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Mixing Alcohol & Diesel?

 
 
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Old 08-23-2008, 11:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Mixing Alcohol & Diesel?

I was recently on a 120 foot fiber glass haul vessel helping out with some needed work. The captain on board wanted to dispose about 4 larger gallon jugs of denatured alcohol. He dumped the alcohol into a empty fuel tank that normally would hold about 1500 gallons of fuel, saying that it was good for the water accumaltion in the tank. I personaly did not like the idea not knowing if there could be consequences with the fiber glass tanks, MTU fuel systems, incapatable hoses, etc. But I was not planning on going out to sea in the vessel so I did not speak up.
Does any one know anything about this and have some opinions?
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Old 08-23-2008, 11:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C4ENG
I was recently on a 120 foot fiber glass haul vessel helping out with some needed work. The captain on board wanted to dispose about 4 larger gallon jugs of denatured alcohol. He dumped the alcohol into a empty fuel tank that normally would hold about 1500 gallons of fuel, saying that it was good for the water accumaltion in the tank. I personaly did not like the idea not knowing if there could be consequences with the fiber glass tanks, MTU fuel systems, incapatable hoses, etc. But I was not planning on going out to sea in the vessel so I did not speak up.
Does any one know anything about this and have some opinions?
Normaly I would wait for K1W1 to confirm this but as far as I know, alcohol eats certain rubbers in fuel lines and seals within the fuel pumps.

What a dumbass 'captain'.
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Old 08-23-2008, 12:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Basicallly you're dealing with "dry gas", and the balance (4 gals./ 1500 gals) would probably be OK and maybe advisable if he has a moisture problem in his gas tank. I kind of assume though that he is diesel which tells me he is either real knowledgable or a fool. I'm interested to learn which because I'd be ****ed to experiment.
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Old 08-23-2008, 12:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NYCAP123
Basicallly you're dealing with "dry gas", and the balance (4 gals./ 1500 gals) would probably be OK and maybe advisable if he has a moisture problem in his gas tank. I kind of assume though that he is diesel which tells me he is either real knowledgable or a fool. I'm interested to learn which because I'd be ****ed to experiment.
Here's an experiment I would like to do next time in the ship yard. Find a cut out piece of trash fiber glass from a boat. Soak it in some denatured alcohol in a container some where for a few days and see what happens. That is a very safe experiment there.
I remember reading some post in here in the past about the ethonols that they had been adding to the diesel fuel at some marina filling stations. The articles and post went on that it had bad effects on some vessels with fiber glass tanks causing failures...
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Old 08-23-2008, 01:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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That's a big problem. It turns the glass to muck that clogs the filters, but I think the rate of mix on that is 10%, and that's dealing with gasoline. DK if this was even dealing with f/g tanks, and at a rate of 375:1??? Does anybody know the effect on diesel fuel (if any) at this concentration. Good, bad, any? My guess is that he did no harm, but dk that I'd do it.
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Old 08-23-2008, 03:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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ethanol has no effect on recent fiberglass tanks... the cutoff date will vary by manufacturer but for instance Hatteras tanks build after 1985 are compatible with ethanol.

i woudn't have done it... but may be he knows someting i dont.
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Old 08-23-2008, 04:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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He put it into an empty tank... so my concern would be that any residual fuel would now become quite flammable as well as creating volatile fumes. Not really enough to worry about lowering the cetane of the fuel, but left lying in an empty tank it risks softening the 'glass and any rubber lines/seals (as mentioned) in addition to promoting corrosion in any uncoated steel fuel lines, and/or stripping coated lines then promoting corrosion.

Not the wisest idea I've ever heard.
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Old 08-24-2008, 10:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Into an empty diesel tank? Is he nuts? DK why this diddn't occur to me earlier. Even forgetting the safety factor and what it may do to the machinery I just read an article that reminded me that most engine makers will void your warranty if you mess with the fuel. What's a new diesel motor go for these days?
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Old 08-25-2008, 12:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi,

From what I understand De Natured Alcohol is mostly Ethanol- Ethanol is quite often blended into Gasoline unbeknown to the end user till there is a problem in a few cases- this is well documented on the web.

All I can find about adding Ethanol to Diesel is here:

O2DIESEL™ DELIVERS SUPERIOR FUEL OPERABILITY & PERFORMANCE
The benefit of adding oxygenates to motor fuels is well documented, and ethanol with 35% wt oxygen is recognized as an excellent, widely available fuel oxygenate.

However, unlike gasoline, ethanol will not naturally mix with diesel fuel.


O2Diesel's proprietary process blends 7.7% fuel ethanol with regular diesel and less than 1% of the company's patented co-solvent chemistry to provide a technical and commercially viable clear homogenous and stable fuel that can be utilized in unmodified engines and existing fuel delivery infrastructure. O2Diesel's ethanol-blended diesel fuel has made it a leader in delivering clean-burning diesel fuels to global markets. This ethanol-blended flexible fuel delivers premium diesel performance & operability enhancement in both on and off-road applications.

The bold font is an important thing to consider, seeing as how the Alcohol will have less of an SG than the diesel and will form a highly flammable layer on top of the fuel that will eventually evaporate ( hopefully).
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I am no chemist, but wouldn't even think of adding alcohol to a diesel tank. I just underwent a rebuild on a customers 12v71TI, that was rebuilt by the dealer 5 months and 150hrs prior and the first they did was take a fuel sample and oil sample (to try to get out of covering it under warranty). Which is reason enough I wouldn't add anything other then what is made specifically for putting in diesel fuel.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:07 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Sounds like that "captain" needs a few lessons in chemistry not to mention the safe disposal of hazardous chemicals for starters! I by no means am a chemist or expert.... but as several pointed out, denatured alcohol is ethanol with about 10% methanol from my understanding.

I can tell you this from experience.... I have owned a open wheel midget race car (team) for over ten years and they run on Methanol. Maintenance on these requires that the fuel system be cleaned after every race weekend. Methanol or Ethanol are corrosive to aluminium fittings along with drying out "O" rings, rubber fuel lines, crystalizing in fuel pumps as well as filters.

As far as taking care of any moisture in the fuel tank(s)..... all boats with built in fuel tanks should have a filtration system including a water separator. On something the size vessel you referenced.... a fuel polishing/transfer system is a must and any fuel (fresh or old) should be polished prior to leaving the dock. I surely question your qualifications as these things should be quite familiar to you working on vessels the size you stated.

So was this a great idea? Not in my book..... I'd be searching for a new captain if it had happen on my boat and I had found out. As far as you not mentioning it? Both safety and ethics come to mind.... can you post your name and the company you work for so we can "steer clear" of your services?

By no means am I trying to be harsh here, just practical and a realist....
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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To be fair to C4ENG you can't tell another person how to do his job. Especially if you're not certain of the ramifications and especially if he's the captain unless you want to find yourself swimming or worse. That's his boat and whatever happens is between him and the owner. Hopefully others have learned by this discussion though that fuel tanks are for fuel; that today's motors are not as forgiving as those of yesteryear; That today's fuels are way more complex than the gas or diesel us old guys grew up with and that you don't want to screw with your warranty.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:47 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Strat, this web site is a great place for bringing question on subjects that you are not familiar with. I don't know of any books that talk about the consequences of dumping denatured alcohol in diesel tanks. I don't find it right for you to step on some one becuase they do not know some thing. It defeats the porpuse of this sight.
And on a proper level of dealing with that Captain dumping the alcohol in the tank, it would been very professional on my end to say " I do not sugest you preform that action becuase I have done research on this subject in the past and have found that X Y and Z to be as such.."
But at the moment I did not have the research done and I could have said..
"Hey maann... that soundss stupid.... I don't know what the consequences are.... and you should listen to me..."
I am sure that would had gone far.
Now I know more for future events.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:08 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCAP123
To be fair to C4ENG you can't tell another person how to do his job. Especially if you're not certain of the ramifications and especially if he's the captain unless you want to find yourself swimming or worse. That's his boat and whatever happens is between him and the owner. Hopefully others have learned by this discussion though that fuel tanks are for fuel; that today's motors are not as forgiving as those of yesteryear; That today's fuels are way more complex than the gas or diesel us old guys grew up with and that you don't want to screw with your warranty.
NYCAP123..... Not trying to make waves here, but that old saying of "a captain is only as good as his crew" comes to mind. Anyone in a position of authority owes it to themselves as well as the people under them to listen.

That includes times when a subordinate isn't sure of the "ramifications" when pointing something out. You should always speak up..... it's part of the learning process, shows prudent judgment, and should be an indicator of sound work ethic when done with tact.

Even if C4ENG was hired by the captain.... he obviously is paid by the boat owner. With that said..... his first "obligation" is to the owner, not to mention his own business or that of his employer.

Any "captain" who'd force a crew member/helper/subcontractor to take a "swim" isn't much of a captain if his own actions are questionable, dangerous, negligent, or the ramifications of his actions aren't thoroughly understood. The captain does not own the boat! And always remember... the "admiral" (read owner) is the top of the chain of command!

As a business owner I owe it to myself as well as the employees to listen to all complaints, concerns, issues, etc. of everyone involved including the lowest man or the weakest link in the chain of command.

As we all should know the risk of fire/explosion is a priority issue on any vessel. You can NEVER be too cautious or prudent in your judgment when it comes to fueling, handling fuel, or maintaining fuel systems.

I wonder how C4ENG would feel if this owners multi-million dollar investment when up in flames at the dock due to the captains actions? Or God forbid at sea with who knows how many souls aboard at risk! That 4 gal. doesn't sound like much in an empty 1500 gal fuel tank.... but I'll bet the insurence carrier might not agree!

Sorry..... I see no excuse for not mentioning his concerns to the captain! Bringing it to the owners attention, or at least his employer.... or maybe even the dock master anonymously.
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:25 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Strat57,
You are 100% off base here. Imagine any military commander having his actions and orders questioned by every private without a lick of sense or knowledge.
My personal policy, which I announce to my hands, is that I welcome second guessing but that is not the norm. My way risks a breakdown in the command structure if there is ever an emergency. I feel I can handle that, but that is MY way. Who would C4ENG think he is telling a captain of a vessel how to do his job. He doesn't know if maybe the owner of the boat (who maybe is the chief engineer for the engine manufacturer) told him to do this. On top of that you've seen some very smart people here unsure of if or how much if any damage is being done. So basically he'd be talking through his hat. And you further suggest that he should rat the captain out to the boat's owner or the dockmaster over something that may or may not even be a problem? If he tried that with me going for a swim and having his career ended would be the least of his troubles.
The captain is in command of a vessel. Period. The owner can fire him, but until that happens the captain is in command. He does what he does and accepts the consequences.
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