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On-farm Evaluation of E Diesel Fuel

Al Hansen Al Hansen
Associate Professor
Dept.of Agricultural Engineering
(217) 333-2969
  Rob Hornbaker Rob Hornbaker
Associate Professor
Dept.of Ag.and Consumer Economics
(217) 333-5508
Qin Zhang Qin Zhang
Assistant Professor
Dept.of Agricultural Engineering
(217) 333-9419

Concern over harmful emissions from diesel fuels, increasing dependence on imported crude oil, and foreseeable future depletion of worldwide petroleum reserves all have prompted research on alternative fuel sources. Ethanol-diesel blends have been the subject of research for at least two decades. Ethanol is a renewable fuel, produced from biomass such as corn. Laboratory tests and over-the road field tests have indicated that ethanol-diesel blends offer significant improvements in environmental quality through reduced emissions. In addition, the market for Illinois-produced ethanol can be increased, thus strengthening the Illinois agricultural economy, and in so doing, the overall economy of the state.

Recent advances have produced a "flash-mixing" blending agent that enhances the mixing of diesel fuel with ethanol, resulting in a fuel called "E diesel," formerly referred to as oxydiesel. This fuel has the potential to be used interchangeably with diesel fuel in standard engines and reduce polluting emissions from machinery in an effort to meet future environmental regulations. Early tests have indicated compatibility with existing engines, good cold weather performance, and reasonable cost.

The first objective of this work is to evaluate the effects of E diesel—a blend containing 10 percent ethanol, an additive, and diesel—on performance and durability of selected tractors and combines working under normal field conditions. The second objective is to estimate its economic impact.

Two John Deere 9400 4WD tractors, two Caterpillar Challenger 95E tractors, and two John Deere 9650 combines were instrumented with data loggers that collected data via the electronic engine control system. One of each vehicle type was fueled with E diesel and the other with no. 2 diesel. Each pair of tractors was pulling the same size of implement adjusted approximately the same. Comparisons showed that increases in fuel consumption of approximately four to five percent occurred on average with both the tractors and the combine, which was equivalent to the reduced energy content of the blend. Timeliness penalties increased as the engine loading increased but were mostly negligible. The operators reported no differences between the vehicles while performing daily tasks.

E diesel Caterpillar 95E tractor
Figure 1. E diesel Caterpillar 95E tractor
E diesel combine
Figure 2. E diesel combine unloading
to grain cart.

Our preliminary analysis indicates that the actual increase in cost of E diesel fuel is $0.10 to $0.20 per gallon over diesel. However, the economic benefit to corn producers from the increased demand for corn should compensate them for the increased cost. Once E diesel is commercialized and the production of additive is increased, the overall cost of E diesel fuel should reduce to within $0.05 per gallon of diesel fuel.

This research is supported by the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR), Great Lakes Regional Biomass Energy Program, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, Growmark Inc., Deere & Company, Caterpillar Inc., Bloomingdale Farms, Shafer Farms, Cross Implements and BetzDearborn.

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