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On-Farm Use of OxyDiesel Fuel

Al Hansen Al Hansen
Associate Professor
Dept. of Agricultural Engineering
(217) 333-2969; ach@sugar.age.uiuc.edu
Robert Hornbaker
  Robert Hornbaker
Associate Professor
Dept. of Ag. & Consumer Economics
(217) 333-5508; hornbake@illinois.edu
Qin Zhang  
Qin Zhang
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Agricultural Engineering
(217) 333-9419; qinzhang@illinois.edu

OxyDiesel is a promising new alternative fuel comprising a blend of ethanol and diesel. Its potential benefits are both economic and environmental. Reduced levels of harmful emissions can be expected, allowing equipment owners and manufacturers to meet stringent environmental regulations in the future. This fuel offers improvements in environmental quality, adding to the health and safety of all people in Illinois. In addition, the market for Illinois-produced ethanol can be dramatically increased to encompass all of the diesel-fueled machines today. This is likely to strengthen the Illinois agricultural economy, and in so doing, the overall economy of the state.

Before OxyDiesel can be successfully introduced into the diesel market, its performance and compatibility in existing engines must be proven, as well as its cost competitiveness. Two of the main consumers of diesel fuel in Illinois-over-the-road trucking and city busing-have already been evaluating OxyDiesel in separate tests with very favorable results. The agricultural sector also is a major consumer of diesel fuel, and the proposed on-farm research is a vital component in the development and evaluation of the new fuel.

The objective of this work is to determine the suitability of OxyDiesel for on-farm use, including its effects on performance and durability, as well as its economic impact. Testing is taking place on Shafer Farms near Wyoming, IL, comprising approximately 7,000 acres. Two John Deere 9400 4WD tractors are participating in the first part of the evaluation, with one tractor operating on standard diesel fuel and the other on OxyDiesel.

Field cultivating with a 425 hp tractor operating on oxydiesel

Figure 1. Field cultivating with a 425 hp tractor operating on oxydiesel.

In-field performance data for both tractors pulling implements of the same size are being collected, in addition to a daily log of overall fuel usage, types of operation, and operator opinion. The data logging is performed with the aid of an interface box supplied by John Deere that enables a laptop computer to communicate with the electronic tractor bus and to monitor and record the relevant variables. Oil samples have been taken at 100-hour intervals from both tractors as an assessment of engine condition. The tractors will have been monitored during cultivation in the spring and chisel plowing in the fall.

A second part of the evaluation will include two combine harvesters, again operating on standard diesel and OxyDiesel, respectively. Data will be collected in a similar way as with the tractors, though a yield monitoring system will be included.

The economic impact of OxyDiesel will be analyzed in three stages: a micro-level analysis on the individual farm, an evaluation of the broader economic impacts of OxyDiesel adoption to the Illinois economy, and a study of the regional economic impacts of OxyDiesel in the presence of new environmental regulations imposed on engine manufacturers.

This research is supported by the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Growmark, John Deere, and Shafer Farms in Wyoming, Illinois.

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