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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #11  
Old 08-04-2008
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The old simple diesel with it's mechanical fuel injection is still the best engine for sailing.

Once started it wil run with out electric power untill it runs out of fuel.

Simple to work on.

Mechanics around the world.

It is fuel efficent.

It does not have a carb with a float so that it runs the same regardless of the sea state.(not so with gasoline engines)

Diesel fuel is available most everywhere.

It can be manually started (if you know the tricks).

I wouldn't mess with a good thing.

Rick
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Old 08-04-2008
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I don't believe that you could actually convert a diesel engine to run on natural gas. As was pointed out earlier, the compression ratio is much too different.

Just wait a few months and I think that you will see enough increase in the cost on natural gas and liquid petroleum that this question will be a non issue regardless of the safety issues.

Paul
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Old 08-04-2008
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One big reason: Fuel energy density.

LPG, LNG, whatever "gaz" you want to use, has way less energy per cubic foot than gasoline, which in turn has way less (40-50% ?) than diesel does. In the typical dual fuel "compressed gas" car, you may have a gas pressure vessel that is the same size as the gasoline tank--but provides barely half the driving range.

Couple that with a very sparse distribution system (drivers need to carry directories of filling stations) and an inherently more dangerous filling process (drivers need to pass a simple training course before they are allowed to use the fueling stations, in the US) and you wind up having a fairly cumbersome alternative with a more volatile fuel. Which isn't really suited to the heavy diesel engines, designed for much higher compression ratios (typically 2-1/2 times higher compression than a gasoline or ocmpressed gas engine).

But the good news is that some lab at MIT has found a new catalyst that allows water to be broken down to H and O with much less energy than ever before. No word on the economics yet--but that's the key step to making hydrogen fueled vehicles possible. (Just remember not to paint the skin with thermite, the way the Hindenberg folks did.)
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Old 08-04-2008
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Interesting discussion.. thanks, guys

Personally, I can't see hydrogen-power being much use on a boat - aside from the bigger bang potential, there's not enough electrical power to spare as it is - but there might be more interest in bio-diesel, since there are usually plenty of fish & chip shops near the water..

I wonder if anyone's got the courage to run their boat on home-made biofuel??
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Old 08-05-2008
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Hellosailor, again, if cost could overcome the lower efficiency, that would be the popular choice today. In fact, the widely automotive adopted gasoline, was taken by mistake decades ago. Since aviation industry was the primary large use of fuel engines, ordinay gasoline was the byproduct discarded right after aviation-gas process. At that time, the baby automotive industry decided to take this "waste" and make use of it on commercial engines. Today, diesel is the choice of a mid-future, as it is cheap to produce and there is a well known technology to make it far more efficient (price x performance) than any other commercialy available fuel, and without subsidies. Fuel cells are the primitive temptative for a clean H use, but it's in a too early stage. I hope for cientists to come up with something beter to coming generations ....
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Old 08-05-2008
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I don't know how gasoline and other fuels overtook each other a hundred years ago, but there was an automobile "industry" way before there were many non-military aircraft up there.

Diesel remains problematic now and may be even more so in the future. In the US it has been essentially off the car market for years because of the particulates in the emissions. I know, a couple of exotic afterburner/catalyst technologies are supposed to bring it back--we'll see how or if that works. Diesel also works out better under constant load, which isn't the situation with passenger cars. So I've got nothing against diesel (well, except for the noise and sitnk) but will be surprised to see it become king.
Right now the most promising, most mature, and most economically viable "solution" to our fuel shortages is synthetic fuel, made from coal or from garbage. Both processes are proven (Hitler ran his war machine on synfuel from coal), both have copious amounts of feedstock that don't demand using up food stocks, and both are economically viable at $5/gallon (US prices, ignoring the tax-inflated EU prices) which is close to where we are.
Electric cars? Nope, still need a battery technology miracle, that's been waiting for 100 years. Hydrogen cars? Again, needing a technology miracle (gobs of power for the manufacture) which MIT may or may not have touched. Everyone promises a miracle...but if we'd just ban the casual private ownership of 6,000 pound vehicles and start using what already works and can be distributed without modifications...That's where I'd place my bets for the way things will settle out.
To me the only question--absent a technological miracle--is how the Saudis will play this. I think they'll keep gasoline [oil] prices down just below the point where synfuels become economically viable, for as long as they can. Once they let it get competitive, someone will invest the billions in new plants. And THEN, I fully expect the Saudis to drop their prices, send the synfuel makers into bankruptcy, buy up the assets at a dime on the dollar, and get back into the routine business of Machiavellian politics, which they have played SO WELL for SO LONG.

Maybe my local Nooze sources are all Republican Stooges...but I hear the top Democratic presidential candidate is now making an ass of himself by saying that if we all inflate our tires and do a few other tiny things, we can solve the fuel problem. Inflate our tires?? Talk about a two percent solution...Not that the Other Guy, dreaming of offshore drilling and stopgaps that wouldn't come online for a decade, is doing any better.

I don't see any miracles, or big changes here. Just business as usual. And, perhaps, some radical common sense in places like Utah, where they are looking at a mandated 4-day workweek to reduce commuting by a fast 20%.
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Old 08-05-2008
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One other problem with electric cars is that—at least in the US, where a majority of the powerplants are fossil fuel burning, and a large percentage of that is coal-powered—is that electric cars don't really eliminate any pollution, they merely shift it from many small point sources, the individual cars, to a much larger point sources, the power plants.

Until this country gets more renewable, low-pollution, electrical generation sources up and running, electric cars aren't going to be a solution.

BTW, I've worked with some of the people who did a lot of the original work on non-polluting and low-emissions automotive powerplant technology... and from all of them, the best fuel for an automobile is still GASOLINE. It has a relatively high energy density and burns relatively cleanly. The biggest problem is that most cars, with the exception of some of the newer hybrids are designed to run almost as inefficiently as possible. Most cars only require 20-25 HP to move at highway speeds. The only real time additional power is necessary is when the vehicle is accelerating up to those speeds—but that means that most cars have 130+ HP engines that are really only needed for about 5-10% of the time you're actually driving.
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Old 08-05-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Until this country gets more renewable, low-pollution, electrical generation sources up and running, electric cars aren't going to be a solution.
I suppose there's always nuclear.

Stick an RTG undre the bonnet, connect up the wires and no emissions (not of the carbon kind, anyway) and no refuelling for the next tens years or so...

What could possibly be better than that?!?
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cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough
well,
thanks for ruinin' it for us.

With our best sailing days behind us, our fantasies turned to a great big-o (thats the International Southern Unit of Measurement) Weenie-bang-o, AKA the mobile passion pit to travel around our fair nation, visiting almost every wal-mart parking lot from key west to Spokane. nice... thanks...

Due to the "crisis" that is gas and diesel prices, the cost of one of these trailers on wheels is dropping thru the floor. Literally, one can buy an 8 yr old, 35ft unit with less than 100k miles for less than 25k. Figuring on 6-8 mpg, a tank full of diesel would run you 600-700 miles, or gas, 5-600 miles. We'll strap a crotch rocket to the front and or back, and be like an armadillo-turtle, slow and stupid, but carrying our home on our back. We'll visit relatives (3 day max rule applies), harass strangers, drive 50mph in the left lane with Conway blarin' out of the 8 track...Take up two lanes, and park... where ever the damn hell we please. Got a problem with it? I'm deaf too, deal with it. LOL. We may even get a yappin' lil excuse for a dawg just to pizz people off.

Max time frame? 2 yrs. I'm clippin' coupons for Dollywood and Branson right now.

I wonder If I can solar-stik it?
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Old 08-05-2008
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I think CP has finally lost it...
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