About Chemistry, Environment, Waste Management and Green Life Inspirations

14 August 2010

Bio Butanol Fuel

Bio butanol fuel can generate energy when used in internal combustion engines similar to gasoline. However, for a variety of reasons it may actually be better than gas. First, let’s talk about compatibility with existing vehicles though. The air to fuel mixture ratio is 11.2 compared to gasoline which is 14.7. The energy content of Butanol is 105,000 Btu per gallon compared to gasoline’s 114,000 Btu per gallon. This similarity between air to fuel miuxture and energy content means conversion of existing vehicles would be very simple.
You can mix Butanol with gasoline in small ratios and use it in most unmodified vehicles meaning even without a direct Butanol conversion you can use it as a fuel source. This would be a great way to use an alternative fuel in your car without needing to purchase anything but the fuel.
Production of biobutanol can be achieved using biomass as well as from fossil fuels. There is no chemical difference between biobutanol or petrobutanol. It is even possible to create biobutanol using solar energy with the help of algae or diatoms.
Butanol tolerates water contamination and is less corrosive than other gasoline alternatives. Additionally, because of its low vapor pressure point and a high flash point Butanol is safe to handle, transport, and use at high temperatures.
There are some problems with the use of butanol as a energy source. Let’s recap both the positives and negatives of butanol as a fuel.
Pros of Butanol
* Can be produced using a few renewable energy sources.
* Simply conversion to adapt gasoline vehicles.
* Safer and easier to implement than other gasoline alternatives.
Negatives of Butanol
* Requires a fuel flow increase in order to make up for the roughly 10% decrease in energy content compared to gasoline.
* Some fuel systems won’t run butanol without some modification except at low ratios to gasoline.
* Gas gauge will probably read wrong either positive or negative.
* Exhaust from combustion of butanol is more toxic than normal.
The current energy landscape means that butanol will probably be reserved as a fuel source except if we were to run out of oil/gasoline supplies. However, it is an interesting alternative fuel and a renewable one at that.

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