Goat Chews on All-Natural Fuels

An all natural Goat... that wont try and eat your laundry. Much.
An all natural Goat... that won't try and eat your laundry. Much.

No no, it’s okay, we’re still a car blog. Bear with us.
Once again, the incomparable Jo Schmo has tipped us towards an article over on Wired that particularly touches our car-guy hearts.
Although much of the “foreign oil” they complain about comes from a few miles away from my current location, it’s a good point. It’s a common misconception that “car guys” are interested in only one thing: performance. The assumption is that we pursue any option that will result in a faster car in a “damn-the-torpedos, full-speed-ahead” mentality. Environment? Who cares? Global warming? Fine, that just means more time for me to keep my summer car out of winter storage.
We, as the self-appointed spokesmen for the car guys out there, know differently. It’s not necessarily that we don’t care, it’s that we have a lower tolerance for compromise. For instance, we, as car guys, dislike the lackluster performance and absence of driving enjoyment that come as part and parcel of the deal when you slip behind the wheel of most of today’s economy cars. We simply desire a way to still enjoy our car while we are kinder to the environment. This may be why many car guys seize upon the idea of clean diesel technology over a hybrid.
These two passionate car guys take it one step further. Starting with a ’66 GTO with a 455 (punched up to 469cid), they already have a potent performer. Then, to be kinder on the environment, they spend thousands of dollars switching the car from regular old gasoline to compressed natural gas — CNG.
CNG has a number of benefits. It results in fewer carbon monoxide emissions from the tailpipe, and also burns more completely than gasoline, resulting in a more efficient use of fuel. The trade-off, as these two men discovered, is lower performance, as CNG does not have the same energy capacity as gasoline or diesel. With an estimated 20% reduction in power, it’s not going to be an ideal conversion for everyone. It is, however, domestically available in the US, with further huge reserves available here in Canada where much of your current dino-juice is coming from. But don’t just take my word for it. Go read the article.
As they say in the Wired article: it may not be the answer, but it is an answer, and we salute them for it.

19 Comments

  1. I wonder if such a vehicle would be eligible for the California DMV solo carpool lane access stickers that other CNG vehicles are. If so, I’d convert a mid-’60s to early-’70s GM B- or C-body (You could fill half the trunk of one of those with the fuel tank and still have room for three dead hookers.), affix the stickers (probably via some temporary sheetmetal flaps that fit over the corners of the bumpers) and drive in the diamond lane by myself to see just what kind of befuddled and pissed off expressions I could draw from Prius pilots.

    1. I still fail to understand why hybrids are allowed to use the diamond lanes in California. Up here in Washington, your use of the lane is dependent on the number of people in your car with two exceptions. A. Motorcycles get to use them. B. We have one roadway that is using the diamond lane as a tollway. Single-occupant vehicles have to pay to use it. On the surface, this sounds nice. In practice, it sucks because it ruins the flow of traffic by limiting the lane changes into and out of that left-most lane.

      1. I agree. A hybrid is no more efficient than anything else on a freeway. It’s the city where it holds a margin.

      2. I agree. In fact, I agree so much that if I lived in an area with that rule implemented, I’d gather up a couple friends and disrupt hybrid traffic in said lane. I think if it’s there, it ought to be for motorcycles and vehicles that are completely gasoline/diesel-free – hydrogen, electric, CNG, et cetera – and have a minimum speed 5mph below the highway speed limit to limit dickery.

    1. Twin turbos. Whatever your flavor of forced induction, I remember reading somewhere that LP (not sure aboot CNG though) has a higher octane rating, so you can easily offset the 20% loss.

  2. Everybody knows all they need to do to get that 20% power loss back is add some Altezza taillamps and a couple of HKS or GReddy stickerz. Damn.
    Seriously though, this is a cool way to make your hot rod a little more enviro-friendly and keep the hobby alive. Lord knows with environmental issues being such a big deal, having an old car that people see as little more than a gas hog will likely get harder and harder as the years go on. As long as I don’t see an electric Chevy II Nova or something along those lines, I think I can live with this.

      1. I could definitely live with that, it’s like a Tesla only older. A small, lightweight sports car with electric power makes perfect sense to me. A musclecar, however, not so much.

  3. Supply problems and tortilla prices aside, I’m partial to bioethanol. It has the same energy density problems that CNG does, but since it cools the combustion chamber, even on the E85 blends you can crank engine compression into omgwtf territory without detonation and end up making even more power than you would on gasoline. The CCXR is good example of this. However, until they can figure out a better way to make this than distilling corn mash (No officer, that open bottle of Everclear in the back is for the car, I swear!) it’s going to be difficult to produce in meaningful quantities and will have negative effects on food costs. It is, however, pretty close to a carbon-neutral fuel source.

    1. I think E85 is equivalent to something like 106- or 110- octane gas in terms of detonation resistance. Remember, that doesn’t just mean omgwtf static compression ratios; it also means omgwtf boost pressures in forced-induction engines.
      I’m not a big fan of corn ethanol, but ethanol made from cellulose (like from grass) is a pretty awesome idea. Not as awesome as high compression ratios or boost pressures, but pretty cool nonetheless.

      1. There’s a plan up here to start using all the waste organic stuff, like chips from lumber yards and such, and producing ethanol from that. I’m watching that with interest to see how it goes.

        1. This could be potentially huge, but it’s a matter of getting a bioreactor set up than do the necessary output. Lots of crazy bioengineering going on with bacteria/yeast to get a strain that can process more of the cellulosic materials more quickly.
          I’d love to get involved with this kind of stuff on the engineering side, but I’ve yet to come across a group doing it that gives off enough of an air of credibility.

      2. In Brazil they use sugar cane. Yeah, I like the idea of ethanol from weeds, wood chips, anything that grows and isn’t food as well. I hope to see more progress on that. I like the idea of CNG, but as stated above, a bunch of rolling bombs speeding around sounds kinda disconcerting.

        1. The problem with CNG is that you can only fill the tank to something like 80% full. If you go over that, you run the risk of the fuel expanded beyond the limits of the tank. Then the car’s driving characteristics become much more… interesting… or nonexistent.

  4. Cool for them. Most times when I even mention I run E85 I get a barrage of "Why" from everyone. It does work. The switching over to a alternative fuel teaches the builder something new. They also are making something unique which will piss some off and that is always fun to do.
    Want to see a purist go mental, when they see the E85 emblem on my rear decklid of the car they normally piss and moan to me.
    To each his own, nice Goat.

  5. Ford built a concept in ’97 that ran better/faster on E85 than it did on “regular” 93 Octane.
    1997 SVE Mustang Super Stallion Concept
    Released at the Las Vegas SEMA show in 1997, the car was done under Ford’s Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) team. The car was designed to try out what could possibly be applied to production cars in the future. Powered by a 5.4L V-8 boosted by a Garrett supercharger, the car made 545hp on regular 93-octane gasoline. But, by using the car’s technology you could make up to 590hp off of the E85 Ethanol fuel that the car was designed to run on. It runs 12.7 in the quarter mile and has a possible top speed of 175 MPH.
    http://www.muscularmustangs.com/database2/superstallion3.jpg

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