Newer cars are OK. It apparently messed up my snow thrower last year as
manufacturer says not to use it as it attacked seals. When gas station
tanks here were converted to hold it, they had to clean all the tanks as
residues could have dissolved in the E10 and messed up cars.
It cannot be transported by pipeline for the same reason. Car
manufacturers have taken this into account.
Government mandated E10 as it is supposed to keep down pollution. Data
to me is doubtful but agribusiness had a lot of bucks to convince congress.
Pure ethanol only has about 60% the energy value of gasoline so mileage
will be slightly lower with E10.
I hate the stuff. I keep a running spread sheet on my 2006
Forrester's gas mileage. December - February, all the gas
stations down here, except one, dope there gas with Alcohol.
My gas mileage drops from an average of 24.5 MPG to 14 MPG.
So, watch your gas mileage. Very expensive to run!
Alcohol in the gas also is purported to screw up your
catalytic converter. Reference:
And, since Subi just replace my CAT due to a P0420, no, and
I mean no Alcohol will ever pass my Subi's lips ever again.
My 2 cents,
Good luck to you, but in my area, high ozone, all gas must have
ethanol in it. I would gladly by pure gas for my snow thrower, as
mentioned above, and all my other home and garden equipment.
The ethanol requirement is actually an oxygenate requirement, i.e. gas
must contain a percentage of oxygenated compounds. The oil companies
discovered methyl t-butyl ether satisfied the requirement, was cheaper
and raised octane much more than ethanol. Unfortunately a ppb in your
water makes it taste bad and everybody banned it.
All the mandated botique gasolines make gas more expensive and
If someone went from 24.5 to 14, that is more than just ethanol. The
energy content of ethanol is abotu 70% of gasoline. So if it is doped
with 10% ethanol, the theoretical loss just from that would be about 3
percent. You could add other factors in to explain the loss that have
nothign to do with ehtanol, like lubricants not getting up to temp as
fast in cold weather, thus creating more drag. Cold startups use more
fuel since it doesn't atomize as well. However, even if you were to
account for all that, you should only get slightly higher losses. If a
car is experiencing a nearly 50% loss in mileage, something else is
Subarus won't have problems with the seals being attacked by ethanol.
The seal technology has addresed that. People run E85 in these engines
with no issues.
In the early days of ethanol carbureted engines, or those with dirty
fuel injectors had problems on cold start up. The fuel wasn't atomized
well enough and would reach the chamber walls in droplets, which would
clean the film of oil off the cylinder walls. This isn't an issue with
newer engines though.
It does boost the octane a couple points. I had a pickup years
ago that would ping with regular unleaded but ran fine with the 10% ethanol.
This was a fuel injected engine.
One other advantage is gas lines won't freeze up. The alcohol will
prevent it. Heet and those other gas line anti freeze products are just
The BIG problem with ethanol is what makes it work so well as a fuel
drier - it's affinity for water.
When it has absorbed all the water it can hold at one temperature, a
small drop in temperature can cause "phase separation" where the
ethanol and water "drop out" of the gasoline.
When that happens, believe me, it's NOT pretty. When that bollus of
hooch hits the fuel pump and injectors, NOTHING runs right, if at all.
So you've actually seen this happen?
The only problems I've heard of were way back when ethanol first
came out. Some vehicles had problems because of rubber components
deteriorating because they weren't designed for ethanol. The other
problems were caused when people switch to ethanol blends. The blend
cleans the gunk out of the fuel system and fuel filters plug.
I got curious so took a quick look online. Storage tanks have
sensors on them to alert the operators if the water level in the storage
tanks gets too high. Vehicle fuel tanks are also supposedly warmer than
the storage tanks so the phase separation reverses itself once the fuel
is in the tank.
Yes I've seen it happen. I've seen it happen in snowmobiles too, and
the 2 stroke engine is quickly destroyed by running lean and without
lube. Generally it is more of a problem on vehicles without sealed
tanks (pre-evap emission).
It's REALLY nasty when you get a "cold snap" - and the reason Mogas
with Ethanol is FORBIDDEN for aircraft use, even when a Mogas STC is
in place. It gets colder as you go up and sooner or later, if there
is any moisture in the fuel, you are in TROUBLE.
It's bad but not too bad for modern cars. But if your car was not
designed with 10% ethanol in mind, not only it will have earlier
failure of some engine components (seal would be the first
to go, I think) but it will also have slightly
lower fuel economy.
In a nutshell, 10% ethanol in gasoline is an indirect tax you pay
to subsidize farm industry. The subsidies are absolutely required
because ethanol is economically not viable in the USA in
comparison to gas.
In theory they add ethanol for two reasons:
1. To reduce dependence on foreign oil.
2. To reduce pollution because ethanol burns cleaner.
In practice, 1) above is economically too expensive by way
of using ethanol and 2) is completely false because ultimately
every process of making ethanol pollutes environment a lot
Now for a minority report. :-)
I converted my 1999 OB to run on any mix of gasoline and ethanol. When
I announced this here almost two years ago, I got tons of warnings,
but none of them has panned out. My fuel injectors, pump, tank, hses,
-- all are OK.
What I did not expect was the increase in performance on E85. The car
has more pickup then before. I am not an automotive engineer, but I
suspect that the higher octane the permits more spark advance. (I
learned about the "knock sensor" recently.)
Last year the price3 of E85 was 25% lower than regular gasoline. My
miles per dollar increased by about 10%, although my miles per gallon
was 15% lower. My 16-gallon tank now takes me only 3090 miles instead
of 400 miles.
This year, E85 is relatively higher, so I switched back to the usual
E10. If the car lasts another 100,000 miles (as I expect) the price of
gasoline may go back up above $4 per gallon, and I will be sitting
The conversion was simple. All I did was to insert a computer chip
into the electrical control line of each cylinder to give it a richer
range of mixtures. Ethanol is a fine fuel, but the energy density is
30% lower than that of gasoline. So your check-engine light will come
on, complaining about lean mixtures, if you don't use the chip. It is
available for about $100 per cylinder. Installation is easy if you
can reach your fuel injectors.
Many hasty authors write that MPG must go down in proportion to the
lower energy density, but it is not so in my Sube. Again, it is
probably because of the very high octane and the adjustments that the
on-board computer can make to the tuning. Internal compustion engines
waste most of the energy as heat, so any improvement in burning
efficiency makes up for some of the loss of MPG.
So bring on the cheap Brazilian ethanol!
Very interesting observations. A priori ethanol has lower energy value
but engines, as you point out, are not that efficient and an efficiency
increase could make up for lost energy.
As for Brazilian ethanol, agribusiness bought themselves a big tariff on it:
Wonder if it has been or will be extended.
Yes, the subsidy for corn alcohol is intended to protect an infant
industry, as is the tariff on Brazillian alcohol. But the oil
business has big subsidies too. I hope both go away.
Cellulosic ethanol is coming, but I worry about the cost.
I apologize for all the typos in my post above. But this is a smart
crowd, and I'll bet nobody was misled.
If only! :-) Make that 350 miles highway range on E85, 400 on
gasoline, more or less.
Where are you?
In Albany, NY, (state capital) we have six stations that include E85.
The state has a subsidy for stations to provide it. But west of here
in the state, there is only 1 station in 300 miles or so -- in
Rochester, NY, last time I checked.
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