The EPA and model airplane engines

In both Clarence Lee's (MAN) and Dave Brown's (MA) most recent columns, the spectre of the Environmental Protection Agency's banning model
airplane engines is presented. I wrote to Lee asking how a methanol-burning engine, which, according to my skimpy knowledge of chemistry, should only produce carbon dioxide and water during combustion, could possibly be regulated. Heck, humans exhale the same gasses, (plus copious methane from the other end!) so how, I wondered, could they find fault with our little engines? Lee answered that it's formic acid they're concerned about. I'm no chemist, so I looked it up, and it seems that catylitic combustion of methane, as in glow ignition, will form formic acid.
I can see how we might have to give up on nitromethane and all use FAI fuel, but, BAN our engines? Don't those folks at the EPA have anything better to do? Would using spark ignition cure the formic acid problem? I'd like the opinions of people who actually know something about combustion chemistry to set me straight on this!
Geoff
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Don't top fuel funny cars burn nitro? Seems to me, those cars burn far more fuel than our R/C engines. Are they going after those who run these cars at the drag strip too?

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Geoff Sanders wrote:

Most of the gasoline we are running in our cars has up to 10% alcohol. What are they smoking??
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Another example of our tax $$ at work. Politicians and gov't agencies seem to have a need for constantly belching out new laws and regulations to justify their existance. I have a custom motorcycle shop, and the level of new regulation in this niche hobby/business is pathetic. I'm not surprised by it, as well as with the recent noise about the gov't interest in regulating unmanned aircraft. Give it a few more years, there will be so many laws and regulations we won't be able to legally leave our own homes. :-(
Dave AMA 119484
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With GPS guidance systems now available for models, it is only a matter of time until we are regulated out of existence - just in case...
I doubt that the EPA will bother our methanol burning model engines, especially at a time when ethanol/methanol fuel cells appear imminent.
Homeland Security will get us long before the EPA. Besides, with all of the jobs moving overseas and with wages being cut here, who will be able to afford modeling anyway?
Ed Cregger
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I would agree, but it seems everywhere you look they are shoe horning 1/2 million dollar plus homes into every nook and cranny. They all seem to sell. I have no idea where the buyers are getting the money to buy them.
Alan Harriman

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| In both Clarence Lee's (MAN) and Dave Brown's (MA) most recent columns, | the spectre of the Environmental Protection Agency's banning model | airplane engines is presented.
I don't get MAN any more, but I don't see anything about this in MA.
The most recent Dave Brown column I'm aware of is this one --
http://www.modelaircraft.org/mag/September06/president.htm
and that matches what's in the magazine. If this is true, the AMA will have to fight it like they've never fought anything before! Not only are glow engines (let's assume they'll leave gasoline engines alone, but that's not certain) a cornerstone of our hobby, but perhaps even more importantly they represent a large part of what keeps the AMA in business.
A lot of people join the AMA because they need an AMA membership to fly their glow planes at the local AMA field. Take away their glow engines, and they'll go electric, and won't need the AMA quite so badly ...
Just an observation. Personally, I don't see the EPA banning glow engines, but if they do push the idea, it's definately something for the AMA to fight tooth and nail -- not just for the good of the hobby, but for their own welfare as well.
--
Doug McLaren, snipped-for-privacy@frenzied.us
"If it won't come off with 2 vigorous applications of Lava Soap,
  Click to see the full signature.
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I still want to hear from a chemist or chemical engineer who knows something about glow engine combustion. If, as Lee asserts, it's catalytic combustion that's the problem, we could just switch to spark ignition on everything larger than 8cc (.50cu.in.) The smaller engines shouldn't be too much of an issue for the EPA , I would hope. As for big engines, imagine how many fires would be caused by hot catalytic converters on gasoline engines! Concern over turbine fires would fade into insignificance if cat converters were to be mandated on model engines.
I'd also think that humidity would affect combustion byproducts, but I don't know. Isn't ANYONE who reads this group qualified to give a proper answer? I looked at the EPA website and found nothing helpful. (So what's new!?!?)
Geoff

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I'm a chemical engineer, so I'll chime in. It is true that incomplete combustion of methanol will produce formic acid. It could also produce formaldehyle and carbon monoxide. Two stroke engines probably have less complete combustion than four stroke engines. Four stroke engines are likely cleaner buring. They are certainly more fuel efficient.
I don't think spark ignition would lead to more compete combustion everything else being equal.
I'm no glow ignition expert so my comments are based on general principles, not specific knowledge of the glow ignition system.
I think alot of what the EPA has done is useful, but this sounds a little nutty. I went flying yesterday and drove my '85 Surburban with a 454 engine to the field. I used about 2 gallons of gas to get there and back at about 8 miles to the gallon. While at the field I flew for 4 hours and burned about 1 quart of glow fuel. Which activity should be more closely regulated?
Gary
wrote:

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| I used about 2 gallons of gas to get there and back at about 8 miles | to the gallon. While at the field I flew for 4 hours and burned | about 1 quart of glow fuel. Which activity should be more closely | regulated?
Point taken, but playing devil's advocate, one of these activities is _already_ closely regulated. For example, one of these vehicles has quite a bit of anti-pollution gear on it, is possibly (depending on your local laws) tested for emissions yearly, etc.
The other vehicle probably has a ... muffler. Not to make the EPA happy, but to make your neighbors happy. It doesn't even bother to burn all it's fuel, because leaving some extra unburned helps keep the engine cool. And it's lubricant is mostly unburned, just going out the exhaust.
--
Doug McLaren, snipped-for-privacy@frenzied.us I am in shape. Round is a shape.

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Gary E. Gray wrote:

Indeed. However you probably priduced mor polution (apart from C02) from teh flying.
But then I fly electric.I walk 150 meters to a footpath, and fly off that.

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I suppose we could make a strong point for using solar or wind power only for charging those cells.
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Mike Young wrote:

What of the nasty chemicals that must be disposed of?
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Lithium burns really, really well. Probably hot enough to... Oh alright. Yah got me on that one. Maybe donate them to Tower Hobbies for repackaging.
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Mike Young wrote:

Lithium isn't nasty, and nor is aluminium.
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

The anode is made from carbon, the cathode is a metal oxide, and the electrolyte is a lithium salt in an organic solvent.
I suspect the lithium salt and the organic solvents are nasty enough to be disposed of properly.
However I suspect people will be switching to the nickle batteries when they get tired of the shorter life and fires.
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I'm thinking Lithium isn't nasty. I have lithium grease that has no warnings, LI-POs and Li-ion litrature says just throw them away.

I think technology will improve these batteries in those respects. NiCd is still best for some applications. IMHO. mk
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Mike Young wrote:

Oh... I think I can sign up somehere and have either only renewable electricity or nuclear, as my supplier. ;-)
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Gary E. Gray wrote:

Those same polutants are spewed out in more copious volumn from an automobile engine, especially one which burns E85.
What Brown means is that he's not going to do a damn thing about it. Lee is saying he is too old to do a damn thing about it.
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