Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ethane Is Better Proof Ethanol

Several readers have asked me to further explain the ethane as a transportation fuel idea.   I came up with a simple analogy.  Ethane (C2H6) is Ethanol (C2H5OH) minus one oxygen atom.  Getting rid of the oxygen atom makes Ethane higher proof ethanol.  What do I mean by higher proof?  Ethane yields 20,630 BTUs per pound when combusted in an engine and exhausted as CO2 and water vapor.  Ethanol only yields 11,587 BTUs per pound when combusted in the same way. 

Ethanol is already partially oxidized as it already has one carbon oxygen bond.  When combustion occurs in a fuel the fuel is oxidized.  Full combustion means full oxidation.  Ethanol is a poorer fuel because it starts off partially oxidized ns hence cannot yield as much heat of combustion as it non oxidized two carbon sibling Ethane.   Hence one can think of ethane as higher proof booze.

Performing all the algebraic equations to solve the problem of how to yield one million BTUs of energy from fuels via combustion, I established the following:  To yield one million BTUs of heat from ethanol 165.1 pounds of Carbon Dioxide will result.  To yield the same one million BTUs of heat from ethane only 142.2 pounds of Carbon Dioxide will result in the simple act of combustion.   Ethane is therefore the greener fuel than Ethanol aboard the vehicle.   Folks may argue that Ethane is a fossil fuel and that Ethanol is bio-derived but aboard the vehicle the ethane yields less CO2 out of the tailpipe for the same amount of energy than does ethanol.

The proof of alcohol is a crazy measure.  In the USA it is twice the percentage of alcohol by volume in the booze bottle.  In the UK it is 7 times divided by 4 the percentage of alcohol by volume in the booze bottle.

The proof of ethane is yet to be defined and I intend to prove it as a transportation fuel by real demonstration.   We are looking good in the MIT competition for a proposed method to lower carbon emissions in transportation.  The link below is where you need to go to support the proposal if you have not done so already. 

It is pretty likely we will be invited to present the idea later in the year to the competition committee. 

Unfortunately for those of us who like Whiskey, while ethane only has a wholesale price of approximately 30 cents a gallon and is 200% proof, it will simply asphyxiate one not intoxicate or inebriate one.  


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