Re: Car powered by compressed air ... is that for real?

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 19:11:45 MDT

"Ross A. Finlayson" wrote:
> I hope someone can tell me:
> 1) Can alcohol with non-corrosive additives be the fuel for regular,
> unmodified internal combustion engines?
> 2) What would be the comparative cost of alcohol versus gasoline at the pump,
> disregarding the cost of pump modification?
> 3) Would an alcohol-fueled combustion engine have any pollutant exhaust?
> 4) What other room termperature liquid fuel replacements to gasoline exist?

Turpentine was used as a fuel in IC engines prior to the use of gasoline.
Gasoline became popular because the industrial demand for turpentine made it
price prohibitive, while at the time gasoline was not used much commercially, it
was considered a waste product of the oil refining process, which focused
primarily on kerosene production, heating oil, and other more stable fuels.
Because it was considered 'waste', it was thus cheap to buy, and therefore
engines were designed that ran optimally on it. Deisel engines were developed in
parallel (which run essentially on kerosene). If you want to come up with an
alternative fuel, look at what fractions oil refineries either don't use or sell
at a loss. Many burn off the natural gas they pull out of oil, and many oil
wells vent to the atmosphere much of the natural gas that comes up out of the
ground with the oil. Recovering this natural gas instead is a current trend.

Another idea is to build a producer or manufactured gas engine. This gas is
produced by passing steam through heated coal, and is primarily carbon monoxide
and hydrogen. Using this process on low grade coals that cannot be burned in
normal furnace installation allows the recovery of the caloric content of the
coal, while containing the waste products for proper environmental remediation.
In the 19th century, many cities used manufactured gas plants of this sort (The
site of Gasworks Park in Seattle comes to mind.)

However, this gas has only a 100-150 btu/cubic foot energy content, though this
can be boosted by spiking it with oil, up to 500 btu/cubic foot. Additionally,
only two fifths of the coal is turned into volatiles, the rest becoming coke and
other waste products that can be expensive to dispose of safely.

Other ideas for improving efficiency: - a concept that uses two cylinders per combustion
chamber, which increases efficiency 30-50%

Alcohol, as derived from biomass, has been demonstrated here on the list to be a
major DUMB IDEA in the mass market, although as a niche market in the midwest
and other cereal crop producing regions to process waste grain that would
normally be market losses, it has its place.

Geneticists should be spending their time designing a gene splice to cause human
skin cells to construct silicon and gallium arsenide solar cells within
themselves, which then close their circuits when the cells die and dry up in the
outer skin surface. The currents would enter the body at the fingernails and
toenails and travel through the calcium of the bones to power glycerin producing
cells as well as nanites and electronic implants. We can then join the Plant
Liberation Front and go on raids to sabotage harvesting machines, cotton gins,
and Kellogs cereal plants.... ;)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:50:18 MDT