Ethanol Could Make Diesel Engines Greener

Cindy Zimmerman

A corn grower leader is working on using ethanol to help fuel diesel engines.

cleanflexNational Corn Growers Association chairman Bob Dickey is also chairman of CleanFlex Power Systems, which is so new they haven’t built a website yet, but what they have done is developed a method to efficiently use ethanol in diesel engines.

Dickey started the idea a year ago when he bought a new John Deere 150-hp four-cylinder turbo diesel irrigation system engine and retrofitted it to use an ethanol and diesel blend. “It worked so well that we applied for a grant at the University of Nebraska and we’re currently doing research there to bring credibility to what we’re doing,” Dickey says.

The company has developed a new hydrated-ethanol fuel called EM60 (a mixture of 60% ethanol and 40% water) to combine with diesel fuel to power diesel engines. “Just like oil and water don’t mix, ethanol and diesel don’t mix,” Dickey said. So, they run two lines into the diesel engine. “The only time the ethanol, water and diesel are together is at the point of combustion and it really works well. The engine runs cooler, it runs more efficient and the emissions are reduced.”

cleanflexCleanFlex president Ron Preston says the fuel they are using is 120 proof ethanol. “Most ethanol plants are putting out 200 proof ethanol and we add distilled water or reverse osmosis water to get it to 120 proof,” he said.

Preston says they are talking with agricultural equipment manufacturers, railroads, and even bus companies about the idea because the EM60 fuel has the potential to help meet Tier 4 emission standards that become effective in 2011. “There are 60 million diesel engines in the United States,” Preston says. “We’ve been working with EPA and going through the proper steps to make ethanol a solution that will help them meet emissions requirements.”

They have already tested the fuel with two and five percent biodiesel blends and it works just as well. “The bottom line is that we can become less dependent on foreign oil,” Dickey says.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News