A few days ago, I spoke to Bayou-Ruler. Bayou is an American citizen making his own “gasahol”: ethanol used to propel your car. I was curious to find out how that works. I mean, isn’t amateur distilling illegal in the States? Well, it turns out it isn’t, as long as you are using the ethanol as a gasoline replacement for running your car. And as long as you have a permit. I asked Bayou some questions, and he was kind enough to answer.
Is distilling your own ethanol allowed in the USA, if you use it as a replacement to gas?
It is only allowed with a permit from the Alcohol Tobacco and Trade Bureau. But anyone can apply for this permit.
What regulations do you have to deal with?
The ethanol you make needs to be denatured, so you can’t drink it anymore.
What does it cost?
It is free. Well, you have to invest in the permit, the distillation equipment, and the raw materials used to make the ethanol.
Do you get inspected often?
I have never been inspected to date, but they can conduct inspections any time they like.
What quality does the ethanol have to be, to be used in a car? > 85%, > 95%?
Its best to start with as pure of an ethanol you can and then you have to denature it by mixing it with gasoline or other chemicals approved by the government.
Do you mix the ethanol with gas, or do you drive “straight” on pure bio ethanol?
Ethanol is never the only fuel source. It is always mixed with gasoline.
What is the impact on performance and what’s the difference in millage?
Ethanol blends burn slower than pure gasoline. Ethanol has a high octane thus burns slower, slower burn means it takes more volume to get the same amount of power. The true goal of ethanol production is to reduce reliance on OPEC.
What adaptations do you have to make to the engine of the car, if any?
None. Most new model vehicles in the USA are e85 compliant, meaning they are calibrated to run on 85% ethanol fuel. But there are after market kits for older fuel injected vehicles.
How did you get into bio ethanol production?
Its just a hobby for me, I enjoy the whole process from fermentation to distillation.
Thanks, Bayou, for sharing! Any suggestions for people who want to learn more on using ethanol as a gasoline replacement?
For more reading, please see http://www.ttb.gov/industrial/fuel-alcohol-faqs.shtml