Monday, April 13, 2009

Gas to Liquids – Another Piece of the Puzzle

Gas to Liquids - Another Piece of the Puzzle

We have all seen pictures of oil wells both on land and platforms on the water where there is a constant flame burning off gases that contaminate the oil.

When you drill for oil you almost always get gas. If it is not considered cost effective to build a gas pipeline to transport the gas it is known as “Stranded Gas” and is flared off, wasting trillions of Btu’s of energy and releasing millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere with absolutely no benefit.

Also in refining operations, there are gases released that are also flared off.

In many landfills you will see a tower used to flare off Methane generated by the continuous breakdown of organic materials.

One potential improvement to the world’s fuel pool could be the updating of the process used by Germany during World War II to alleviate its constant oil shortages. It was originally designed to convert coal to liquid fuels, however variations are capable of converting gases such as Natural Gas, Methane, Refinery Gases, and others to liquid fuels such as diesel and gasoline.

The use of Gas to Liquid Fuel Technology can help stretch our fossil fuel supplies and reduce CO2 released into the atmosphere.

More information available at:

Post your comments, thoughts, ideas, and suggestions here.

Doctor Diesel

Copyright 2009 – William Richards

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines – What Are They and What Do They Do

Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines – What Are They and What Do They Do

Shell Oil has recently begun advertising their Shell V-Power “Nitrogen Enriched” Gasoline.
Why would nitrogen improve the cleaning performance of gasoline detergent?

Here are some facts to consider:

1. The earth’s atmosphere is approximately 78% nitrogen
2. Nitrogen is an inert gas that is not combustible
3. Nitrogen atoms are larger than oxygen atoms
4. Nitrogen when combusted with fuel and Oxygen creates Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
5. NOx when combined with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) creates petrochemical smog.

Shell claims that fusing (their term) nitrogen with their detergent creates a more stable, longer lasting detergent that will be more effective in preventing gunk (their term) deposits (my term) from building up on the valves and other combustion chamber areas.

It would seem to me that adding Nitrogen will make the combustion process less efficient and could possibly lower combustion temperatures. This would seem to be the opposite of the desired effect.

It would also seem that adding Nitrogen could raise the NOx emissions from the engine which would tend to increase smog production, again the opposite of the desired effect.

I definitely applaud the idea of raising detergent levels in all gasolines. This is a quick and inexpensive way to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

The whole Nitrogen thing is nothing other than another marketing ploy. Shell and many other refiners have attempted to convince the consumer that they are doing something unique and wonderful, when in reality they simply want to sell more and or charge more than their competitors.

Shell needs fewer “Cutesy” TV commercials and more science, or at least they should provide some documentation to support thier claims.

If you want to do the best thing for your gasoline powered vehicle, look for fuels containing “Top Tier” fuel additives used at the manufactures “Top Tier” levels or simply purchase and regularly use aftermarket “tank additives” that meet or exceed the “Top Tier’ requirements.
This together with proper maintenance will ensure peak performance and minimum emissions from your engine.

Please let me know what you think, post your comments, ideas, and suggestions here.

Diesel Doctor
Copyright 2009 – William Richards

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Urea – More Things to Consider

Urea - More Things to Consider

I recently heard a new concern for those of you who will be storing and dispensing Urea for the 2010 diesel trucks. Urea is a very corrosive product that can quickly damage metal tanks, some types of seals, even dispensing nozzles.

Most fuel dispensing nozzles are made from nickel plated aluminum. When Urea is dispensed through such a nozzle, the nickel plating will react changing the Diesel Emission Fluid (DEF) to where it can cause damage to the SCR (Catalytic Converter) system.

The longer the Urea is in contact with the nozzle the more potentially damaging the fluid will become. What this means is that in high volume situations, the fluid will have limited contact with the nozzle and the likelihood of fluid being contaminated is significantly reduced. In lower volume situations where there may be extended periods of time between use, there is a higher likelihood of contaminating the fluid.

It may be desirable to go to a nozzle made of unplated metal or possibly even a composite material to prevent this contamination.

It is considered vital that a non-fuel nozzle be used to prevent the possibility of accidentally adding diesel to the DEF or DEF to the Diesel Fuel. Either mistake will likely cause rapid and catastrophic failure of the engine and or the SCR System.

In Europe a company called ElaFlex provides the defacto standard for AdBlue (Urea) nozzles that have a unique feature that prevents the AdBlue (Urea) from being added to the fuel tank.

ElaFlex has recently signed an agreement with OPW to provide these nozzles to the US and Canadian markets.

We will be providing a comprehensive list of suggestions on how to safely and cost effectively dispense Urea for your fleet operation.

Diesel Doctor

Copyright 2009 – William Richards

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Alternative Fuels

Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Alternative Fuels

I recently had the privilege of speaking to members of the New York State Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) during their annual conference in Canandaigua NY.

The discussion was on Alternative Fuels and I spoke on the future of Alternative Fuels regarding how it will affect Public Works Fleets and Operations.

The attendees were very knowledgeable and very interested in the how the alternative fuels are likely to impact their operations.

The images shown are of General Motors Equinox Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle

This fuel cell vehicle operates on compressed hydrogen gas that when fueled with hydrogen derived from electrolysis powered by non-fossil fuels is a true zero emissions vehicle. It is truly amazing to drive this vehicle and even when following it you can actually see that the emissions are water vapor.

While we are a long way from having cost competitive hydrogen available at the local gas station, this is a practical, vehicle that can be driven without any special training and the only unusual consideration is in making sure you know where the next fuel station is located.

Monroe County (Rochester) NY is at the forefront of making alternative fuels into mainstream products. They have recently completed a new state of the art fueling center that provides gasoline, gasohol (E20 and E85), diesel (biodiesel blends from B5 through B20), CNG, and Hydrogen all in a modern, efficient, and safe Green Fueling Station.

Monroe County and its forward thinking team lead by County Executive Maggie Brooks who have not only acknowledged the future, but have embraced it. They have recognized that there is a lot Federal, State, and private money available to municipal governments that are willing to lead the way into a greener future.

They are benefiting from grants for infrastructure, equipment, and even free or low cost vehicles. They are able to take advantage of research initiatives by elite universities and world class manufacturers who are providing testing resources that would be virtually unobtainable outside of governmental involvement.
This proactive approach has benefited not only Monroe County, but will provide long term benefits to the private sector in the region surrounding their operations.

We strongly believe that this type of public leadership will directly translate into benefits for the taxpayers and residents both now and in the future.

I want to thank Dave Butters, John Graham (retired), and Bob Hamilton of Monroe County for providing me with the opportunity of speaking to this auspicious group.

Diesel Doctor
Copyright 2009 - William Richards