias right out there. Let me point out some problems with your comparison.

    First you compare ethanol from corn to biodiesel from soybeans. Corn is a rather poor feedstock for ethanol production and is only used in the US as a handout to the agribusiness lobby. Just to show you how bad corn is:

    Sugar Beets - 714 gal per acre
    Sugar Cane - 662 gal per acre
    Corn - 354 gal per acre

    You can see why sugar cane and sugar beets are the feedstock of choice for ethanol production though many others are better than corn. Some of those are: Buckwheat, Dates, Millet, Rice, Rye, Wheat, Sorghum. Some legumes such as lima beans, white beans, cowpeas, and split peas are within 10% the yield of corn and are nitrogen fixing so they do not rely on huge application of synthetic fertilizers to grow and could be used in a crop rotation to insure soil fertility.
    (From The Alcohol Fuel Handbook by Lynn Doxon 2001)

    BTW, soybeans are a rather poor feedstock for biodiesel too. Some better choices:
    Oil Palm - 635 gal per acre
    Coconut - 287 gal per acre
    Jatropha - 202 gal per acre
    Canola - 127 gal per acre (feedstock of choice in Europe)
    Peanut - 113 gal per acre
    Sunflower - 102 gal per acre
    Safflower - 83 gal per acre
    Mustard - 61 gal per acre
    Soybean - 48 gal per acre
    (From Biodiesel by Greg Pahl 2005)

    As you see, producing biodiesel from soybeans is just a different handout to the agribusiness lobby.

    Second you bring up the holy grail of biodiesel production, algae, as if this is production ready. Algae biodiesel is still very much in the laboratory stage. Yes, it holds huge promise but it is not ready for production. If you are going to talk about Algae Biodiesel you have to talk about cellulose ethanol. This is not still in the labaratory stage, there are production facilities in Sweden where they are turning leftovers from their huge forestry business into cellulose ethanol. The problem with widespread use of cellulose ethanol is the cost of the special yeast needed to break down the cellulose matter. These are expensive and not profitable with gasoline only costing $3 per gallon in the US but very viable in Europe with gasoline costing twice that.

    Third, biodiesel is cannot be used in any diesel vehicle. In fact the use of biodiesel over a B5 to B10 concentration is expressly prohibited by every auto manufacturer that sells diesel vehicles in the US. Yes, it can be used in older diesels but not in newer modern diesels if you want to keep your warranty. This is no different than using ethanol in a vehicle that was not designed for it. Yes you can update the seals and other rubber parts to be compatible with biodiesel but the same can be done to make your car run on ethanol.

    The reason you don't see the federal or state government getting behind biodiesel is because the general public does not operate a diesel vehicle. People can relate to running their car on ethanol, but diesels just bring up images of tractor trailers.

    I think that a combination of Ethanol, Biodiesel, EV's, Solar, Wind, Nuclear, Coal Gasification, Wave, Tidal, etc will be needed to solve our energy problems in the future. You can't just select one technology as "THE" technology for the future. That kind of thinking is what has gotten us where we are today.

    Most importantly, we must all think CONSERVATION. The best energy in the energy you don't need to produce.
     
  5. Pinto Girl

    Pinto Girl New Member

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    Why are they pusing ethanol in Washington?

    Well, agribusiness lobbies effectively; their existing production is often subsidized by our tax dollars...gosh, I honestly have no idea...
     
  6. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    As usual, Rush is full of bull....

    Liquid fuels derived from agriculture are better than fuels derived from petroleum, but as long as our agriculture is run by petroleum they are a poor second choice compared to renewable energy sources.

    In an environment of sustainable agriculture, both biodiesel and ethanol would be acceptable. The example of Brazil shows that ethanol can work, if done properly.

    I drive an EV, but that does not mean, as implied in the poll, that I do not care. My vote for the future would be rapid-recharging EVs and an electric grid powered by wind and solar, as well as whatever other renewable sources we can develop the technology to harvest. In the mean time, before the technology and infrastructure are in place for that, I'd like to see cars run on synthetic fuels produced with solar and wind power. We do have the technology for that.

    P.S. EVs have a really big advantage over any sort of internal-combustion engine: Electric is QUIET! That's one of the more important reasons I switched.
     
  7. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    Funny this topic should pop up today. Ran across this earlier in the day, basically these folks are developing bacteria to turn the waste glycerin from biodiesel production into.... ethanol!

    I think the jury's still out on Brazil. My concern is that they're going to trash the place, deforesting to create sugar cane plantation to make ethanol. The Swedes are on the right track (waste->ethanol). Figuring out the butanol puzzle would make it even better. Ethanol and biodiesel production are getting more efficient and the EROI is getting better. I've read quite a few articles about ethanol production improvement techniques. I don't see much about biodiesel, but that's the media for you.

    EV's are clearly the way going forward. The efficiency is so much better that it really is surprising sometimes that we're not already there. We're still going to need biomass to oil synthesis techniques for the production of all sorts of things besides fuel (which is just a bloody waste of the stuff (oil) anyways). So perhaps the biofuel boom will pay dividends in basic biomass->hydrocarbon (or other compounds) knowledge base.

    This is the lowest hanging fruit of all, yet no one seems to want to pick it. A pretty sad statement about us as a species, really.
     
  8. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jhinton @ Jul 2 2007, 05:31 PM) [snapback]471844[/snapback]</div>
    First off, I used Soy as an example. I know that there are many other bio goods that can produce Diesel, but you are wrong on the fact that you stated above. I have an F350 and a kubota tractor, both of which run on B100 in the summer. The only thing about B100 is the fact that under 40 degrees F, it starts to gel, which is the reason it is sold mainly in B20 concentrations. There is no difference between BioDiesel and regular diesel other than the fact it has better cleaning properties, and that is the only thing that can cause problems, it can clog the fuel filters by removing all the junk that regular diesel left in the tank. BTW I looked in all my owners manuals on both my truck and my tractor, and my neighbors 07 truck and no where did it say that running bio diesel voids the warranty.


    Second is the fact that there are a lot more vehicles on the road that burn diesel than you realize. Every single commodity that is delivered to a store is delivered in a vehicle that burns diesel. Every single bus, with the exception of a few, burn diesel. Every single train, ship, crane, etc, burns diesel. Diesel is the life blood of industry, without it, goods don't get from A to B. Something that EV just cant do, not without massive batteries, and methods to keep them charged.

    Third, trying to convert a gasoline engine to run on Ethanol, is no simple task, not only are seals an issue, but the entire programming for the engine controls need to be designed to burn ethanol. You cant simple put E85 into your tank and hope it runs, even if the seals can handle it. In most cars you will wind up destroying the valves or pistons and other sensors from an over lean condition.

    Fourth electric vehicles that can be driven across the country is a fallacy that we will not see in our lifetime. It is a pipe dream, a good one, but still a pipe dream. Reality shows that the gas engine will be around for a long time, which means the burning of fuels will still be a necessity. Ethanol is simply not the answer for this, no matter how many different types of plants are used. The jury is still out on what exits the tailpipe with Ethanol, at least with Biodiesel we know what comes out, 72% less CO2! After all isn't that the main goal that we want to see? Everyone says we need to cut our dependence on foreign oil, but ethanol will not do it, but Bio Diesel can.

    My whole point is in hopes that word is spread, there is something that can be done to cut back on foreign oil, without driving up everyones cost with Corn prices going sky high. Bio diesel doesn't have to be made with farm crops either, that list proves it, and yes I knew about all the different plants that can be used, I just used the basics as an example. No matter how you look at it, production of Ethanol still is only 34% more out than what you put in, and Biodiesel is up to 300% more out than what you put in. That is a huge difference. Car manufactures can easily drop diesel engines into all existing car models and get higher EPA ratings while lowering emissions and not have to design new technology as an interim until battery technology catches up. I have nothing against EV, I enjoy driving the prius on battery, scared the hell out of my wife last night when I snuck up on her and blew the horn. But, when you consider that an electric car has a limited range, and unless you can find a place to enjoy a few hours while the batteries recharge, it is not a feasible vehicle to own unless you are in a city and don't have to worry about getting somewhere. I drive at least 100 miles a day, maybe more if I need to go onsite somewhere, and having to worry if there is enough juice to get me home, well, you can see why an true EV wouldn't sell well.

    Honda has their Hydrogen Concept, gets about 260 miles to the tank, roughly 4 times a normal car, twice of a hybrid, but where the heck would all that hydrogen come from, another fallacy.

    In the interim while we wait for better power packs, we do at least have the means to break Opec, we just need to get the word out, it isn't Ethanol, its biodiesel. Mcdonalds in Europe is going to be running all their delivery trucks on the WVO they pull from their fryers. The air is going to smell like french fries! :D They didn't say if they are going to first turn it into Bio Diesel, or just convert the trucks to run straight WVO. Doesn't matter though, there will be less diesel being burned.
     
  9. JSH

    JSH Senior Member

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    I would check your owners manual again and check Fords Website. Ford and Kubota both limit biodiesel use in their vehicles to B5. You can also go to www.biodiesel.org, which is a trade organization for the biodiesel industry. They have links to all the major manufacturers webpages on current percentage biodiesel allowed.

    From Ford's Website:
    Use of Biodiesel in Ford Vehicles:
    Fuels containing no more than 5% biodiesel may be used in Ford diesel powered vehicles. Consistent with WWFC (World-Wide Fuel Charter) category 1-3, “Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) used in commercial fuel must meet both the EN 14214 and ASTM D 6751 specificationsâ€.

    There are still some unresolved technical concerns with the use of biodiesel at concentration greater than 5%. Some of the concerns are:
    Requires special care at low temperatures to avoid excessive rise in viscosity and loss of fluidity
    Storage is a problem due to higher then normal risk of microbial contamination due to water absorption as well as a higher rate of oxidation stability which creates insoluble gums and sediment deposits
    Being hygroscopic, the fuel tends to have increased water content, which increases the risk of corrosion
    Biodiesel tends to cause higher engine deposit formations
    The methyl esters in biodiesel fuel may attack the seals and composite materials used in vehicle fuel systems
    It may attack certain metals such as zinc, copper based alloys, cast iron, tin, lead, cobalt, and manganese
    It is an effective solvent, and can act as a paint stripper, whilst it will tend to loosen deposits in the bottom of fuel tanks of vehicles previously run on mineral diesel


    From International Truck and Engine Company: Use of biodiesel in their engines at greater than 5% concentration, is solely at the discretion and risk of the customer. (International makes the engine in your Ford F350)

    As you can see, if you are running B100 you are on your own if you have fuel system issues. Kubota has a similar statement. BTW, Kubota is a rival company to my former employer, Yanmar. :eek:

    You can convert a vehicle to run on E85. This would involve changing the seals as you stated and also reprograming the ECU to inject more fuel. This is easily done by a piggy-back ECU in the same manner that performance tuners reprogram vehicles for more performance. There are also aftermarket kits available that were originally intended for Brazil that allow the vehicle to sense the alcohol content of the fuel and adjust the air/fuel mixture accordingly. All of this will void the warranty on your vehicle but so does running more than B5 biodiesel.

    I understand that you cannot drive an electric vehicle across the country. However, to expect that in say 20 years you will still be driving anything across the country is a fallacy. In the near term long distance travel will switch to mass transport for all but the very wealthy. I am only 30 but I expect to be the last generation to see the automobile as the primary form of transportation. You say you need to drive 100 miles or more per day. I predict in the future that will become very expensive.

    You say the jury is still out on emissions from ethanol. This is flatly false. The scientist and engineers know exactly what the emissions from ethanol are and how they compare to gasoline vehicles. What is yet to be decided is if the result should be spun as good or bad. It depends on which you value more, reduction of the use of oil and release of CO2 or the reduction of smog. The facts are:

    Ethanol as a % of Gasoline powered vehicle.

    CO2--------------0%
    NMOG----------103%
    CO--------------50%
    NOx------------110%
    HCOH-----------71%
    Fuel Economy 104%

    Yes, thats right, if you design a car to run on ethanol it can get better mileage than the equivalent gasoline car due to the higher octane. Now if you just dump ethanol (110 octane) into a car designed to run on 87 octane gasoline, you will get the crappy mileage that GM and Fords flex-fuel cars show.
    (From Alternative Fuels Guidebood by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE))

    If you are worried about the price of corn, stop eating meat. 80% of the grain produced in the US is used to raise livestock. Meat is a very inefficient way to get protein and the larger that animal the lower the efficiency.

    I see the future as a blend of technologies:
    Human power, EV's and public transportation for short distances in cities.
    Biofuels for medium distances away from cities were public transportation is not practical.
    Public transportation, most likely rail, for city to city travel.
     
  10. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    I stand corrected, and I know why. The 08, and later 07 models of 1/1/07 and later have this restriction due to the PM filters, prior to that there were no restrictions.

    Quiz, what was the first "diesel" fuel used?
     
  11. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    jhinton has it right. Biodiesel is not the silver bullet and ethanol a red herring. Ethanol isn't a silver bullet either, although some do hype it that way. It is much more complicated than that, and our future will be a mix of fuels. You have the right intent, but it's not so black and white.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ACD @ Jul 3 2007, 08:53 AM) [snapback]472217[/snapback]</div>
    Funny. I talked to a guy last month who runs E85 in his Prius, stock. He's read up on it, and the seal issue is minor according to him. The electronics adapts as is, essentially just a different anti-knock value. MPG does drop somewhat, because of lower energy density. (Not that Toyota recommends anything over E15 or so).
    Who needs that capability? An EV for driving around town, commuting etc. A bike for running to the hardware store or library, etc. When you want to go cross-country, rent an ICE or ride a train or plane and rent a car once you get there. In addition, the next generation of batteries can be charged to 90% value in ten minutes, with a commercial charger, like most gas stations will likely be adding at some point. (The batteries exist today, but haven't gone thru years of life-cycle tests that are needed before a car manufacturer will accept them).
    Ha - you're part of the foreign-oil problem - why do you drive 100+ miles/day? Unless you're involved in the construction business, sales, or something similar, there's no reason to drive that much - get a job closer to home or get a home closer to your job. Wasting gas that funds terrorists and contributes to our trade deficit on a needless commute is unpatriotic. (My last job search was limited by those I could theoretically bike to).
    I think McD's is implementing that in one country only? Can't remember, skimmed the article. Still a good start.

    The answer is not simply biodiesel. It's biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, bicycles, EVs, PHEVs, public transportation, telecommuting and working/shopping closer to home.
     
  12. JSH

    JSH Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ACD @ Jul 3 2007, 01:28 PM) [snapback]472391[/snapback]</div>
    International's statement dated 2005 limits all of their engines to B5. Again, I don't know of any manufacturer of on-road diesel engine that allows more than B5 in their engines. You use biodiesel at your own risk. I personally see no reason not to use it, but from a legal standpoint you are on your own if something in you fuel system fails. I would use B20 in my VW TDI if it was available in my area. Of course I'm 100K miles out of warranty anyway.

    Rudolf Diesels first engine was run on powdered coal dust. Later versions ran on peanut oil and other vegetable oils. Rudolf Diesel was a strong believer in biofuels. He believed like Henry Ford that farmers would continue to grow the fuel that would power the machines replacing horses in personal transportation. Unfortunately, both of them were wrong.
     
  13. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jhinton @ Jul 3 2007, 03:53 PM) [snapback]472485[/snapback]</div>
    I did some research over the holiday and discovered the real reason for the warranty restrictions. Biodiesel can be made at home, so there is no quality control, so damage to injectors is likely. That is the reason fro the b5 restrictions. The new powerstroke engines use Piezo injectors, which I am assuming are more delicate compared to the things they used in the 7.3. If B100 or some variant of B is used that is commercially made, they follow quality standards that are put in place. Once Biodiesel goes mainstream, you will find that the warranty restrictions may ease. Making ethanol at home though is not an easy task, so you wont see specific restrictions in warranties, then again if it wasn't designed to burn ethanol, it will plainly state do not use ethanol! A diesel engine will burn oil, any kind of oil, thats the beauty of a diesel, it isnt stuck on one type of fuel, which backs up my claim that any diesel engine can burn biodiesel, the only restriction is the fuel lines and seals on older engines that are made of non-viton. Most people who run bio diesel, WVO or similar are far out of warranty, so it really doesn't matter to them. We need more bio-willies for sure. :D I think burning more bio-diesel may also give a boost to fast food joints as the air will smell more and more like french fries! :D
     
  14. JSH

    JSH Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ACD @ Jul 5 2007, 09:56 AM) [snapback]473446[/snapback]</div>
    I'm not sure what you are arguing here. First you say biodiesel is better because you can use it in diesels without modification and you can't do that with ethanol. I pointed out that you can't run biodiesel in diesel engines without voiding your warranty. Now you agree but say it doesn't matter.

    Yes, engine manufacturers are concerned about blocking injector and damaging fuel pumps. They are concerned about some guy cooking up some biodiesel in his shed. But they also prohibit using commercially made and certified biodiesel over B5. They do this because they have not made their fuel systems compatible with biodiesel.

    Yes, most people who run SVO are out of warranty but so are people that convert their cars to run on ethanol. You may be surprised that their is a whole internet community out there dedicated to converting vehicle to run on ethanol and making ethanol at home. Making ethanol at home is really easy and doesn't involve the nasty chemicals involved with making biodiesel. Still designed are out there from a simple modified pressure cooker to continuous flow stills that make 10 or for gallons per hour.
     
  15. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    I remember a statement from VW (likely posted here) that they ban biodiesel in the US because of the lack of an industry standard. Yeah, they worry about the homebrewer, but it also sounded like they felt US biodiesel producers' quality weren't up to snuff. Not long ago a state was requiring B2, but had to drop it because filters were clogging on trucks. While that could happen do to gunk getting cleaned out, the cause was do to the producer not removing all the glycerin from the fuel.

    Ethanol is pretty simple to make at home, but it takes a lot of energy to do. That's why biodiesel comes out ahead in net energy. It is just a room temp reaction. Depending on what you use for heat, it is possible to pollute less by just using straight gasolene in the car. Using a basic still, it will take three distillations to get to 95% purity. Which is the best you can get without turning to things like benzene. Most home brewers are probably fine with running water through their fuel system, but I think flex-fuel vehicles replace some parts with stainless because of ethanol's water content. Anyone know how pure is fuel ethanol?

    Biodiesel uses chemicals that can be dangerous in the hands of the clueless. There is a good chance some of those chemicals are already in people's garages. With ethanol, you are heating flammable liquids. They both have potential of ending in tragedy.

    I choose biodiesel, because I can heat my house and water with it.
     
  16. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    Depending on the dealer you frequent, they may or may not void a warranty if you use bio. Most dealers dont care, and the fact is, there are very few failures related to the use of bio. Proving that bio caused it is even harder to do unless it is quite obvious that nothing but pure bio was run, and in most cases, it wont be as only B20 is available commercially, finding B100 is very hard to do, there is only one place around here that has it and I have to go 50 miles to get there. I only use it during the summer in the tractor and truck, and I think my truck actually runs better on it, its quieter and smoother, smokes less and smells good. My statement was in regards to my model year truck and my neighbors truck, neither of which say I cannot run Bio diesel in it. My Kubota manual also does not say I cant run it. With the advent of USLD, Piezo injectors, and DPMF on 1/1/07 and up trucks, even though I have not actually seen it, there is now a restriction on the use of Biod. That doesn't mean they wont run on Biod, that just means that the warranty may not be honored. That is no different than Toyota stating that they will void the warranty if someone slaps battery packs and a charger on a Prius. Does that mean that extra battery packs and a charger wont work?

    The fact remains, Bio diesel can run on any diesel engine with no modifications, provided the fuel lines and seals are of viton material, which all diesels manufactured after 97 have. The fact also remains that you cannot run ethanol in a standard gas engine without modifications, period. Facts are facts, Biodiesel does have a standard by which commercially produced BioDiesel must meet. Ethanol does not. Because some manufacturer of Bio shipped out unproccessed fuel, doesn't mean much, you can find that Gasoline has been sent out just as bad if not worse.

    With some modifications, the addition of a tank with a heater powered by engine coolant, a pump and a switching valve, you can run any diesel on waste vegetable oil, which requires no chemicals to process, just some filtering to get rid of particles, and water removal.
     
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