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Old 10-13-2013, 09:57 PM
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How would post-apocalyptic survivors get gasoline?


Assuming they don't have access to a refinery like Mad max, how could they make gasoline?
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:06 PM
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They'd probably turn to ethanol instead.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:30 PM
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Assuming we're talking a small number of survivors type situation, siphoning gas out of the skeleton-filled cars littering the highways and then the underground holding tanks and gas stations ought to work for a few years at least. Your post apocalyptic battlewagon really ought to be a diesel though since underground stores of diesel may last essentially indefinitely and there are many more options for unconventional fuels. Plus you'll need the extra torque to haul all that armor around anyways!
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:34 PM
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In Genesis II, they converted their cars to steam power, which could use a wider variety of fuel. And, they had horses. And a nuclear reactor.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by GreasyJack View Post
Plus you'll need the extra torque to haul all that armor around anyways!
Yup. You'll need one of these
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084887/
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:56 PM
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One of my favorite books, Earth Abides addresses this by having the main character take gas from stations where the electricity has not yet failed, and when that doesn't work, taking gas from the depots at the edge of town. Of course, this book was written in either the 1940s or '50s, so stuff was a lot different then.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:57 PM
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The OP is a non sequiter. To make gasoline requires a refinery. Period. It's kinda in the definition. You have to refine petroleum to get gasoline. "Scavenging" does not equal "making."
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Old 10-14-2013, 12:10 AM
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Modern Ethanol has a short shelf life. I learned quickly to use a stabilizer in my generator gas. Even with stabilizer Ethanol should be used within 9 to 10 months. A year max. Regular gas lasts longer but even it will go bad and foul the carb within a year without stablizer. Old gas creates a lot of income for small engine repair places because people leave a tank of gas over the winter or fill the tank from a can bought the previous summer. The varnish in the gas clogs the carb and the small engine shop makes money from the repair.

Diesel Oil reserves would last must longer. Underground Tanks at service stations would be an excellent source for post-apocalyptic survivors.

Last edited by aceplace57; 10-14-2013 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 10-14-2013, 02:08 AM
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The OP is a non sequiter. To make gasoline requires a refinery. Period. It's kinda in the definition. You have to refine petroleum to get gasoline. "Scavenging" does not equal "making."
Ok, then ideas like the one about using steam engines.

To expand the question: How would people use machines after the gas runs out?
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Old 10-14-2013, 02:11 AM
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Could a vehicle be modified to tolerate bad gas?
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:55 AM
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You make friends with Mad max
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by j_sum1 View Post
Yup. You'll need one of these
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084887/
I knew what the movie was before I even clicked it.

Of course, the hero used a methane powered motorbike, made from chicken-shit. As a chemistry-aware adult, I am no longer sure how he got from methane (anaerobic decay of fecal matter) to methanol (poured into the tank of his trailbike) without a serious chemical reactor system.
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The solution is to convert methane to the chemically very similar but liquid fuel methanol (CH4 and CH3OH, where one hydrogen is replaced by a hydroxyl group). Industrially, methane is converted to methanol by partial oxidation to hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide (synthesis gas or syngas) at high temperatures (several hundred degrees Celsius) in a process called cracking. Syngas is then catalytically converted to methanol over a copper or platinum surface, also at a couple hundred degrees Celsius. This process is only around five or ten percent efficient due to accidental total oxidation to carbon dioxide and water.
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Old 10-14-2013, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
To expand the question: How would people use machines after the gas runs out?
How did people use machines before gasoline? Steam, horses, slaves.
Horses were such an important source of power we named a unit after them.

Last edited by aNewLeaf; 10-14-2013 at 06:07 AM.
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Old 10-14-2013, 06:46 AM
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I'd like to see the gerbil wheel they used for a horse powered engine.
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Old 10-14-2013, 06:55 AM
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Missed window: i was asking about running machinery that usually uses gasoline.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:13 AM
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It might depend on how apocalyptic the apocalypse was. If the infrastructure is totally destroyed you would need to go back to carts pulled by horses, mules or oxen. If there are still plenty of resources left lying around, you could probably scavenge for a good many years, the rest of your life probably, because it wont be a long one.

Eventually whatever population was left would revert to a level that it could sustain. Water is a good source of power, wind too. They can be used directly to drive machinery, to grind corn for example, or indirectly to generate electricity.

A lot would depend on the circumstances of the survivors and how much effort they wanted, or were able, to put into this stuff, beyond just simply surviving.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:45 AM
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Imho scavenging really depends on how many survivors are left. I used to work at a gas station, and they could store maybe 1k gallons in an underground tank. Maybe 10k, maybe 100k, but depending on how many surivors there are, eventually a given area would run out. Im asking about when all the old stores are gone.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:51 AM
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I read quite a lot apocalyptic books and what makes me wonder is why bikes are not utilized more. Same goes for the moves.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
Assuming they don't have access to a refinery like Mad max, how could they make gasoline?
During WW2, cars were converted to wood-burning vehicles using a wood-gas generator
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:25 AM
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I'd like to see the gerbil wheel they used for a horse powered engine.
Wish granted: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_mill
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:27 AM
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Missed window: i was asking about running machinery that usually uses gasoline.
Replace it with horses. Steal Jay Leno's hoard of steam powered cars. Run them on Wood gas
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
Imho scavenging really depends on how many survivors are left. I used to work at a gas station, and they could store maybe 1k gallons in an underground tank. Maybe 10k, maybe 100k, but depending on how many surivors there are, eventually a given area would run out. Im asking about when all the old stores are gone.
You could generate hydrogen through electrolysis, if you can scavenge some way to make electricity.
Probably best to go gather solar panels while you still have gasoline to burn.

And ethanol is pretty straightforward to produce if you have sugar of some sort.
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:44 AM
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Replace it with horses. Steal Jay Leno's hoard of steam powered cars. Run them on Wood gas
Run the "usually operated on gasonline" engine applications on wood gas. Not the steam cars. In case that wasn't obvious.

Last edited by naita; 10-14-2013 at 08:44 AM.
  #24  
Old 10-14-2013, 08:44 AM
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What do you need gas for anyway? Where are you going to go?
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:46 AM
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Wood-gas would most likely be the new gasoline.

Ethanol would seem to require some infrastructure that requires such a fuel to make it worth it to produce over wood-gas. Something like aviation. It may even require a economy with a means of exchange. Perhaps on the build back up, but I don't see it much in the immediate P.A. world.

And I would suspect diesel engines would be the preferred type, some multifuel diesels can run on rendered animal fat or on motor oil.
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:49 AM
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Ethanol requires sugar or starch, fire, and a still.
If I've got a working gasoline-powered vehicle, I can build a still and go scavenge sugar at stores.
Agreed diesel is a better choice right away though.

If we're building a new world after an apocalypse, let's think big and get away from personal fuelburning transport.
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:01 AM
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This is why I'd open Kayaker's Post-Apocalyptic Gas and Burgers.
  #28  
Old 10-14-2013, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by si_blakely View Post
I knew what the movie was before I even clicked it.

Of course, the hero used a methane powered motorbike, made from chicken-shit. As a chemistry-aware adult, I am no longer sure how he got from methane (anaerobic decay of fecal matter) to methanol (poured into the tank of his trailbike) without a serious chemical reactor system.
... oh. The methane, not the bike.

Carry on.
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