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Joe_Black
09/06/2005, 08:29 PM
What's really interesting about this article is how it's affecting the sugar markets...


Motorists warm to ethanol as oil prices soar
By Reese Ewing - Reuters
Tue Sep 6, 1:35 PM ET



Motorists around the world are filling their cars with more biofuels, such as ethanol made from sugar cane or corn, in the hunt for cheaper alternatives to stratospheric gasoline prices.

Even before the recent surge in crude prices, countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa were integrating biofuels into national energy plans. France and China said in the past week they would step up the adoption of renewable energies.

"The ethanol market looks extremely bright," said Peter Nessler, vice-president of renewable fuels with FC Stone in West Des Moines, Iowa, in the U.S. corn belt.

In the latest U.S. ethanol production data, output in the month of June set a record of 249,000 barrels a day and demand was growing even faster, hitting 277,000 barrels a day.

Ethanol production as it is practiced in the United States -- the world's biggest fuel market -- and Europe using grain or sugarbeet, only began to become economically competitive with gasoline when world oil prices rose above $40 a barrel.

On Tuesday at the NYMEX futures exchange in New York, crude for October delivery was trading at nearly $66, down from last week's peak close to $71. Expects say the market could run to new highs should supply disruptions or an unexpected rise in demand emerge.

In Brazil, the No.1 ethanol consumer and producer, demand is skyrocketing but not due to rising world oil prices, although gas prices are twice those of ethanol at the pump.

Brazil's state-run oil firm Petrobras is holding down local gasoline prices. The explosion in demand has come from the development of flex-fuel car engines which can run on gasoline, ethanol or any blend, whichever is cheapest.

"In recent years, about 45 percent of the cane crop went to ethanol, the rest to sugar. This year, more than 51 percent is going to ethanol because of demand from flex-fuel cars," ethanol manager at trader Coimex, Nelson Ostanello said.

REMOVING KINKS

Ethanol fuel, also used as a gasoline additive to reduce pollution, a substitute for lead and sulfur and to extend gasoline stocks, is just emerging as a commodity on the global market and kinks in supply and demand have yet to play out.

Ethanol futures contracts that debuted in March at the Chicago Board of Trade have failed to find a strong following. And experts can only speculate what even a modest uptick in world demand for ethanol would do to other commodity markets.

When oil topped $70 a barrel last week, sugar traders in New York and London said it set off speculative fund buying in the belief that sugar prices would rise as more of the world's No.1 cane crop is diverted to make ethanol rather than sugar.

"Growth in Brazil's sugar market will slow. Ethanol demand is there, untapped by Brazil's cane industry that is trying to develop it," said Tarcilo Rodrigues, director of sugar and ethanol consultants and brokers Bioagencia.

"That said, Brazil commands the largest share of the world sugar market, which is mature. Mills are not going to let sugar demand go unmet. That would cause prices to rise too much and bring other producers into the market," he said.

Perhaps the largest potential ethanol market in the near term is in the United States, where President George W. Bush recently signed an energy bill that requires more renewable fuels, such as ethanol, in gasoline.

About 11 percent of U.S. corn in both 2003 and 2004 flowed into ethanol plants, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That was expected to climb to 14.5 percent this year, even before gas prices topped $3 a gallon.

"There's no doubt that as ethanol use and ethanol production continues to grow that's going to put an upward pressure on corn prices," said Monte Shaw, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, D.C.

Shipments of Brazilian ethanol to the United States through Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and El Salvador, which circumvents a 50 percent tariff on direct U.S. imports, is now again in the money.

"Direct exports may soon be feasible at this rate, despite the tariff," Datagro President Plinio Nastari said.

Obstacles remain to ethanol becoming a world commodity.

Japan opened voluntary blending of 3 percent ethanol in the world's No.2 gasoline market in 2003 but it is barely used. And it is unlikely to make it mandatory soon because Brazil is the only large exporter and it is concerned about supply. Japan's capacity to produce ethanol itself is limited and expensive.

Oil majors remain hesitant about ethanol from food crops which are vulnerable to drought and disease, adding volatility to the price of their products. Firms are developing cellulose based ethanol but it's not widely used yet.

"If we're going to get involved in serious biofuels, then the government is going to have to take some action to overcome what is clearly a very strong resistance by the oil companies," Ian Ballantyne, general manager of Australia's grower organization Canegrowers, said.

(Additional reporting by Chris Stebbins and Lisa Haarlander in Chicago; Zachary Howard in New York; Chikafumi Hodo in Tokyo; Michael Byrnes in Sydney; Hari Ramachandran in New Delhi; Muriel Boselli in Paris)

mbeach
09/07/2005, 09:30 AM
Driving across Canada last week (when prices hit the equivalent of $3.93US per gallon) I found many gas stations selling E-Gas. Some had E85, at $1.10CN per liter while selling a 15% blend at $1.19CN.

I was forced (by distance between services) to use the E15 on a few fillups. Mostly from 1/3 to 1/2 tank. The VX took it well, and I showed neither a positive or negative change in economy or performance. I did not attempt the E85.

WyrreJ
09/07/2005, 07:41 PM
Damn! Now I'll probably never get cane sugar in my soda again.

Corey872
09/08/2005, 08:57 PM
That is a pretty neat article...it is strange, though that the do not mention the octane boost from ethanol (E85 is 105 octane!)

About 3 months ago me and a co-worker decided we were sending way too much money to the middle east, foreign terrorists and others that just want to kill us, so we started looking into ethanol (E85). Over the past couple of months we have been giving our vehicles ever increasing ratios of alcohol to gas.

He now has his Dodge Dakota up to straight E85 and reports that it runs OK, mileage is slightly down, but essentially offset by the cheaper cost of ethanol. He hasn't set any engine codes, but we looked at the system with a scan-tool and the long term fuel trim is at about 27-30% so the computer is definitely stretching to compensate for the E85. We are considering a fuel pressure boost or slightly larger injectors to compensate.

My car loves the stuff. It has a 10.2:1 compression VTEC engine and during the summer heat, it would still ping on the premium gas. I started mixing a 50/50 blend of E85 and regular 87 octane - it works out to about 95 octane...the pinging stopped immediately and it saves me about 50 cents a gallon over the premium! Still waiting to get my VX oil problem solved, then give it a dose of the alky! Plus I'm hoping that if I can get a good supply of cheap, high octane gas, a supercharger or turbo might be in the future.

I think the "gasohol" got a bad rap in the 70's as the "cheap gas" and people tend to shy away from it. Here in Kansas, they just passed a bill that gas stations no longer have to label the gas as "contains 10% ethanol" - it seems people were taking that as a warning! Stations did away with the labels and ethanol consumption surged!

As you can probably tell, I am all for the stuff. The only things that I hate are that it is remarkably hard to find here in Kansas (of all places!) only a couple pumps within a 50 mile radius of me. And, I guess the hurricane struck our corn too, because the ethanol prices have jumped in lock-step with the gasoline prices...only ethanol stays about 30 cents less per gallon.

Maugan_VX
09/08/2005, 09:06 PM
ah-hem

Turbomustangs.com along with Steve Cole Enterprises Inc (username: Karl Hungus) has completed some preliminary testing with the environmentally friendly, cheaper than 91 Octane, E85 fuel blend.
First off what is E85? E85, is a motor fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline to be used in flex-fuel vehicles. Ethanol is alcohol used in transportation fuels. It is a high-octane, liquid fuel, produced by the fermentation of plant sugars. In
the United States, ethanol is typically produced from corn and other grain products, although in the future it may be economically produced from other biomass resources.

Benefits:
It has a motor octane rating of 104-108, it is also quite cold to the touch. It is currently about 1.99 per gallon, while 91 Octane is approximately 3.30 a gallon. E85 is cleaner burning, emitting a lot less greenhouse gasses. It is also a renewable resource. To top it off it is made 100% within the confines of the USA.

Cons:
It takes more of this fuel to create the same energy as regular gasoline. Therefore your car will use more fuel and you will see a decrease of approximately 10-15% in fuel economy. To make big horsepower you will need more fuel pump and more injector. Many people state that the fuel is corrosive and it could have adverse effects on aluminum fuel rails, injector o-rings and fuel lines. But so far in 9 months of testing we have seen no such side effects.

Test Car
1995 Mustang GT street car, 331 cubic inch, custom twin turbo system with twin T70 p-trims w/ .58 AR, T56 tranny, solid roller: 242/236, .600 lift.
Fuel System: 3, 255lph Walbro in line fuel pumps, 160# injectors.
No alky, no nitrous, no ice on the intake, etc.

The first thing we did was add 40% fuel to the fuel map under WOT. We also added about 20% fuel in part throttle areas. We were tuning using a regular gasoline wideband air fuel ratio of 14:1 at part throttle. On the dyno the car made the best and cleanest power at 12:1.

At 6 psi of boost and 35 degrees total timing the car made 575rwhp from 6000rpm until 7500rpm. The power never fell off. We tried less timing but the car didnít respond well and the power curve was sloppier. At 13psi and about 29 degrees of timing we made 872rwhp. At 20psi and ~24 degrees of timing we made 989rwhp.
At 30 psi and 20 degrees of timing we ended up with 1066rwhp. The fuel injectors were at 75% duty cycle at this power level. Whereas with gasoline they were at about 55%. The fuel pressure was also slightly falling off at the top. The lack of a large power increase from 20-30psi is due to the tiny exhaust housings on this street car.

In total we made 16 dyno pulls and we never heard any detonation, but we did hit fuel cut a few times during testing. The next day the spark plugs were pulled and there may have been slight detonation in 2 of the cylinders because the porcelain was speckled. However the car still runs fine. This is definitely a very impressive fuel.
I also want to point out how impressed I am with this solid roller setup. Sure it is slightly noisier than my tiny hydro cam. But you canít argue with that sick power curve. At all boost levels the car makes peak power at 6000rpm and holds it solid until 7500rpm, I am sure it would pull up to 8000rpm no problem. Steve has also tried a larger hydraulic cam to get the same results but it just didnít work. The cam was a comp extreme energy hyd roller: 248 @ .050 on int and exh, 114 lsa. The car also had larger 74mm turbos at the time but the power would peak at 6500rpm and drop like a rock, even with expensive valve springs. With the new small solid roller cam the car even lugs along at 1500rpm no problem and idles fine at 900rpm.

http://www.turbomustangs.com/techarticles/stevenew95/stevedyno.wmv

mbeach
09/09/2005, 10:02 AM
This is what I got from Maugan's article:

If you're running big boost in a 1000 horsepower 'street' car that's been tuned for it, E85 is good stuff.
But, if you are NA, driving to and from work, E85's lower cost is offset by it's poorer mileage and potential for serious fuel system (injectors, seals, etc.) damage. I'm not sure that this stuff is more or less corrosive than gasoline, but it seems to be cause for worry.

Does that about sum it up?

Joe_Black
09/09/2005, 11:44 AM
This somewhat applies to E85 but is more generally info about fuel-grade ethanol: Ethanol has less energy density by volume than gasoline. So for a given amount of fuel you will have less range (average is 20%) than the same amount of gasoline. This is offset though by ethanol's lower cost, lower emissions and domestically renewable source. Not to mention water in ethanol has no effect on fuel delivery or performance and that it keeps your engine sparkling clean inside meaning longer life. Oh, and you can make up to 10,000 gallons yourself at home with a $35 BATF permit and the governement will give you a $.52 tax credit for every gallon you use.

mbeach
09/09/2005, 11:56 AM
I'm all for reducing dependence on foreign oil (but y'all better keep buying Alaska crude!).

As for homegrown fuel, will the $$ saved ever pay for the cost of converting a non-flex-fuel vehicle over to safely/reliably burn E85? How about a homebrewed E50?

How nasty/difficult is brewing ethanol at home anyway (not really an option here)?

Joe_Black
09/09/2005, 04:36 PM
Converting to flex-fuel, or E85, appears to be more difficult than going pure ethanol. With the pure ethanol you just ensure your fuel pump and system is compatible and upgrade as needed (viton o-rings, improved pump, stainless rail) and get injectors that flow about 30% more fuel. Reset the ECU and adjust from there. With flex-fuel the ECU needs to easily figure out and adjust if you're running E85, gas or a blend.

Then again, this is what's frustrating about the US auto industry: We get the crappiest and most neutered vehicles on the planet to protect our domestic manufacturers, even though they produce a good portion of the foreign competition themselves. And many of the foreign autos are compatible with bio-fuels right off the showroom floor.

As for making ethanol, it's very similar to making beer or wine with the exception of the distillation process. A still capable of making about 8 gallons an hour of 190-proof ethanol can be easily built for less than $500, much less if you're a good scrounger. The leftover material, or "mash", used for the fuel "beer" can usually be sold to local farmers for livestock feed. My plan is to use molasses as it's available nearby as a sugar production by-product and is very easy to ferment for distillation. Last time I priced it was about $60 a ton, which makes near 100 gallons of fuel IIRC.

Check out the web site Journey to Forever (http://www.journeytoforever.org) for some fantastic info on bio-fuels.

kpaske
09/09/2005, 04:54 PM
Joe -

Are you considering converting your VX over to flex fuel or pure Ethanol? I'm still keeping my eyes open for an old Mercedes to run bio-diesel, and who knows? If it works out well I might do a diesel conversion on the VX. :bgwb:

Joe_Black
09/09/2005, 05:51 PM
I still have the intent to go pure ethanol in the future. I won't try or advocate anything that is at all reliant on petroleum based fuel, which E85 is.

The recent sale of our 2001 Trooper means that my wife is now driving the '99 IronMan, which was to be my ethanol conversion. So that puts me in the spot of either keeping that vehicle within reach of a fuel supply or carrying addtional fuel if we want to drive it any significant distance rather than the '01 Dragon.

So, the current plan is to purchase a pre-1986 Mercedes turbo diesel and experiment with B100 biodiesel. If we find it's simple and economical to make ourselves then we'll look to convert both VX's to diesel. I'll pickle the gas 6VE1 engines for future projects. The Isuzu engine in overseas intercooled turbo diesel Troopers is the 4JG2, and I've gotten a few quotes over the past week averaging around $3000 for a delivered low-mileage long block. But I have seen a 2nd-gen Trooper with a Mercedes OM617 conversion, but at the time took nothing more than passing interest. Wish I had looked MUCH closer now! The Mercedes crowd is getting wild performance out of that engine. Consider that an early 80's 300D weighs about as much as our VX and that people are drag racing their daily-drivers getting 13's in the 1/4. And that's without any intercooling! You can get used, running OM617 engines for around $500 and it's fully mechanical so there's no ECU or electrical companents to worry about. There's a huge community supporting these engines and cars, plus parts availability is excellent and inexpensive.

So the numbers for a bio-diesel conversion look very good, especially since B100 bio-diesel is fully compatible with petroleum diesel. And that means not getting stuck away from your fuel supply, as you can tank up with pump diesel and be just fine no matter how much bio-diesel is in the tank.

We start getting the bio-diesel processing equipment together this weekend, and will hopefully have a Mercedes 300D by month end. So I'll post info along the way as we learn how viable the idea really is.

kpaske
09/09/2005, 09:57 PM
Yes, please keep us informed of your progress. I'm happy to hear that you are going the biodiesel route. I'm nearing the end of my military service and will be going through a job transition as well as moving to another part of the country, so I know I won't be embarking on any major projects until next spring at the earliest, but for a long time I've wanted to rid myself of the petrol dependence. I'm hoping to keep the VX, but I'm really looking for a solution that will boost performance as well as decrease fuel costs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe a turbo diesel could give us the best of both worlds, with the added benefit of being healthier for the environment if we're running a bio-fuel.

As I mentioned in my other post, I want to get myself an old Mercedes also to experiment with while I get the fuel production process down and if it works out well for us, will also consider doing the VX next.

By the way, since California is so darn expensive, I'm considering the great state of Florida in my job search, so who knows? We could be neighbors soon. ;Db; Where is Winter Haven, anyways?

Joe_Black
09/09/2005, 11:12 PM
About the only negative with a diesel engine is weight. Due to the massive stresses involved with the compression cycle everything is quite beefy, so a gas engine's diesel equivalent will be nearly double the weight. But many get wrapped up in comparing horsepower and you can't really do that with diesel to gas comparisons. The way they operate makes driving them somewhat different, especially older non-ECU diesels. The ECU diesels are almost like gas engines. For example, take a drive in a new VW TDi Golf, Beetle, Jetta or Passat and you'd have a hard time believing it wasn't gas.

As for economy, you can make anything inefficient by having an aggressive driving technique. Diesel fuel, petroleum or bio, has significantly higher energy density compared to gasoline. Pretty much the inverse of ethanol, but to a much greater degree. That's why the VW TDi mentioned earlier will get close to 800 miles per fill-up with good driving habits. But with the right gearing diesels really shine with heavy trucks since you operate mostly in the torque band, getting the most economy from the engine.

So how much longer before you rotate out? Hopefully you'll find a job market receptive to your skillset with a spot doing something you'll enjoy or find challenging. As for Florida, as a native it's very disturbing to see how much environmental destruction is being waged to support housing development for the average 900 people per-day moving here. Winter Haven is pretty much between Tampa and Orlando, so we're getting majorly developed. Our county, Polk, is the largest in Florida and used to be the most sparsely populated. Now it resembles the aftermath of a strip-mine from Hell that some demon crapped cookie-cutter houses all over.

Guess that's progress.

Corey872
09/10/2005, 07:47 AM
Converting to flex-fuel, or E85, appears to be more difficult than going pure ethanol. With the pure ethanol you just ensure your fuel pump and system is compatible and upgrade as needed (viton o-rings, improved pump, stainless rail) and get injectors that flow about 30% more fuel. Reset the ECU and adjust from there. With flex-fuel the ECU needs to easily figure out and adjust if you're running E85, gas or a blend.


Most new vehicles (ie mid 90's + and definitely OBDII systems) can adjust to the blended fuel automatically by reading the O2 sensors. The vehicles I have run or directly seen run various blends of ethanol have adapted fine. AFOAF reported his Ford ranger set a code running E85...don't remember the specific code, but it reportedly had something to do with the fact that the long term fuel trim was maxed out and the computer didn't like that. But the ECU was still easily responding to the change in fuel, though Larger injectors, or a boost in fuel pressure would help cure the issue.

I believe the two main issues with running straight ethanol are low volatility/cold starting issues and the fact that our government (US) would rather poison you to death rather than have you skip out on taxes on a fifth of booze - hence denaturing. Regular gasoline added to the ethanol in small amounts solves both of these issues very nicely and relatively cheaply.

I have read that most car manufacturers that make any FFV's offer it as a no cost option. Based on that, I have to wonder just how much they are changing on the fuel systems to cope with ethanol. Bigger injectors - probably, change in ECU programming - probably, stainless steel fuel system - doubtful. Next time I see a FFV locally, I will have to climb under it and see what the tank looks like!

thedutchguy
09/10/2005, 10:10 AM
I went to brasil last month and was told that ALL the gas at the pump contain ethanol.In other words you can't buy uncut fuel in Brasil at the pump!
This is okay over there because even in the wintertime the temp. stays high enough never to give any problems even when running on 100% ethanol.
What's really remarkable is that I saw a lot of cars getting converted to run on CNG! (compressed natural gas)

kpaske
09/10/2005, 01:20 PM
Joe -

I'm signing out in December, and if I relocate, it will likely be in early February. If I can get a job and a place to stay all lined up before I get out, I'll be taking about a month off to spend in Thailand with my wife's family. I'm hoping to eventually get a foreign service position with the State Dept and work overseas for a good part of my career, but since they aren't accepting applications right now for the position I want, I have a couple of options. If I can find a way to afford a full time semester and still support my wife and child, I'd like to finish up my MS degree, then start my new job without having to worry about school for a while. However, I will more than likely take either a contract position somewhere, or maybe even a GS position with the State Dept until the FS positions start to open up.

I had been planning for years to move to Southern California when I finish my military service, but the cost of living and housing down there is just ridiculous, and I really don't think I'm not in a strong enough financial situation to make it work right now. So I'm considering moving back to the Washington DC area (where I'm originally from) because if I do work for the State Dept, I will have to spend at least a year or so there doing my initial training.

However, for stateside living, I would really prefer to be someplace warm. Both of my parents are originally from Florida, and I still have relatives there. I spent a decent amount of time there as a kid and know I like the climate. There is also a State Dept office in Ft. Lauderdale, so I could look into landing a job there (even foreign service employees are required to spend part of their career working in the U.S.).

So to make a long story shorter, I have a lot of prospects, but few decisions have been made. Either way I'm signing out in December, so some major lifestyle changes are coming soon... ;Db;

mbeach
09/12/2005, 10:16 AM
Since this thread is already drifting...
Joe, you mentioned the JSpec diesel Troopers -would your source/supplier be able to get ahold of the torsion bars for said Trooper? I assume that they would have a (much) higher springrate because of the heavy engine.

Joe_Black
09/12/2005, 02:29 PM
Believe it or not the engine doesn't weigh much more than the 6VE1 since it's a four-cylinder. The torsion bar part number is the same (cross-referenced) for the JDM and Euro spec Troopers.

For beefier front torsion bars try either the Calmini or Darlington product. I had Calmini on my '88 Trooper with an all-steel winch bumber I fabbed out of 6-inch channel and they worked real good. I don't have any personal experience with Darlington but have heard only great things.

mbeach
09/12/2005, 05:49 PM
Thanks for the tip!

Joe_Black
09/12/2005, 08:27 PM
Thanks for the tip!
No prob! That's what we're all here for! ;)

Kyle, much luck with rotation to civvie-hood. If you choose to look into Florida and need any info, don't hesitate to ask. For the Lauderdale area probably Transio and Bantan, among others, will be your best source. But since I'm smack in the middle there isn't much anywhere I don't know something about or could ask, excepting the secession-happy nuts up in the panhandle. LOL!

Well, the bio-diesel experiment is about to begin. Just won an '82 Mercedes 300D on eBay earlier this evening, so will be building a bio-diesel processor over the next month or so. If making the stuff isn't too much of a hassle, and we enjoy the concept of screwing the oil companies for a change, then we'll really look hard into either importing Isuzu Trooper diesels or a Mercedes OM603 conversion for our VX's. Stay tuned!

Joe_Black
09/21/2005, 11:40 AM
Ford to increase production of hybrid vehicles-CEO
Reuters 09/21/05 13:10

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F - news), the No. 2 U.S. automaker, will boost global production of hybrid vehicles tenfold by 2010, Chief Executive Bill Ford said on Wednesday.

At that time, more than half of the company's Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars and light trucks will have hybrid capability, Bill Ford said during a meeting at a research lab here with company scientists and engineers.

He also said Ford will have the capability to build about 250,000 hybrid vehicles in that year with the ability to boost that. Ford currently makes about 24,000 hybrid vehicles annually.

The CEO also said the automaker will launch four vehicles in 2006 that will run largely on ethanol, a corn-based fuel, raising the output of vehicles that can operate with more than just gasoline in 2006 to as many as 280,000 units.

The company also will launch a new corporate advertising campaign in the fall with the theme of innovation, Bill Ford said. The company did not say how much it will spend in the campaign.

"(Innovation) will be the lens through which we view our budgets and our capital investments, our people and programs, and the way in which we rank our most essential priorities," the CEO said in a statement.

Ford builds the Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle and will begin production this year of the Mariner hybrid, the Mercury version of the Escape.

By 2008, the Detroit-based company said it will have five hybrid vehicles on the road, including the Escape, Mariner and Mazda Tribute SUVs, all based on the same platform, or vehicle underpinnings. The other two will be the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan mid-sized sedans.

Interesting, but I'll believe it when I see it. ;)

kpaske
09/21/2005, 07:38 PM
Well, I don't see gas prices coming down much any time soon, so better sooner than later. I think it's inevitable that auto manufacturers will start giving us more options, it's just a matter of when. Of course, they will do whatever maximizes their profits. Even with gasoline over $3.00 a gallon, I'd be willing to bet brand new gas guzzling SUV's are still driving off the lots every day, so I think the transition is still going to take a while.

I'll bet Hurricane Rita isn't helping production in the Gulf any, so we could see another spike in prices this weekend. I hope you weren't hit too hard, Joe!

I'll be looking forward to hear about your results using the bio-diesel. Have you decided where you'll get your waste oil from?

On a slightly different note, I've been noticing that the price of regular diesel is getting pretty expensive these days too - usually about the same price or slightly less than Premium. Is the mileage per gallon really THAT different from regular gasoline?

Joe_Black
09/21/2005, 09:31 PM
Fortunately we've just been getting the outer bands from Rita. Like Katrina, it has a really big reach! As native Floridians though, we just can't understand how folk continually fail in understanding how to deal with these storms.

It'll be interesting to see how the oil platforms fare after this one. News is already reporting several Texas refineries and nuke plants shutting down in preparation, so I'm sure the pump price is already cruising upwards again in reaction. Most of the diesel around here has stayed just below regular price, which I can only assume is because it's supply structure is slightly different than gasoline.

One nice thing about diesel is that it's very unlikely to ever see a station out of it. If that happens, then the big rigs stop moving and that's a very bad thing.

Here's a few pics of my biodiesel test bed after pick-up yesterday:
http://www.planetarydomination.com/300D/image005.jpghttp://www.planetarydomination.com/300D/image006.jpg
http://www.planetarydomination.com/300D/image007.jpghttp://www.planetarydomination.com/300D/image008.jpg
http://www.planetarydomination.com/300D/image009.jpghttp://www.planetarydomination.com/300D/image010.jpg

We're getting our "short list" of local restaurants to approach about using some of their waste oil, but initially are looking to buy some bulk vegetable oil to begin with. We'd rather determine the validity of the process before getting some restaurant excited and potentially souring them on dealing with biodiesel folk in the event we decide not to pursue it. Plus we want to be sure we've got drums and such for collection/pickup so we can maintain a professional relationship with the restaurants if we do decide to go full biodiesel.

Speaking of which, found out I know someone with some connections to Isuzu international which means the potential for less expensive 4JG2 engines than importing from the UK. But I'm not ruling out the possibility of repowering the VX with a Mercedes turbo-diesel either, just gotta figure which will give the best power and economy versus parts and serviceability.

First off though, the Mercedes needs some basic service! The fuel tank gets pulled out Saturday for a good steaming as it's chock-full of rust and algae. Still runs good, but the new filters are already choking up and the transparent one looks like it's got mud in it. After that I'll do a good injector pump and injector cleaning, followed by and oil changed to Mobil-1 then finally a valve adjustment. Then we'll be ready for our first tank of biodiesel knowing there won't be any crud in the fuel system to knock loose! ;)