Saturday, July 31, 2010

Random Green Thoughts

There's plenty of discordant stuff rattling around inside my head this morning.

Fire Season seems to have started in earnest in SoCal.

Last night's BBQ cheeseburgers featured a sublime, organically grown heirloom tomato slice that we both agreed was the season's best to date.

This morning's application of the decidedly not-organic wasp killer to the yellowjacket nest buried in the front yard's landscaping was far from the results stings, no dead nest either...

The Reno Gazette Journal tweeted a Bio-Diesel Explosion and Fire in Sparks, NV

There's more digging to be done out back in the Ancestral Diggins.

Happily, I found a favorite old radio voice is back on the air in Sacramento.

He asked, so I explained corduroy to Brad at the Unemployment Insurance Call Center...and the PDO, La Niña, the Solar Minimum, and I even foolishly ventured a guess as to when this season might start.

Brad said I sound like I studied meteorology in college...nope, I replied...I'm just a weathergeek with a curious mind, and plenty of time to use it as I grind around my mountain laying down acres of corduroy!

And Politics...Summer Recess can't come too soon!

Thank God there's baseball! The Dodgers visit the Giants this come I've got Golf on the brain today?

I don't play golf, I don't watch golf on TV, and I think golf is dangerous to one's mental health. I've lost more friends to golf than to accidents, murder, drug addiction, natural causes, and disease combined. I see it as an insidious addiction...and an expensive time suck.

Golf on TV does have it's uses...turn on golf when you need to get some sleep...safer than sleeping pills...and definitely not habit-forming!

My afternoon errands are finished, so I looked to see if there was any more info on the Sparks Bio-Diesel Fire. Nothing concrete from the Reno media yet. I imagine that there was a spill, and the spill was vaporized enough for flash fire once an ignition source was added.

Lots of people think diesel fuel isn't explosive. That's only relatively true. Relative to gasoline, diesel isn't very explosive, however get your diesel frothed up enough, and mix those vapors with air in the proper mixture, and you've got the recipe for an explosion to rival a gasoline explosion.

I remember an accident over at Squaw Valley several years ago...This groomer was driving a Pisten Bulley with a fuel gauge that didn't work. Now PB's have a big flat utility deck behind the cab and engine cover, and the fuel filler is a big six inch pipe centered in the middle of the deck. The story goes that the groomer opened the door and the filler cap and lit his BIC lighter to look into the fuel filler to see how much fuel he needed. Well, you can imagine his surprise when the diesel fuel vapor, atomized with the air in the nearly empty tank flashed and burned all his facial hair off in a hot second! He probably believed that diesel isn't explosive...I think he knows better now...

What about Bio-Diesel (B-D) you ask? Well, Bio-Diesel isn't all that different from garden variety petro-diesel from a BTU/liter standpoint. The major difference is in it's source (vegetable oils vs petroleum), and it's lubricity.

Lubricity is a measurement of how "slippery" the fuel is. Bio-Diesel is much more slippery than petro-diesel...especially the ultra-low sulfur boutique blends demanded by CARB in California. Fleet operators love B-D because it's high lubricity gives their diesel injection pumps very long service lives, much longer than the petro-diesel does. A happy injection pump makes for a happy, long-lived diesel engine, and happy bean-counters with their eyes on the bottom line. The neat thing is you get the benefit from as little as 5% B-D in the fuel mixture.

Rudolf Diesel's original engine ran on peanut oil. Today's modern, computer controlled diesel engines are very efficient, and have far less soot in their exhaust gasses. Most passenger cars in Europe are diesels today.

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