Grant Fulcher wrote:Thanks for all the reply's. I will start educating myself on alternative fuels as mentioned above to run a generator on. Alcohol can be a gas by david blume is convincing book that its a great back up, cheap and easy to produce like Brazil is implementing. I just want to be able to heat my greenhouse if the power and gas are off. Probably going with a natural gas/ propane one to start with.
Douglas Alpenstock wrote:It's an interesting thought experiment.
I'm not clear on how you plan to distill the enthanol to a burnable concentration. That requires a heat source.
Somewhere in the system you will probably need a heat source for cooking as well.
Regarding "Use the heat to boil the water to steam and drive an alternator to get electricity," you may need a simpler approach. High pressure steam equipment is complex and hazardous. A stirling engine or solid state peltier junction generator might be more practical.
Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Hi Aaron. Welcome to Permies!
You make an interesting proposal. I would love to see something like this in operation.
To start, I would suggest thinking about what work you want to accomplish with the energy. Think about what the end goal is, and work back from that. Is it the best way to get the job done (aside from being a cool project)?
Assuming an ethanol-fired generator is a good fit, off the top of my head I can see two main challenges.
First, making and distilling ethanol to a level of purity that will run in an internal combustion engine. Basic distilling is simple enough. I wonder what's needed to get high concentrations?
Second, finding or modifying an engine to run on ethanol. I've heard that ethanol eats the fuel system seals on older engines. Also, there may be requirements for special additives, oil or other lubricants to replace those in gasoline (for example, special oil is required for propane fired engines). I can't speak to carburetor adjustments, other than noting that ethanol has less energy per volume of fuel.
I think this was done in Brazil and possibly Cuba maybe 40 years ago.
Phew, the more I look at the work to be done, the more I wonder if solar panels might be easier!