You are on page 1of 24

Module 2: Chemical and Physical Characteristics of Ethanol and Hydrocarbon Fuels

Objective
Upon the successful completion of this module, participants will be able to describe the chemical and physical differences between pure gasoline and gasoline / ethanol-blended fuels.

Introduction
Characteristics of polar solvents & hydrocarbons, their differences, & how they interact Conditions under which ethanol-blended fuels will retain certain characteristics of types of fuel Help emergency responders mitigate various incidents according to conditions found
3

Activity 2.1 Definitions


Purpose:
To allow participants to identify the definitions related to ethanol & ethanolblended fuels.

Characteristics of Gasoline (A Hydrocarbon) Similar characteristics whether flammable / combustible liquids Produced from crude oil by fractional distillation Immiscible Flash point -45F

Characteristics of Gasoline (A Hydrocarbon) Vapor density between 3 & 4:


Gasoline vapors seek low levels / remain close to ground level

Specific gravity of 0.700.78:


Will float on top of water

Auto-ignition temperature > 530F Boiling point between 85F & 437F

Characteristics of Gasoline (A Hydrocarbon) Not considered poisonous for placarding purposes:


Harmful effects after long-term & high-level exposure Can lead to respiratory failure

Smoke from burning gasoline is black & has toxic components Greatest hazard is flammability:
Fairly narrow range of flammability
7

Immiscibility Gasoline / Ethanol

Figure 2 Figure 1

Figure 3

Copyright 2009, IAFC

Characteristics of Pure Ethanol (A Polar Solvent) Ethanol used with motor fuels must be denatured with 25% gasoline / similar hydrocarbon before transport to bulk storage facilities Denaturant has minimal effects on characteristics

Characteristics of Pure Ethanol (A Polar Solvent) Renewable fuel source produced by fermentation & distillation process Most common source in U.S. is corn Polar solvent Totally miscible Flash point 54F

Property of Wikimedia Commons, reprinted with permission

10

Characteristics of Pure Ethanol (A Polar Solvent) Vapor density of 1.60:


Heavier than air Vapors do not rise

Specific gravity 0.79:


Lighter than water Miscible: thoroughly mix with water

Auto-ignition temperature 685F

11

Characteristics of Pure Ethanol (A Polar Solvent) Boiling point 173F Less toxic than gasoline / methanol Carcinogenic compounds not present in pure ethanol Greatest hazard as motor fuel component is flammability:
Wider flammable range than gasoline:
(3.319%)

12

Flash Point Exercise


2.4% denatured (E-98) ethanol 15F temperature

Property of Steve Hergenreter, reprinted with permission

13

Video
Watch the video clip Flash Point Test:
Ethanol with an MSDS-listed flash point of 49F being lit at 15F

Property of Wikimedia Commons, reprinted with permission

14

Table 2.1: Gasoline Ethanol Blended Fuels Pure Ethanol Gasoline E-10 E-85 E-95 / E 98 Blended Fuel Blended Fuel Fuel Grade Ethanol / Denatured Ethanol
Flash Point Auto Ignition Temperature Specific Gravity @ 60F Vapor Density Air = 1 Vapor Pressure Boiling Point Flammable Range (LEL-UEL) Conductivity Smoke Character Solubility (In Water) -45F Highly Variable; >530F 0.70 0.78 3.0 4.0 275 475 mmHg @ 68F 85 - 437F 1.4% - 7.6% None Black Immiscible -45F Highly Variable; >530F 0.70 0.78 3.0 4.0 275 475 mmHg @ 68F 85 - 437F 1.4% 7.6% No Information Found (Consider as Possible) Black Partially miscible (gasoline immiscible) -20 - -5F >790F -5F >689F

E-100 Pure Ethanol


54F 685F

0.79 2.0 - 4.0 340 560 mmHg @ 68F 96 - 170F 1.4% - 19.0%

0.79 1.6 181 mmHg @ 32F 165 - 175F 3.3% 19.0%

0.79 1.6 44mmHg @ 68F 173F 3.3% 19.0% Yes None Totally miscible

No Information Found Yes (Consider as Possible) Slight to None Slight to None Highly miscible (gasoline Highly miscible (gasoline immiscible) immiscible)
Copyright 2009, IAFC

15

Characteristics of Pure Ethanol (A Polar Solvent) In pure form no visible smoke & visible flame In denatured form little to no smoke & slight orange flame will be visible Ethanol & some ethanol blends can conduct electricity Large amounts of water required to dilute ethanol to no longer support combustion
16

Invisible Flames Pure Ethanol


Incorporate use of thermal imaging camera into SOPs Taken at a foam comparison exercise Shot taken after non-AR foam dissolved Watch the video clip Invisible Fire: E-100
17

Copyright 2009, IAFC

Shot of Ethanol Fire Through Thermal Imaging Camera

Property of Steve Hergenreter, reprinted with permission

18

Activity 2.2 Comparison of Gasoline and Pure Ethanol Purpose:


To allow participants to discuss the differences & similarities in the chemical & physical properties of pure ethanol & gasoline.

19

Characteristics of Ethanol-Blended Fuels Ethanol increases the ability of gasoline to burn cleaner:
Lower emissions from unburned hydrocarbons

Minimal amounts of water will draw ethanol out of blend away from gasoline:
Ethanol & gasoline more suspension than solution
20

Characteristics of Ethanol-Blended Fuels Gasoline floating on layer of ethanol / water solution


Resulting ethanol / water solution still flammable

Property of Wikimedia Commons, reprinted with permission

21

Characteristics of Ethanol-Blended Fuels Blending fuels alters physical & chemical characteristics of original fuels:
Visual difference of smoke & flame characteristics:
Higher content of ethanol, less visible black smoke content & orange flame production

22

Characteristics of Ethanol-Blended Fuels Blending fuels alters physical & chemical characteristics of original fuels:
When foam / water flowed on burning product, gasoline tends to burn off first:
May have no visible smoke as the hydrocarbon burns off leaving only the ethanol burning

23

Summary
Polar solvent miscible & flammable When blended with gasoline, produces slightly cleaner burn than gasoline alone Blend of gasoline & ethanol can easily go unnoticed by emergency responders:
Ethanol will be last fuel to burn Ethanol can burn without visible smoke

24