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BA Deere
Honored Advisor

John Deere burning ethanol in future

Could be big

https://www.radioiowa.com/2021/12/23/deere-pairs-with-start-up-to-swap-diesel-for-ethanol-in-engines...  

snip 

Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer is partnering with a Chicago-area company to reduce harmful emissions from its equipment by replacing diesel fuel with ethanol.

Quad Cities-based John Deere is working with ClearFlame Engine Technologies of Geneva, Illinois, where CEO B.J. Johnson says their initial work was on a Cummins X-15 engine from an on-road semi.

“The partnership with Deere and the investment from Deere is going to allow us to move that over to one of their engine platforms, to use across a range of applications like agriculture and construction, do an engine demo with them,” Johnson says, “and then towards the end of next year ideally translate that into an actual field demo of the technology on a piece of equipment.”

The goal will be to migrate the technology into tractors, combines, excavators and other heavy equipment. Johnson says the next step is for Deere to supply an engine that’s used in a range of its equipment, which ClearFlame will modify in its lab.

“It changes only about 10 or 15% of the parts of the engine. The largest change is just making the fuel injection system compatible with a different fuel, like ethanol, and the rest of it is optimizing the engine to run at a higher temperature,” Johnson says. “Basically, if you get a diesel engine to run a little bit hotter, then you’re freed to use a whole wider range of fuels.”

Johnson says using corn-based ethanol instead of diesel can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45 to 50 percent, with even bigger reductions possible in the future. The word “burning” doesn’t always have to be bad, Johnson says, as it depends on what you’re burning.

“If you’re burning a fossil fuel, yes, that is absolutely bad, but we’ve got liquid fuels today that are 50% cleaner than that because they come from renewable sources,” Johnson says, “and the Renewable Fuels Association has a goal to get to carbon-neutral ethanol by 2035.”

Johnson says this research could help boost the rural economy, especially in Iowa, the nation’s number-one ethanol producer. Today, the U.S. is producing about 17 billion gallons of ethanol a year, and every one-percent of trucks converted to burning ethanol can result in the need to produce another billion gallons of the fuel.

17 Replies
k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

It  will  be  interesting  on  the  response  from  the  Pittsburg  Power,   retro  fit  items  -  -  -

0 Kudos
erikjohnson61y
Veteran Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

Call me skeptical, but I dunno about this...  Ethanol is high octane, so you should be able to run with (much) higher compression ratios than gasoline engines run, but ethanol is less energy dense than diesel. Will you be able to get enough fuel into a stock engine to produce the same torque and HP as running it on diesel? Also, heat is the enemy of engines, and diesel engines are no exception. Intentionally running a stock engine "much hotter" sounds like a recipe for early engine failure/more frequent overhauls. Finally, if the quote that each 1% of diesel engines switching to ethanol means 1 billion gallons of ethanol per year is right, are manufacturers really going to commit to something than can maybe get 10-15% market penetration before causing fuel shortages?  If we converted the entire 15 billion bushel crop to ethanol at 3 gallons per bushel, that would be 45 billion gallons. Take off the 17 billion for RFS gasoline blending, and that leaves 28 billion gallons for diesel engines if we stop cutting silage and only feed distillers...  Plus, I'm not sure many semi drivers can maneuver through the E-85 lane at the gas station 🙂   It would make more sense to me if this were aimed at municipal equipment in big cities, where the air pollution benefits are worth the extra cost, and they can have an ethanol fuel barrel at the county shed. 

rsbs
Veteran Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

BA, I went to see a high school friend at the vocational school in Marshall(Canby?) area back 40 years ago now, and the shop there had a diesel engine running on injected ethanol.

So this is nothing new. was going on decades ago...must be some holdup on it or big oil shutting it down.

0 Kudos
BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

Red, it`s funny how what was old is new again.  The Model T originally ran on Ethanol ... but something about Standard Oil wanting "fossil fuels" to be used.  To be honest, the crude bubbling out of the ground was much more efficient producing gasoline instead of the millions of moonshine stills it would require for ethanol at the time.  

The Allis Chalmers had a fuel cell tractor, which others are again looking into.

If we really must wean ourselves of "fossil fuels", it seems to me the answer has many pieces.  The electric vehicles probably won`t do well in below zero weather, so a non-gelling combustible engine would fit the bill for harsh condition operations north of Interstate 80.

Solar panels are only operational 18% of the time and windmills 44% of the time with natural gas picking up the slack. 

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k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

I  can't  imagine having the check engine light coming on at M. M.  209 (I-80 )  in Wyoming , and the response time on that service call,  and the conversation for this code issue  -  -  -   

0 Kudos
BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

A pre-2015 truck you can in most cases ignore a trouble code and get to where your going.  But they won`t let you into Long Beach to hook onto a container trailer.   🙂    If the voters reject the grownups at the polls, perhaps it`s time to turn things over to the outlaws.  

Well, we rolled up Interstate 44
Like a rocket sled on rails.
We tore up all of our swindle sheets,
And left 'em settin' on the scales.
By the time we hit that Chi-town,
Them bears was a-gettin' smart:
They'd brought up some reinforcements
From the Illinois National Guard.
There's armored cars, and tanks, and jeeps,
And rigs of ev'ry size.
Yeah, them chicken coops was full'a bears
And choppers filled the skies.
Well, we shot the line and we went for broke
With a thousand screamin' trucks
An' eleven long-haired Friends a' Jesus
In a chartreuse micra-bus.

Well, we laid a strip for the Jersey shore
Prepared to cross the line
I could see the bridge was lined with bears
But I didn't have a dog-goned dime.
I says, "Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck.
"We just ain't a-gonna pay no toll."
So we crashed the gate doing ninety-eight
I says "Let them truckers roll, 10-4."

0 Kudos
Wind
Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

I would certainly applaud this move.  As big oil seems to be chipping  away at our ethanol market we need to be proactive.  This is a move in the right direction.  Maybe not for all applications but still a positive move.  Producing ethanol is a mature business (squeezing every drop of ethanol  out of a bu. of grain,) but building engines to run on near 100% ethanol seems to be lagging behind. MHO.

All the tractors I have purchased over the years have been two shades of red, and orange.  I would be willing to go color blind if John Deere has an ethanol  powered tractor for sale soon. 🙂

P.S.  I always thought Brazil has done a very good job of marketing the ethanol they produce.

  

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

Yes,  I support Ethanol,  but have cringed at the Monty Shaw types wanting E-30  E-40  E-100 E-150 mandated as Ethanol`s pathway to growth.   It seems to me this new/old technology to create unmandated demand though a superior product is more sustainable path.

erikjohnson61y
Veteran Advisor

Re: John Deere burning ethanol in future

My first combine was a John Deere 3300 gas combine.  Wow did it drink gas, and barely enough power to run a 13 foot bean head. 

I had a 2105 Ram 1500 gas pickup that I ran E30 in.  Last winter during Snowpocalypse in Texas, we bought a bunch of PVC fittings and pipe, and loaded up the generator and log splitter on a small ATV trailer and headed down to Texas to help some friends out who lost power and water. I usually get 17mpg from that truck, pulling that small load it dropped to 12.  I also have an old 2005 3/4 ton dodge diesel with an Edge Tuner in it. I usually get 20mpg.  When I went back later to get the trailer and gear, mileage dropped to 19mpg.  

So, if I run ethanol in a diesel engine, am I going to get the power and performance of ethanol or diesel?  Yes, I know ethanol performance is not optimal in a 9.5 compression gas engine, and the Brazilians, not having to worry about fuel variety, run higher compression engines. 

#2 diesel has 139,000 BTU/gallon.  Gasoline has 124,000 BTU/gallon. Ethanol (E85) only has 88,000 BTU/gallon.  

Don't get me wrong - I love ethanol. But I also agree 100% with BA - market solutions where people prefer ethanol are vastly preferred over government mandates. I would just like to see how they're going to get the power required for a tractor or semi in the same displacement engine. A diesel engine has about a 44% conversion efficiency. (gas engines are around 30%). A diesel engine running E85 would have to have a thermal efficiency of about 70% to match the power output, and nearly 80% thermal efficiency if they're talking about pure ethanol. That would be a truly  miraculous game changer.