MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What would be the better fuel for an internal combustion engine

Date: Fri Dec 29 14:29:20 2000
Posted By: Leslie Allen, Staff, Laboratory Chemist, Valero Refining Company
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 973814790.Ch

It's published that for every one gallon of gasoline burned in an engine, you will use 1.8 gallons of methanol, 1.5 gallons ethanol. Ethanol makes 5% more horsepower than the best racing gasolines available, while methanol only makes about 4% more horsepower.

High heat of vaporization indicates that the use of alcohol could give harder starting problems. All the alcohols in pure form have low RVP numbers - so they have terrible cold-start characteristics. Fuelled with 100% methanol, a car will not start below 60° F. Methanol and ethanol in blend with gasoline will increase the original gas RVP number as much as 3 and 1 psi respectively, with the maximum effect occurring at approximately 3% alcohol concentration. Even with methanol- or ethanol-gas blends, cold-start drive-ability remains poor because of the significant cooling effects imparted by the alcohol's high latent heats of evaporation. The extremely high RVP of methanol-gas blends may also cause summer vapor lock problems.

Extreme alcohol concentrations inhibit upper engine lubrication. Methanol and ethanol will absorb large amounts of water from exposure to air, so they must be kept in airtight containers. Alcohol will corrode the cylinder wall, crank bearings, etc., which will lead to premature engine failure.

Please try a search on all words using methanol ethanol horsepower. These will give you a great deal of information.

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