Synthetic diesel fuel powers 1,000 miles of Audi

NYTDI

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Not sure if you feel this should go in news or fuels but I found the comment re biodiesel interesting.

http://www.autoweek.com/article/20101019/CARNEWS/101019879

Audi began a 1,000-mile eco drive on Oct. 18 in a demonstration named "Eureka! Diesel Drives the Future." Two Audi A3 TDI test cars left Eureka, Calif., and headed south, filled with RenDiesel, a synthetic fuel from Rentech. The Audis will stop in Sacramento, San Francisco, Rialto and Los Angeles before ending the journey in San Diego.....

.....Currently, Audi only permits the use of 5 percent biodiesel blends under the warranties on its diesel vehicles. This is because of inconsistent standards for alternative fuels globally. But the advances in the fuel are still promising.....
 
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wolfskin

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I think this, if true, is the most significant part:

"This is because of inconsistent standards for alternative fuels globally"
 

kjclow

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I think this, if true, is the most significant part:

"This is because of inconsistent standards for alternative fuels globally"
That has to be the primary reason that VW will cancell the warrenty of the newer diesels if they determine that you are running more than 5% bio. I think we have also had the questions of lubricity depending on the original source of the oil.
 

jbright

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I'm not a chemist but I'm pretty sure the synthetic diesel fuel produced by Rentech is not the same stuff as common "bio diesel", although it is synthesized from plants (through a process called biomass gasification). I responded in more detail in the other thread, but from the research I did, this synthetic fuel probably can be used full strength with no harm to the CR engine (which is why they are driving Audi A3s in the test.). Here's a link with some detailed info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer-Tropsch_process

What I find appealing about this synthetic diesel is that it can be produced from waste plant material rather than food crops such as corn or soy. I'm sure it's as expensive right now as the syn-diesel made from natural gas, but in the future it has potential as an alternative fuel if needed.
 
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MattRabbit

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I thought the reason the warranty was voided had to do with the particulate filter. Biodiesel isn't the same as dino-diesel, and when the bit is injected into the exhaust stream, Bio doesn't make it down to the exhaust properly to burn the soot.

Or something like that. :D
 

Ol'Rattler

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Probably not because of the particulate filter. On the PD engines which doesn't have the particulate filter, the limit is 5% Bio Diesel, as well.

I kinda suspect that the talk about BioD fouling the particulate filter is mostly speculation as I haven't really seen any technical data stating that it actually will.
 

kjclow

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Part of the explanation that I saw some where was that used vegetable oil may not get clean enough to run through the newer engines. The tolerances are so tight that a particle the size of "." could be enough to scar the cylinder and start the path to engine failure. Since used vegetable oil can also be referred to as bio-diesel, maybe VW is erring on the conservative side by declaring that the owner has no way of knowing where and how the fuel was processed.

As far of 'food' source for developing the oil to process into deisel, I have not seen anything that says corn is used in the process. Soy oil is much more efficient and typically in a surplus situation. National Geographic had an article several years back comparing the energy effiency of processing soy oil for biodiesel versus corn for ethanol. Ethanol has a negative rating since the mpg drops when using the ethanol blend. The biodiesel from soy oil uses less energy than from crude and gives better mpg. So maybe somewhere along the line VW will approve biodiesel based on the source of the oil.
 

ChippedNotBroken

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As far of 'food' source for developing the oil to process into deisel, I have not seen anything that says corn is used in the process. Soy oil is much more efficient and typically in a surplus situation. National Geographic had an article several years back comparing the energy effiency of processing soy oil for biodiesel versus corn for ethanol. Ethanol has a negative rating since the mpg drops when using the ethanol blend. The biodiesel from soy oil uses less energy than from crude and gives better mpg. So maybe somewhere along the line VW will approve biodiesel based on the source of the oil.
The idea the using corn for fuel needs to compete with food is a MYTH.

Most of all the corn grown in the US is for animal feed. The part that is used to make ethanol is not digested my cows. In fact a lot of it is turned into bovine flatulance. The revenue agents used to go to the country fairs to look at the live stock and figure out who was making moonshine. The farmer with the fattest biggest animals were the guys making the Corn Whiskey.

What I am saying is that after you make the ethanol, none of the animal food value is lost, in fact it is enhanced. It is a win/win. The downside is the way we produce ethanol from corn. Instead of doing it onsite or near site of the livestock it is done in remote centralized plants. May seem efficient at first glance but when you have to dry and ship the resulting feed it starts to become an uneconomical byproduct. Whereas when it is done on a smaller scale at or near site it can be fed wet with little or no shipping expense. It is being done this way in a few parts of the country with good effect.
 

kjclow

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The idea the using corn for fuel needs to compete with food is a MYTH.
What I am saying is that after you make the ethanol, none of the animal food value is lost, in fact it is enhanced. It is a win/win. The downside is the way we produce ethanol from corn. Instead of doing it onsite or near site of the livestock it is done in remote centralized plants. May seem efficient at first glance but when you have to dry and ship the resulting feed it starts to become an uneconomical byproduct. Whereas when it is done on a smaller scale at or near site it can be fed wet with little or no shipping expense. It is being done this way in a few parts of the country with good effect.
There are many ethanol plants opening throughout the midwest to bring production closer to the raw material source.

The one point I have to disagree with is that using the corn kernal to produce ethanol does have an adverse effect on the food chain. By increasing the amount of cron used to produce ethanol, you are decreasing the amount available as a feed source, thus increasing the cost to the farmer, or in most cases these days, the large feedlots. This is turn will drive up the cost of both beef and pork. It's an evil cycle that no one really wins. To make ethanol economical, they need to figure uot how to produce it from the stalks and cobs. They can do this today but the processing expense is substantially greater.
 

ChippedNotBroken

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By increasing the amount of cron used to produce ethanol, you are decreasing the amount available as a feed source, thus increasing the cost to the farmer, or in most cases these days, the large feedlots.
This is the myth that I was trying to dispel with my post. There is no reason why the byproduct of ethanol production should cost more than the raw material that was used to produce it. The only reason it does now (in most, but no all cases) has to do with large scale centralized production that results in the necessity of drying the byproduct feedstock and shipping it to the feedlots.

No part of the digestible part of corn is consumed in the distillation process to produce ethanol. Cows actually are healthier and grow fatter off the byproduct.
 

Dooglas

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Probably not because of the particulate filter. On the PD engines which doesn't have the particulate filter, the limit is 5% Bio Diesel, as well.
And to go one step further, PD TDIs are pretty much out of warranty by now. Many are being run on B20 or even B50. So what has happened? Have there been any failures of PD engines while running B20? To my knowledge, no such reports have been posted here.
 

jbright

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You guys are all talking about bio-diesel made from vegetable/seed oils but the synthetic diesel produced by the biomass gasification process discussed in the OPs post is not the same thing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but biomass gasification creates a hydrocarbon fuel that's similar to dino diesel. There shouldn't be any problem with using it in any diesel engine.
 

FredIA

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Probably not because of the particulate filter. On the PD engines which doesn't have the particulate filter, the limit is 5% Bio Diesel, as well.

I kinda suspect that the talk about BioD fouling the particulate filter is mostly speculation as I haven't really seen any technical data stating that it actually will.
What do people who live in states like Illinois do? When I visited Chicago and throughout Illinois, I couldn't find a pump anywhere that was less than B12. I had more than 1/2 a tank of straight Diesel in from Iowa so I went for it (I'm not one of you guys who likes to drive until the warning light comes on :D). So I figure I ran at B6-B7 for a week. The PD seemed to be okay with that.. probably cleaned up the engine a bit with it too.

But do all of the Chicago people end up with no engine warranty?

In my case I have about 1K left on the warranty anyway (and then it's no more stealer...should have done that 10K ago...)... so if I get busted for splash blended B6.5 so be it.

Fred
 

deezelpower

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And to go one step further, PD TDIs are pretty much out of warranty by now. Many are being run on B20 or even B50. So what has happened? Have there been any failures of PD engines while running B20? To my knowledge, no such reports have been posted here.
There are many of us with 10's (and 100's) of thousands of miles on B100 with no harm whatsoever to our PDs. I've run it on many occasions, even a few months after I purchased it.

As long as you stick with high quality (ASTM or known good) the PD's don't mind it at all, probably less so than ALH's (no leaking pumps, no limp mode, etc.), just a slight loss of power from the missing BTU's in the fuel.

What I haven't seen mentioned is that the new CR must NOT exceed B5 due to the exhaust aftertreatment systems. There are many threads here about increasing oil in the crankcase from the BioD leaking past the rings during the regen cycle. Some have had luck with B20.
 

TeeDeeRedEye

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This is the myth that I was trying to dispel with my post. There is no reason why the byproduct of ethanol production should cost more than the raw material that was used to produce it. The only reason it does now (in most, but no all cases) has to do with large scale centralized production that results in the necessity of drying the byproduct feedstock and shipping it to the feedlots.

No part of the digestible part of corn is consumed in the distillation process to produce ethanol. Cows actually are healthier and grow fatter off the byproduct.
I would be inclined to disagree. From what I understand in the production of ethanol from corn: the corn is milled and cooked to prepare the starchy portion of the kernel into a "mash"; enzymes are added to the mash to convert the starches (complex carbohydrates) into sugars (simple carbohydrates); when this conversion is complete, the liquid is separated from the now spent corn product; yeast is introduced to the liquid to convert the sugar to ethanol. Once the yeast is done, the ethanol is then distilled from the liquid.

While the spent corn product still has some nutritional value or perhaps fiber/filler value for animal feed, most of the original nutritional value has been consumed.
 

kjclow

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You guys are all talking about bio-diesel made from vegetable/seed oils but the synthetic diesel produced by the biomass gasification process discussed in the OPs post is not the same thing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but biomass gasification creates a hydrocarbon fuel that's similar to dino diesel. There shouldn't be any problem with using it in any diesel engine.
I don't know the molecular differences between the oil sources but would be interested in digging into it more. I know they are also working on producing oil through alge or pond scum that is easily converted into biodiesel.

But the overall problem still exists for the person holding the fuel nozzel. If the pump says biodiesel (anywhere from B2 to B100) how can you possibly know the source of the oil?
 

Drivbiwire

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What I applaud is expanding the potential pool of feedstocks. The broader the base of sources the cheaper and more cost effective it will be to produce these superior fuels, not only in respect to being renewable but actually superior in performance characteristics! Cleaner, greener and more performance!

Here is what the producer of the fuel is targeting as the prospective feedstocks for this Bio Jet fuel:

Synthetic fuels and chemicals facilities utilizing the Rentech Process can produce high value, ultra-clean diesel, jet fuel, chemicals and specialty waxes originating from any carbon bearing material or feedstock. As described below, these feedstocks are domestic, under-utilized, relatively inexpensive and do not affect the food supply.

Together with gasification and upgrading technologies, the Rentech Process can convert biomass and fossil resources as well as waste materials into high quality ultra-clean synthetic fuels and chemicals.

Our technology can use syngas produced from biomass feedstocks such as forestry waste (bark, branches, waste wood, sawdust and stumps), agricultural waste (corn stover, straw and bagasse), green waste (lawn and tree clippings), algae and energy crops. The Rentech Process can also process syngas from fossil feedstocks such as petroleum coke, lignite, coal and natural gas for the production of ultra-clean synthetic fuels and chemicals.

The wide variety of feedstocks listed here is a testament to the flexibility and versatility of the Rentech Process. We believe our technology enables our products to help address a multitude of environmental issues from lowering greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants to reducing the necessity to open additional landfills. Moreover, we believe the ability to use such a wide array of resources will enable us to deliver products which have a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative footprint.

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RenJet, our military and commercial jet fuel, has all of the positive environmental and efficiency benefits of RenDiesel. Moreover, our jet fuel reduces aircraft particulate matter emissions by 96% in engine idle, a major source of ground level pollution. Also, the lower density of RenJet fuel could enable aircraft to have a lower take-off weight, which conserves fuel and, therefore, lowers operating costs. Alternatively, the lower density of RenJet fuel could allow aircraft to carry heavier payloads with the same volume of fuel when compared to traditional jet fuel.

There are many possible applications for synthetic fuels produced using the Rentech Process. For example, The United States Air Force (USAF) has certified a 50% blend of synthetic fuels for use in its aircraft. The USAF has a goal of 50% of its fuel purchases to be composed of domestic synthetic fuel blends by 2016. Up to a 50/50 blend of synthetic fuels has been certified for commercial aviation use. In addition, the International Air Transport Association would like its 230 member carriers to use 10% alternative fuels by 2017. Based on 2007 global commercial aviation fuel use of 71 billion gallons, this would equate to 7 billion gallons of alternative fuels. In April 2010, United Airlines flew the first commercial flight in the U.S. on approved synthetic fuels, with a 60/40 blend of certified Renjet and traditional Jet-A.
 
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kjclow

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The Rentech Process can also process syngas from fossil feedstocks such as petroleum coke, lignite, coal and natural gas for the production of ultra-clean synthetic fuels and chemicals.

It seems kind of funny to think that the company I work for was trying and partially succeeding in producing diesel fuel from coal about 70 years ago. Of course most of those efforts were considered a bad idea to the rest of the world and they dropped a whole bunch of 500 and 1000 pound bombs on the factories and labs.
 

jbright

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Can anyone explain what the chemical difference is between "bio-diesel" from corn or soy and synthetic diesel produced by the process Rentech uses? I need to brush up on my college organic chemistry.
 

kjclow

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Can anyone explain what the chemical difference is between "bio-diesel" from corn or soy and synthetic diesel produced by the process Rentech uses? I need to brush up on my college organic chemistry.
Anything that is produced from a growable or plant stock would be considered bio-diesel. That would include what Rentech is doing with the biomass. That also includes the work being done with alge.

The synthetic diesel would be that produced by other (nonplant) feedstock, such as coal, coke, or natural gas. Although I doubt that long term viability of using natural gas. Right now ng is being cracked more than oil because of the cost difference. Oil has to be less than seven times the price of ng, on an equal BTU basis, to make it more economical to crack oil. Most of the refineries are running ng. That's part of what is driving up the price of gas and diesel. Of course another part is the weak dollar. Had to put that one in there before I got flamed.
 

Drivbiwire

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Anything that is produced from a growable or plant stock would be considered bio-diesel. That would include what Rentech is doing with the biomass. That also includes the work being done with alge.
Incorrect, Bio-diesel uses a chemical process to change the characteristics of the plant oil forming a glycerine that settles out. What you are left with is a fairly crude fuel with poor flow properties, high moisture, poor quality in terms of consistent qualities aka "Bio-Diesel"

Synthetic fuels are completely different. These are often reffered to as "Bio-GTL". What they do is the take just about any carbon based molecule and break it up into its sub-components in a gassifier. This allows those components to be rebuilt into a perfect molecule in terms of characteristics and uniformity. These molecules can be tailored by adding or subtracting other gasses such as Hydrogen, Carbon etc to hit an exact molecule being produced (this is WAY simplified). What you are left with is a true synthetic molecule that has none of the shortcomings of Bio-Diesel but all the superior characteristics of a true synthetic fluid not only in terms of thermal stability but also superior in terms of BTU's per unit of fuel. These are not limited to fuels, they can produce lubricating oils and other products with this process so your actual cost is reduced due to the large applicable scale.

Overall, the process is about 65% efficient, in other words 65% of what goes in is actually converted into a usable product. Also the Bio-mass put in is used to power the entire conversion so its completely neutral in terms of energy use.

The synthetic diesel would be that produced by other (nonplant) feedstock, such as coal, coke, or natural gas. Although I doubt that long term viability of using natural gas. Right now ng is being cracked more than oil because of the cost difference. Oil has to be less than seven times the price of ng, on an equal BTU basis, to make it more economical to crack oil. Most of the refineries are running ng. That's part of what is driving up the price of gas and diesel. Of course another part is the weak dollar. Had to put that one in there before I got flamed.
Not true, Synethetic diesel can be produced using the Bio-GTL process. Again all you are doing is using plant or carbon based feedstocks to provide the building blocks for the synthetic molecule being produced, in this case diesel fuel, Jet fuel, Lubricating oil etc.

Right now due to cost, natural gas is the primary feedstock for synthetic oils AKA Mobil 1, as time goes on Bio-Mass reformers can be added to provide the syngas to replace the natural gas with true biomass feedstocks.
 

kjclow

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The point is that anything based on a plant source would be refered to as "bio" or "bio-renewable". There may different processes that deliver vastly different end products, but the current acceptable marketing term refers to all of it as bio whatever. That is the problem with what's at the pumps today. They all say bio but give no indication of where and how the product was made.
 

tikal

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"Bio-GTL" economically viable?

At what cost of oil per barrel is "Bio-GTL" economically viable option to produce and market? Anybody knows and has some sources to back it up?
 

Drivbiwire

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At what cost of oil per barrel is "Bio-GTL" economically viable option to produce and market? Anybody knows and has some sources to back it up?
Talk about putting the cart before the horse...

Before you can make Bio-GTL you need to have the infrastructure to produce GTL.

Take about $2 Trillion to build the infrastructure (small change in the scheme of things), justify that expense, then you can invest another $500 Billion to add on the Biomass reformers at the front end of the GTL plant.

The first parts is easy to to justify since you can use coal and natural gas as the initial feedstock (cheap and easy to get, relatively) or you can use crude oil. This will lower the cost per gallon of final product to the point that the initial investment returns a reasonable ROI period. It will come down to the cost of the feedstocks as far as when we get to that point.

Right now the biomass feedstocks aren't ready to supply that level of fuel production. Which is why there is so much work being put into identifying those sources and still be able to hit specific specification fuels/product.

I know Shell and Mobil have perhaps the largest GTL production capability.

Shell has quoted a 67% efficiency rate in large scale production with BIO-GTL according to some of the papers they have put out.



Price is always determined by the feedstock, this remains true for current fuels and all future fuels.
 
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