Gas prices on the rise - time to talk about alternative fuels?

Shdwdrgn

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
568
I was just reading that a US average of $4.50/gallon is expected this Summer, and as it looks more and more like peak-oil may be a reality this time, I thought it might be interesting to start a thread on alternatives for the new site. Propane and natural gas seem to be the easiest choices in terms of conversion cost and refills. Electric and hybrid could be possible, but require new engines and computers. And of course the SS folks may wish to explore jet-engine options while muttering "I'm Batman!" under their breaths. :biggrin:

Propane... There are a lot of conversion kits available for various vehicles. Propane has the advantage that you can find it almost everywhere. If you fit your vehicle to take a set of 20# bottles, you could pick up a refill at nearly any grocery or hardware store.

Natural Gas... This option is supposed to have a much better cost per mileage than propane, and nearly every home has it available to provide fill-ups while sitting in your garage, however natural gas is generally found available only in very low pressure and requires an expensive compressor to fill your vehicle tank. Then you have to consider if you need to carry your compressor with you to allow refills while on the road. If your typical commute is close to home, this could be a great option to really save some money, but refills during a road trip could prove to be a real problem.

Both of these options may require only minor adjustments to the PCM (if memory serves me correctly?), and both allow dual-fuel options so you can switch between gasoline and alternative fuels. User experiences that I've read in other vehicles suggests that your horsepower will be lower with either of these options, but depending on how you drive, you may not even notice a difference. One common advantage expressed about propane and natural gas is that neither breaks down engine oil as harshly as gasoline, and some people have reported getting 50-100,000 miles out of an oil change (although I doubt most people would trust the oil for that long).

That about does it for my limited knowledge of the subject. Anyone else care to chime in to correct my information or contribute usage experiences or recommendations on conversion kits?
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
In my opinion all this chatter about "its gonna be expensive this summer!!" is meant to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Stupid speculators have a buddy make a prediction or whatever, then they bid up the price of crude to there, and say see? see? while laughing to the bank and never actually taking receipt of the crude. Bunch of filthy jerks. IMO, it should go back to how it was before Clinton opened up the speculation markets - you can ONLY place bids/orders if you take receipt, and that's it. Lock out the commodities speculators that do nothing useful :hissyfit:
 

BO TIE SS

Member
Nov 18, 2011
1,497
Shdwdrgn said:
Propane... There are a lot of conversion kits available for various vehicles. Propane has the advantage that you can find it almost everywhere. If you fit your vehicle to take a set of 20# bottles, you could pick up a refill at nearly any grocery or hardware store.
Propane prices are directly affected by oil prices. I know, I heat with it. :hissyfit: View attachment 18930
 

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DJones

Member
Jan 21, 2012
701
St. Petersburg, Florida
I've searched propane and CNG and found that CNG is much better than propane. It's cheaper and cleaner, but harder to obtain. The gas company won't run a line 1/4 mile to my house so I could fill up. The nearest filling stations are in Indianapolis and Adrian. I will talk to the gas company and see what they can do. The $2,000 price tag on the compressor would pay itself off quick.

There was somebody on the OS that converted their trailvoy to run on E85.
 

TollKeeper

Supporting Donor
Member
Dec 3, 2011
8,179
Brighton, CO
I am never going to be convinced that E85 is ever going to be an equitable alternative. Replacing food crops for gas crops sounds stupid. I will admit it does burn about 10-15% cleaner, but uses more. Around me, the cost of E85 is the same as gasoline. it just isnt worth it no matter how you work the math.

I have been considering propane. As mentioned above, you can fill it, or replace the tank anywhere (from U-Haul, to your local hardware/grocery store). And it is 50-70% easier on your engine internals than regular gas.

I would want to run a duel fuel setup, but I wouldnt want to loose any of my cargo space. That would mean replacing the spare tire with a custom propane tank. That thing is a little to close to the rear end (in a collision) for comfort. Would have to be reinforced some how.
 

MDBT

Member
Jan 26, 2012
223
The E85 subsidies, at least the bulk of them, are dead. That's good news to every taxpayer and motorist that isn't a corn farmer.

Alternative fuels may be attractive in pricipal and on paper but require significant initial costs and a drastic drop in convenience as DJones outlined. It can work for individuals but I don't see anything ready in the next 5 years that will be applicable to the masses.

We drive 5k pound 300hp BOF SUVs, poor mileage and high costs associated with that are implicit when we bought them. If you don't need that kind of capability it'll probably be in your best interest to change to a more economical vehicle, especially now while used car prices are high and we have a great crop of 35+mpg sedans to choose from.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
TollKeeper said:
I am never going to be convinced that E85 is ever going to be an equitable alternative. Replacing food crops for gas crops sounds stupid. I will admit it does burn about 10-15% cleaner, but uses more. Around me, the cost of E85 is the same as gasoline. it just isnt worth it no matter how you work the math.

I have been considering propane. As mentioned above, you can fill it, or replace the tank anywhere (from U-Haul, to your local hardware/grocery store). And it is 50-70% easier on your engine internals than regular gas.

I would want to run a duel fuel setup, but I wouldnt want to loose any of my cargo space. That would mean replacing the spare tire with a custom propane tank. That thing is a little to close to the rear end (in a collision) for comfort. Would have to be reinforced some how.

If you had to have a tank back there, put the gasoline tank where the spare tire is and the propane tank where the gasoline tank usually is. Gasoline in liquid form does not explode, so it would the less dangerous one to have right behind the rear bumper.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
I seem to recall a certain high level, elected official explained that the answer to the fuel price issue is to simply keep your tires inflated properly. I can't see a point that I would switch to propane or nat gas. I would just drive another car as my daily driver since I need the capabilities part time of a v8.
 

RayVoy

Member
Nov 20, 2011
939
TollKeeper said:
I have been considering propane. As mentioned above, you can fill it, or replace the tank anywhere (from U-Haul, to your local hardware/grocery store). And it is 50-70% easier on your engine internals than regular gas.
In Canada (and I'm would think the US is the same), the gov wants their road tax from the sale of vehicle fuel. In Canada, you can not use a house/backyard propane tank on a vehicle. A vehicle (read not easy to remove) tank is required and these can only be filled (I believe) at a government authorized full station.
 

tricguy007

Member
Dec 7, 2011
131
If it gets to that point ill get my motorcycle out more often and only drive the voy in the rain
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Heh, a pet peeve of mine. Why does everyone say "buy a civic" when there are so many small cars out there to choose from which get either the same or better mpg? :confused:

For me I'm going to "save" on fuel this summer by buying a Camaro :biggrin: My previous one got 32mpg highway, but I don't think I'll get that out of this one I'm getting. It is cammed after all :rotfl:
 

4wVoy

Member
Feb 4, 2012
254
tricguy007 said:
If it gets to that point ill get my motorcycle out more often and only drive the voy in the rain

thats what rain gear is for :raspberry: i have a gas saver (cough cough prius cough) that i can drive or pick a motorcycle to ride. I dont see myself doing any conversions with the voy. I didnt buy it for fuel economy and having other means for transportation allows me to keep the gas guzzlers parked.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
Sparky said:
Heh, a pet peeve of mine. Why does everyone say "buy a civic" when there are so many small cars out there to choose from which get either the same or better mpg? :confused:

For me I'm going to "save" on fuel this summer by buying a Camaro :biggrin: My previous one got 32mpg highway, but I don't think I'll get that out of this one I'm getting. It is cammed after all :rotfl:

Agreed, I wouldn't take a foreign daily driver beater for free because of the insane cost to fix them. At leat US car parts are cheap.
 

pejeeper

Member
Jan 27, 2012
81
Sparky said:
Heh, a pet peeve of mine. Why does everyone say "buy a civic" when there are so many small cars out there to choose from which get either the same or better mpg? :confused:

For me I'm going to "save" on fuel this summer by buying a Camaro :biggrin: My previous one got 32mpg highway, but I don't think I'll get that out of this one I'm getting. It is cammed after all :rotfl:

I used the trm "honda civic" as one would use the term "rollerblades" to mean in line skates. Insert the term Chevy Aveo if it pleases you.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Ah ok. No I wouldn't get an Aveo either :rotfl:
 

Boricua SS

Member
Nov 20, 2011
3,080
Ohio
when gas goes that high again, or higher, like evreyone else... ill just drive my DD more ( Grand Prix ).. after all, i only fill it up every 2 weeks or so as it is :crackup:
 

neelskit

Member
Dec 7, 2011
69
That's why I bought my wife a Chevy Cruze for her 60 mile/day commute. Or maybe I bought her the Cruze so I could have the TB for my DD... :biggrin:
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
Sparky said:
For me I'm going to "save" on fuel this summer by buying a Camaro :biggrin: My previous one got 32mpg highway, but I don't think I'll get that out of this one I'm getting. It is cammed after all :rotfl:
What Camaro got 32MPG? I have had several F-bodies and the best I could ever do was with my 97 TA M6 setup for my 150 mile commute everyday. It still only got 26-27 mpg. My 6 cyl was worse for some reason.

Jkust said:
Agreed, I wouldn't take a foreign daily driver beater for free because of the insane cost to fix them. At leat US car parts are cheap.

I got the semi-import for damn near free....a 97 Eclipse RS 5 speed. Has the same motor as a Neon so parts are a plenty and cheap!
 

davenay67

Member
Jan 16, 2012
217
I just wish we could get diesel versions of our vehicles like our Euro brethren. :frown:

Nearly everything over there comes in the choice of either gas or diesel, so at least you can have a larger vehicle and gain some fuel efficiency and awesome torque. Some of their smaller gas cars are now doing close to 70 mpg (that's a US adjusted 56 mpg).
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
Europe has several small 35 mpg diesel suv's as well.
 

jbones

Member
Dec 5, 2011
658
It's my understanding there's enough reserves here in the states that prices should be going down, and not to mention we could be drilling far more than we are, and we could be updating, and building new refineries, these are a few of the domestic problems, and deceptions that fornicate our gas prices.


I think I heard our reserve has some refineries shutting down, and slowing production in others?


The other day I made note of the cars blowing past me, I with cruise set at 59 mph (for the bigger tire). Just guess the majority of cars that pasted me bye as if they were responding to a 5-alarm. Yep, you guessed it! The majority were all those cars that get 30-40+ mpg highway. Why do we spend big dollar on hybrid, and other fuel efficient cars? Just part of the green scam I feel.


Alternative is great, and we should have it along side oil. Problem is we are far behind on both, and nothing viable is being done for either, IMO. But hey, it does make great campaign trial taking points. They all talked it up good in “08”, and have begun the same ole song and dance again. The excuses we’ll hear again this campaign will be the same ones we heard in “08”; it will take years to see the benefits of production, and lowered gas prices if we do... blah, blah, blah. So instead the American people will suffer higher prices some more, when we could have been three years closer, but instead we’ll hear the same blah, blah, blah. As Obama mentioned in his 1st campaign energy prices will have to necessarily skyrocket, boy he wasn’t BSing was he.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
jbones said:
What is that like four times our price?

You can figure it by 3.79 L per Gallon

And $1.00 is about .75 Euros...

It is not hard too figure and it is not near 4 times the price.
 

BOOMERZ

Member
Dec 5, 2011
94
gonna park up the TB for the summer and take out the scion XB it gets me 38mpg , i got the civic as well but it gets me the same mpg as the tb usually 22 - 24 mpg , lowered / no cat straight pipe and msd
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
trailblazer075 said:
Look at the price in france for the 98 octane without blomb gasoline.

1.77 euro for 1 liter:frown:

Yes but you can't complain about the high cost above the market cost in France. You voted in a more socialist government than we did and you deserve what you endure. Complain about the spot price but not the taxes you voluntarily pay.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
HARDTRAILZ said:
What Camaro got 32MPG? I have had several F-bodies and the best I could ever do was with my 97 TA M6 setup for my 150 mile commute everyday. It still only got 26-27 mpg. My 6 cyl was worse for some reason.

I had a 98 V6 auto. Did 32mpg at 70mph consistently. When I first got it, no. But I threw a lower ratio axle in the rear (3.42 vs the stock 3.08), put in a 180* tstat, had a lid intake on it, and got a basic tune done (similar to PCM4less but it was a local shop).

It was a freak car, had to have been, because I don't know of any other 4th gen Camaro that got 32mpg through an auto transmission. But it did. And I didn't complain :biggrin:
 

Arock

Member
Dec 8, 2011
22
Shdwdrgn said:
I was just reading that a US average of $4.50/gallon is expected this Summer, and as it looks more and more like peak-oil may be a reality this time, I thought it might be interesting to start a thread on alternatives for the new site. Propane and natural gas seem to be the easiest choices in terms of conversion cost and refills. Electric and hybrid could be possible, but require new engines and computers. And of course the SS folks may wish to explore jet-engine options while muttering "I'm Batman!" under their breaths. :biggrin:

Propane... There are a lot of conversion kits available for various vehicles. Propane has the advantage that you can find it almost everywhere. If you fit your vehicle to take a set of 20# bottles, you could pick up a refill at nearly any grocery or hardware store.

Natural Gas... This option is supposed to have a much better cost per mileage than propane, and nearly every home has it available to provide fill-ups while sitting in your garage, however natural gas is generally found available only in very low pressure and requires an expensive compressor to fill your vehicle tank. Then you have to consider if you need to carry your compressor with you to allow refills while on the road. If your typical commute is close to home, this could be a great option to really save some money, but refills during a road trip could prove to be a real problem.

Both of these options may require only minor adjustments to the PCM (if memory serves me correctly?), and both allow dual-fuel options so you can switch between gasoline and alternative fuels. User experiences that I've read in other vehicles suggests that your horsepower will be lower with either of these options, but depending on how you drive, you may not even notice a difference. One common advantage expressed about propane and natural gas is that neither breaks down engine oil as harshly as gasoline, and some people have reported getting 50-100,000 miles out of an oil change (although I doubt most people would trust the oil for that long).

That about does it for my limited knowledge of the subject. Anyone else care to chime in to correct my information or contribute usage experiences or recommendations on conversion kits?

In my opinion, Peak oil isnt the issue, the politics are of the world are still contributing more than anything.....:lipsrsealed: and thats all I'm gonna say about that.

On the upside you and I live in Colorado. The average price here is not going to be affected nearly as bad as it will in other parts of the country (fingers crossed). There are HUGE oil and gas developments occurring right now, by the fact that you are located in Longmont, I assume you have heard of this?, or have seen it yourself maybe?, i.e. all the new pump jacks all over the place. There are also new developments in the way of building new oil refineries in the Wyoming, Colorado, Dakotas areas, this will allow for transportation of the refined gasoline to be lower, thus lower prices at the pump :wootwoot: Understanding that this will not be the only consideration in price as the market value will dictate price. I remember growing up in Houston thinking to myself "what the hell, the stuff is made down the street!" So, yes the prices will increase, but at least were not in Chicago where it’s up to average of $4.11 a gallon :eek:, vs. Colorado that is $3.08 per gallon.

CNG - You may want to wait until GM releases the duel fuel Silverado 2013? The down side is there are not many stations for it open to the public without some sort of fleet account. :hissyfit: I've looked into this myself, but I'm not convinced this is the answer either.

I may be wrong, and would love to hear another viable option but so far in what I've read/heard there isn’t a cost effective "mod" on the vehicles as of now. :frown:
 

million-miles

Member
Jan 10, 2012
189
HARDTRAILZ said:
What Camaro got 32MPG? I have had several F-bodies and the best I could ever do was with my 97 TA M6 setup for my 150 mile commute everyday. It still only got 26-27 mpg.

That sounds about right for the LT1. I had a 1998 LS1 with the 6 speed and quite often was in the 28-29 range on the hwy and got as high as 31 mpg one time. But that was also cruz ctrl set at 70 and in 6th gear. I used to live in Newport News va and drove to Richmond to drag race made about 6-7 pass's and still got 19-22 mpg.
 

million-miles

Member
Jan 10, 2012
189
This is for Roadie with the electrical background. But if you make a car like a train engine your mpg would be close to 100mpg.

A train engine can carry 1 ton of cargo 400 miles on 1 gal of diesel. It has all electric drive train and the engine does nothing but supp;y electricity. Its nothing like the new hybrids that once the batts are done it runs on the engine alone.

So in theory if you had a little 2-4cyl diesel engine in the front and a generator hooked were the trans is and then an electric motor hooked to the rear axle you should make some great milage but i have no idea what it would take to make this work in a small scale.
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
million-miles said:
This is for Roadie with the electrical background. But if you make a car like a train engine your mpg would be close to 100mpg.
The answer is in the mechanical realm. If it was just an electrical issue, it would have already been done.

The answer is the rolling resistance of steel on steel, which is at least 1/10 smaller than car tires on concrete. There's also a bit of a correction factor for rail cars lining up and "drafting" each other more efficiently than a single automobile. Trains will always win the MPG/ton contest, but it's not because of their engine and drivetrain design.
 

Shdwdrgn

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
568
@Arock - I've lived here nearly 30 years and I've watched the oil rigs come and go. It hadn't really occurred to me that there was any new development going on, but I don't pay much attention to the rigs anymore. On the other hand, I've noticed the RTD buses and sometimes city vehicles running LP and CNG over the years, and LP is very easy to come by around here. What would be nice is to have some numbers to work with, to compare the consumption of LP and CNG to gasoline for a given mileage, and then be able to plug in to local dollar value of each to determine if a particular conversion is economically feasible for someone in a particular area. Hell we probably still have some of the cheapest gas here, with regular running at $2.96 last weekend - but it would still be nice to have an alternative set up and ready to roll in case another spike in the prices suddenly makes it very worthwhile to use another fuel.

Concerning what million-miles said - From what I understand, the reason hybrids are gaining popularity is because of efficiency. A normal fuel-powered motor can be very fine-tuned to work at a specific RPM and get fantastic fuel use, however in conventional use we need that engine to run at a wide range of speeds, so they lose a lot efficiency in order to be more universal. Electric engines do not suffer nearly as much from this effect, so what you lose in the conversion from one energy type to another, you gain back in better overall use of the energy. Since power cells are still horribly primitive, and fuel stations are widely available, a hybrid setup is definitely the most efficient alternative available... but like I mentioned in my original post, ripping out our current engine to be replaced by an electric motor with similar horsepower would be an extreme cost that could never be recouped in the life of the vehicle from savings in fuel costs.
 

havie22

Member
Dec 4, 2011
158
wow!i guess ill have to make friends with the gasoline delivery guy at the gas station where my friend works!:crazy:
 

jayd1563

Member
Nov 18, 2011
96
Sparky said:
Heh, a pet peeve of mine. Why does everyone say "buy a civic" when there are so many small cars out there to choose from which get either the same or better mpg? :confused:

For me I'm going to "save" on fuel this summer by buying a Camaro :biggrin: My previous one got 32mpg highway, but I don't think I'll get that out of this one I'm getting. It is cammed after all :rotfl:
i think when people say "buy a civic" it just means buy a cheap econo box...my usuall response is buy a prius lol........Your camaro a 6speed?? i know my stepdads corvette gets great mpg on the highway with the 6speed,,,,not really realistic as a cheap daily driver though.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
jayd1563 said:
i think when people say "buy a civic" it just means buy a cheap econo box...my usuall response is buy a prius lol........Your camaro a 6speed?? i know my stepdads corvette gets great mpg on the highway with the 6speed,,,,not really realistic as a cheap daily driver though.

No, it was a 4 speed auto believe it or not.
 

million-miles

Member
Jan 10, 2012
189
the roadie said:
The answer is in the mechanical realm. If it was just an electrical issue, it would have already been done.

The answer is the rolling resistance of steel on steel, which is at least 1/10 smaller than car tires on concrete. There's also a bit of a correction factor for rail cars lining up and "drafting" each other more efficiently than a single automobile. Trains will always win the MPG/ton contest, but it's not because of their engine and drivetrain design.

ok thats why i asked you
 

TollKeeper

Supporting Donor
Member
Dec 3, 2011
8,179
Brighton, CO
the roadie said:
The answer is in the mechanical realm. If it was just an electrical issue, it would have already been done.

The answer is the rolling resistance of steel on steel, which is at least 1/10 smaller than car tires on concrete. There's also a bit of a correction factor for rail cars lining up and "drafting" each other more efficiently than a single automobile. Trains will always win the MPG/ton contest, but it's not because of their engine and drivetrain design.

The commercials you see are correct, a train can move 400 tons on 1 gal of Fuel. However, there is alot more to the story, and the math, than just that.

A loaded train can weigh in at some 50,000 tons or more. A single loaded coal car weighs in at close to 120,000 lbs or more. Thats 60 tons. Than you take in the fact that they may have 100 or so cars... The math numbers get very large!

Depending on the terrain, engines (MD vs HD vs drive type vs ??), number of engines, and some other factors as well, In reality, a train is lucky to get 1/2 mile to a gallon.

Roadie is correct in the drafting principals, and the foot print that a steel wheel leaves. Then their is the gravity bearings, and generally speaking, a flatter terrain (trains dont go up and down suddenly very well).

Current trains are Diesel Electric. There are newer Train Engines that are in fact Hybrid Electric made by GE. They are having a fairly good fun with them, and the results are impressive. But at a cost to build that is double a standard Diesel Electric...

Its really not that hard to build a car that can get 100 MPG's or better. The Toyota Prius, if built properly, can get 120mpg. But because of emission standards/EPA, it will just never come to reality.

I am waiting for the person that can perfect energy thru perpetual motion. It is a viable option, but its not a perfected technology, and has a LONG way to go to get there.
 

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