Avoiding The Ethanol Blues

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Ethanol-laced “gas” (10 percent ethanol today, 15 percent soon) isn’t all bad.corn 1

Just mostly bad.

It reduces fuel economy noticeably (because there’s less energy in a gallon of 90 percent gas plus 10 percent ethanol than there is in a gallon of 100 percent gas).

It makes food – especially meat – more expensive (because not-far-from-half the corn crop is currently diverted to ethanol production, not livestock feed).

It enriches politically powerful agribusiness cartels – not “the American farmer” (not that the American farmer has any more right than an agribusiness cartel to force others to buy his product).

It can also cause problems in older (and especially occasional use) vehicles and power equipment not originally designed to withstand high alcohol-content fuels.

The main worries are: the alcohol eating away at rubber and plastic parts not made to deal with alcohol-rich fuels – and corrosion (from water accumulation courtesy of the alcohol in the fuel) eating away at the insides of metal parts such as metal gas tanks and fuel lines. Both of these worries are more likely to become actualities if the vehicle – car, bike, lawn mower – is left unused for extended periods of time, in particular because of the increased likelihood of moisture accumulation within the fuel system and also because E10 (that’s what “gas” is nowadays) doesn’t have as long a shelf-life as 100 percent gas. It goes bad sooner – leaving you with problems.

Regular use is the first thing you can do to avoid the ethanol blues. Run whatever it is for at least half an hour at least once a month. This will keep fresh fuel (or at least, fresher fuel)  in the carburetor – which will mean less moisture in the carburetor. If it’s an old bike, turn the fuel tap to off just before you shut down the engine and let it run until the carbs are empty. Do the same with lawnmowers and so on that also have on-off fuel taps (and if yours doesn’t have an on-off fuel tap, consider installing one). This helps avoid problems associated with gummed-up carburetors caused by the fuel sitting in the bowls dissolving rubber seals and so on – and corrosion caused by water in the fuel.

Also try to top off the tank when you’re done. A full tank is less prone to moisture forming inside from condensation/heat cycling – and the new fuel will help freshen up the old fuel that’s still in the tank.marine

And before you top off, add some fuel stabilizer, such as Stab-Bil. Most people in the know know about the reddish-colored “normal” Sta-Bil, which has been around for years and which is sold almost everywhere, including most auto parts places. But Sta-Bil also sells a bluish-green tinted Marine Formula stabilizer (see here) designed for dealing with the “moisture laden environments” associated with ethanol-laced fuel. It is more concentrated and has double the amount of corrosion inhibitor – and four times the amount of fuel system cleaner – than “standard” (red) Sta-Bil. It is specifically formulated to prevent phase separation – water settling out and forming a layer on the bottom of the fuel tank.

For occasional-use stuff – such as classic vehicles and outdoor power equipment – this is the stuff.

If you know you’re not going to be able to run whatever it is for six months or more, it’s probably a good idea to store it dry – with no fuel in the system. Even though Sta-Bil and other fuel stabilizer claim that their products can prevent fuel from degrading (and your machine from being gunked up as a result) for as long as a year when properly dosed, draining the tank/carbs/lines is arguably one of those better-safe-than-sorry things. There’s no harm done by doing it – and you may avoid a great deal of harm by doing it. Or at least, a lot of hassle if you end up having to tear apart/rebuild a gunked-up fuel system after long-term storage. Use an aerosol fogger to protect the interior of  emptied fuel tanks (such as motorcycle/power equipment fuel tanks).

A more permanent solution is to coat/seal the tank. There are several products available, including Kreem and POR-15 both of which I’ve used myself and can personally vouch for.  These products prevent ethanol-related degradation/rusting of metal tanks by  laying down an impermeable barrier between the metal and the fuel.  Newer vehicles (and equipment) typically have fuel tanks made out of composite plastics made to withstand ethanol – and which can’t rust. But older metal tanks are very vulnerable to rusting, even if fresh (and treated) fuel is used. Sealing them will solves that potential problem effectively forever – for the life of the tank, anyhow.kreem

You may also want to think about replacing original (and so, pre-ethanol) rubber fuel lines with modern rubber lines designed to withstand ethanol-laced “gas.” Ditto the hard steel lines in, for example, older cars. Like metal fuel tanks, they are very susceptible to rusting from the inside out. Replacing them with stainless steel will eliminate that possibility.

Oh, I almost forgot about ethanol’s good points…

In the interest of fairness, these must be mentioned:

Ethanol has goosed the octane rating of fuel – which in turn has allowed the car companies to build mass-market engines with high-compression engines, which are both more powerful as well as more efficient.

I’d still rather have real gas – and fewer problems.

Throw it in the Woods?

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201 COMMENTS

  1. Eric – A good ‘shibboleth’ in your of your misunderstanding of the ethanol issue, and any discussion of what is a Libertarian, is the “funnel effect” that your message posting system uses to eliminate contiguous successive responses from persons with opposing views. It goes along with blocking links to reference sites, and with the use of sanctimonious platitudes to pretend that you ‘grok’ Libertarian ideals (God, how pretentious does one have to be to use the word grok?).Clover

    It explains how and why you don’t know what you’re talking about in the discussion of fuels, and it may explain why Libertarianism in general is as significant as Rosicrucianism.

    And, it all explains your reluctance to respond to me about a live public debate about ethanol – it would upset your little girl scouts’ coterie. This isn’t meant as an insult, it’s just a definition.

    • Marc,

      I understand the issue very well; the issue here is your refusal to concede facts – such as the fact that ethanol in high concentrations (i.e, E10 and E15) is a function of a government mandate (RFS) and thus rent-seeking.

      The fact that ethanol is less energy dense on a BTU basis than gasoline; that American oil production just achieved a record high; that America is nearly energy independent. That harmful emissions from burning gasoline are slim to almost nil. That using high ethanol concentration fuels contra manufacturer requirements will void warranties – Etc.

      All facts.

      You simply change subjects; you refuse to deal with specifics. And you try to impute to me things I clearly have not said – and then criticize me for having “said” them.

      I’ve pointed out that you have views at odds with basic Libertarian views (e.g., your advocacy of “control” and “majority” rule). To speak of such things is to concede one is not a Libertarian.

      Libertarianism – the real McCoy – is becoming more widely appreciated precisely because the real McCoy is not the “small government” conservative Republicanism you tout. People are tired of same-same ideologies, which are all premised on acceptance of authoritarian collectivism. The only difference being of degree.

      Libertarianism is radically different. It rejects the idea that groups – “majorities” – have rights, let alone rights which supersede those of the individual. It respects rules – but rejects government.

      You don’t seem to – grok – any of this. I doubt, accordingly, you’ve ever read Libertarian classics such as Spooner and Bock and Read and Mises.

      I am not, by the way, the least bit reluctant to debate you. I am doing so, right now. But I expect to get paid for my time – and to publicize you.

      How much are you offering?

      • Eric,

        What I usually ask the “majority rule makes it OK” types is at what point the magic happens. That is, when does the magic occur that transforms something that is clearly an act of violent criminality to being legitimate?

        Suppose your neighbors on either side of you declare that they are a “government”, hold a vote, and say that you must give them a portion of your earnings (that is, your property) at gunpoint. They threaten that they will forcibly cage you if you do not comply, and furthermore will kill you if you offer resistance – is that a legitimate act? What about if all of the people on your block vote that you must cough up the dough or be caged or killed? All the people in your neighborhood?

        At what point does an act of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, threatening violence and death, become “legitimate taxation”?

        • Hi Jason,

          Amen… but try and tell it to Marc, our ersatz “Libertarian”!

          Guys like him baffle me. Are they cognitively dissonant? Or disingenuous?

          It’s of a piece with “neoconservatives” who like to pretend they are “conservatives.”

          • Eric, people have been conditioned their entire lives to give government a special status that it does not deserve; a status in which mass acts of theft, violence, murder, and mayhem somehow become “legitimate” and “necessary” – only because it is government doing those things. It’s the myth of authority. This is particularly the case where the vote is used as an excuse to further legitimize these otherwise criminal acts, now there is a “Mandate From The People”.

            The true nature of the State becomes readily apparent once you get the fuzzballs out of your head and see it for what it is. Unfortunately for a lot of people that is a very difficult step to take.

            • Hi Jason,

              Although I am not personally religious, I have long believed that the decline of religious authority in the Western world has been accompanied by a corresponding rise in political authority. When science began to seriously challenge religious orthodoxy, many people started to believe that science and intelligence were incompatible with religious faith. However because it seems that most people are genetically hard wired for faith, they simply transferred that need onto the secular State.

              Richard Dawkins is fond of saying that everyone is an atheist except for one God, we just go one step further. Here he is mistaken, he, and the entire new atheist movement, has simply replaced belief in religious authority with belief in political authority. His religion, Statism, is the most dangerous ever invented by man. The most extreme statement one can make about the beliefs that underlie religious authority is that they are almost certainly false. However, the beliefs that underlie political authority are demonstrably false.

              Cheers,
              Jeremy

  2. Hi Eric –

    All land and water vehicles with spark-ignited internal combustion engines can use E15 and higher ethanol-gasoline blends. I’m not just referring to modern vehicles since 2001, I mean ALL. This is proven by the many years in which all of the vehicles available in the U.S. and Europe have also been available for sale and use in Brazil. Brazil has mandated E15 and higher since 1978.

    On top of this, all the vehicles manufactured in Great Britain and other countries in Europe before the 1970’s were had to have been compatible with ethanol-gasoline blends because ethanol-gasoline fuel was sold regularly throughout the European countries. I document this all in my article “The Hypocrisy of Big Oil,” which can be found on my website.

    Yes, owner’s manuals contain statements about using ethanol, but these statements in U.S. owners manuals are simply to limit warranty liability. The same owners manuals (printed in Portuguese) in Brazil allow for the higher blends, although they also warn against using higher blends…but this too is just to limit their liability, not because ethanol causes any problems.

    If the ethanol used in gasoline blends from the 1920’s on didn’t accelerate the “retirement” of vehicles, why would they do so now?

    You should know all of this Eric. You’re not just some guy off the street.

    You write that “there’s no market driven reason for ethanol…It’s just another…boondoggle.” This is untrue. An anti-engine knock additive is needed, it has always been needed for high compression engines. If you want to go back to tetraethyl lead, which only benefited “rent-seeking” corporations at the expense of all people (not just average people), what does that say about your knowledge of the issue. If you want to avoid using ethanol and TEL as an anti-knock additive the only alternative is increased amounts of benzene, toluene, and xylene…which are all more poisons,; and they are more corrosive that ethanol and gasoline.

    • Hi Marc,

      Can use is different than should use – or designed to use. I can use other-than-specified oil in my car’s engine. But should I?

      When nothing else – when the right oil – isn’t available, it may be the only course of action. But you know as well as I that the manufacturer specifications/recommendations are there for a reason.

      The octane-enhancing properties of ethanol aren’t the reason for the use of 10 percent ethanol – soon 15 and probably more – in commonly available gasoline. The reason for high ethanol-dosing is the RFS mandate – as I’m sure you know.

      My point – which is inarguable because it’s factual – is that the government has mandated the use of oceans of ethanol – not for octane-enhancing reasons but for “renewable” reasons.

      Which reasons are no longer relevant given we’re literally swimming in oil – which is cheaper to turn into gas than corn into ethanol, as well as being more energy dense on a BTU basis than ethanol.

      • We’re not literally swimming in oil, we still import a large amount of oil from foreign countries, and the oil that you think we’re swimming in is only affordable when the price of crude oil is very high. On top of this, fuels made from petroleum oil are poisonous.

        The government has NOT MANDATED the use of oceans of ethanol. It has mandated the use of biofuel. The biofuel mandate could be replaced with higher refined oil and increased aromatics. But the result would be higher prices and more poison emissions.

        • Hi Marc,

          Were you aware that last year, 98 percent of the world increase in oil production was domestic and that the U.S. is now the world’s leading oil producer?

          Facts.

          Not arguable.

          You write:

          “…fuels made from petroleum oil are poisonous.”

          Yes, if you drink them – or swim in them. But burned in a modern IC engine, they are remarkably not poisonous.

          Unless, of course, you consider carbon dioxide “poisonous.” Which it may be – in high concentrations. But the concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere is low by historic (geologic time) standards and isn’t a “threat” to anything. “Climate change” is a disingenuous fear-mongering term that hystericizes a very slight (appx. 1 degree) actual change in average temperatures and routine climate fluctuations into an imminent catastrophe that demands energy austerity and extreme government control over just about everything.

          • Eric – I’m well aware of claims that America is the leading producer and a net exporter, etc., etc., but these are incorrect and irrelevant items. You might try reading Robert Rapier’s editorials regarding these issues. I would post the link but your system seems to reject URL links. Try Googling “No, The U.S. Is Not A Net Exporter Of Crude Oil.” So what you think is inarguable, is quite arguable.

            Burned gasoline and aromatic emissions are poison. Breathing them are poison.

            And no, I’m, not worrying about CO2, which is not a poison (unless there’s no oxygen around. If you’d like my take on so-called man-made climate change, you can read my paper titled “Debunking the Myth of Man-Made Global Warming.” Of course, the title alone may give you enough of an idea of what my position is. Again, I would have posted the specific URL link but your system doesn’t allow it.

            • Hi Marc,

              The increase in U.S. production is a fact, not conjecture. I am not sure why you’re so adamant about ignoring specific hard numbers – such as appx. 15.3 million barrels per day produced in the U.S. – a new record high. Fact.

              The uncontrolled burning of gas produces toxic fumes – and uncontained gas leaches evap emissions. But you know perfectly well – or ought to – that neither are issues with any new car made in decades.

              “Emissions” is a bogey at this point. Most people outside the business do not grok this. You ought to.

              I am glad to know you don’t buy the “climate change” con!

  3. Government necessary? dont think so(sob,gasp,who’ll build roads and all the other things the private sector could do much better,bah humbug)If it wasnt for the creeping liberals and dogooder control freaks we probaly wouldnt need roads by now(water and the air doesnt require repaving-crazy you say?those funny looking things that people see and get pictures of in the air belong to somebody. Of course the govt knows nothing about that,petroleum got too convenient and hard to control,now they are going to try to starve us out,feeding our infernal machines-Kevin (CLOVER IS DEER FOOD)

  4. Corn ethanol mandate does more harm than good. 40% of the corn crop now goes to ethanol, according to this Tues Sept 23rd article

    If you give credence to supply and demand curves, the decrease in supply will result in higher prices for corn sold as food, and lower quantity of corn sold as food.

    Other consideration is elasticity of demand. people need food, but they are able to find substitutes to some degree. To the degree this occurs, they’ll further lower quantity of corn demanded, and lower the price paid overall

    It’s some kind of energy war dick measuring contest, where all the dicks have cancer. Muslims leave their oil in the ground, and keep advanced technology away from their oil. The US says, I’ll see your insanity, and raise you one. I’m going to burn all my excess food as oil, and we’ll see if you want to either produce more oil, or let your people starve. Meanwhile all the places with inadequate fuel and food, all start dying earlier, and starving, because of yet another cold war type of battle, this time over food and fuel.

    Around 9 million people die of hunger and hunger-related diseases every year. Nothing surprising here, many governments are always directly or indirectly murdering people.

    • Easily the best comment on this thread, Tor!

      That really puts it in perspective, doesn’t it? It’s not some abstract issue we’re pontificating….people fucking die because of stupid, malicious, evil “policy”.

      • Whenever I have some chucklehead telling me about the “necessity” of the State, I’ll ask him if the stacks of bloody corpses left strewn about by this “necessary” institution bothers him or not. A blank, uncomprehending stare is the general answer. Or if anything else, possibly a muttered, “well, nothing is perfect.” (Talk about an understatement!)

        People would not tolerate for a moment the deadly shenanigans regularly engaged in by governments from any private organization. Yet because government “builds roads” or “picks up the garbage” or provides some other service, somehow all the murder, torture, theft, and extortion engaged in on a regular basis and on a massive scale are OK. It’s mind-boggling.

        Condemn millions to starve via corrupt and ill-considered policies? All in a day’s work.

        • B-b-b-b-but JASON, what about our SAAAAAAAFETY??

          And if it weren’t for government, who’d stomp around the world pissing people off enough to want to go to war…which the government protects us from, after they’re done protecting us from terrorism?

          🙂 $lt;/sarcasm$gt;

          On a lighter note: have you guys seen the Lego movie? I know, a kids’ movie, etc.

          But it’s freaking brilliant; it’s libertarian indoctrination for kids. There are dozens of very clever, sneaky, and often open digs at government, police, the police state, propaganda, surveillance…

          A really fun movie. I’ve seen it probably a dozen times because both my kids love it. Every time I catch something new. It’s sophisticated enough to poke fun at “beltwaytarians” too–you know, the smug self-proclaimed libertine “intellectuals” who pretend to own libertarianism.

  5. Meth – “You’re rapidly drifting now from the realm of mistaken, past obtuse, to frankly disingenuous.”

    Several times people have explained in detail how Mark has no clue about the basic science involved yet he still can’t comprehend or actually defend his assertions with anything but more repeated self referential assertions. I think ‘stupid’ is valid here. Clovarian type stupid.

  6. Consumer Reports: The Great Ethanol Debate (2011)

    Ethanol looks promising to government scientists because it can be produced in large quantities, and requires fewer technological breakthroughs and less infrastructure development than is needed to support electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.

    University scientists question ethanol’s viability as a fuel source for three reasons:

    1 It’s unethical to produce fuel from a food crop, because doing so drives up food prices. Most ethanol in the United States is made from corn.

    2 Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline, and it takes a lot of energy to produce.

    3 Studies haven’t yielded consensus. But indicate a significant concern. Producing ethanol may—or may not—increase emissions of carbon-dioxide, a gas linked to global warming.

    Putting E85 to the test
    To better judge ethanol’s strengths and weaknesses, we decided to buy a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) and put E85 to the test. E85 is an ethanol mixture promoted as an alternative to gasoline.

    We put our 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe FFV through our full series of fuel-economy and acceleration tests while running on each fuel. When running on E85 there was no significant change in acceleration. Fuel economy, however, dropped across the board. In highway driving, gas mileage decreased from 21 to 15 mpg; in city driving, it dropped from 9 to 7 mpg. You could expect a similar decrease in gas mileage in any current FFV.

    We also took our Tahoe to a state-certified emissions-test facility and found a significant decrease in smog-forming oxides of nitrogen when using E85. However, ethanol emits acetaldehyde, which the EPA lists as a probable carcinogen and something that standard emissions-testing equipment is not designed to measure. “Acetaldehyde is bad,” says James Cannon, president of Energy Futures, an alternative-transportation publication, “but not nearly as bad as some of the emissions from gasoline.”

    Filling up our Tahoe with E85, was no easy task. We found it’s especially difficult to get E85 in New England, near our test track. After trying all the local channels, we ended up having to mix it ourselves.

    So how did we get to the point where the government is subsidizing a fuel that gets worse fuel economy and is difficult to buy? The ethanol story is both complex and controversial.

    What is ethanol, and how is it used?
    Ethanol is a form of alcohol (think whiskey) that is combustible and can power engines easily. In the United States, it is made in the primarily from corn, but also from a small amount of sugarcane in Louisiana. New types of biorefineries are also being built to create ethanol from non-food material such as wood chips, switch grass and even municipal waste, although these technologies are not yet yielding fuel on a large scale. Overseas, ethanol is more often produced from sugar and wood chips.

    The idea of running cars on ethanol is not new. Henry Ford designed the first Model T to run on ethanol so that farmers could produce their own fuel.

    Ethanol alcohol for cars is denatured, blended with about 1 percent gasoline to make it non-potable.

    In the Unites States, ethanol is sold primarily in two forms. As gasoline blended with ethanol in a 10/90 ethanol/gasoline mixture called E10. And as E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) for use in flex-fuel vehicles. In E85, gasoline is used to provide enough starting power for cars in cold weather.

    Ethanol advocates have been promoting intermediate blends dispensed with special “blender pumps.” Auto engineers say these intermediate blends can still be used only in FFVs, and that expanding their use will require all cars to be made flex-fuel compatible.

    Using intermediate blends in non-FFVs can cause increased emissions and catalytic converter wear, as well as premature deterioration of fuel-system components, because ethanol is corrosive.

    FFVs use special fuel tanks, lines, and pumps designed to be more corrosion resistant. Their emissions systems are also specially designed to recognize and compensate for higher blends of ethanol. Making cars E85-compatible costs automakers about $200 per car, according to estimates. Engineering a car to run on E85 costs much less than building it to operate on other alternative fuels, such as diesel. Conventional vehicles could technically be converted to run on E85, but it would be prohibitively expensive once the car leaves the factory.

    Ethanol’s lower fuel economy results from its lower energy content compared to gasoline. For example, E85 contains 75,670 British thermal units of energy per gallon instead of 115,400 for regular unleaded gasoline, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    So you have to burn more fuel to generate the same amount of energy. In addition, FFV engines are designed to run most efficiently on gasoline. Some engineers say E85 fuel economy could approach that of gasoline if manufacturers optimized engines for that fuel, however.

    Government support for ethanol
    The first effort to support ethanol usage is a 51-cent-per-gallon tax credit to “blenders,” the companies who blend ethanol into gasoline. This tax credit is intended to raise the price of ethanol for ethanol producers and corn farmers to encourage production, and to lower the price of ethanol products for consumers. It is strongly supported by farm lobbyists.

    Despite the tax credit, however, E85 costs about 70 cents a gallon more than gasoline on an energy equivalent basis on average, according to the Department of Energy.

    Second, the government provides significant fuel economy credits to automakers who build flex-fuel vehicles that can run on E85.

    The fuel economy credit was passed as part of the Alternative Motor Fuels Act of 1988 and counts toward a manufacturer’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard, which is set by NHTSA.

    Of the 13 billion gallons of ethanol expected to be produced in 2010 and 2011, less than 2 percent, or 260 million gallons, will be blended into E85. Because our tests show that E85 provides 27 percent lower fuel economy, those 260 million gallons are able to replace only a little more than 214 million gallons of gasoline—a tiny fraction of the 170 billion gallons consumed on American roads every year.

    While the credits have put millions of FFVs on the road since the late 1990s, most have been large SUVs, pickups, and sedans that get relatively poor gas mileage. In the end, these FFV credits have indirectly allowed more large, gas-guzzling vehicles to be sold. As a result, these credits have increased annual U.S. gasoline consumption by about 1 percent, or 1.2 billion gallons, according to a 2005 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a nonprofit organization that focuses on safety and the environment.

    The third government initiative to promote ethanol is a mandate Congress passed as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requiring refiners to blend up to 36 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline by 2022. This mandate, however, is bumping up against physical and economic limits.

    Increasing ethanol penetration much beyond current production will require either expanded sales and distribution of E85, or greater concentrations of ethanol in base gasoline. Automakers say this would essentially require all cars to be flex-fuel vehicles.

    Ethanol advocates’ latest gambit is to increase the percentage of ethanol blended into gas for regular cars from 10 percent to 15 percent. In March 2009, an industry trade group, Growth Energy, petitioned the EPA to allow E15 to be used in regular cars. And Underwriters Laboratories certified regular gas pumps to dispense ethanol blends up to 15 percent.

    Experts at Argonne National Laboratory say that corn production can’t be expanded enough to produce more than about 15 billion gallons of ethanol. In 2009, 21 percent of the corn crop was used to produce ethanol, according to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). So to meet the 36-billion-gallon mandate will require new sources of ethanol.

    The future of ethanol
    Most experts don’t see the future of the ethanol industry taking root in America’s cornfields. A more promising long-term solution is cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from a variety of other sources such as corn stover (leaves, stalks, and other leftover parts), rye straw, wood pulp, and possibly switchgrass (commonly used for hay).

    In Brazil, where every new car runs on at least 20-percent ethanol and many run on pure ethanol, the fuel is made from sugarcane. “If this country is going to go big into ethanol, we need to tap into cellulosic ethanol,” says UCS Research Director of Clean Vehicles David Friedman, “because it’s cleaner and requires less fossil fuels than corn to produce.”

    A 2005 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that by 2030, ethanol from corn and cellulose could replace 30 percent of U.S. oil consumption—about the same as the United States currently imports from OPEC nations.

    Called the Billion Ton Study, it assumes that 1 billion tons of organic material could be used, with no loss of corn for food or feed, from resources such as forest waste organic residue, and energy crops such as switchgrass.

    Companies have developed a number of processes for creating cellulosic ethanol. A few technology companies are working on new chemical processes that could create ethanol from waste streams such as leftover construction materials and even municipal garbage. So far these technologies have only been demonstrated on a small scale, and it will take several years before we know whether they are viable. Today about two dozen cellulosic ethanol plants are under development in the United States.

    The big ethanol picture
    David Pimentel, a Cornell University professor of ecology and agricultural sciences, who served on a government committee that studied ethanol in the 1980s, says it takes almost 30 percent more energy to grow corn and turn it into ethanol than the ethanol contains.

    Michael Wang, an Argonne National Laboratories scientist who has contributed to several government studies, estimates that ethanol produces 35 percent more energy than its production process consumes.

    Most recent studies have shown a positive energy balance for ethanol of between 23 and 40 percent.

    Another debate centers on ethanol’s greenhouse gas emissions. Proponents say that ethanol use doesn’t add to the world’s balance of greenhouse gases because it simply puts back the same carbon dioxide that the source plants absorbed while growing. Some recent studies conclude that growing more corn in the United States causes farmers in other countries to clear more land to grow crops displaced by corn here.
    And in any case, harvesting crops such as switchgrass for ethanol that wouldn’t be harvested otherwise releases extra carbon into the atmosphere.

    What should consumers do?
    Currently, there’s no financial advantage to consumers in buying an FFV. As of January 2010, E85 cost $2.38 a gallon on a nationwide average basis, compared with $2.65 a gallon for regular gasoline. Considering the fuel’s worse fuel economy, however, it would cost consumers the equivalent of $3.36 a gallon to drive on E85 rather than gasoline, according to the federal Alternative Fuels Price Report.

    Even when gas prices rise, E85 doesn’t become more financially appealing, says Craig Pirrong, director of the University of Houston’s Global Energy Management Institute. Because it serves as a substitute for gasoline, “if the price of oil goes up, you would expect the price of ethanol to go up as well,” he says.

    On the other hand, there’s no inherent downside to buying FFVs, because they can run on gasoline and don’t carry the hefty price premiums of a hybrid. Your choice, however, is limited mostly to large SUVs, pickups, and sedans that get relatively poor gas mileage.

    So far only about 3,000 gas stations (out of 176,000 nationwide) sell E85 to the public. Finding an E85 pump near you can be a challenge. Most of these stations are in the upper Midwest, relatively close to where corn is grown and most ethanol is produced.

    Even using the most optimistic estimates, ethanol on its own will never be able to provide Americans with energy independence. Alternative energy experts say it will take a host of alternatives to meet the United States’ energy needs beyond oil. Ethanol proponents say that it should still be developed as a long-term hedge against oil shortages, because petroleum is a finite resource that has its own environmental problems. Ethanol, as one of an arsenal of oil alternatives, seems to have fewer problems than some other options.

    Test results: E85 vs. gasoline
    This chart shows how our 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe performed while running on E85 and gasoline in three fuel-economy tests and overall, in four acceleration tests, and in three emissions tests for gasoline vehicles.

    E85 GASOLINE, GASOLINE COMPARISON
    Mpg City 7, 9
    Mpg Highway 15, 21
    Mpg 150-mile trip 13, 18
    Mpg Overall 10, 14
    Emissions, parts per million: Nitrogen oxide 1, 9

    The great E85 fuel hunt
    The scarcity of E85 fuel in the Northeast made testing our Chevrolet Tahoe more of a challenge than we had first anticipated. We quickly found there are no commercial stations in Connecticut, where our auto-test center is located, where we could fill up with E85. The only E85 pumps we could locate were owned by the state of Connecticut, and the fuel wasn’t for sale. After a call to a representative of the state’s alternative-fuels program, we found that the state buys its ethanol from a supplier in Alabama. So we contacted the supplier and arranged to have 220 gallons of ethanol shipped to us from South Carolina by truck in four 55-gallon drums.

    But that got us only the pure denatured ethanol. To use it in the Tahoe, we had to blend it with gasoline in an 85/15 percent ratio to create E85. For that, we again turned to the state and arranged to have a fuel expert come to our track and help us blend the fuel by hand.

    The whole process took the better part of a month to complete and vividly illustrated why advertising flex-fuel vehicles in most of the country is currently an empty promise.

    • 1 It’s unethical to produce fuel from a food crop, because doing so drives up food prices. Most ethanol in the United States is made from corn.

      2 Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline, and it takes a lot of energy to produce.

      3 Studies haven’t yielded consensus. But indicate a significant concern. Producing ethanol may—or may not—increase emissions of carbon-dioxide, a gas linked to global warming.

      Putting E85 to the test
      To better judge ethanol’s strengths and weaknesses, we decided to buy a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) and put E85 to the test. E85 is an ethanol mixture promoted as an alternative to gasoline.

      We put our 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe FFV through our full series of fuel-economy and acceleration tests while running on each fuel. When running on E85 there was no significant change in acceleration. Fuel economy, however, dropped across the board. In highway driving, gas mileage decreased from 21 to 15 mpg; in city driving, it dropped from 9 to 7 mpg. You could expect a similar decrease in gas mileage in any current FFV.

      You start off slow with your three points then add in a big narrative that has no meaning.

      1. Not only is it not unethical to produce fuel from food, it’s irrelevant since most corn grown for ethanol production is grown specifically to be used for ethanol production.

      2. It takes lots of energy to produce gasoline, more energy than it takes to produce ethanol. So your point is irrelevant.

      3. I’ll be happy to debate the reality and presumed causes of man-made global warming elsewhere.

      Regarding the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe FFV narrative: Flex fuel vehicle engines are still optimized to run on gasoline, not ethanol. They merely have some minor parts substitutions and the internal computer is programmed to recognize the use of a fuel other than E10 gasoline. Therefore it is natural that it would produce greater MPG with E10 than with E85. General Motors marketed the vehicles under the assumption that should emergency situations occur and gasoline supplies severely diminished that FFV owners would be able to easily use E85. In addition, the entire branding and labeling was primarily a way to make it look like GM was taking the lead in adhering to Congressional pressures.

      • Hi Mark,

        In re “fuel from food”:

        The corn may be grown specifically for ethanol production but the fact remains that the land/resources (and energy) used to grow it is land/resources and energy that could have gone to food production. Hence, not irrelevant.

        I disagree with you that it costs more to make (refine) gasoline than ethanol. In this country, at least, that is simply untrue. Because gasoline is used in the process. You might have an argument if we were talking about ethanol made from cane sugar, as in Brazil. But that is neither here nor there as regards the situation in the US.

        The fact remains the ethanol program is a classic example of rent seeking, of big corporations using their political pull to get laws passed that benefit them. There would be no market for ethanol absent the force-feeding of ethanol into the market by the government, at the behest of the agribusiness cartel.

        On E85:

        PM Lawrence made an excellent point that the gains attributable to higher CR (and cooling effect) from alcohol fuels merely compensate for the reduced energy per volume of the fuel.

        The fact remains that a gallon of gas will take you farther than a gallon of E10 (or E85).

        Now, certainly, if the E10 or E8 were cheaper than gas such that the increased quantity (volume) used was obviated by the lower cost per gallon then – hey – sounds good.

        Well, for engines made to burn the stuff.

        But there are still millions of vehicles out there not designed to burn the stuff.

        And that was the thrust of my article.

        • There is no shortage of food in America, therefore using land to grow corn for fuel does not deprive anyone from food. Farmers grow as much corn for ethanol as they do because they have sales orders for the corn. If they didn’t have these orders they would not grow the corn. This is how business works.Clover

          It doesn’t matter if YOU agree that ethanol is energy positive and that gasoline is energy negative, it happens to be true.

          If you think there would be no market for ethanol if it wasn’t “force feed” then you don’t know about internal combustion engines and the need to mitigate engine knock. And if you don’t know about these things then you shouldn’t be an “automotive journalist.”

          • Marc,

            Ethanol – like EVs – is a rent-seeking, legislated boondoggle. Take away the mandates and both disappear tomorrow.

            I’m well aware of the octane-enhancing properties of ethanol. There are other ways to enhance octane; if you don’t know that, you have no business commenting about these things.

            • Eric –

              You write that “there’s no market driven reason for ethanol…It’s just another…boondoggle.” This is untrue. An anti-engine knock additive is needed, it has always been needed for high compression engines. If you want to go back to tetraethyl lead, which only benefited “rent-seeking” corporations at the expense of all people (not just average people), what does that say about your knowledge of the issue. If you want to avoid using ethanol and TEL as an anti-knock additive the only alternative is increased amounts of benzene, toluene, and xylene…which are all more poisons,; and they are more corrosive that ethanol and gasoline.

              If the biofuel mandate was removed, and oil companies were again left to making the decision, we’d be faced with the poisons. You say there are other ways to enhance octane; like what? What do you think would be a better octane enhancer that isn’t poison?

              • Hi Marc,

                Ethanol is poisonous also. Every fuel/additive has its issues. But the octane enhancing qualities of ethanol are not the issue as regards E10 and E15. The high percentage of ethanol in “gas” is almost entirely due to the RFS mandate, which amounts to the same thing as the “zero emissions” mandate in that it creates artificial demand – for regulatory compliance reasons – for something that would otherwise be in very little, if any demand.

                That’s fundamentally my bone to pick – not with ethanol (or electric cars) per se. But with the government pushing these things on us.

                • Hi Eric –
                  Ethanol is not poisonous. Denatured ethanol is poisonous because of the gasoline added to the ethanol so that people don’t drink it.

                  The percentage of ethanol in gasoline is because there is no safe, cost efficient alternative that also reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

                  Your complaint about the government “pushing” something over another is disingenuous. First, because they pushed gasoline and tetraethyl lead on us (by way of exorbitant taxes on alcohol production, and then Prohibition). Second, The government pushes all kinds of things on us, including digital TV, control of broadcast frequencies, drinking age, income tax, land claims and ownership, speed limits, traffic lights, etc., etc. I understand that you say you’re a Libertarian, as I am, but even the staunchest Libertarians acknowledge that there has to be some government controls.

                  • Marc,

                    Drink some ethanol and we’ll see!

                    You write:

                    “The percentage of ethanol in gasoline is because there is no safe, cost efficient alternative that also reduces our dependence on foreign oil.”

                    You need to update your understanding of the current state of American oil production; as I just mentioned in a previous post, America is now the world’s largest producer of oil. Fact. It is on the verge of becoming a net exporter. Fact.

                    There is no need for ethanol – not at E10-plus levels.

                    The fact that government pushes other things doesn’t make pushing this thing all right!

                    Morally speaking, the government has no business pushing anything.

                    • I had some ethanol last night for dinner, it was a fabulous zinfandel from Rombauer Vineyards. I’m about to have an afternoon glass of ethanol now, it’s a Margarita made with some Jose Cuervo ethanol (tequila), and Fireball cinnamon-flavored ethanol.

                      You need to update your knowledge of our oil status. Read Robert Rapier and others, and take into account that the new oil is only workable with a very high crude barrel price. And none of this makes petroleum fuels less poisonous.

                    • Marc,

                      Your position amounts to: The government (and major corporations, which must file legally binding quarterly reports) are committing fraud; are misstating facts. Do you believe this?

                      Gas is incredibly cheap in real terms – because supply has increased. “Peak Oil” has been thoroughly discredited – which is why “climate change” is now the new shibboleth.

                      You keep harping on “poisonous.” How, exactly? Gasoline burned in any car manufactured during the past several decades results in negligible output of compounds that are poisonous. The threat is grossly exaggerated – of a piece with “climate change.”

                      Why? Because if it were admitted that cars are no longer a problem in terms of their emissions, the justification for a huge/expensive regulatory apparat – and mandates – goes away.

                  • Marc,

                    “…even the staunchest Libertarians acknowledge that there has to be some government controls.”

                    I don’t acknowledge it!

                    You clearly have no understanding of Libertarian moral philosophy. You are advocating a “limited government” (i.e., “conservative”) point of view.

                    I am not stating this to insult you. I am stating it as a fact.

                    Your statement establishes that you are not a Libertarian – as Libertarians do not “acknowledge” some or even any government controls.

                    Libertarians advocate “controlling” no one.

                    We believe in unqualified property rights, peaceful/voluntary/free association and that violence in any form (including coercion/duress) is morally loathsome unless acting in self-defense against violence.

                    • I’d suggest that my Libertarian credentials are equal to or better than yours. If your system allowed it, I would have included some links to my appearances on local Libertarian TV shows. All Libertarians acknowledge that there are appropriate government controls. Only an insane person wouldn’t.

                    • Marc,

                      “Credentials” aren’t at issue. If you believe in government “controls,” then by definition you aren’t a Libertarian. You are a minarchist; a small-government “conservative.” It’s not an insult – it’s a definition.

                      You write:

                      “All Libertarians acknowledge that there are appropriate government controls.”

                      Ludicrous – and patently false. Spooner, Bock, Rockwell, et al are proof of my point.

                    • Eric – Your comment that governments don’t have rights is a meaningless platitude. It’s a stupid Libertarian comment…yes, Libertarians can make stupid comments, it’s one of the reasons why the party and the philosophy doesn’t get more traction. In fact, I’d say that Scientologists have more things going for them than the Libertarians, and I happen to think that Scientologists are third-rate misguided Trekies. Sorry that not fair to Star Trek people, Scientologists are more like 4th or 5th rate Trekies.

                    • Marc,

                      How does a rhetorical device – a figure of speech, a non-living linguistic construct – possess rights? “Government” is just a euphemism for the people who compose the small cohort who control the mechanisms by which everyone else is controlled. Which does so without consent and which applies violence to suborn compliance.

                      Only human individuals have rights. To speak of “corporate” (collective) rights is a dangerous platitude.

                      You continue to demonstrate that you have no real understanding of Libertarian political philosophy.

                      Libertarian ideas are getting real traction. It’s “small government” conservatism that’s losing ground – because people are beginning to realize it is just another variant of authoritarian collectivism and as such not fundamentally different from leftist authoritarian collectivism.

                      The only difference is the focus of the authoritarian collectivism.

                      Libertarians oppose authoritarian collectivism is principle; not that variant (in favor of this one).

                    • Good morning Eric,

                      Thanks, While I acknowledge that there is debate in the larger libertarian community re anarchy and minarchy, Marc seems entirely unaware that such a debate exists.

                      Cheers,
                      Jeremy

                    • Hi Jeremy,

                      Agreed. But when a guy starts babbling about “majority rule” and the “rights of government,” he cannot claim to be a Libertarian. Well, I suppose he can claim to be. But it’s a risible claim, of a piece with Bruce claiming he’s a woman!

                      His position explicitly subordinates the individual to the force majeure of “majorities” – a position that is fundamentally anathema to basic Libertarian moral philosophy.

                  • Hi Marc,

                    “…but even the staunchest Libertarians acknowledge that there has to be some government controls”.

                    Well, except Murray Rothbard, Hans Hoppe, Lysander Spooner, Water Block, Robert Murphy, Wendy McCelroy, Sheldon Richman, Gary Chartier, Lew Rockwell, William Grigg, Scott Horton, and many more.

                    Cheers,
                    Jeremy

                    • Jeremy, if you’re trying to make an unrealistic political argument, then I accept your argument. However, with each of the people you cited, they have all willingly agreed to and acknowledged the need for some governmental controls. If it is something as simple as stopping at a traffic light, or not taking something that doesn’t belong to them (that they coveted), then they have willingly agreed to and acknowledged the the right to government controls. Now, if they didn’t, and they are all now serving time in a jail, let me know. But even then, if they really believed that there is no right to government controls, then they should all be dead from trying to break out of jail.

                    • Marc,

                      You write:

                      “… if they really believed that there is no right to government controls.”

                      Government – a rhetorical device for the mechanism of organized control – doesn’t have rights. Only human individuals have rights. Libertarians know this. The fact that you don’t proves you don’t understand Libertarianism – or rather, confuse it with small-government conservatism.

                      It’s okay to be a small-government conservative – and it’s ok to accuse Libertarians of being pie-in-the-sky. But it is simply wrong to state that Libertarians believe government has rights – and that Libertarians believe “controlling” people is legitimate.

                      If they did believe in those things, then there would be no meaningful distinction between Libertarians and conservatives!

                      But there is a difference – and it’s a critical one.

                      Many people – people like yourself – are uneasy about the absence of “some” controls. And that’s fine, too. But – again – it defines you as something other than a Libertarian.

                      A turtle doesn’t have feathers – and Libertarians don’t believe in controlling anyone, only in the moral right to defend oneself against violent encroachment/harm.

                  • Hi Marc,

                    “Jeremy, if you’re trying to make an unrealistic political argument, then I accept your argument”.

                    You mean like positing that an institution that exercises a monopoly on judging its’ own actions relative to the law, is limited and constrained by that law?

                    “However, with each of the people you cited, they have all willingly agreed to and acknowledged the need for some governmental controls”.

                    Uh, no, none of them have. They are all “staunch” libertarians that do not believe that political authority is legitimate.

                    “it is something as simple as stopping at a traffic light, or not taking something that doesn’t belong to them (that they coveted), then they have willingly agreed to and acknowledged the the right to government controls”.

                    Again, no. Acting in one’s self interest and choosing not to be a thief have nothing to do with “acknowledging the right to government controls”. That you think they do, is insane.

                    “Now, if they didn’t, and they are all now serving time in a jail, let me know. But even then, if they really believed that there is no right to government controls, then they should all be dead from trying to break out of jail”.

                    Wow, do you really not understand that there is a difference between the exercise of power and a right to exercise that power? The fact that government exercises power and that most people choose to avoid being victims of that power does not mean that government has a “right” to exercise it.

                    If a woman chooses to submit to rape rather than be killed, she has not acknowledged any right of the rapist. Likewise, if a businessman chooses to pay protection money to the mafia rather than lose their business, they have not acknowledged any right of the extortionist.

                    Jeremy

                    • Jeremy, you’re playing with sanctimonious platitudes. “Oh we’re against blah, and blah, and blah; but we don’t do anything about it because we might get a booboo.

                      No one has given a rapist the right to rape; no one has given the Mafia the right to extort money. The people in a majority (time and again) have given their government the right to enact and enforce laws.

                      But the joke about the Libertarian position that you and Eric want to stand behind is that everything you complain about regarding ethanol can be and should be laid on the oil industry. To say now that you can’t go back and change what happened then is a cowardly cop-out. It can be changed, but spreading more lies about ethanol won’t help.

                    • Marc,

                      “The people in a majority (time and again) have given their government the right to enact and enforce laws.”

                      No Libertarian would ever make a statement such as this.

                      Who, exactly, are these “people”? This is term used to imply general – universal – consent. And that is risible, both morally and practically (e.g., minorities elect the president).

                      But what you mean by “people” is – as you go on to say – the “majority.”

                      Libertarians do not speak of “majorities” – only individuals. You speak of “their” government; in other words, the government endorsed by this “majority” – in other words, three wolves and a sheep deciding on what’s for supper.

                      This is the principle of democracy – majority rule. It is not a Libertarian principle.

                      There is no “right to enact and enforce laws.” There are only the equal rights of each individual to be left alone – in peace – so long as he himself is peaceful and has not caused harm to others. Not might cause. Actually did. And to a real other person – not a generic “someone” or “the public.”

                      Your statement that “No one has given a rapist the right to rape; no one has given the Mafia the right to extort money ” is simply… bizarre.

                      No Libertarian of any weight has ever said such a thing. You’ve erected an absurd straw man argument.

                      To learn what it means to be a Libertarian, read Spooner – or even Mencken.

                    • Thanks, Jeremy!

                      Marc clearly has no real understanding of Libertarianism – or rather, wants to redefine it. But his definition is indistinguishable from small government conservatism – which posits the principle of “control” he espouses, but only for “some” things… the things Marc, et al, believe are in need of controlling. His is the “Libertarianism” of Gary Johnson. Gary’s not a cretin, but he is still essentially in favor of authoritarian collectivism – just less of it it!

                      The crazy thing is, when this is pointed out to him – as it has been, several times – he continues to claim he is a Libertarian! Just because he says so. It’s really no different than Bruce claiming he’s a woman – just because he says so.

                      I can’t deal with people who won’t concede facts, who aren’t able to grok logic.

                  • Hi Marc,

                    Your reasoning is circular because it based on the presupposition that government is uniquely entitled to use force to control others. The question is, where does this unique right come from?

                    Can it derive from Democracy? I don’t see how. Ask yourself this simple question, “by what right does one man rule over another?” If your answer is democracy, you are claiming that two men, simply by being a majority, have the right to rule over one. That is absurd. Again, your argument is circular.

                    Can it be the delegation of just authority?, Nope, this one doesn’t work either. One cannot delegate an authority that one does not possess. The vast majority of what government does is considered morally unacceptable if done by an individual. It should be obvious that no group of people, acting together, has the right to do anything that they do not have a right to do as individuals.

                    How about consent of the governed? Nope, one cannot grant consent on behalf of another. Nor can consent be meaningfully granted if it cannot be withheld. Again, all of these supposed justifications for political authority presuppose the legitimacy of political authority.

                    Your other stuff about cowardly cop outs, not doing anything, etc… are irrelevant. First, you have no idea what I do, second I have no moral obligation to sacrifice myself in direct confrontation with the government. Your assertion otherwise, is absurd.

                    Jeremy

                    • You don’t see how because you play a game in which you think you know better than someone else what being Libertarian means. You want the pot of gold, but you don’t want to work to get it. You’re not a Libertarian as much as you are a contrarian socialist.Clover

                    • Marc,

                      It’s not “what I know.” It’s what words – what concepts – mean.

                      To accuse Jeremy – or myself – of being “contrarian socialists” is both illiterate and absurd.

                  • Hi Marc,

                    “You don’t see how because you play a game in which you think you know better than someone else what being Libertarian means”.

                    I have written nothing in this thread which supports this claim.

                    You made a specific claim, that even the staunchest libertarians accept that there needs to be some government control. This statement is false, as I demonstrated by listing a number of anarcho-capitalist libertarians. You responded by asserting that because they are not in jail that they have all “willingly agreed to and acknowledged the need for some governmental controls”. This assertion is bizarre.

                    You have not addressed any of my points with an argument, just unfounded assertions about my bravery, my real thoughts, etc… Notice, I have not done the same to you.

                    So, how about trying to address my actual points?

                    First, you claimed that I was making an unrealistic political argument. Perhaps so, but you offered no argument as to why. I responded by implying that believing that an institution that has a monopoly on judging its’ own actions relative to the law, can also be constrained by the law, is unrealistic. You failed to respond.

                    I asked from what is political authority derived? You asserted that a “a majority of people” can grant it rights. I challenged this assertion, you failed to respond. I argues that the common justifications for the legitimacy of political authority all presuppose that same authority, you failed to respond.

                    Finally, calling me a “contrarian socialist” is not an argument.

                    Cheers,
                    Jeremy

              • MTBE is far more effective as an octane enhancer, AND cleans engines.

                Stop. You’re embarrassing yourself shilling for the ethanol Big Agra boondoggle.

                • Browning,
                  “MTBE is far more effective as an octane enhancer, AND cleans engines.”
                  Oh no, that stuff was the reason for so many carbeques when it came out. It would dry out fuel hoses so bad that they would leak at the clamped connections. Actually had a news reporter come out the shop and ask us what we thought was the issue with all the car fires.

          • Marc,

            I never claimed there is a food shortage in America. I stated that food prices have gone up markedly and that devoting some 40 percent of the corn crop to ethanol production probably accounts for some of this.

            There is no question that by making fuel less efficient (energy dense) and more expensive the cost of pretty much everything – other than “apps” – has gone up.

            • Eric –

              Food prices NEVER increased because of ethanol production. In 2008-8, The World Bank issued a report in which they claimed that ethanol caused food prices to increase. Two years later they retracted that statement, apologized, and then explained the real cause of food price increases: the dramatic increase in the price of crude oil. Since 2010’s retraction, The World Bank and restated this at least twice in later reports. You are holding on to something you read a dozen years ago, that was wrong. It was wrong then, it is wrong now.

              • Sir,

                If ethanol is competing for a LIMITED resource, i.e. corn; if there’s only so much corn to go around for food and ethanol use; if more is being used for ethanol, how could NOT drive up the price of corn, per the laws of supply and demand?

                • To really understand and comment on the overall issue, you should understand business. American farmers are like manufacturers of any product. They grow as much corn as they do because there are sales orders for it. The use of ethanol fuel has given American farmers an additional marketplace for their crops. If these sales orders didn’t exist, they would grow a different crop or go out of business (just as if they were jeans manufacturers or toy manufacturers). Almost every year since the RFS began, there has been a surplus of corn, so there isn’t a situation where “there’s only so much corn to go around.” There is no shortage of corn chips, corn flakes, corn on the cob, popcorn, canned corn, corn oil, etc. In fact, there is more corn for human food today than before the RFS.

                  By the way, our farmers are growing more corn today (for all purposes) and using less land to do it.

                  • Hi Marc,

                    And you should understand rent-seeking. They grow corn for ethanol because there is a government mandate forcing its use. Take that mandate away – and the “business” goes away.

                    • First, there is no mandate to use corn or ethanol from corn. It just happen that this is the best, least expensive, and safest additive to use. But, so what? Would you rather the oil companies supply more benzene and toluene and xylene, or return to tetraethyl lead? It’s real simple.

                    • Hi Marc,

                      That’s very disingenuous.

                      There is no electric car mandate, either. Not technically. But there is a “zero emissions” mandate that only EVs (as a practical matter) comply with.

                      Similarly, the RFS doesn’t specific ethanol (or soy) but it’s a de facto mandate for them regardless.

                      We can discuss the pros and cons of ethanol – and EVs – but the facts regarding the government mandates are inarguable.

                    • Hi Marc,

                      You didn’t respond to my earlier point regarding the government-nudged “need” for high octane fuel – as the baseline fuel. The government imposes mandatory minimum MPG mandates (CAFE). One way to meet these is to increase CR, which the industry has done almost across the board. Today, even commuter/family cars routinely have engines with CRs of 10.0:1 or more – ratios formerly found only in high-performance engines.

                      DI and small-displacement/heavily turbocharged engines in bread-and-butter cars are also creatures of CAFE.

                      Put another way, government created an artificial incentive for high CR/DI/turbos – necessitating high octane gas.

                      If – as was once typical – only a small niche of high-performance vehicles needed high-octane fuel, the need for lots of ethanol to raise octane generally disappears.

                    • Eric, your response mechanism is not allowing me to respond to the current threads.

                      Even modern engines require knock mitigation. Modern high compression engines do some knock management but it reduces power. Therefore an additive is required. Ethanol is the safest, least expensive, and cleanest additive…plus it is all domestically produced.

                  • Still, as Eric pointed out above, land and resources used for ethanol production cannot be used for food production. There’s this thing called opportunity cost; maybe you’ve heard of it…

                    • Eric has pointed out a lot of things that are incorrect, this is just one of them. All the corn used to make ethanol can be used as animal feed. These animals are then slaughtered for human food. So it’s not a case of fuel or food, it’s a case of more food and fuel.

                      In any event, if we still have plenty of land that used for other crops, and plenty of land that sits idle, then it’s irrelevant how much land is used. What other resources are you talking about?

                    • Hi Marc,

                      Regulatory compliance costs are a drain on the productive economy. They are wealth transfer regimes; nothing more.

                      My standard query regarding ethanol and EVs is: If they’re such great ideas, if there is natural demand for them, why must they be mandated and subsidized?

                      I never get a straight answer. I get diversions and non sequiturs.

                    • Eric – I’m again replying out of context because your system is not allowing me to respond directly.

                      To your issue of “reulatory compliance costs…,” you’re too late. It you don’t like this about the government there are lots of better thing to worry about, such as how much cream must be in ice cream, regulations against people under 21 buying liquor and cigarettes, having consensual sex with a 17-year old, jay walking, and so much more.

                    • Hi Marc,

                      It’s never too late to object to things which are morally wrong. That we are surrounded by such moral wrongs in no way obviates that they are wrongs. I’m not a go-along/get-along kind of guy! I refuse to take the cynical approach – as almost everyone else in the business has – and embrace boondoggles/try to put lipstick on pigs.

                      It’s just not my style.

                      The RFS mandate is rent-seeking/crony capitalism. That’s the bottom line. Same with EVs. Same with so many other things.

      • 1. Not only is it not unethical to produce fuel from food, it’s irrelevant since most corn grown for ethanol production is grown specifically to be used for ethanol production.

        2. It takes lots of energy to produce gasoline, more energy than it takes to produce ethanol. So your point is irrelevant….

        You’re rapidly drifting now from the realm of mistaken, past obtuse, to frankly disingenuous.

        Do you not understand that food and agricultural land are finite resources, and that diverting them to make fuel instead of edibles reduces the output of edibles, thereby increasing their price?

        Please explain how producing gasoline takes more energy per unit of fuel energy yielded than ethanol–because that’s a fantastic statement.

        You do see the inputs to ethanol, I hope: Land. Water. Fertilizer–lots of it, produced with natural gas. Diesel–to plow, sow, reap, transport. Then producing the mash, heating it–more natural gas. Distilling the alcohol–MORE natural gas. Then MORE diesel to transport the ethanol.

        Many studies show roughly a one-to-one input of petroleum fuels to ethanol output; meaning it costs 1.3 gallons of petroleum to produce 1 gallon-btu-equivalent of ethanol.

        Depending on where it’s produced, petroleum yields between 2 and 10 times input as output. If it didn’t, we couldn’t use it–it would use more energy to produce it than it yields, like ethanol.

        • In addition, the higher price for corn caused by the demand for ethanol is contributing to land that would otherwise not be suitable for corn production (e.g., Nebraska sand hills) to be plowed and brought under irrigation. This in turn is drawing down the Oglala Aquifer, requiring deeper wells to be drilled for homesteads.

      • An engine can be modified to operate well on ethanol. Due its anti-knock properties timing can be advanced, compression increased, etc. There are ways to achieve the same with gasoline. In either case this energy out/energy in. The energy per unit volume of the fuel does not change therefore MPG, miles per unit volume of fuel, will only increase if the engine efficiency increase over using another fuel is great enough to overcome the lower energy density. This is unlikely in an ethanol gasoline comparison.

        The measure would simply be miles per unit of currency at any given time. (since currency value is not static) But alas we don’t have a free market so even this value is hopelessly twisted and unreliable.

        The only way to judge ethanol, corn based ethanol, properly is to have a free market in fuels. Something neither the gasoline or ethanol makers want.

  7. The energy density of ethanol is not even close to gas. Best bet is to modify engine to burn uranium.
    Here’s how much energy you get per kg:

    Storage material Specific energy (MJ/kg)
    Uranium 80,620,000
    Thorium 79,420,000
    Hydrogen (compressed) at 70 MPa) 142
    Diesel / Fuel oil Chemical 48
    LPG (including Propane / Butane) 46.4
    Jet fuel 46
    Gasoline (petrol) 44.4
    Fat (animal/vegetable) 37
    Ethanol fuel (E100) 26.4
    Coal 24
    Methanol fuel 19.7
    Carbohydrates (including sugars) 17
    Protein 16.8
    Wood 16.2
    TNT 4.6
    Gunpowder 3
    Lithium battery (non-rechargeable) 1.8

  8. Marc Rauch “1. Energy content in a gallon of gasoline vs. a gallon of ethanol is completely and totally irrelevant.”

    Marc Rauch “2. The comment about ethanol being negative fuel efficient is predicated upon a study conducted by David Pimentel at Cornell with preposterous information.”

    How was it ‘preposterous information’? I am sure it is obvious to you but how about specifics for the rest of us?

    Marc Rauch “3. If there was such a free market, gasoline would never, ever be able to compete with ethanol in price or performance. Every study done to show the true cost of gasoline is somewhere between $10 and $15 per gallon.”

    ‘Every study’? Citations please. BTW just one ‘study’ that shows otherwise would invalidate your claim. Your ‘absolute’ statements betray arrogance of the highest degree.

    Marc Rauch “4. Even with the gasoline-industry affected price of E85, E85 is typically more cost effective. A gasoline-powered car using E85 mat get 5-10% less MPG, but the cost savings per gallon is usually 15-30% less per gallon. Therefore there is a net savings.”

    Hmmm, so now you are agreeing E85 blend gets less MPG? Where are theses stations tat sell E85 at a 15-30% discount compared to pure gas? I have yet to see one.

    • I’ve been using a 50/50 mix of E85 and E10 (regular gas) for almost three years now in my mid-80’s Volvo 240s. I get 28+ mpg with my manual transmission, 22+ in the automatic, no detectable difference in mpg or performance, or maintenance costs. This is with no modifications to the engine at all. I pass our California dynomometer smog testing with flying colors.

      My local station, at last fill-up, sold gas at $3.49, E85 at $3.09, a 40 cent or 11% discount. When gas was approaching $5 last year, E85 was under $4.20, a 16% difference.

      David Pimentel’s work on EROEI (energy return on energy invested) is deconstructed by David Blume here http://www.alcoholcanbeagas.com/node/490

      There are certainly criticisms to be leveled at the industrial agribusiness model of ethanol production, but let’s not throw out the baby. Ethanol should be integrated into our transportation fuels mix going into and beyond the 21st century. It’s our financial systems that need deconstruction.

      • Hi John,

        Well, you’re brave!

        The automakers all uniformly warn most stridently that using E85 in a car not made to use it will cause damage and will void any warranty coverage.

        As far as mileage: I test drive new cars every week. All makes, all models. Those not optimized to use ethanol (non-“flex fuel”) return, on average, 2-3 MPG less when using E10 than when I fill them with 100 percent regular unleaded (available in my area). A gallon of E10 has less energy content than a gallon of pure gas. For that reason, it takes a greater volume of E10 to drive a given distance. As far as E85: Even EPA has publicly conceded a significant reduction in mileage/range, relative to a car using the same quantity of gasoline. Granted, this would be largely irrelevant if burning a larger volume of ethanol (to make up for it having less energy) could be done at lower cost relative to an energy-equivalent quantity of gasoline. But ethanol is a net-loser, in terms of what it costs to make the stuff vs. what you get out of it.

        I work on old stuff – cars and bikes (plus lots of power equipment) and I can attest, from personal experience, that using ethanol-alcohol fuel in these older vehicles accelerates rusting of metal tanks and fuel lines and also attacks rubber parts (diaphragms, gaskets, floats, etc.) not made to handle the more corrosive (and hygroscopic) ethanol-laced “gas.”

        So, I see no upside – unless you’re an agribusiness cartel receiving government-enforced revenue from the forced “sale” of your product.

        • Prolonged use can cause damage. I know this from experience. I pulled a fuel pump and removed E85 from a car many years ago. That car still runs fine today.

          Climate has a big role as well, because the moisture has to come from somewhere.

          Meanwhile big oil is creating plants to make gasoline and diesel from natural gas. Why? Because natural gas has become so cheap by comparison they can make perfect fuels that can then in turn be used to blend with.

    • Eric –

      BTU measurement is used to explain and calculate how much energy is required to heat water. If we were discussing a steam powered engine, heating water is a significant issue. But internal combustion engines are not dependent on heating water.

      Using ethanol in a typical gasoline-powered engine will produce fewer miles than gasoline because the engine is optimized to run on gasoline, not because there is a difference in BTUs. Using ethanol in a similar engine that is optimized to run on ethanol will deliver at least the same mileage along with greater horse power. This principle has been known and understood for more than a century. For example:

      In 1906, during the hearings before Congress on the FREE ALCOHOL BILL, the legislation that would finally remove the $2+ per gallon tax on alcohol production, this issue was testified to several times by different witnesses.

      Also in 1906, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted experiments with ethanol and gasoline and concluded that the power from ethanol is materially higher than gasoline.

      In 1907 and 1908, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Geological Service jointly conducted 2,000 tests on ethanol and gasoline and concluded: “While gasoline carries about one-third more energy than an equal amount of alcohol, the higher engine compression ratios allowed by the latter made the two fuels highly comparable.”

      In 1906, the Edison Electric Testing Laboratory and Columbia University began testing ethanol. Elihu Thomson, who worked with Thomas Edision and was a co-founder of General Electric, reported that despite a smaller heat or B.T.U. value, “a gallon of alcohol will develop substantially the same power in an internal combustion engine as a gallon of gasoline. This is owing to the superior efficiency of operation.” Thompson became acting president of MIT in the early 1920’s.

      Another way to demonstrate engine optimization and why BTU rating is irrelevant is to compare gasoline with diesel fuel. Diesel, which is also produced from petroleum oil, is rated at about 129,000 BTUs (higher than gasoline’s 116,000 BTUs). Using Bryce’s “basic physics” logic it would stand to reason that diesel if used in a gasoline optimized engine, should produce about 10% more miles per gallon. However, if you fill your gasoline vehicle’s tank with diesel you get less miles per gallon, much less miles per gallon…like none – the engine won’t run. Conversely, if you fill a diesel-powered vehicle with gasoline, you don’t just get 10% fewer miles, you’ll probably get zero miles, assuming the vehicle even starts. So regardless of BTU rating, the key is engine optimization.

      Regarding the Pimentel/Patzek studies:
      Alright, you have my take on what Pimentell and Patzek did. Consider some examples of studies that studied the Pimentell-Patzek studies. The first of which comes from Tad Patzek’s own school, UC Berkeley. It was a study completed in 2006 after the Pimentell-Patzek studies and it was conducted by UC Berkley’s Energy and Resources Group. Here’s some highlights of the results

      Ethanol can replace gasoline with significant energy savings, comparable impact on greenhouse gases

      “The analysis, appearing in this week’s issue of Science, attempts to settle the ongoing debate over whether ethanol is a good substitute for gasoline and thus can help lessen the country’s reliance on foreign oil and support farmers in the bargain.”

      “Dan Kammen and Alex Farrell of the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, with their students Rich Plevin, Brian Turner and Andy Jones along with Michael O’Hare, a professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy, deconstructed six separate high-profile studies of ethanol. They assessed the studies’ assumptions and then reanalyzed each after correcting errors, inconsistencies and outdated information regarding the amount of energy used to grow corn and make ethanol, and the energy output in the form of fuel and corn byproducts.”

      “Kammen estimates that ethanol could replace 20 to 30 percent of fuel usage in this country with little effort in just a few years. In the long term, the United States may be able to match Sweden, which recently committed to an oil-free future based on ethanol from forests and solar energy. Kammen last year published a paper, also in Science, arguing that even Africa could exploit its biomass to build a biofuel industry that could meet energy needs for the poor and develop a sustainable local fuel supply, a future much better than using fossil fuels.”

      “The goal of the UC Berkeley analysis was to understand how six studies of fuel ethanol could come to such different conclusions about the overall energy balance in its production and use. Farrell, Kammen and their UC Berkeley colleagues dissected each study and recreated its analysis in a spreadsheet where they could be compared side-by-side. The team said it found numerous “errors, inconsistencies and omissions” among the studies, such as not considering the value of co-products of ethanol production – dried distillers grains, corn gluten feed and corn oil – that boost the net energy gain from ethanol production. Other studies overestimated the energy used by farm machinery.”

      “The assumptions made by some of the authors were not based on the best data, or were just a little bit too convenient, and had a strong impact on the results,” Kammen said.”

      Included in the UC Berkeley review were the following:
      Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle Patzek, T.W., Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 23(6), 519-567 (2004).

      Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower David Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek, Natural Resource Research, 14(1), 65-76 (2005).

      Another study, conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, was presented in 2007 at UC Berkeley – what a coincidence – by Roger Conway, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The report showed huge discrepancies in the figures that Pimentall and Patzek used to arrive at their conclusions versus the figures used by USDA’s efforts to conduct their own studies on ethanol vs. gasoline EROEI. The USDA studies were significantly more favorable towards ethanol production.

      A Michigan State University study conducted by Bruce Dale, Professor of Chemical Engineering, found that the Pimentell-Patzek methodology is flawed. The measurements of BTU are irrelevant and that the net energy of ethanol is actually higher than gasoline (in other words, EROEI for ethanol is positive, while the EROEI of gasoline is more negative).

      In 2011, Forrest Jehlik, Research Engineer, Argonne National Laboratory responded to what he felt are the 5 most prevalent myths about ethanol. He said that ethanol does not take more energy to make than it yields, “Argonne National Laboratory research has shown that corn ethanol delivers a positive energy balance of 8.8 megajoules per liter. The energy balance from second-generation biofuels using cellulosic sources is up to six times better…”

      In October 2009, David Blume traveled to Cornell University to conduct a workshop on permaculture. While there he paid a call on David Pimentell and was able to record the conversation. In the more than 20-minute long conversation Pimentell agrees and acknowledges that many of the conclusions that were drawn in the studies he conducted are now incorrect, or could be rendered incorrect given advances in farming and ethanol production – advances that already had been proven by the time of this conversation in 2009.

      Regarding your request for citations about what gasoline would really cost, see:
      http://www.progress.org/tpr/what-gasoline-really-costs-us/

      You wrote, “Your ‘absolute’ statements betray arrogance of the highest degree.” In fact, your problem is that I know something you don’t. That’s not arrogance, it’s knowledge.

      Finally, you wrote, “Where are theses stations that sell E85 at a 15-30% discount compared to pure gas? I have yet to see one.” I don’t know where there are stations that sell “pure gas” because I’ve never seen one. However, I know where there are stations that sell E85 less than E10 gasoline (regular gasoline blends). If you haven’t seen any, it’s because you chose not to read the signs.

      Here’s two examples:
      http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2011/03/26/525119.htm
      http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2011/05/09/531654-using-e85-non-flex-fuel-vehicle-can-save-almost-1.html

      • Hi Marc,

        If an engine is designed to run on alcohol then the problems discussed (carburetor/gas tank fouling, etc.) are not problems. The point of the article was ethanol’s negative effects on engines not designed to run on ethanol. Many of the regulars here at EPautos are “old car” (and bike) people. There is no question that ethanol causes problems in the fuel systems of older (typically carbureted) fuel systems.

        And even with regard to modern engines designed to burn such fuel, their mileage is less when they run E10 vs. 100 percent unleaded. Now, granted, this is balanced to an extent by the higher-compression/more efficient operation that characterizes current engine design. But, I wonder how these car engines would perform – and what sort of mileage they’d return – if instead of high-octane E10 they were fueled with high octane 100 percent gas?

        The other issues raised are legitimate as well (e.g., the dubious input-output of using corn to make fuel for IC engines, the rent-seeking of agribusiness, the effect on food prices).

        • You write, “Many of the regulars here at EPautos are “old car” (and bike) people. There is no question that ethanol causes problems in the fuel systems of older (typically carbureted) fuel systems.”

          This may be correct. However, I re-read your original statement and failed to find where you preface those remarks with this admonition. Therefore, as I was not a regular on your message board I didn’t automatically know your were directing your remarks at older passenger vehicles. If I did, I would have agreed that people with older vehicles or chain saws (for example) should stay away from using any high level ethanol-gasoline blend. It would have saved me from ever posting any comments.

          To your “I wonder how these car engines would perform – and what sort of mileage they’d return – if instead of high-octane E10 they were fueled with high octane 100 percent gas?”, I add my wonder. If you can find something that is “100% gasoline” without any additives to eliminate the knock that would occur in a high compression engine, let me know.

          Regarding “effect on fuel prices,” there’s no need to bring other incorrect arguments against ethanol to buttress the previous incorrect arguments against ethanol.

          • You read the ‘message board,’ but did you read the article? That makes it pretty clear that he’s referring primarily to ‘non-FI” engines.

          • Crikey, Marc!

            Here’s a sentence from the original article:

            “It can also cause problems in older (and especially occasional use) vehicles and power equipment not originally designed to withstand high alcohol-content fuels.”

            And the fact remains that ethanol is energy-inefficient relative to gasoline. It takes more to go the same distance (or produce the same power). Alcohol-running cars use higher-flow/higher-capacity injectors (or bigger jets). Why? Because it takes more volume/flow to make the same power. Right?

            And: An additive is one thing. 10 (or 15 or 85 percent) alcohol is something else.

            In any case, I never disputed the octane-enhancing properties of ethanol.

            • Brazil has been using ethanol-gasoline blends since the 1930’s without problems. They have been mandating E15 or higher since 1978. Their ICE vehicles and mavhines are the same as those sold and used in North America, Asia, and Europe. If the vehicles and machines can use E15 to E27 in Brazil, they can use E15 to E27 in America.

              Great Britain marketed ethanol-gasoline blends from E10 to E30 from the 1920’s to the 1970’s, without problems. The ethanol-gasoline blends were sold by the world’s biggest oil companies and promoted as being superior in every way to gasoline without ethanol.

              Ethanol is compatible with more types of rubbers, plastics, and metals than gasoline and aromatics.

              • Hi Marc,

                You’re right that ethanol is compatible with vehicles designed for it – which is (generally) vehicles made since the ’90s (for E10) but older vehicles with fuel systems not designed to use ethanol blends do have issues with deterioration of plastic and rubber parts, as well as steel fuel tanks. Ethanol also leans out the A/F ratio, which modern cars with computers can compensate for – but older cars without them cannot. They have to be mechanically adjusted (i.e., richer jets installed in their carbs) and it is also often necessary to replace parts such as accelerator pumps, floats, gaskets and diaphragms (as in mechanical fuel pumps) if these parts are not ethanol compatible.

                There are still lots of these older cars – and motorcycles – in circulation.

                E15 is a whole ‘nuther thing.

                Most cars currently on the road are not set up to use this fuel – and manufacturers specifically warn not to use it. You ought to know this.

                But it’s being pushed by the ethanol lobby, for obvious reasons.

                And the car industry is onboard because (per your octane comment) it enables them to design engines with very high CRs as well as DI, which helps them improve mileage – a huge compliance issue for them as regards CAFE.

                But this also makes new cars more expensive to buy and more complex to maintain, obviating any “savings” on fuel.

                If E15 (and up) becomes the only fuel available (which the ethanol lobby very much wants) it will accelerate the “retirement” of vehicles not made to handle high alcohol-content fuels, forcing people to buy new cars sooner.

                As with EVs, there’s no market driven reason for ethanol. It’s just another government-imposed boondoggle that benefits rent-seeking corporations at the expense of average people.

              • Marc,

                If you just purchased a $35,000 new vehicle and, perusing the warranty paperwork, read that the coverage would be voided if you use E15 in the thing, would you?

                Why do the manufacturers of most outdoor power equipment specifically warn not to use ethanol-laced fuels?

                • Outdoor power equipment’s main problem with ethanol-laced gasoline is corrosion in the carburetor when the equipment is stored.

                  Now some models are going to be more resistant than others. Trouble is only the manufacturers and carburetor suppliers know which ones. But as a rule like everything else you get what you pay for.

                  I run my stuff on 89 octane E10 pump gas. It does fine. But, I either drain the fuel from it in the fall or run it for the sake of running it in the winter.

                  The best fuel for it is the canned gasoline premix but of course that’s pricey. No ethanol and it usually has high quality two stroke oil mixed in. I had a freebee can of it some years ago when it was just starting on the market and it worked well.

                  • Ditto, Brent!

                    I always drain the carbs at the end of the season – and not just the mowers and such. The bikes, too – anything that is probably going to sit for several months over the winter.

                    This includes my generator, especially. I like it to work when I need it to!

                    • Hi Marc,

                      “It has nothing to do with ethanol causing damage, it has to do with them simply looking for ways to limit their liability.”

                      This makes no sense to me. Why would they write their warranty in this manner if ethanol didn’t increase their liability?

                      Put another way: If ethanol is harmless; if it has benefits – why not tout that fact?

                    • It makes sense to you, you’re just pretending it doesn’t. Product liabilities are like insurance policies (in fact, many product liabilities are backed by insurance companies). Just as there are liability exemptions to all insurance policies, that is how product liabilities work. There are deductibles, stated un-insured features, etc.

                    • Hi Marc,

                      Please don’t impute motives; stick to facts. The fact is the manufacturers clearly state that ethanol-laced fuels higher than E10 not be used in vehicles that weren’t specifically made to burn them. You assert they warn not to use these fuels for “liability” reasons – i.e., out of concern for problems which may arise which they do not wish to be held responsible for.

                      Exactly!

                      Do you also counsel that car owners ignore manufacturer specified requirements regarding oil grade/viscosity? Coolant and trans fluid type?

                    • And the facts are that the owners manuals for the exact same vehicles for sale in Brazil allow for the use of E27. If a Chevy Camaro can run safely and efficiently on E27 on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, then it can run safely and efficiently on any street in America.

                      Regarding oil requirements, coolants, and trans fluids. This isn’t the issue that either of us are arguing about. But yes, I would counsel that a vehicle/engine owner ignore certain requirements depending on conditions, and or recommendations of a skilled mechanic. I don’t say that people should not use oil or required fluids. If you take a different position, then you don’t understand engines and automobiles. By the way, a good classic example of incorrect manufacturer requirements was the very long time use of lower octane gasoline in high altitude regions where only 85 octane gasoline was available. The owners manuals clearly stated that only 87 octane and above be used. I am unaware of any instances in which a vehicle was damaged because it used 85 octane, or any instance in which a manufacturer refused to honor a warranty because people in Colorado use 85 octane fuel.

                    • Marc,

                      Most new GM vehicles are designed to be flex-fuel compatible, so your argument holds no water. Older vehicles not designed for high alcohol-content fuels are an entirely different matter.

                      You counsel ignoring factory recommendations that affect warranty coverage – which means you are advising people to risk denial of warranty coverage, which could cost them thousands of dollars.

                      I’ve rebuilt scores of engines, by hand – myself. Just FYI.

                  • Hi Marc,

                    Dunno whether you wrench – especially on older stuff. I do. And I can attest, from personal experience, that high-ethanol-content fuels do cause problems with rubber/plastic parts not originally designed for such fuels. I have some pretty gnarly photos I can show you, if interested!

                    Granted, there aren’t that many such vehicles around/in regular use. But the issue is there, nonetheless. And – again – it’s there because of government strong-arming. Not the free market.

                    The industry you and I love is being ruined by the government. I’m pretty sure you agree with me on that…

                    • Ethanol is compatible with more types of rubbers, plastics, and metals than gasoline and aromatics. Viton rubber was specifically invented to be compatible with gasoline and aromatics because of their excessive corrosive characteristics. Ethylene bromide (a poison) had to be used to mitigate the corrosive characteristics of TEL. Meanwhile, ethanol (alcohol) was used successfully during all these years. Ethanol gets blamed for what gasoline and aromatics cause.

                    • Marc,

                      Please try to be more precise – and less disingenuous.

                      I never argued that ethanol isn’t compatible with ” more types of rubbers, plastics, and metals than gasoline and aromatics. Viton rubber was specifically invented to be compatible with gasoline and aromatics because of their excessive corrosive characteristics.”

                      I wrote that older vehicles not designed for high ethanol-content fuels do have problems when subjected to high ethanol-content fuels. This is common knowledge among mechanics and engineers. It is why there is a whole segment of the aftermarket that sells updated “soft parts” to classic car owners, whose vehicles weren’t designed for ethanol.

                      Again, facts.

                    • I have been exactly precise. You claim that older vehicles were not designed to run on ethanol fuels. But this is untrue. The English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Swedish car manufacturers knew exactly what the fuel situation was in their countries. They knew that their cars had to be able to run on what was available, and that the composition of the fuels could change at almost any time. I can provide great links and proof of all this, but your system doesn’t allow me to post the links.

                      You can, however, read my 641-page book, THE ETHANOL PAPERS, which is available online and free at The Auto Channel website.

                    • Marc,

                      No, you have been exasperatingly imprecise. You write: “You claim that older vehicles were not designed to run on ethanol fuels.”

                      I stated that these vehicles weren’t designed to run on high ethanol content fuels. This is not my opinion. It is a fact. E10 and over did not exist as mainstream fuels in the U.S. prior to the last few decades; the cars made before then were designed to run on gas. Yes, they can tolerate some alcohol in the fuel – but 10 percent and more is another matter.

                      I’ve asked several times whether you wrench on older stuff – or wrench at all. If you do, you will know what I am talking about. I’ve had to throughly update the fuel delivery systems in all my classic (pre-1980) vehicles to ethanol-compatible. This includes a stainless steel tank in my Trans-Am, to deal with the problem of accelerated internal corrosion of steel parts caused by highalcohol content fuels.

                      And, again, at bottom this is a question of rent-seeking. The pros and cons of ethanol are beside the point. As with EVs.

                      If you’re right – and I am wrong – why not let the free market decide?

                      Libertarians support the free market. Do you?

                    • Eric – E10 fuels did exist in America before the current change to ethanol-gasoline blends. If you think vehicles were not able to use it without damage in the 1930’s, please send me links to stories that said otherwise. In addition, between the 1920’s and 1970’s American car manufacturers exported cars to Great Britain. The cars were not changed for English fuels. If you can find any stories detailing how American cars exported to England were destroyed by “power-alcohol” petrol please send me the links. Same for Brazil’s importation of vehicles from the U.S. Europe, and Asia.

                    • Marc,

                      You’re being imprecise – and disingenuous… again.

                      Of course alcohol fuels have been “in use” for decades; and any IC engine can burn alcohol. The question is whether it’s optimal to burn it; whether cars not designed for it can do so without risking problems such as deteriorated fuel system components.

                      I could use straight 30 weight oil in my Trans-Am; the engine would run. It might not cause damage to run 30 weight. But it very well could, especially if I ran the 30 weight for a long time and ran the TA hard.

                      Ergo, I would not do it. And for that same reason, I would not use high ethanol content fuel in any vehicle whose manufacturer says not to.

                      Most pre-1980s (and some early-mid ’90s) cars were not designed for high ethanol-content fuels, even though they can run on them.

                      This is the distinction you continue to attempt to efface.

                    • Marc, I call bullshit on that. The owner’s manual for the wife’s car says “Do not use fuel with more than 5% ethanol”.

                      Somebody fucked up at the station and loaded the unleaded with what appeared to be E85. It quite literally at the plastic end off the fuel filter nearly resulting in death or injury.

                      The car had a circle 10′ beyond the car for sitting for a few seconds while I opened the gate. When I took the filter off, there was little fuel in the tank and the plastic fitting was limp.

                      What I got from the tank I put into a plastic bottle. It had NO color and smelled like hell. Everyone in the place was asking what that godawful smell was.

                      I watched the bottle sit there and collapse and shoved it off into a bucket and dumped it outside.

                      Now why would GM put that warning in the manual if that were true?

                      I can make any blanket statement with nothing to back it up but that doesn’t make it true. That’s what you did.

                    • BTW eric, there are plenty vehicles around that can’t tolerate much ethanol.

                      I was watching a video a couple years ago of a team who raced their race car with pure ethanol. The spokesman for the team said something like Sure, we have to use different parts in the fuel system but pure ethanol works fine for our purpose.

                      Of course he was speaking of using it with super-high C.R.’s

                    • Hi Eight,

                      Ethanol does wonders on old carb floats not made to handle the stuff. I’ve had several turn to gray goo on account of it. Luckily, you can usually find replacement parts designed for ethanol-laced fuels. But not always.

                      And you’ll need to richen up the A/F mixture, too.

                      Everything can be squared away – but it’s a needless hassle (and cost). It also costs MPGs – which is hilarious given the stated obsession with MPGs uber alles!

                      An easy way to up the MPG average of cars would be to get rid of ethanol!

              • No the vehicles in Brazil are different from the USA and are designed to be used on the variable ethanol content fuels of that market.

                My oldest car is a Ford Maverick. The Ford Maverick was also offered in Brazil. It’s not exactly the same car. For marketing reasons because Ford did not offer the Mustang there it got pony car goodies not offered in the US. It also had some different engine options. The fuel system I am sure was designed with ethanol in mind while I know for a fact the US fuel systems were not.

                Also the reason Brazil has ethanol is because ethanol from sugar cane is viable fuel from an energy balance and economic standpoint. Ethanol from corn, well it has gotten better over the years but its saving grace is that the left overs can be used to feed livestock. It is only that ‘we needed to grow the corn anyway’ factor that might make the energy balance work out. Maybe.

                With 2019 being cold and wet and so much corn not getting planted I wonder how that will work out.

                • Brent, you know nothing about this issue, and this has been going on for you for a few years.

                  The vehicles in Brazil are not different, and the parts are the same. There may have been different engine size options, but that is/was because they didn’t have the competitive need to offer as many options as they offered in the U.S. And if you believe that the parts are different (made out of different materials), what are they?

                  The easiest way to understand this, by the way, is to look for old European vehicles for sale in Brazil, such as MG’s Austin’s, Rolls/Bentley’s, and the like. You will find them all in Brazil. They weren’t manufactured differently for export to Brazil, it would have cost far too much to do any re-tooling or equipping for Brazil. And they didn’t need to since ethanol-gasoline fuels were widely sold in Great Britain by Standard Oil, Esso, and Cities Service.

                  As for 2019 being cold and wet, the reports already indicate that this year will be another corn surplus year.

      • Oh, dear. That is absolutely crawling with misunderstandings. I will try to clear them up.

        BTU measurement is used to explain and calculate how much energy is required to heat water. If we were discussing a steam powered engine, heating water is a significant issue. But internal combustion engines are not dependent on heating water.

        Yes, actually, we are dealing with that, because:-

        – there’s a lot of water in the combustion gasses, and its high latent heat of vapourisation matters a lot because it holds the temperature down (that is why cyanogen and dicyanoacetylene burn even hotter than acetylene – they hold energy with similar bonds but there is no hydrogen in them to form water vapour);

        – B.T.U. measurement tells you how much thermal energy is available by using water as a comparison or standard of reference, but that does not mean that it is only relevant for heating water; if you know how much burning coal will boil water for a steam engine (say), you also have some numbers to crunch for a Stirling engine with air as a working fluid (say).

        Using ethanol in a typical gasoline-powered engine will produce fewer miles than gasoline because the engine is optimized to run on gasoline, not because there is a difference in BTUs.

        This is plain wrong, precisely because it is misunderstanding the point of your 1907 and 1908 quotations, which are entirely sound. What they actually mean is that using ethanol in a typical petrol powered engine will produce fewer miles than petrol because the engine is optimised to run on petrol, so that it cannot take advantage of being optimised to run on ethanol to make up for the difference in B.T.U.s. But if it had as much energy content as petrol and could still run, it would do even better still than petrol with optimisation and no worse without. The problem leading to poorer performance isn’t that the engine is optimised for petrol, it’s that the same settings and tuning aren’t optimal for ethanol and that has less energy. If physics and chemistry had been kinder, the same settings would work because the ethanol would burn hotter anyway and the engine could still cope – but that didn’t happen.

        Another way to demonstrate engine optimization and why BTU rating is irrelevant is to compare gasoline with diesel fuel. Diesel, which is also produced from petroleum oil, is rated at about 129,000 BTUs (higher than gasoline’s 116,000 BTUs). Using Bryce’s “basic physics” logic it would stand to reason that diesel if used in a gasoline optimized engine, should produce about 10% more miles per gallon. However, if you fill your gasoline vehicle’s tank with diesel you get less miles per gallon, much less miles per gallon…like none – the engine won’t run. Conversely, if you fill a diesel-powered vehicle with gasoline, you don’t just get 10% fewer miles, you’ll probably get zero miles, assuming the vehicle even starts. So regardless of BTU rating, the key is engine optimization.

        This is wrong, too. Diesel would produce about 10% more miles per gallon, if only it could vapourise under the same conditions. If you leaned out the petrol as much as the diesel, that would either not run too or run worse. The logic applies to fuel delivered, not to something that doesn’t work for unrelated reasons. It’s not failing because of thermal energy content issues but because it doesn’t deliver that where it’s needed.

        Incidentally, there used to be some tractors and commercial fishing boats with paraffin engines that started on petrol and then switched to paraffin vapourised by the exhaust heat once that had warmed up. Those were less efficient than petrol engines despite there being more energy in the fuel for a different reason: the heating needed to get the fuel delivered reduced the effective temperature difference used by the engines and so lowered their thermodynamic efficiency disproportionately more. These engines were used because the fuel was cheaper for tax reasons and because it was more readily available (small shops could store it as it needed fewer precautions than petrol – once a few early accidents had shown lamp oil producers it was important to get the lighter fractions out).

        You wrote, “Your ‘absolute’ statements betray arrogance of the highest degree.” In fact, your problem is that I know something you don’t. That’s not arrogance, it’s knowledge.

        As a famous nineteenth century U.S. humourist said, “it ain’t what you don’t know that’ll hurt you, it’s what you do know that ain’t so” (see also “a little learning is a dangerous thing / drink deep, or touch not the Pierian spring”). That’s the kind of knowledge you’ve got, the result of getting hold of the wrong end of the stick of genuine results and data.

      • Marc–thermodynamics will not be mocked. We may snicker behind its back but we dare not laugh openly.

        As you acknowledge, ethanol combustion yields fewer joules per unit volume.
        Vehicle “mileage” is calculated as the number of miles traveled per unit volume.

        Assuming optimum energy extraction from a given fuel, you WILL obtain greater mileage from a fuel with greater energy content.

        That’s a big “if”–“optimum energy extraction”. But given Carnot-cycle heat engines–the internal combustion engines we’re talking about, more specifically four-stroke piston engines–the math is irrefutable.

        Yes, alcohol engines can run higher compression due to the cooling effect and high octane…I see NASCAR has switched recently, allowing them to run lower revs and higher compression to get the same or better horsepower and greater efficiency.

        But it’s not enough to overcome the massive unit-volume energy deficit of ethanol.

        As for “cellulosic ethanol”–we’re still burning food for ethanol, ruining perfectly good farm land to chase a government-subsidized fantasy. There are no industrial-scale cellulose-to-ethanol plants; switch grass has been a twinkle in the greenies’ eyes for two decades.

        • A spark-induced internal combustion vehicle engine that is optimized to run on gasoline will produce greater mpg when using gasoline rather than ethanol because it is optimized to run on gasoline.

          A similar vehicle engine that is optimized to run on ethanol will produce greater mpg when using ethanol than gasoline because it is optimized to run on ethanol.

          It’s not a question of math or thermodynamics.

          Generally speaking, no one is burning “food for fuel.” The corn used to produce ethanol is generally speaking grown specifically to be used for ethanol production, not for food.

          • You’re either missing the point or purposely being obtuse.

            Well-optimized internal combustion engines designed for their respective fuel–gasoline or ethanol–will of course run better on their preferred fuel.

            But the gasoline engine will travel further on a gallon of gasoline than the ethanol engine on a gallon of ethanol.

            THAT’S thermodynamics.

            Again, don’t be obtuse–the corn’s grown for ethanol production, but it displaces productive land that could grow food; in essence, “burning food”. And the corn itself–though not ideal for food–could be used as such.

            It’s a massive boondoggle, a scam, a con, a crony capitalist’s dream.

  9. Eric – Your information is wrong.

    1. Energy content in a gallon of gasoline vs. a gallon of ethanol is completely and totally irrelevant.

    2. The comment about ethanol being negative fuel efficient is predicated upon a study conducted by David Pimentel at Cornell with preposterous information. In addition, later studies, such as the one done by UC Berkeley show that not only the Pimentel study (and all other reports issued as a by-product of the Pimentel study) are incorrect.

    3. If there was such a free market, gasoline would never, ever be able to compete with ethanol in price or performance. Every study done to show the true cost of gasoline is somewhere between $10 and $15 per gallon. Ethanol is only priced as high as it is because its distribution as a blend at stations is controlled by the gasoline industry.

    4. Even with the gasoline-industry affected price of E85, E85 is typically more cost effective. A gasoline-powered car using E85 mat get 5-10% less MPG, but the cost savings per gallon is usually 15-30% less per gallon. Therefore there is a net savings.

    • I’d like to see links for all four propositions, because they’re so far off the numbers I’ve read for years.

      Just as an exercise in common sense, track the path of corn ethanol:

      1) prepare the field–using fuel
      2) plant the seeds–more fuel
      3) water the plants–using (copious) water
      4) fertilize the plants–more fuel (Haber process to fix nitrogen uses mucho energy)
      5) harvest–more fuel
      6) transport to fermentation plants–more fuel
      7) distill–more fuel

      $10-15/gallon real price? Is that derived by attributing the entire military budget as a procurement cost?

      I’m willing to listen but you’ll have to back your assertions.

    • Marc,

      How is the fact that there is less energy in a given quantity of ethanol fuel not relevant?

      If I have to burn 1.2 gallons of ethanol to go the same distance a gallon of gas would take me, how is this not a negative? The only way I can see that it wouldn’t be would be if the ethanol cost less – enough to make up for the decrease in operating efficiency. But it does not.

      Every study of US (note, not Brazilian or other) ethanol production shows it’s a net loser. More “in” than “out.”

      Gasoline is in fact cheaper in real terms today than it was 30 years ago. Its price is higher – but that is almost entirely due to inflation – and taxes.

      • Sorry for the delay in responding. I thought the discussion was over.

        In any event, the scenario you describe in burning the gasoline is not how an ICE works. If you were talking about boiling water to create steam for a steam-powered engine then you would be correct and BTU’s or “energy content would be relevant.

        • Hi Marc,

          A follow-up article is on deck about dealing with the lean operating condition caused in older (non-FI, no ECU) vehicles by ethanol.

          Also just got done de-rusting/sealing another older (1983 MY) motorcycle’s tank. This particular bike was a very low mileage “survivor” I acquired about four years ago. It had not been run in more than ten years prior to my acquiring it. At that time, its tank was pristine. By this year – after being in regular use for the preceding four years – I found the interior of the tank mottled with rust. I’ve observed this (i.e., accelerated rust formation in older vehicle fuel systems) before. I attribute it to the water-attractive properties of the fuel.

          PS: I have a Stihl chainsaw. The manual warns to not use ethanol fuels in this unit.

    • “the true cost of gasoline”? These are always out of the ass numbers that people who want to control energy make up as they go along. In a real free market, not one where the US military serves the oil cartel, etc, gasoline would still come out on top. If that $15 is based on anything approaching reality it is based on the costs generated by the cartel. Cartels are costly. Free markets drive prices to zero.

      Corn ethanol is a loser energy wise because it doesn’t power itself. If we had a free market sugar cane ethanol would drive corn ethanol off the market in short order.

      • “If we had a free market, sugar cane ethanol would drive corn ethanol off the market in short order.” But if we had a free market, there would be little or no sugar cane grown in the US. Protective tariffs put the price of sugar in the US at about 2x that on the world market. Same applies to the ‘bagasse’ by-product of sugar refining.

        • likely the ethanol would be imported or the sugar cane to make it.

          While the sugar cronies already had the later covered, the sugar and corn cronies thought this out with regards to ethanol as well and made sure the former was made economically non-viable too.

          They’ve got everything under control and the masses range from unaware to duped.

          • Baaaaaaa!
            Thanks Brent.
            As Eric has pointed out numerous times, the original STATED purpose of mandating ethanol has been made obsolete by fuel injection.
            BTW, not all sugar is made from cane. But the sugar beets produced in the US are Monsanto GMO’s. And the farmers who grow them think Monsanto hung the moon, because they donate computer labs to the local Gunvermin Indoctrination Centers.

    • ‘True cost of gasoline’ lol. these ‘true costs’ are always loaded with arbitrary factors to produce the desired result. They are nothing more than political blather. We don’t have a free market in gasoline to keep the prices high. That’s why free markets are undermined, to keep prices to us, the slaves and serfs of the society, high. In the early 1990s prices crashed and big oil took action buying out the independent refineries. Environmental regulation makes new refinery building practically impossible. It can be done, but you better know the price of gasoline ten years from now and how much it will cost you to make then to take the plunge and build one.

      People say the middle east wars are to keep oil prices low. No, they aren’t. they are to keep oil prices high. To keep oil from reaching market. To keep oil in the ‘correct’ corporate hands. Remember the problem before the middle east wars was cheap gasoline, cheap oil. There were entities like the government of Iraq that were over producing. Ignoring quotas and limits, going against the cartel. This lowered prices for us, the mundanes. Wars are about making insiders money, not lowering prices. (see “War is a Racket”)

      And yes, the infrastructure is very efficient to lower their costs. That was all built when the market was more free than it is now. Gasoline has nothing to fear from corn ethanol other than its powerful political backers.

      E85 is cheaper through subsidy. Take away the corn growers and corn ethanol subsidies and E85’s cost advantages go away. Even with subsidy on a BTU basis there probably is no advantage and yes, the energy in the fuel matters. It matters considerably. You’re not going to change the thermal efficiency of the engine by using a lower energy/volume fuel to any extent worth noting without modifying the engine. A greater volume of fuel must be consumed. Also ICEs are dependent on volume rates. Screw with the BTU/volume too much and problems will result.

  10. Eric – what you wrote in your reply about an ICE optimized to run on ethanol is correct: using gasoline in it would be inefficient as compared to using ethanol. And it’s inefficient even though the gasoline could be said to have higher energy content. It’s a similar scenario to the one I set forth about trying to use diesel in an engine optimized for gasoline. It’s all about engine optimization, not a formula that is only relevant to heating water.

    The energy content formula is only relevant if we are discussing the most efficient way to heat water to a boil in order to power a steam engine.

    Moreover, if engine damage is a real concern, then you would never want to run gasoline in an ethanol optimized ICE. At least, you can run ethanol in a gasoline-optimized engine and the worst you get are debatable arguments as to whether the ethanol is causing any greater amount of cylinder wall pitting then the pitting caused by gasoline. And I don’t know of any situation in which it’s ever suggested that gasoline should be used to clean out an ethanol optimized engine.

    If you have a gasoline-powered vehicle and you want to increase performance characteristics, you add in ethanol. If you want to really increase performance you only use ethanol or a very high ethanol-gasoline blend, and make adjustments to the engine to optimize its use of the ethanol. This involve changing the spark timing, the fuel injectors, the length of piston stroke, and of course you would use parts that are resistant to alcohol corrosion.

    So my point is not to villain-ize ethanol by employing incorrect information about the energy characteristics of ethanol. If someone has a vehicle in which the complete system is not optimized to run on ethanol (the fuel lines, connectors, gaskets, etc.) then the engine will not run as efficiently as it does with gasoline and there will be corrosion and breaking down of rubber parts. Therefore, if ethanol is used you should change the parts. But this is a moot point because even if you use “pure” gasoline the parts will need to be changed at some point. Gasoline doesn’t preserve and protect all of these parts, it destroys them, too.

    And if the engine is anything more than a relatively unsophisticated engine, then you must use something in the gasoline to prevent the engine from breaking apart from the knock. This is why GM/Standard Oil/DuPont invented leaded gasoline in the first place. But they only made leaded gasoline their fuel of choice because they could patent the formula, which allowed them to make billions of dollars (trillions in modern terms). It was not a decision based upon gasoline being a better fuel. Over time, it was natural to use parts that were optimized for gasoline, but that was just another way for the petroleum companies to protect their exalted position.

    • Hi Marc,

      You write:

      “…even though the gasoline could be said to have higher energy content”

      Italics added.

      It’s not “could be said.” It’s does. Gas – pure gas – contains more potential energy than the same volume of ethanol or ethanol-laced fuel. Put another way, it takes more ethanol to release an equivalent amount of energy.

      Ethanol can only be more efficient/economical than gas as an energy source when it costs less than gas – which makes up for the fact that you need to use more of it to get the same result.

      In the US, ethanol (corn-based) is horrendously energy-inefficient. It is a net energy loser (takes more to “input” than you get in “outputs”). It is in the fuel supply for one reason only: The power of the agribusiness lobby. If we had a truly free market – free of cartel capitalism and rent-seeking – ethanol as a fuel would exist only in the niche markets (race fuel and so on).

  11. The problem is that you’re attempting to address a subject (ethanol-gasoline blends) and your base information is incorrect, which then makes all your ensuing recommendations wrong or suspect.

    A gasoline-powered vehicle that uses a ethanol-gasoline blend does not get fewer MPG (if indeed you have a vehicle that does get less MPG if you use an ethanol-gasoline blend) because ethanol has “less energy per gallon.” It will get less MPG because the engine is not optimized to run on a high-level ethanol-gasoline blend. Energy content per gallon is irrelevant.

    In an ICE optimized for gasoline the spark timing is wrong for ethanol, the fuel injectors are wrong for ethanol, and the piston stroke is too short to make full use of the greater compression performance allowed by ethanol. The fact that ethanol will work at all in a gasoline engine is amazing.

    Diesel has more “energy” per gallon than gasoline, but if you put diesel in your gasoline-powered vehicle it will not start and will not run. This doesn’t mean diesel has less “energy,” it’s because the engine is not optimized to use diesel.

    • Hi Marc,

      An IC engine not optimized for an ethanol blend will not get the mileage it would were it fed the gasoline for which it was designed. “Optimizing” an engine to run on ethanol (or ethanol blends) doesn’t somehow make ethanol more efficient (or even as efficient) as a gas-burning engine. Because ethanol contain less energy per unit volume than pure gasoline does.

      The energy of ethanol relative to gasoline:

      A. 76,000 = BTU of energy in a gallon of ethanol
      B. 116,090 = BTU of energy in a gallon of gasoline
      C. .655 = 2/3 = GGE of energy in a gallon of ethanol. A / B. (GGE =energy in a gal. of gas)

      D. 1.53 = Gallons of ethanol with the energy of 1 gallon of gasoline. D = B / A.

      So, I’m not sure what your objection is.

  12. Also don’t forget you can still buy ETHANOL FREE GAS.

    There is a app for Apple I phone users. Search for Ethanol Free. Note not all the sites have the ethanol free. But some do. I currently hit a Citgo Station for 90 octane ethanol Free for my 2002 Trans Am that started to develop a miss (like it had water in the systmem). This was a occasional use car. Since I hav put 3 tanks of Ethanol Free in the car, the misses have gone away.

    The web site is https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ethanol-free-gas-finder/id487998473?mt=8

    http://pure-gasoline.com/

  13. Very interesting article, we have a rough time in New York State finding any “real” gas. I’ve had concerns over running “corn juice” in my newer Hemi, and mileage is dismal to begin with. My comment is after reading most all the posts, I’m wondering if this is sponsored by Sta-bil ?? I’ve researched a lot on this, and found a product called PRI-G ( or PRI-D for DIESELS!) that will stabilize fuel for up to five years! Plus all the benefits of retarding separation issues, rubber rot, and moisture displacement. I have no issues with Sta-bil products, used them for years, but the old saying holds true “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”… pricing is comparable between both products, and I feel it’s money well spent to preserve my motor. Big business and Government is always going to look out for itself, not the consumer, we’re just pockets to be picked clean… and the sheeple we’ve become make it like taking candy from babies…

    • Hi Scott,

      I only mentioned Sta-Bil because I have had good experiences using it – but PRI-G may be just as good. The only reason I didn’t mention it by name is that I don’t have any personal experience with it, and my rule is to never recommend anything I haven’t personally used and had good results using.

      Bottom line, use whichever product works best (or which works just as well but costs less).

  14. No.No!how stupid do they think we are? I used to look for 10
    % alcohol blend,thought I was helping the enviroment,thought I was helping the farmers and using up a resource that the rats were eating up didnt realize it was a giveaway to the mega farms.My Dakota runs very well on 90/10 better then on straight gas,but the mileage sure suffers.
    Alcohol works in Brazil,because of the feedstocks(sugarcane, etc) but its just not appropiate in the US.There are things we could do here,like converting our coal into dimethyl ether(I beieve it is) its a lot cheaper then anything you can get from the middle east and makes use of an abundant resource(coal) coal we never be clean,but its ours and lets use it.
    Didnt think I would ever say this,but bring back the import tariffs and bring home manufacturing to the US,we need more exports rather then just more people coming over to lower our standard of living.I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE STILL GIVING OUR COUNTRY AWAY!kevin

    • Quite obviously they think you’re pretty damned stupid, along with the rest of your constituents. Does that make you mad? It should. Why would Feinstein submit an amendment(thought I was gonna say a new gun ban bill?)to the NDAA that fairly much does away with any Constitutional rights you might have thought left after the original NDAA bill? It’s because she thinks not only that we’re all stupid but we have no power to do anything about it and she and her kind will never have to live under its rule. I suspect she’s right. Too bad the American public is nothing more than sheeple, stupid(it hurts me to say this), simple, law obeying, barely whining, dolts. My generation used to take to the streets and oppose this sort of thing. Then we got fat and old and thought we’d done a good job. What we didn’t understand is it takes never ending vigilance to keep your rights. And now I stand with the young who don’t want to lie down and take it. Good for them. May they retain the fire within.

    • Oh, Kevin, you’re not wrong in wantin got bring back manufacturing nor back import tariffs. I’m not sure we’d need import tariffs if we had no NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT or other trade”agreements” that were nothing more or less than way to keep the top (way below 1%)rolling in dough. Once they realized they could legislate themselve unlimited money they certainly weren’t going to Not take it, They had GHWB on board who passed it along to Clinton and then to Georgie and then to Obamer. Think it’s all not the same game? I have more faith in you than that. Now just get a fire and go for it.

    • That appears to be a deal!

      Personally, I always preferred the Buick/Pontiac intermediates to the Chevys. A bit more ornate, a bit more detailed. Back in the days when there was meaningful difference between a Buick and a Pontiac and a Chevy!

      • The 68′-70′ Buick’s had a stylized fifties look, and in a sense, they were a modern retro of the time.

        My Mother’s twin sister bought a new 68′ and it was quite the attractive car with its yellow paint, black vinyl roof, and Buick styled steel wheels. Wonder where it is now?

        Recently when I was in East Texas, I picked up a 67′ Buick ‘Special’ coupe, still powered by an odd-fire V-6 with a ‘three on the tree’. A 70′ Buick 455″ and 4-speed, and disc brake conversion, came with the package. New repair panels and windshield arrived at the shop this week. Should be a pretty unique ride when finished.

        What is on your 2013 project list, Eric?

        • “What is on your 2013 project list, Eric?”

          Where to start?

          I might put a hotter cam in the Trans-Am. What was quick in ’99 (when I built the 455 that’s in there now) isn’t all that hot now. It currently has the computer-optimized version of the original 335 hp RA III cam. Fairly mild, very streetable. I could probably get close to 400 honest hp with something a bit more aggressive, without killing its streetability. As you probably know, to get much more than 400 honest hp out of something like a stock-block/heads old Pontiac usually means giving up streetability. That’s fine for a bracket racer, but I like to drive my car on the street!

          Truthfully, I ought to leave it alone and just save up money for a proper repaint. Mechanically, the car is near 100 percent. The body/paint still looks ok for an almost 40-year-old car, but it could use a cosmetic refresh.

          I’m working on our “guesthouse – a two story (main plus loft) unfinished building – which will be used to house the bikes when it’s done. The first level will be a display area for my restored antique bikes and the one really nice new one. This will be a cool hang-out place and also free up some much-needed garage space.

          Then I can consider another car!

          • You could wrap that 455 up and save it. Install any number of small block Chevy’s to get well over 400, even 500 HP and be streetable. They ain’t cheap though. It would handle better no doubt. An old style 400 small block punched out and stroked to well over 400 CI can be mighty streetable and raunchy to boot. I don’t have to tell you about the newer small blocks and their great heads and potentials though. Face it. An SBC with a hot profile just idling will not only get lots of looks but you’ll be grinnin’ every time you stick your foot in it. And yes, nobody will mistake it for a 455. I know, I know, just sayin’.

            • Heresy!

              I could never bring myself to do that.

              A big part of the car’s appeal – to me – is that it’s not like modern cars. Put a powerful SBC in it – and it becomes like every other car with a powerful SBC in it. To me, quickness is not everything.

              The SBC is a brilliant design. I admire and respect it – and I have no problem with others who choose to put one in whatever.

              But I enjoy summoning to life the sound and feel (and torque) of an engine that isn’t yet another SBC. Something different – an engine you don’t see (or hear) every day. (This is also why I love old two-stroke triple Kaws. Nothing else sounds like that.)

              True story: I was at a car show with the TA and got to talking with a high school kid, I guess about 16 or so. He was google-eyed when I explained that “455” meant 7.4 liters – almost as many cubes as a current Viper V-10. You and I and others who are old enough have personal memories of a time when there was a plenitude of other-than-SBC engines out there. Those days are long gone. Being able to see/hear an engine that hasn’t been produced in going on 40 years is an intangible cool thing that may not obviate all the rational reasons to “go SBC” – but that’s not necessarily the point.

              The best analogy I can come up with is a WWII-era battleship vs. a modern missile frigate. The frigate is superior in every way as a fighting ship – but it just doesn’t summon the awe of seeing a 60,000 ton Iowa cleaving the seas, those 16 inch turrets preparing to fire a broadside of steel 20 miles over the horizon….

          • A favorite car, when sorted to near 100%, is very rewarding.

            My self, I would just make that engine compartment look new.

            A fun space to share your interests/hobby can be a source of many good times.

            I actually can’t figure how you have the time to do any projects, Eric.

          • eric, I was yanking your chain. I know you’re a purist. I can appreciate that too. The old 455 HD’s were monsters, tons of torque from idle on and the ability to rev too. While we can no longer use 11.5-1 compression, 10-1 is not uncommon and will operate fine on premium. Cam design is so much better than it was years ago I think your engine would probably gain a huge amount with just that mod. It’s no longer expensive, and when I say expensive, I’m only talking 50% more for a special grind compared to buying one off the shelf.

            • Yup!

              One of the main issues with the classic Pontiac V-8 (as you know – but for the benefit of those who may not) is that compression ratio was to a great extent determined by the heads used (and chamber volume). My “6X” heads, for example, yield an appx. 7.6:1 CR (yes, you read that right!) I had a set of “48” heads from a RA III 400; these come close to 11.0:1 – but it’s very hard to run that high a CR in one of these engines on pump gas, even today’s higher-octane stuff. Most Pontiac builders I know recommend no more than 9.5:1 or so for a street engine using the factory cast iron heads. You can probably get away with more using the aftermarket (Edelbrock, etc.) alloy heads, which are functionally superior in every respect.

          • On engine choice we can thank the bankers, the regulators, and the business school graduates for that.

            The bankers who took our wealth so we as a people can’t afford the vast array of choices, the regulators who take free market choice away, and the business school graduates who don’t understand product but think they can hang different badges on things to make them different.

        • There was something “Beau James” about those old Buicks and such,for some reason the Chevelles(excuse my spelling) just didnt match it,they were sweet cars(the chevys) but it was nice to have something the same but different-Kevin

  15. I propose a contest…Name the year, make, and model, of that half of a gas tank.

    Great article and some very good comments.

    And, yes, keep any oil out of a modern engine and its exhaust system.

    And, old ‘in tank’ fuel filter socks, are susceptible to melting with alcohol amended fuels.

  16. Good tip on the Stabil Blue; I used it every other time I pump gas and have noticed quality difference when I do so. It’s not real cheap but is worth it for the peace of mind; especially here in the very wet winter clime of the Pacific N.W.

  17. As I think I mentioned then, for real off the grid use, adapt it to use a gasifier that can burn locally foraged fuel. A purist would say, use a steam engine or a Stirling engine, but that would take a lot more fabrication from scratch.

  18. Do not burn oil adulterated fuel in a modern auto ever! its alright to consume it in an old wheezy clunker without a converter.

    Always run your power equipment dry of gasoline; you listed some good ways to do that. I’ve done this for years and never had any problem on the restart on the older engines,modern gaskets do not dry out.

    If I ever get a backup generator,it will be propane powered or a solar powered minimal backup system,thus avoiding most fuel storage woes.

    As for corn for cows,No! grassfed much better; cows weren’t designed by the Good Lord to eat corn,I don’t even waste the garden space growing corn generally(much prefer to support the local farmers market for they’re reasonably priced and delicious “Peaches and cream,” “Hollaway” or” Silver queen” corn (I try not to put anything in my mouth made in China)

    Kevin

    • Amen, Kevin –

      I gave Bee the same advice.

      And on the generator: A few months back I wrote about converting to dual (or multi) use. Mine can run on natural gas, propane or gasoline. Good to have options!

      • Great suggestion on the dual fuel conversion on the generator. Another suggestion that I might make is that if you are a serious do it yourself tinkerer would be to get yourself a welder-generator combo. (mine’s a Lincoln Weldanpower). If you know how to weld and like to build or fix things it will probably never sit long enough to gum up very much. If you don’t know how to weld take a class. It’s worth it.

          • Propane is a forever fuel and so are engines that run on them. The new welder/generators are great, no matter if they’re red or blue(Miller). I am a dyed in the wool propane guy because the fuel lasts forever as does the engine and having a 250 gallon tank with a wet line for filling anything you want is a great thing. I can run my grill, generator, tractor(’68 J.D. 4020)for a long time on one tank($2.25/gal. this year). No worry about leaking carb into oil pan, no gumming up and no fuel going bad. What’s not to like? I understand propane goes faster than gas but 200 gallons(80%)is nothing to sneeze at and that’s just my small tank.

            • Agreed, Eight –

              That’s exactly why I converted my gennie to be capable of operating on both propane and CNG – as well as gas!

              The plan is to get that 250 gallon tank, too…

  19. Eric,

    I store gas with 2 stroke oil & Stabil for summer use in my lawn equipment. In late fall I have left over gas/oil mixture left over. Less than 1 gallon left over. Could I put that in my car to use it up? Would the 2 stroke oil mess up my fuel injectors?

    Thanks,

    • Hi Bee,

      I would never – ever – use gas mixed with two-stroke oil in any modern emissions-controlled car. You’d very likely foul the 02 sensors and quite possibly destroy the catalytic converter(s). This could cost you hundreds – possibly thousands (some OE cats cost $400 a piece and many new cars have several cats) of dollars. You’d be paying for the repairs yourself, too – because using two-stroke oil in any amount would absolutely void any new car’s warranty coverage.

      Never, ever do this!

      • In 1/2/13 Providence Journal, Car Talk hosts Tom & Ray Magliozzi say it is OK to mix oil & gas mixtures with your cars fuel tank. I also would never put this in a $ 40,000 vehicle gas tank.

        • If they say that, they should expect to get sued – when someone follows their advice, has a problem – and discovers their warranty coverage is void.

    • As Eric points out the two-stroke oil is bad for the modern car. I mix it with fresh fuel and burn it my old lawn mower. I burns a little smokey but as far as I can tell does no harm and shouldn’t.

      • Here’s the deal. Most two-stroke oil is 50.1, not much oil and Amsoil is twice that ratio. I have used countless gallons(20 or more at a time)two stroke and throw it in the tank with that much or more reg gas and no problems. Yes I understand there could be but there never has been for me. I wouldn’t hesitate to put two gallons of two stroke fuel in a Porsche with a close to full tank. Think about your ratios here. 2 gallons reg gas and 2 gallons 50 to one=100 to one, 2 more gallons reg gas=200 to one, etc. You’ll never even smell it or know it’s been put in there. I’ve even run 20 gallons two cycle in an almost empty pickup, so long cataclysmic converter, no more grass fires when you stop. Try it, you’ll like it.

  20. Oh, I almost forgot about ethanol’s good points…

    In the interest of fairness, these must be mentioned:

    Ethanol has goosed the octane rating of fuel – which in turn has allowed the car companies to build mass-market engines with high-compression engines, which are both more powerful as well as more efficient.

    In the interest of fairness, we should mention that this feature means that cars optimised for alcohol based fuel (all the way up to pure ethanol or methanol) can get roughly the same mileage per gallon as petrol optimised ones, and even better mileage for weight of fuel. The only poorer mileage comes from using alcohol based fuel in petrol optimised cars, or petrol in alcohol optimised cars. But the newer cars may not be fully optimised, so they can still run acceptably with real petrol. I think one of the other comments touched on this.

  21. IF the Otto-cycle engines were optimized for ethanol and/or ethanol/gasoline blends, that’d be one thing. Like Eric and other posters mentioned, different compression ratio, valve timing and profile, stainless steel fuel lines and tanks, ethanol-resistant hoses and gaskets. But that’s in the realm of engineering. Running on “corn likker” is NOT a new technology. The old Model T Fords with their low compression and “loose” (by modern standards) manufacturing tolerances could run on gasoline, ethanol, methanol, or kerosene, or mixtures thereof. An experienced driver learned to adjust his spark plug advancement (manual) IAW the fuel in operation of his “Flivver”. There is a REASON, like with the early Electrics or the Stanley Steamers, why alternatives in motor vehicle propulsion and fuels were largely abandoned. Cost (usually the deciding factor), reliability (gasoline-powered cars became simpler and lighter than comparable electrics and steamers), and versatility.
    Also, ethanol fuel production doesn’t survive w/o Government subsidies. It’s about winning votes in the Corn Belt, which the Republicunts are ahead of the Jackasses in that game. Also, Agribusiness conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midland have the Federal Government in their pocket for the ethanol boondoggle.
    I have no objection to free market solutions to using ethanol fuels. I have a paperback from the early 80’s that takes the “Mother Earth News” approach (simple down-home methods of alcohol production from locally-available feedstocks). I suspect that any successful local initiatives that didn’t fatten the profits of ADM and line the politician’s pockets would soon warrant attention from the ATF, the FBI, and other Government alphabet soup that exists to perpetuate the corrupt system.

    • Ah… ethanol fuel production can survive without government subsidies (or their near equivalent, mandates), in times and places with different conditions to today’s U.S.A. It’s close to that in Brazil now, though I think they do have a small subsidy. Even in the U.S.A., or in Australia where I am, it would make sense on a small scale without subsidies for people who went off grid, provided they only used it for personal transportation and didn’t use it to power farm equipment (which would make for a wasteful cycling of resources in their home-based economy, that they could improve by running that off gasifiers burning crop waste).

      • Corn ethanol is not profitable without the artificial market conditions. It’s like spending $2000 on diesel fuel to produce 1oz of gold. It is simply not a profitable venture. It takes more mineral aka fossil fuel in both dollars and energy than what is created in ethanol. When there are mandates and/or subsidies the profit is there, in the real world there isn’t. This is why statists say ‘the free market fails’. It’s when whatever they think is best can’t make a profit.

        In Brazil ethanol is made from sugar cane. This is profitable process to make ethanol. Part of the sugar cane plant provides the fuel to make ethanol from the rest of the plant. The solar energy is effectively put into a usable form without consuming other forms of energy in the process.

        Ethanol is all in how it is done. Which is why corn ethanol wouldn’t be an effective fuel in a free market.

        • Everything Brent said is correct. From an ex-NASDA(USDA off-shoot) employee. Also, many other plants including hemp are fine for making ethanol and doing it profitably. Think what the bread basket of this country could produce if hemp were legal….and that’s just why it isn’t. Oil companies as well as chemical companies don’t want any competition. Farming cotton is much better…..says Monsanto who has the only chemical that’s used to kill weeds, RoundUp. Now all cottonseed is RoundUp ready. Billons of dollars of profit and polluting the earth like nobody’s business.

  22. Thanks for the tips Eric, especially about the Sta-Bil. I’m in Florida and have an emergency generator that I keep full of gas (if you need to use it, gas may not be available. I also keep two 5-gallon cans). Perhaps the best thing to do is after a test run I should just shut off the gas valve and let it starve. Any suggestions about generators?

    • Hi Rich,

      np!

      On the generator… I have one, too (been using it a lot recently; we had a major ice storm last week and lost grid power for two days) and here’s my procedure:

      * Fresh fuel every six months – even if treated. Drain tank, run the old fuel in something else (like lawnmower).
      * Treat fresh fuel with Sta-Bil, run gennie once a month for 10 minutes – and let it die “naturally” by turning fuel valve to “off.” Top off tank with fresh/treated fuel. Never leave gennie for extended period with partially full tank.
      * Change oil once a year,irrespective of hours in service.

      This may be a bit overly compulsive, but when you live in a rural area prone to frequent (and often long-term) grid power outtages, the last thing you want to deal with is a gennie that won’t start when you need it to!

  23. Even at an alleged 300 gallons per acre I question the sense of ethanol. I’d rather have an acre of food*or forest . . . or a pond.

    Planet earth desperately needs a steady and dramatic reduction in the naked ape population. The planet is infested with the ugly things.

    tgsam

    *There are many crops that are much more nutritious than corn.

    • I’d amend that to Clothed Clovers!

      Reminds me of a refrain from a ’90s song I can’t recall the title of:

      “… Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding… The cretins cloning and feeding…”

      It’s absolutely true. And we have government to thank for it.

      Huxley and others wrote of dystopic futures engineered for the Herd Animal sort of man. To be ruled over by a few Shepherds.

      • Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta

        I’m not sick, but I’m not well
        and I’m so hot ’cause I’m in hell

        Been around the world and found
        That only stupid people are breeding
        The cretins cloning and feeding
        And I don’t even own a TV

        • The ignorant have always been the populators of the planet. Several years ago there was an outcry in Mexico because the US corn crop was being used for alcohol and there weren’t enough imports to feed that country. This could easily play out in this country too. It takes a gallon of diesel to make one gallon of ethanol. So why do it? Big subsidy, big ag. The REAL corn farmers hate the ag corps. that farm for the govt.

    • “Planet earth desperately needs a steady and dramatic reduction in the naked ape population. The planet is infested with the ugly things.”

      I didn’t think you could saddle that hobbyhorse in this thread, but maybe I underestimated the strength of your delusion. Sure, pal. There are too many of us and we’re all going to die.

      BTW, are you part of the “infestation of the ugly things”? Why on earth do you keep spouting this leftist garbage here?

  24. Too bad they do not sell both side by side. 100% gas next to 90% (soon to be 85%) gas, priced accordingly.

    I assume it is due to mandate that the “newer” fuel is pushed to as many people as possible. I would think that there would be many people choosing to use 100% gas when feasible.

    • I suspect that there are financial penalties to vendors who buy 100%, probably in the form of higher taxes or some such nonsense so that his mark-up has to be higher. Here in Florida I only see 100% where there’s lots of people buying for outboard engines.

      And thanks for the tip about running the marine-grade Stabil, Eric. I hadn’t even considered running it instead of the normal grade. Btw, a mechanic recently told me that a dry chainsaw is nearly as bad as one that’s had 90% sit in it. Why would that be? Dried-up rubber bits?

      • I’ve had to replace all the o-rings and seals in my CBR1000 carbies after having stored it dry for about a year. Probably because they were older 1995 vintage (or earlier) seals originally. Hopefully they’ll last longer this time.. :/

      • You bet, Mike!

        On the chainsaw: Well, they are two-strokes – so no gas means no lubricating oil. But this shouldn’t be an issue if the engine’s not running. Internal parts should be protected by the light oil film from the last use. I use my saw (Stihl) so much that I usually leave it with a full tank of treated fuel prior after use rather than drain it. But I’ll check the manual, see what it says and report back….

          • A friend always does that but I don’t. I’m not sure why I don’t. I used to do it but always think I’ll be using my saw(Stihl, his too)soon so not draining it will be better. I should know better. Back when my saw was a couple years old they ran a load of alcohol fuel in on me. They did this going way back in the most unusual place in Texas. I always used Chevron with Techron(blue gas) and things were fine. One day I was coming back in from a big job and filled my welder with gas and then my other portable tanks. I realized as I was finishing that the gas had alcohol in it(smelled it and then looked at it, not blue)so I made a mental not to use it all up quickly, generally not a problem. I tried to separate my good gas from new stuff but I always had so much gas in store I got it mixed up. I was cutting wood right after that and my saw started to do funny things. It finally started revving really high and I was wondering what the problem was when it just revved way up and quit, out of gas, right?, no, plenty gas in the tank…..so I pulled the pickup, which was a rubber component, not like the hard plastic replacement when I had my engine rebuilt. The orginal component was gummy and had sucked shut(the rubber had degraded and just gave up its ability to stay round), leaning the engine that was virtually new and ruining it. I was so pissed, not at just the fuel seller(still, Techron, Chevron gas advertised)but at myself for not checking the gas I was using. Now it doesn’t matter. There is no real gasoline in the entire country, maybe not in the state. Screw me again. I had called Stabil about my boat and they said there was nothing they made to address two-stroke gas as far as alchohol was concerned and left me hanging in the wind. I told them they were doing a disservice to everyone not making anything compatible with two-cycle gas. They acted as if I were speaking Swahili. Then I had big problems with my big Merc, the entire fuel system except for the tank, fuel lines, fuel pump and carbs. Just screw ’em.

        • I checked the manual, it also says to remove the spark plug and put a little 2stroke oil in. mine saw is an Echo. Some winters I drain, some winters I just make sure to run it every 30 days even if I don’t use it. Both ways of doing things have worked out so far.

      • If you know you’re not going to be able to run whatever it is for six months or more, it’s probably a good idea to store it dry – with no fuel in the system. Even though Sta-Bil and other fuel stabilizer claim that their products can prevent fuel from degrading (and your machine from being gunked up as a result) for as long as a year when properly dosed, draining the tank/carbs/lines is arguably one of those better-safe-than-sorry things. There’s no harm done by doing it …

        Ah… the way I heard it, when people were laying up their cars in the U.K. for the duration of the Second World War, that was a bad idea. Rather, as well as putting them up on blocks (to stop the tyres deforming under a steady weight) under cover, they left a little fuel in the tanks to keep them sweet and stop things like fuel lines splitting or separating (by analogy to leaving a little fresh water in the bottom of a boat laid up over winter, where it stops the wood from shrinking; that’s also called “keeping it sweet”), then they ran them on idle every few months to keep the batteries from deteriorating. (I once read a very funny article from Punch that said that even that would have failed over the years on every other car but the author’s antique, because they all had rubber parts that would have rotted while his didn’t.) Military engines were often laid up packed in sorbolene, much as guns were. Maybe modern materials don’t have the same volatiles in them that they would lose if they weren’t kept sweet like that, but suppose someone just happens to have a machine that’s still vulnerable to that. That mechanic’s advice may relate to this, particularly if he learned around older equipment that was vulnerable to it.

    • It depends where you are. In my area (SW Va.) there is a station in town that does sell “regular” (100 percent gas) and “unleaded” (E10) side by side. The real gas costs about 15 cents more per gallon.

      • I think PA is the closest I am to 100% gasoline.

        15¢ more per gallon is worth it in my opinion. Theoretically that should be about 10% more mpg for less than 10% increase in cost.

        • It’s worth it to me chiefly for the decreased likelihood of alcohol-related problems in occasional use equipment such as riding mowers and so on. Also, older (pre 1990s) vehicles that were built with components not meant to deal with alcohol-laced fuels.

          Also, with regard to older vehicles – especially older air-cooled bikes: E10 amounts to a lean mixture (unless the bike’s carbs have been re-jetted) and running a leaner A/F ratio means the engine will run hotter.

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