E-Diesel A Fuel For The Future

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E-Diesel – A Fuel for the Future?


Image Courtesy of University Of Illinois

E-Diesel is a blend of Ethanol and Diesel Fuel together with a multifunctional additive package. E-diesel is typically a 7% to 15 % blend of Ethanol in #2 diesel fuel together with 2% to 5% of additive. Early on it was referred to as “Oxygenated Diesel”, now however; most call it E-Diesel.

E-diesel is popular in Brazil as they produce a large amount of Ethanol from biomass left over from growing and processing sugar cane. Brazil has a limited supply of domestic crude oil and this has given them a huge incentive to develop alternative fuels and their government has stepped up to the plate to make it happen.

 As a result Brazil is today an energy independent country, something we should aspire to become.

E-diesel has not been popular in the US, although it has been tested in some large fleets here with mixed results.

However the problems with Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel, with Biodiesel being forced into our diesel and the recent very high price of fuel (now temporarily better) have made this technology worth another look.

E-diesel has a number of negative characteristics, it is hygroscopic (soaking up huge amounts of water if allowed to do so), Ethanol lowers the flash point of the diesel, Ethanol destroys lubricity in the fuel, and Ethanol makes the fuel less stable.

The pluses are that it improves cold weather characteristics, lowers CO and NOx, potentially (when derived from cellulosic biomass) lowers cost of the finished fuel, and increases the amount of non-petroleum renewable fuel available.

E-diesel using Ethanol produced from Bagass (the parts leftover from making sugar from sugar cane) is winner. Ethanol made from corn is a loser, the yield is very low, and it affects human and animal feedstocks.

The biggest winner is if you make diesel fuel from algae and use the biomass left over to produce Cellulosic Ethanol which can be burned in boiler, added to gasoline, or added to diesel. It is possible that Ethanol produced in this manner could cost as little as $1.00 per gallon.

The potential of producing a high quality cellulosic Ethanol from biomass is a game changer. Ethanol in fuels presents significant problems in many areas. However these problems can be overcome or managed through changes in the way we handle fuels and blending, changes in equipment using these fuels, and though the use of properly formulated additive packages.

Please comment with thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.

Diesel Doctor

Copyright 2009© - William Richards


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Last modified: 04/06/09
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