EFuel100 MicroFueler – Home Ethanol Micro Refinery

EFuel100 Micro Fueler ethanol micro refineryWith gasoline rapidly becoming a luxury item, the EFuel100 MicroFueler might be just the ticket. You just set this up next to your garage, plug into 110 or 220 volts, route to a wastewater drain, add sugar, yeast and water and in a couple of days you pump ethanol into your tank at a cost of about $1.00 per gallon. It makes 5 gallons per day. Hmm ...

The MicroFueler is $9,995, but federal tax credits can cut the price to $6,998. $16 buys yeast for 560 gallons of ethanol, each gallon requires 4 gallons of water. You need a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to make the stuff and you can't run E100 in your motorcycle or car, it's illegal for some reason, so you put in some gas at your local station then drive home and top up from your ethanol pump to make E85 or thereabouts. There is also a distillation only mode which you use to recover ethanol from discarded liquor and beer. (Who discards beer?) This is crazy cool.

E-Fuel Corporation makes this little refinery which will begin shipping at the end of the year though you can pre order now. Maybe it's just me but if this works as well as described, I think they'll sell a ton of these. VERY cool!

Link: E-Fuel via Wired

Comments

  1. says

    So is anybody out there making a home petroleum refinery kit available yet?

    I don’t mean to insult you Paul, but this is ridiculous. One can buy a mashing and fermentation setup that doesn’t need to be plugged into the wall at all. Plans for homemade distillers are widely available on the web. This looks like a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s huge, looks like it was made with petroleum based products itself, as well as having it’s supplies probably harvested with petroleum based farm equipment, and all for an end product that makes your vehicle less efficient.

    I only poked around their website briefly, and watched a 2 minute sales pitch, but this looks to me like a hooch factory that masquerades as a “Green” product.

    I’m really hoping you’re open to the conversation here, and I’m simply stating what looks obvious to me. I’m also a homebrewer (Beer & wine only, no distillation) , and this looks like a waste to me. I could get the same product of 5 gallons of ethanol a day made for alot less than $10k, it just wouldn’t have a fancy gas station pump handle, but I might rig one up with a March pump for a few $$ more.

    My crack about home refining is only half a joke. How much would it cost to sink your own oil well? If you had crude on your property, and had the means to refine it, would you have a problem with that?

  2. Ryan says

    I am really frustrated with E85 being forced on us. I live in Central NY and many gas station are converting to E10 for all gas (because all cars run E10 fine I guess).

    Now we are starting to see the effects of E85 production. Food prices going up and fuel economy going down (although auto emissions are cleaner, but I have read conflicting reports on if there is a net benefit to emissions when production of E85 is considered as well).

    I wish E85 was the answer (especially since we are getting a big fancy new factory to produce it), but I really don’t think it is.

  3. kneeslider says

    Matt, relax, no offense taken, the whole ethanol topic is worthy of discussion.

    Home petroleum refining? I’m all for it. Here in PA where the oil industry began, a lot of very old wells are being restarted for the small amounts they yield because it’s now worth it. If folks could turn it into a finished product themselves with a little plug in setup, why not? I think it would be neat but it might be a lot more complex.

    Ethanol is a simple fuel that’s easy to make, you, as a home brewer, know that, an all in one machine and pump for fermentation, distillation and everything is pretty cool. Maybe the price is too high at $10K but there’s the “tax credit” to take the price down, it’s the same trick that makes the Prius more price competitive with any other car that gets high mileage and costs less and otherwise makes more sense.

    Is this just a home sized plug in hooch factory? Well, of course it is, that’s what ethanol is, moonshine by any other name. You could just say all of the big ethanol plants are hooch factories, too, so I’m not sure what the objection is there.

    So, other than price, do you have any other objections to this?

  4. zipidachimp says

    ridiculous! the oil market is creating ‘bathtub gin’ for your car. revenoooers?

  5. says

    I think somebody somewhere will have an objection to Joe Public making his own fuel.

    In my opinion, mass produced U.S. automobiles will never run on any fuel that can be self-made cheaply by the end-user.

  6. says

    “So, other than price, do you have any other objections to this?”

    Well, I have problems with ethanol as a fuel for internal combustion engines as a whole. I don’t honestly think it’s a real solution, and I think it does more harm to the vehicles running on it than it does good for the environment. I was just reading a story about older boat with internal tanks having to have their decks ripped out to replace tanks because of ethanol. Apparently there were a number of boats made prior to ’75 that had tanks made from other materials than aluminum. These tanks have a nasty tendency to come apart when fuels with any ethanol are stored in them. Big problem is that many marine fuel pumps aren’t required to list ethanol content if it under a certain percentage.

    My ’00 Buick Century, don’t laugh it’s paid for and gets an honest 26mpg around town on decent gas, runs like crap on the 15% ethanol fuel from Wal Mart. The idle is rough, and the car stumbles while driving along at any constant speed between 20 and 50 MPH. I go fill up at Costco, with ethanol free fuel, and the car runs like a champ. I get less than 25MPG on ethanol mix, and over 26 on the good stuff.

    All that said, I am really pro-alternative fuels, but I’d much rather see new battery technology, and cleaner diesels, and solar charging stations, and fuel cells, and any other number of actual solutions rather than the ill fitting Band-Aid that ethanol is. I’ve said it before, GM started off down the wrong road with the whole E85 Flex Fuel thing, and I’d swear that they have a major holding in large agriculture ventures, like Con Agra or something, to be pushing this agenda. I’ve got farmers in the family, so I don’t think they totally deserve the shaft here, but our government really needs to get out of the farm subsidies business altogether.

    Whoa, sorry about that, I guess I needed to vent a little…

  7. todd says

    Isn’t this primarily about the economics? $1/gallon of fuel that is diluted to a tenth, where’s the savings? How many watts a day does it take to make 5 gallons (granted, enough ethanol for 50 gallons of gas)?

    55 gallons of E10 homebrew mix (5 eth, 50 gas) would cost $205, vs $220 for straight gas. A 25mpg car could travel 1375 miles on that amount. That’s a $0.01 savings per mile. If it runs for 12,000 miles/year it’s $131/year savings. So we’re looking at a 53 year break-even for the $6998 assuming the power consumption is a component of the $1/gallon and the pump never gives you any problems.

    At E85 it makes a little more sense taking a little less that 6 years to break even.

    -todd

  8. todd says

    OK, quick math aside, 5 gallons of ethanol would be good for 45 gallons of gas…

    -todd

  9. B*A*M*F says

    The deal with ethanol is that to use it in more than 5-10% requires a different engine setup than conventional gasoline. The cool part is that you can run a much higher compression ratio (or more boost with forced induction) and more aggressive timing curve than you can with gasoline. The upshot here being you can make more power from the same engine displacement. The crap part is that even with those things, the mileage you will get will be less than with gasoline.

    I’ve got to agree with B. Case’s statement that home made fuels will be so discouraged legally to only be made by a handful of truly devoted people. Currently, I could grow japhora and use it to make biodiesel (more usable oil than soy, and it’s not edible by humans). However, I’d have to completely engineer my own setup, then pay regular fuel taxes on it even though I made investments in planting, harvesting, and processing.

  10. says

    I just saw this was posted on Autoblog Green as well, and I’m quite sure you scooped them. They give thanks to “Matt” for the tip. That’s not me.

  11. guitargeek says

    If I had a setup like this, I’d probably just stay drunk all the time.

    Ethanol is a huge boondoggle designed to funnel large dollars into the pockets of corporate agribusiness concerns. The corn lobby is hugely powerful — ever wonder why we have high fructose corn syrup or some other corn product in just about everything we eat? It’s also a big part of the obesity epidemic in America…

    When I’m in charge we’ll have solar shingles on every single roof, wind farms will be everywhere, all new cars will be electric, and gasoline will be reserved strictly for old hotrods and motorcycles and such. We’ll also have a proper American Autobahn, sports involving a ball will give way to motorsports (electric NASCAR anyone?), college education will be both free and manditory, and Tom Waits will be given some sort of high ranking cabinet position.

  12. christopher says

    Let’s pretend that the vehicle you’re riding/driving can accept E100, and get as good or better MPG than a gasoline equivalent. Let’s also assume that crops and farm land weren’t used to make said E100. Would there be any objections to it then? All that stuff is being worked on by a lot of very smart people. This MicroFueler is one persons idea of a step in the right direction. Would i buy one? Um, no. But the whole alternative fuels thing is about evolution, not revolution. We’re on our way. And yeah, i’m a fan of Ethanol, so i’m a little biased.

  13. Dan says

    470 lbs of sugar for 35 gallons of fuel? Who’s going to deliver this to my house? Who’s going to shovel the sugar into the cooker? I will need about 1 ton (200 gallons?) of sugar ever month to make 140 gallons of fuel?. Where the heck am I going to store 200 gallons of Sugar?

    If a trucker is going to deliver 50 gallons of sugar each week and they drive 30 miles to my house and get 5 miles/gal they are going to use 6 gallons of gas and $50 for the trucker salary or about $70 delivery fee at the very least. That’s $2/gallon JUST for the delivery of the sugar!

    Maybe someone should start a liquid sugar pipeline!

    Is my math wrong?

  14. says

    Their website does say it takes 470 lbs of sugar to make 35 gallons of fuel. So, yes, having that much pure sugar delivered to your house on a weekly basis does seem ridiculous.

    However, this unit is designed to process any type of feedstock, not just table sugar. Which means, you can grow your own feedstock. But they don’t exactly advertise that.

  15. says

    imagine cars/bikes that run on Kudzu!

    If you live in the south, you know what it is.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu

    It’s everywhere. It’s a fast growing (12 inches per day) leafy vine that’s very destructive to other vegetation. Turns out, it can be made into cellulosic ethanol fuel.

    Once people get it out of their heads that CORN is actually a POOR crop to use for ethanol fuel, and that there are much better sources, then maybe we can stop talking about how ethanol has no future.

    And because Kudzu, and/or similar nuisance plants, already costs the United States more than $500million annually to control, perhaps government agencies would not have a problem if the public started using it for their own private ethanol production.

  16. H says

    Far better solution for bio fuel are the organic oils – the biodiesel. After all to extract the oil from plants you just need to press them which is far more efficient than destilation which requires huge ammount of energy and water.

    Another great bio fuel is the natural gas which can be produced garbage, farm waste etc.

    Both solutions can be used without major modifications to the current car engines and can be transported using the existing supply lines. They are being successfully used in Europe and probably in other places in the world.

    Probably everybody knows nowadays that event the famous Ford T had a switch on its carburetor to use gasoline or ethanol and that every time there is an energy crisis in the US the politicians bring the ethanol on the table, unsuccessfully so far.

  17. Loomis says

    Dan,
    You left out how much water will be consumed. In places where you get a beating for watering your lawn or having a backyard swimming pool, are they going to let you run one of these things? I make my own beer and I can tell you that fermenting 470 pounds of sugar would use up a whole lot of water. Then to get rid of the water and yeast, you have to boil away the ethanol and capture the vapor and condense it…very energy intensive. If you were using your ethanol as a fuel to make your ethanol, I wonder if you could make enough ethanol to keep your still running. If so, I bet there wouldn’t be much left over for your car to run on afterwards.

  18. says

    Let us us take it up a bit. Assume I use at least 20 gallons of 100% ethanol fuel per week. After modifying my engine to use it. This a quote from the site promoting the machine.
    “It will take between 10lbs to 14lbs of sugar to produce 1 gallon of ethanol”. So, on a per week basis I need to purchase as much as 280 pounds of sugar? over 10 weeks I need to purchase 2800 pounds of sugar? I can see the storage problem problem mentioned earlier. On a yearly basis, I need 14,562 pounds of sugar? Thats 6 and 1/2 tons of sugar! doesn’t Cuba have cheap sugar? wonder if they will sell me some. and internal combustion engines can operate efficiently on the stuff. Look at your top alcohol dragsters. Only problem is that when it’s burning, the only way you know it is if you are on fire. the flame is nearly invisible. back to the topic. It seems a little impractical. And blending it with petrol/gas still spews out greenhouse gas and toxins. Cheers

  19. Jim_L says

    Don’t forget that fermentation produces CO2 as well as alcohol. Don’t pretend this is a “green” solution. I actually don’t care about that. I am more interested in cheap fuel. Sugar is not cheap. I don’t see any benefit here.

  20. Chuck Johnson says

    I know of only one ethanol still that is capable of producing close to 200 proof alcohol, true fuel grade ethanol. I could not tell what the proof of the ethanol is that comes out of the EFuel100. This other still produces a lot more alcohol than the EFuel machine does and it does not look like the traditional still with a big bulbous kettle and a copper coil sprouting from the top. I realize that with gas prices now at a low it would seem stupid to look into making your own fuel but it still gets back to the question about the enviornment and what are we to do about fossel fuels.
    The sugar is part of the equation for running a still along with a source of heat to keep the yeast working. Too much or too little of either one and you do not have fuel grade ethanol. Too much heat kills the yeast, too little heat and you no longer are producing fuel grade ethanol. On a production basis, it really is a problem for a company not an individual to produce enough quantity and have the means of handling the quantities of raw materials for producing the fuel grade ethanol.
    As to the addition of gasoline to the mix. That is only so no one will be able to cut and drink the alcohol. Fuel grade ethanol will kill you if you try to drink it out of the spout without cutting it.
    Getting rid of the by-product, the used mash, is a problem. Unless it can be dried and used for animal feed the only other alternative is flushing it down our sewer drains and really overextendung our sewer treatment plants. Dumping it on the ground would tend to pollute the groundwater. Drying it in the sun or using the exhaust from the still to dry the mash from the prior batch and then using the dried mash to heat the next batch of mash would be a possible solution. The resulting smoke produced could be scrubbed to prevent more pollution, but that in turn means more labor or cost which in turn means more dollars per gallon.
    I don’t know about you but my time is worth something. Just how the EFuel machine goes about getting rid of its mash and cleaning its innards is a mystery to me. The EFuel system just does not seem efficient enough to justify the price tag. Alternately the other still, while a great producer also requires a lot of elbow grease, stoking the fires, getting rid of the waste product and hoping, hoping everything does not blow up in your face. That is why I say maybe the ethanol is a good idea, just not on an individual person producer level.
    c

  21. Motion Lotion says

    Really interesting debate. Here is my 2 cents .
    In 2009 I used E85 in my non flex fuel 98 1000cc Suziki Swift . I used all combinations of E5 mixxed with E85 all the way to 100% E85 and I never lifted the hood to change the timing or fuel jets or change spark plugs . The car ran very well on combinations up to 80% mix of E85 but was soggy fuel staved on 100% E85 but would run
    More primitive asperated engines from the late 90 era and before have more chance to run on E85 mixxes with little or no engine modifications .
    On this Suziki Swift car the MPG fuel drop on the car was minimimal only 5 to 20% at most but that could also be the Europe gasoline formulations seem to be more inferior to USA gasoline
    However after ~15,000 miles of using E85 it is clear that the fuel prices of ~2009 dont justify getting a $600 dollar kit to make the car perform correctly with any mix of E85 fuels. The new prices in 2010 make E85 more interesting as a cheaper fuel in Europe
    The retro fitted E85 fuel kits can make most every make of car including injected types adjust the carberation or injection sytems to run the mixxes of fuel correctly .
    As Ethanol has oxegen in the molicule it adds extra oxegen to the burn and results in more power but reduces the MPG
    The E85 kits advance or retard the timing systems to suit the fuels also. However for me to get my money back on the E85 fuel kits probably would need me to do ~30,000 miles a year . E85 kits can be interesting for high milage users or as a cheaper turbo booster for performance
    For a fleet owner with 50 plus cars this micro filler or a neighbourhood fuel Coop could be very interesting . Ethanol fuel often burns cooler and cleaner so maintinace bills could also drop .
    I am certianly not likely to invest $10,000 in this micro filler .I might make my own moonshine still with cheap plumbing stuff.
    If you modify your car to run on E85 even if the cat is broken you can pass the emmisions tests .My freind did exactly that .
    If you looked into the poison materials that is in normal gasoline and some even still gets past the CAT you would change to either run on Ethanol or ASPEN gasoline which has the poisons removed . Gasoline is so toxic that if it was invented today and you tried to import it you would be thrown in jail for wanting to commit mass murder burning that stufff inside populated cites.
    If you do have 100% ethanol you need to add 1% Toxic toulene so as to make film that stops the ethanol grabing water from the air as the ethanol soaks up water from the atmosphere rapidly.

    Motion Lotion