More on the acetone in gas thing
Filed under: Acetone & Gasoline,Pseudoscience,Shaky research,Stupidity,Technology — nobrainer @ 10:32 pm

I really haven’t been keeping up the acetone in gas thing which I have, in the past, written about in depth. I have kept up only to the point that I read the generally hilariously unhelpful comments and I also notice that those acetone pages are driving the vast majority of the revenue on the site. But I felt like it was a good time to comment on the comments.

First, let me say that I will gladly reverse course when someone provides verifiable, repeatable, (at least semi)-scientific evidence that says that acetone really does increase fuel mileage nearly as well and as broadly as claimed. So far, I have still yet to see anything resembling good evidence.

Second, some people ask whether acetone is really safe to put in your fuel system. Of the affirmative responses, the answer is usually: “acetone is a main ingredient of fuel system cleaners, so yes.” I have yet to verify that acetone is indeed a main ingredient in any common gasoline additive. But, if it is true, it has important implications. First, it is pretty much common knowledge that such additives are not capable of drastically increasing fuel mileage. Second, it undermines the argument that oil companies (who of course primarily make and market fuel additives) are afraid of acetone.

Finally, a comment about the vast oil conspiracy. I’ve argued before that if such a conspiracy exists, the powers-that-be are horribly inept; extreme oil company profits are not the norm; they are the exception. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that they aren’t woefully inept at managing their vast conspiracy. Let’s further say that they are in fact quite skilled at market manipulation and screwing the consumer. With those assumptions of their power in place, I simply cannot fathom why they would not desperately seek increase mileage while simultaneously controlling the oil market to increase prices at the same time. Why do I say this? It’s simple really. If they can completely manipulate the market, why would they not find a way to double mileage and use half the material sold at double the current price for double the profit per unit? They could get same amount of profit for half the work. And, and, and, they would then have even more saved up to sell in the future. In short, with acetone, they could maintain profits, do less work, and increase future income potential.

But who really knows with the acetone thing. Even though it is backed by only scant evidence, and thoroughly dubious logic, I remain open to the possibility that it works. I just wish that someone who says that it works would bother to satisfactorily prove that it works (whether or not the conspiracy theories make any sense).


Acetone in Gasoline: the Nobrainer Test
Filed under: Acetone & Gasoline,Energy,Technology — nobrainer @ 5:35 pm

I said I’d test it, and I’ve finally gotten my chance. I’ve got about 290 miles of interstate to cover en route to Huntersville, NC. The game plan is simple. I’ll stop at a local hardware store, pick up some “pure” acetone, then head to the gas station where I will top off the tank of my test vehicle, a ’95 Grand Prix with ~120,000 miles and some body damage, with gasoline and about 4.8 fluid ounces of acetone. The tank is about 16.5 gallons, so that should give me a ratio of about 3 ounces per 10 gallons, which is ideal according to Louis LaPointe. Once I get to Huntersville, I will top off again. Hopefully I will get receipts to verify my location, time, speed, and distance traveled.

Typically my mileage is about 27-28 mpg on the interstate. I’ll be mildly impressed by anything greater than 30. Of course if acetone is as good as is claimed, then I should get an easy 35 mpg.

On my way home, there should be between 1.5 and 2.3 fl. oz. of acetone left in my tank. That means that my trip home will provide a nice little secondary test.

I’ve written the above at about 3 PM on April 19th, 2007. I hope to be at the hardware store around 4PM and to leave the gas station by 4:45 PM. This should be achievable. [Note: I am not publishing my plan ahead of time because I really don’t want to announce that I’m not going to be at my house all weekend.]




Thoughts on the effects of acetone in your fuel system
Filed under: Acetone & Gasoline,Energy,Engineering,PDMS,Technology — nobrainer @ 12:45 pm
Looking for info on solvents for PDMS? Click here

In the whole debate about whether or not acetone can improve your fuel mileage, there is some conversation about whether or not acetone will damage your fuel system, particularly seals, hoses, and gaskets. I think everyone who comments is really just speculating, and I am going to chime in on the basis that I have no idea whether or not damage is actually occurring. However, there are several, potentially mistaken although somewhat logical, hypotheses being floated around. Here I’m just addressing what those ideas are and why they aren’t necessarily reliable.

Here, off the top of my head, are the 4 things that I’ll focus on.
1.) I’ve used acetone for years and never had a problem.
2.) I put fuel system parts in a jug of pure acetone for an extended time (years?) and there has been no problem.
3.) Gasoline is a solvent. Acetone is a solvent. Gasoline doesn’t destroy a fuel system, ergo acetone won’t, either.
4.) Acetone comes in plastic bottles, ergo it doesn’t destroy polymers.

Let’s address these items:


Why big oil fears acetone!
Filed under: Acetone & Gasoline,Energy,General,Technology — nobrainer @ 8:25 pm

Louis LaPointe has a secret. And he’s sharing it with the world, for folks like you, out of the goodness of his heart. By adding a tiny amount of acetone to your gasoline you can increase your mileage by up to 35%! He even has a chart to prove it!

And it has big oil shaking in its boots.

They’re totally going to lose a ton of money.

You see, acetone is an organic solvent. It comes from various sources, but the most common source is cumene hydroperoxide.

Cumene hydroperoxide comes from isopropylbenzene.

And isopropylbenzene, is also known as cumene.

And cumene comes from… Crude oil?


Acetone is an oil derivate. Shell Chemical LP makes acetone. Shell is probably the 2nd biggest producer of acetone in America. It’s led by Sunoco. Combined they own 49% of the acetone market. And Citgo is 48% owner of another venture that accounts for 11% of the market.

So show those greedy corporate oil bastards by buying their product!

Re-visiting the Acetone in Gasoline concept
Filed under: Acetone & Gasoline,Energy,Engineering,General,Technology — nobrainer @ 3:47 pm

I’ve previously cast my thoughts on the acetone improves mileage concept. I still think it’s a myth, but like the good little scientist I am, I’m always up for being proven wrong. It turns out that the main propagator of the idea, Lou LaPointe (who also goes by C. L. LaPointe, and Louis LaPointe), updated his files sometime in 2006. There is a lot of stuff to read, but not very much useful information; it’s rather long winded, ill organized, and full of entirely too much conspiracy theory. To avoid being long winded myself, there are 4 main points I want to hit on today.

1.) Have you read the finer details of his testing?
2.) Did you notice he says that it’s not just acetone that works as a mileage enhancing additive? Let’s look more at xylene, and some of the others.
3.) There’s a researcher at Clemson University who has confirmed positive results?
4.) If it’s a surface tension problem, let’s study that.

To some extent this is incomplete and ongoing research. This is the presentation of what I’ve found thus far.



Acetone in Gasoline – BUSTED!
Filed under: Acetone & Gasoline,Energy,Engineering,General,Technology — nobrainer @ 11:03 pm

[Editor’s note: In recent tests, I got only a moderate, 5%-8% (if that much), improvement due to acetone. Also, click the above Acetone & Gasoline link to see the most recent posts on the topic.]

Mythbusters finally tackled the issue and tested car performance with acetone mixed with gasoline. Was the mileage improvement touted by Louis Lapointe confirmed? Plausible? No. And no. Totally busted.

They didn’t test the full range of mixtures, but said they used about a 500:1 gasoline:acetone ratio. That’s about 2.56 fluid ounces per 10 gallons.

Fuel mileage curve with acetone

Just like the engineers at Kettering University, no improvement due to acetone was found. In fact, it looked as though mileage was decreased in all four of their scenarios (2 speeds times 2 cars) on the dyno.


UPDATE: whoops! I thought tonight’s episode was new. I was wrong, according to Wikipedia it aired on May 10, 2006. And crazy ol’ LaPointe defends himself in his FAQ (seriously, read it and decide for yourself that the guy is nuts): (more…)

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