Anyone tried running methanol or E85? XR600 or anything else.


49 replies to this topic
  • HeadTrauma

Posted July 04, 2007 - 08:46 PM

#1

The 112 degree high today got me thinking about cooler fuel. I did a fair bit of searching and didn't turn up anything in this forum, so I figured I would ask.

Has anyone experimented with alcohol? The only two things I would be worried about are damaging the stock carb rubber parts and maybe washing down the cylinder with a rich mixture. I think alky might have a distinct benefit in operating temps and power when the weather is as painfully hot as it is getting.

  • creeky

Posted July 05, 2007 - 05:05 AM

#2

In hot weather or when the engine was working hard, such as in deep sand e.g., I use a 50/50 mix of 93 octane and Turbo Blue or CamII, it helps some to keep things a little cooler and prevents detonation.

  • Billahjack

Posted July 05, 2007 - 06:42 AM

#3

Methanol is highly corrosive and eats most plastics and rubbers. I used it in a race car and it was a pain to work with. We had to buy special fuel pumps, fuel line, fuel cells and spark plugs to keep it lit.

  • HawkGT

Posted July 05, 2007 - 08:22 AM

#4

I've seen some testing of E85 in a Honda 450cc Unicam engine. It made power on par with VP U4--actually a little better than U4 at low and mid and then equal on top. Straight methanol tested better than either.

You'll need drastically different jetting for E85. Basically, you'll need about the same jetting that a straight alcohol setup would need. We're talking perhaps 40 or more main jet numbers larger, an alcohol specific needle, and maybe even a high flow float needle and seat. Sudco sells kits for FCRs and some Mikuni (can't remember which one). DON'T just pour E85 in your tank and give it a whirl. If you're serious about running E85 or methanol then get on dynamometer and tune it in right.

I've never personally ran alcohol fuels so all my info is second hand. But everyone I've talked to who has indicated it was a real pain to deal with. Sounds like Billahjack is backing up that sentiment ^. There's extra power there but it's really only suited to racing applications where the extra maintenance and attention takes a back seat to results. If you have to flush your carb after every ride (for example) then you might not do it every time on your recreational bike. And those slips in "procedure" could cause issues.

$0.02

  • bosshog

Posted July 05, 2007 - 01:48 PM

#5

"I've seen some testing of E85 in a Honda 450cc Unicam engine. It made power on par with VP U4--actually a little better than U4 at low and mid and then equal on top. Straight methanol tested better than either."

Are you sure you are talking about E85? Can't believe it would even approch conventional fule.(power)

  • HawkGT

Posted July 05, 2007 - 02:24 PM

#6

"I've seen some testing of E85 in a Honda 450cc Unicam engine. It made power on par with VP U4--actually a little better than U4 at low and mid and then equal on top. Straight methanol tested better than either."

Are you sure you are talking about E85? Can't believe it would even approch conventional fule.(power)


I'm sure. I'd consider it well established that E85 produces more HP then conventional gasoline. This is even true in Flex-Fuel cars and trucks that can run E85. Acceleration times improve when they're running E85 vs. gasoline. The performance difference in a Flex-Fuel vehicle might be hard to notice. But if you go to a drag strip you should see the difference on you slips. The also get worse gas mileage when running E85 and that difference you will notice.

Although E85 contains about 1/4 less energy than gasoline, it's also stoichiometric at a 1/3 greater concentration. In other words, even though E85 contains less absolute energy you can burn more of it for each unit of air the engine can digest. The result is more HP and less mileage. What you loose in energy density you make up for (and then some) with the extra volume. The "then some" is where the extra HP is coming from.

Sidenote: the same thing is true with nitromethane. Even though it's only got about 1/4 the BTU energy of gasoline, you can burn 8 times more of it in a unit of air. That comes out to about twice as powerful in application.

  • cleonard

Posted July 05, 2007 - 02:37 PM

#7

There are also other benefits to the alcohol content.

Ethanol has a higher octane. Research octane is 129 and motor octane is 102. This allow for more compression. This extra octane is in a sense thrown away in an E85 car or truck. They must retain the lower compression for pure gasoline use. As we all know more compression leads to more hp.

Ethanol has a high heat of vaporization. That means it cools a lot more than gasoline. My XR600 runs hot. That extra cooling would come in handy if you raise compression to better use the higher octane fuel.

As already mentioned, there is the big downside. The fuel would likely eat the metal that the carb is made of.

  • bosshog

Posted July 05, 2007 - 05:26 PM

#8

So dose the HP increase ONLY come if up the compression ratio or forced induction? Still confused about 1/4 less energy but more HP. On a flex fuel car I was always under the impression that there is a performance hit for using E85 which came as poorer milage and less HP. I can see what your saying about the potental gains but I can only see this coming from a modified engine where CC ratio or force induction are above the threashold of detonation for gasoline.
Not arguing with you, I'm interested and trying to figure this out.

And sorry if this is leading this thread away from the original question.

  • HawkGT

Posted July 05, 2007 - 07:27 PM

#9

So dose the HP increase ONLY come if up the compression ratio or forced induction? Still confused about 1/4 less energy but more HP. On a flex fuel car I was always under the impression that there is a performance hit for using E85 which came as poorer milage and less HP. I can see what your saying about the potental gains but I can only see this coming from a modified engine where CC ratio or force induction are above the threashold of detonation for gasoline.
Not arguing with you, I'm interested and trying to figure this out.

And sorry if this is leading this thread away from the original question.


It's relevant to the topic I think....

No, you don't have to increase the compression to realize any gains--just like you don't have to increase the compression to realize gains when running a power-adding oxygenated race fuel (like VP's U4) or a straight alcohol fuel (like methanol). Although, you could get an even greater increase in power if you did raise the compression to a level allowed by the higher octane rating of E85.

It might help to think of this in some other terms. For example, steel weights more than aluminum. But you if stack up enough aluminum you can get a tall stack of aluminum to weight more than a short stack of steel. Even though aluminum weights less, you can make the stacks weight the same or even make the aluminum stack weight more. You just have to add more to the aluminum stack than the steel stack.

You can "stack" more E85 into you cylinder than you can with gasoline without making the engine run rich. So the E85 wins even though per unit it holds less energy.

The amount of energy contained in gallon of a fuel isn't the only factor in determining the power potential of an engine. The other side of that energy content equation is how much of the fuel you can burn. Even if a fuel contains less energy, you can get an engine to produce more HP on that fuel IF you can efficiently burn a larger quantity of it. Gasoline will burn "perfectly" in a mixture of ~14.5 parts of air to 1 part of fuel (by weight). That's called a stoichiometric mixture--that ratio provides the "perfect" quantity of oxygen molecules to oxidize all the gasoline's hydrocarbon molecules. Any more air (or less fuel) and you're lean. Any less air (or more fuel) and you're rich.

[Sidenote: In practice, an air/fuel ratio of about 13.5:1 (for gasoline) works out to be the best ratio for maximum power in most engines. There's a number of reasons for why it's around 13.5 instead of 14.5 but that's beyond the scope of this conversation I think.]

But with E85 you can burn 1 lb of fuel using only 10lbs of air. E85 is stoich at about 10, not 14.5. That means that for every unit of air sucked in by the engine you can burn more E85 than you could with gasoline. This makes up for the lower energy content of E85. It actually MORE than makes up for it by a little bit and that's where the extra power comes from.

Like I mentioned, nitromethane (the fuel burned in top fuel drag racing cars) works the same way. It contains much less energy than gasoline. But it doesn't matter because nitromethane is stoich at about 2. You only need two pounds of air for every pound of nitromethane. You can burn TONS of nitromethane in an engine. If you tried to burn that much gasoline in an engine it would be so helplessly rich it wouldn't even begin to run.


I did a quick search on Flex-Fuel vehicles and found this testing by Consumer Reports on a FFV Tahoe. Go to the bottom for the MPG and acceleration numbers: http://autos.msn.com...242#testresults

The highlights:

Overall Fuel economy: E85 = 10, Gasoline (w/ 10% ethanol) = 14
0-60 mph, sec: E85 = 8.9, Gasoline (w/ 10% ethanol)= 9.1
Quarter-mile, sec./mph: E85 = 16.8/84.6, Gasoline (w/ 10% ethanol)= 16.9/84.5

As you can see, the acceleration improvement in a Tahoe is nothing to right home about. But in a powersport application a 5% increase in HP will help you win races.


Not sure if that adds any clarity...but maybe.

  • martinfan30

Posted July 06, 2007 - 10:14 AM

#10

very enlightening!!:thumbsup:

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  • bosshog

Posted July 06, 2007 - 02:38 PM

#11

Yes it was very enlightening. I am formiliar with air/fuel ratios from tuning modified EFI cars with force induction. I didn't realize how much less O2 was needed for E85's A/F ratio. Far less than one atmosphere, which is now where I see how there is no need to "force" more air to achive gains.

Thanks for clearing it up

  • BWB63

Posted July 06, 2007 - 08:54 PM

#12

Here at my shop we make ethanol and use it to bring or bikes to the right air fuel mixture instead of changing the jets all the time. Once we distill the mash to 91% alcohol we dry it to 100% (200 proof) with Zeolite 3A. It doesn't take a whole lot to change five gallons of 50/50 fuel mixture (50% 110 to 50% 91 pump fuel) to get the bike to be where we want it. Usualy up to a quart (if running more % of 110 in five gallons) if we are at 3000'~4000' above sea level. The most I have ever made is five gallons of mash at a time (about one gallon finish product, if I get a 20% wash). Most of the bikes have been jetted to straight fuel at sea level. We have found that the fuel mixture has been changing a lot lately with the changes in using MTBE to ethonol, winter blends to summer and so on. We also mix 200:1 R-50 full synthetic two stroke oil in our four stroke fuel. We see a small increase on the dyno and feel it helps with cooling, valve guides and less valve deposits. Other then that we have stayed away from running straight ethanol in our bikes with carburetors. I have never heard of it eating any metals but, it does ruin some gaskets, floats and all real types of rubbers. I have ran it twice in my ST1300 close to straight (Fuel injected) and think I feel a little gain but, it could be just in my head because of the time it takes distilling the stuff. Ethanol will lean out your final fuel mixture as HawkGT has stated, not running rich but, it does have a different burn curve that is slower under low compression, making it burn drier and hotter in certian conditions....or I have been told. I have also seen most running close to straight alcohol, that the air to fuel mixture is a lot more finnicky with air tempature and engine heat. Lots more chance of running your engine hotter because you are lean then with pump fuel. I am by far no expert on ethanol but, this is what I have seen and heard. I make small amounts often, and listen to those that use it to race with but, I have not ran it straight in a dirt machine.

  • Billahjack

Posted July 07, 2007 - 01:42 PM

#13

Hey all. Interesting dicussion here. First of all, internal combustion engines are air pumps. The more air you pump, the more power you make. Fuel is adjusted to air flow for proper combustion.

There are a few situations where fuel changes can increase power.

1: Fuel can cool the air charge which increases the air density and thus the amount of air pumped by the engine. Ever see a tunnel ram on a fire snorting V-8? The purpose is that the fuel falling through the long runners cools the air and increases the density. Alcohols drastically reduce inlet air temperatures. The race car project I was on used fuel injection with 12" intake runners. The fuel injectors were at the top of the runners and cooled air by more than 70 degrees F at idle and probably upwards of 150 degrees under full boost of 25 psi. This was highly advantageous for high pressure turbo systems which heat the air quite a bit through the turbocharger air compression process. Back to normally aspirated engines....I believe the rule of thumb is that your eninge will pick up about 1% in horsepower for every 10 degrees the inlet charge is lowered. Not much of an increase when compared to a cam swap or exhaust swap when considering cost and hassle.

2. Fuel can add more power when there is an oxidzer within the fuel to burn such as NitroMethane or Hydrazine. This increases the effective air pumped through the engine because the engine is sumpplimenting air with the oxidizers added in the fuel. Another example of an oxidzer is Nitrous. It is very dangerous to use fuel with oxidizers in them because they can explode.


I saw an article running a CBR600F4 on a dyno. The bike was stock. They were comparing 87 octane with 89, 92 and 100 or so octane race gas. What they found was that the CBR ran with about 2 more horsepower on the 87 octane than the 92 and about 3 or 4 more than the 100. Odd huh?

Here is what is happening: Octane rating is a measurement that rates the combustion properties of fuel. The higher the octane, the slower the combustion process. It is important to slow the combustion process to prevent detonation but not too much or you will have combusting gas exiting through the exhaust valves. An engine usually runs with the most power close to detonation because the cylinder pressure is higher at the top of the stroke. Why does this matter? If you look at it another way, you can think of it as the rate of cylinder pressure increase affects power. If you reach a full burn by the bottom of the stroke, you are not doing anymore work on the piston as opposed to reaching full burn at half stroke or higher up.

  • gabriel

Posted July 07, 2007 - 07:13 PM

#14

just do what i do: go to your local airstrip and buy AVgas (aviation gasoline, not jet fuel which is actually kerosene), its around 108 octane, it's got lead but who cares.

  • HawkGT

Posted July 07, 2007 - 09:53 PM

#15

[Now I probably am getting off topic....]

Octane rating is not a measure of the general combustion properties of fuel. It is only a measure of one very specific kind of combustion--detonation. Octane rating is ONLY a measure of detonation resistance--absolutely nothing else (not HP potential, not burn speed, not energy content, etc, etc). Octane rating says nothing about deflagration; deflagration being the normal propagation of the flame front, started by the plug's spark. Deflagration is the burning of air/fuel mixture in a normal, controlled manner. Detonation is a spontaneous explosion of parts of the air/fuel mixture (specifically the end-gases that reside around the edges of the combustion chamber). Both are types of combustion, but one is normal (deflagration) and one is abnormal (detonation). The chemical kinetics associated with each type of combustion are different.

Here's an excerpt from a paper written by Westbrook and Pitz titled, The Chemical Kinetics of Engine Knock. They are talking about specific hydrocarbon fuels:

...A flame burns through a mixture of any of these fuels in air at essentially the same rate, and other properties of the five fuels are also very similar. Yet the range of octane ratings for the five fuels is dramatic, and the fuels respond at drastically different rates to knocking conditions. Because every other combustion feature of these fuels is virtually identical, only their chemical structure can possibly explain the differences in octane rating and knock tendency....


The point of the above excerpt is the burn rates of hydrocarbon fuels are not directly connected to their tendency to detonate (i.e. their octane rating). They simply do not correlate. You can have two fuels with the same octane rating that are wildly different in every other way. Similarly, you can have two fuels that behave nearly identically except for their octane rating.

Here's the reference if you'd like to read the entire paper:

The Chemical Kinetics of Engine Knock.
C.K.Westbrook, W.J. Pitz.
Energy and Technology Review, Feb/Mar 1991. p.1-13.


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published Energy and Technology Review. The still publish its successor, Science and Technology Review. LLNL is one of the worlds leading centers for combustion modeling thanks to their responsibilities with our nuclear weapons. Westbrook and Pitz (Westbrook in particular) have been leading researchers in the field of combustion science since the early eighties. I highly recommend their work to anyone interested in the science of combustion. :thumbsup:

The notion that high octane fuels burn slower may be the most common misconception about octane ratings among folks who know something about gasoline. To believe that is true reveals a misunderstanding about what detonation actually is and why it occurs. During every combustion cycle there's a race going on between the deflagrating flame front and the pre-flame reactions that are going to work on the end-gases. If the flame front can't get to and consume the end-gases in time, those end-gases will chemically decompose into new chemicals that are so unstable they will ignite all by themselves. That is detonation--when the end-gases have enough time to get thoroughly "beat up" by the ever increasing heat and pressure from 1) the piston that is still on its way up AND 2) from the expanding gases produced from the mixture that's already been burned behind the advancing flame front. Actually, the faster the flame front can get to the cylinder walls the less chance there is of detonation. This is why larger bores are more prone to deto than smaller bores for any given compression ratio. It also helps explain how combustion chamber design can have such a strong impact on minimum required octane rating. If you can't speed up the laminar burn rate of a fuel then maybe you can speed up the front with carefully orchestrated turbulence. This is also why ignition timing plays such a crucial role in octane requirements. The sooner you start the ignition, the more time the end-gases are going to have to sit around the edges of the combustion chamber and wait before the squish band can help push them towards the flame front.

None of that should be misconstrued to mean a faster burning fuel will always have a higher octane rating than a slower burning fuel. In some cases a fast burning fuel may have a chemical composition that is very resistant to the pre-flame reactions that cause detonation. But in other cases an equally fast burning fuel may have a very low resistance to these chemical reactions.


I certainly don't blame anyone for believing the high octane fuels burn slower myth, because it's been crammed down our throats for decades by people (many of whom with an air of authority) who knew just enough about gasoline to have some details but not enough to quite get them right. I'm a firm believer in NOT paying attention to any "facts" about gasoline no matter where it's coming from unless the source is published, cited research. I use to believe all sorts of inaccuracies about octane ratings and detonation until I spent countless hours looking for core research by actual scientists (not engine tuners or race gas company reps) that explained what was happening at a fundamental level. I mention that not because I like sounding pedantic--I don't--but because I've had lots of conversations about this topic in which I've met considerable resistance. I'm not pulling all this out of my ass. Nonetheless, I'm not open to criticism friendly debate. I won't expect anyone else to keep an open mind without keeping mine open too.


My issue with data that shows some engine produced more power on a dyno with one fuel over another goes in several directions:

1) Too often it seems no steps where made to ensure the a/f ratio was optimized for each fuel. If you're trying to distinguish a 1 or 2 percent difference in HP then you've got to consider the varying stoich's and densities for each fuel.

2) If such matters were taken into consideration, then I'm still not clear what the results are really telling me. All I could take from it is that those particular fuels performed as they did in that test. How am I to know that octane rating had anything to do with it? Answer: I don't. Does it tell me anything that can be applied to gasoline in general? Answer: no. Too often we like to chalk up every good or bad thing about a fuel to it's octane rating--because that's the only damn thing we know about the fuel in question. That thinking is a mistake. There are a whole manner of specifications that distinguish one fuel from another. The only way octane rating could impact HP levels is if A) the engine was actually detonation on one fuel and not the other, or :thumbsup: if the fuel achieves it's octane rating by sacrificing some other property of the fuel. But in that case, the octane rating is only indirectly responsible--it's the other property of the fuel that is to blame.

There are so many different ways to achieve a particular octane rating that it's impossible to say the X octane rating performs good or bad across the board. Some fuels might add octane rating by way of ethanol, some by replacing paraffinic hydrocarbons with aromatic hydrocarbons, and still others by using an additive such as TEL. Each strategy is going to have a different impact on the fuel as a whole even if each method of adding octane rating gets up the same number.

I'm not trying to tout high octane over low octane or anything of the sort. I'm just trying to show that we must be careful when trying to evaluate a fuel based on octane rating alone. If you use octane rating for anything other than a measure of deto resistance then you're likely holding the rating responsible for things that are really caused by other things. Dang it! I didn't mean this to get so long. Kudos to anyone who made it this far.

  • Billahjack

Posted July 08, 2007 - 06:24 AM

#16

[Now I probably am getting off topic....]

Octane rating is not a measure of the general combustion properties of fuel. It is only a measure of one very specific kind of combustion--detonation. Octane rating is ONLY a measure of detonation resistance--absolutely nothing else (not HP potential, not burn speed, not energy content, etc, etc). Octane rating says nothing about deflagration; deflagration being the normal propagation of the flame front, started by the plug's spark. Deflagration is the burning of air/fuel mixture in a normal, controlled manner. Detonation is a spontaneous explosion of parts of the air/fuel mixture (specifically the end-gases that reside around the edges of the combustion chamber). Both are types of combustion, but one is normal (deflagration) and one is abnormal (detonation). The chemical kinetics associated with each type of combustion are different.....


Thanks for the correction. :thumbsup:

BTW: I think I remember hearing that there was thousands of different chemical reactions occuring both concurrently and serially in combustion with gasoline.

I put 100 octane from the "76" white pump in my RC-51 once. They have it in a pump down in Laguna Hills, California. My bike ran like crap. Less power, hesitation off idle, burbles at constant RPM. And that bike is fuel injected.

  • HawkGT

Posted July 08, 2007 - 09:07 AM

#17

Thanks for the correction. :thumbsup:

BTW: I think I remember hearing that there was thousands of different chemical reactions occuring both concurrently and serially in combustion with gasoline.

I put 100 octane from the "76" white pump in my RC-51 once. They have it in a pump down in Laguna Hills, California. My bike ran like crap. Less power, hesitation off idle, burbles at constant RPM. And that bike is fuel injected.


There are. 500 is commonly seen as the number of chemical species in a typical gasoline (but it can be even higher), each going through perhaps a minimum of 3000 different elementary chemical reactions. It wasn't until the 80's that computers started to be used to model engine combustion. The early ones were limited to single species and very simply models. Computers just weren't fast enough to do anything else.

By late 80's and early 90's Westbrook and Pitz were using a supercomputer for their models. But it still took 30 minutes of CPU time on a Cray-XMP to run the autoignition time history for a single species model. Since then, computing power has obviously come a long way. I believe the most advanced models are running with over 1000 species and over 5000 reactions.

As you pointed out, there's a lot going on chemically. For a long time no one even really knew what was happening as far as the specific kinetics. We just knew it worked--not really how it worked.


About your RC-51: bear in mind that although it is fuel injected, it has no way to adjust for varying fuel stoichiometries or densities. If you have a Powercommander or similar device then you could make the adjustments, but you'd need to know what adjustments needed to be made. Basically, you'd need a/f ratio data. A car would be able to make the adjustments since they have O2 feedback, but no bike I'm aware of uses closed-loop EFI. Open-loop EFI is great for bikes but it does have certain limitations.

I don't doubt your bike ran like crap. Some fuels don't jive well with some applications. Plus, I've never been real confident in specialty fuels that come out of a pump. Makes me wonder about turn-over. But anyway, I can't figure any way that the labeled detonation resistance of the fuel could possibly be at fault. I'd be like saying: water is clear and it's good to drink. Therefore, all clear liquids are good to drink. If the only thing we ever knew about any liquid was it's color then we might be tempted to pin everything about a liquid to it's color. But that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There are lots of things that make clear liquids different just like there are lots of things that make various 100 octane fuels different. There must have been some other factor (or a combination of factors) that explains its poor performance in your bike. Your test wasn't necessarily invalid. Now you know not to run that fuel in your bike. But be very careful about extending that experience to any other fuel--same octane or not.

:thumbsup:

  • cleonard

Posted July 08, 2007 - 10:28 AM

#18

A car would be able to make the adjustments since they have O2 feedback, but no bike I'm aware of uses closed-loop EFI. Open-loop EFI is great for bikes but it does have certain limitations.


I know for a fact that my friends FJR1300 does have an oxygen sensor. I'm not sure if it is a 2005 or a 2006 model.

As far as I know the whole reason for fuel injection is emissions. Same reason we got them in cars in the late 80's. With the new rounds of emissions expect most street bikes to have closed loop fuel injection and catalytic converters.

  • HawkGT

Posted July 08, 2007 - 10:50 AM

#19

I know for a fact that my friends FJR1300 does have an oxygen sensor. I'm not sure if it is a 2005 or a 2006 model...


Good to know. So some bikes do have O2 sensors.

Just to be sure about the RC-51, I checked and it does not.

  • Billahjack

Posted July 09, 2007 - 05:18 PM

#20

I had a power commander II for the bike but I think there was something wrong with it. I downloaded a few different maps for my elevation, temp and exuast system. I think there was a malfunction in the unit itself since the bike would randomly stall. I disconnected it and it ran fine. I didn't notice any power difference. Never tried it with other than premium California pump gas.

BTW, Any of you see that video on the guy buring hydrogen starting with salt water. I would think that separating hydrogen from oxygen then reacting it back together would lose energy, contrary to the video news report of a possible new enrgy source. However, I was watching "UFO files" and they claimed that UFO's filled up on salt water off of the coast of Florida near the Bermuda triangle. Maybe this guy is on to something... :thumbsup:





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