E10 and E15 fuels with ethanol


#1

I believe that when you buy E10 (or E15) Gasoline you really do not know what you are getting. Specifically, ethanol absorbs water (we used to use “dry gas” to absorb water and get it out of our gas tanks).

While E10 is transported or stored it is subject to “dilution” with water.

Therefore, when you buy a gallon of E10 gasoline you are buying an unknown mix of gasoline, ethanol, and water. As far as I know there are regulations (State and/or Local) to ensure you get a gallon. But who knows what proportion of the gallon is water. I hope in most cases the water is only a small part, but who knows. E15 will be able to absorb even more water.

I do know that my mileage (MPG) went down significantly when E10 went on the market. This is probably mostly because Ethanol has less energy per volume.
However it may also be due to the volume of water in the gas.


#2

The heat content of ethanol is 30% LOWER than that of gasoline. That’s the main reasion for your drop in mileage. The companies don’t want any water in the system since it will corrode the pipelines. So, there is no conspiracy to defraud you by adding water.

Having said that, I firmly believe ethanol gas is a very bad idea, since it takes valuable crop land out of production just to create motor fuel. But it got George Bush the cornbelt farm vote!


#3

While it’s absolutely true the ethanol absorbs water, it’s also a problem that once it absorbs much water it’ll separate from the gasoline. Which is a bad thing, but it’ll show up as rough driving and missing, not just as lower mpgs.


#4

I haven’t had any problems with E-10 gas in my vehicles, but it apparently doesn’t digest well with my 2 stroke roto-tiller. My garden isn’t very big, so I purchased premixed 50:1 non-ethanol fuel for the tiller.
Although my two stroke snow blower didn’t fuss about E-10 mixed with the two stroke oil, I have been giving it a diet of the premixed non-ethanol fuel. It does run better on this fuel, but the fuel is about $5 a liter at my local farm store. With the heavy snows we have had this winter here in east central Indiana, I have had to cut back on other expenses. Interesting–I have had to cut back on booze so I could afford non-alcoholic fuel for my snow blower.


#5

You’re not buying any water. If there was any water in the storage tanks at the gas station it would have been an issue many years ago when the first tanker load of E10 was dropped. Ethanol will only absorb so much water before creating something called phase separation and that would be noticed immediately by all the cars getting towed to the repair shop with gas tanks full of water. Lights and sirens go off inside the gas station if there is any more than a couple of gallons of fuel in the bottom of that 10,000 gallon tank and the pumps are shut down. There is also a filter in the pump right before the hose you use that has a valve that shuts off flow if it detects water. You’re not buying any water.

You can expect a decrease in fuel economy from E10, in short because it’s a bad thing to use in your car. There is no mechanical or economic reason for ethanol to be used in cars.


#6

E10 is OK but E15 can have disasterous effects on cars not designed for it and boats and small engines. It is regulated but there have been a number of instances of the transporters getting the mix wrong and delivering gas with far more ethanol in it than the 10%. Sometimes up to 20-30%. Repairs can be up to a couple thousand per car. So I worry more about the proper mix at a station than the mileage or anything else. I just try not to use it when I can but labeling laws vary from state to state so you really never know when you are buying E10 or not.


#7

To be fair, @Docknick , W is not the only politician who went for ethanol in order to make farmers like him (and that’s coming from a guy who thinks W is one of the worst presidents in history).


#8

I feel another never-ending thread coming on…

It’s not only that W wasn’t alone, but the whole thing was basically supply driven from the start. When farming went to BIG capital corn supply went through the roof. Prices went through the floor. Having all of that $$ tied up in tech for corn growing, BIG FARM had no other real choice but to produce even more corn. Markets had to be MADE. Ethanol, CAFO meat farming, corn in every last thing on the grocery store shelves. All brought to you by a crisis of overproduction created big capital style farming and the need to meet debt obligations or go down the tubes. I suppose it’s possible that at some point after the ethanol revolution some land got changed over to corn. But the whole thing was supply rather than demand driven.


#9

As long as we all agree that ethanol is a bad idea…I don’t really care who’s idea it was originally. I’m just ticked at the politicians still in office who are carrying this farce on into the future.


#10

The problem is that in farm country, if a politician comes out against ethanol, he’s sunk his election chances.

And while you’d think that means the farmers are screwing the rest of us, they’re the ones who are getting screwed. A lot of ethanol plants are co-ops formed by farmers who saw dollar signs a decade or so ago and decided to get in the fuel business. Now that the country is slowly waking up to the idea that ethanol is a scam, and that the 49.5-cent blend-tax credit, which artificially lowered ethanol-laced fuel prices, has gone away, demand for ethanol has gone down, and those plants, with millions of dollars of farmer money tied up in them, are going bust.

I remember talking to farmers back in '03 or so in Iowa, and they were planning to retire off of ethanol plant profits. Now it wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up having to sell their farmland rather than passing it down to their kids in order to cover their vanished investment.

An interesting article:


#11

@Shadowfax. Yes a classic case of “unintended consequences”: which are often the result of half baked government programs responding to pressue groups.

When the Brazilian goverment started its ethanol from sugar cane program in the 70s it was a response to and oil shortage (Brazil had no oil at that time) and the availability of lots of land, sunshine and fast growing sugar cane portrayed an ideal solution.

The land use did not compete with other uses, and no subsidies were needed. Today, a significant share of Brazil’s cars run on pure ethanol and the byproducts are cattle feed and the stalks are used to fire the boilers. This is a more elegant solutionto to address energy shortages.

Today the US goverment forbids imports of Brazilan ethanol because it would undercut US producers who face much poorer economics.


#12

I feel bad for the farmers who are being squeezed. But the ethanol boomlet was based on a political mandate from Congress, not sound economics, science, agronomy, or consumer demand. The market is not going to accept more than 10% ethanol in gasoline, and rightly so.

Corn is for food.


#13

I don’t feel bad for the squeezed farmers. They’re the ones who chose to grow craptons of corn because corn is easier to grow than other crops, and because they were able to get corn to worm its way into industries that it has no business being in.

With government subsidies, crop insurance, etc, farming is a lucrative business. And if you aren’t any good at farming, you can rent out your farmland and make even more money. And if your farmland happens to be on the edge of civilization, you can turn it into a subdivision and retire a multimillionaire.

I remember talking to one farmer back in the 90’s who was bitching to high heaven that he only cleared 80 grand after expenses and taxes that year. Most Americans didn’t make that before taxes.


#14

Yes, but the farmers chose to grow all that corn because Congress subsidized ethanol. The farmers followed the money just like we all do. That’s how capitalism works, you try to maximize your return on investment. Congress are the ones to be blamed for making bad policy and subsidizing a boom that turned into a bust.

As for all the other bad farm policies (subsidies, etc), that’s also Congress’s fault.


#15

Just another example of how the government (regardless of party) is a bad at making many kinds of decisions. Use them only when ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY (if then)…


#16

Its frankly amazing to me how many people keep saying “the government the government the government.” This was not at all even in the slightest bit pushed by government. This came from the very machinery of capitalism once it is done in gigantic corporate form. Continue to look at the puppet if you want, but it does no good to ignore the puppeteer.

"Corn is for food. "

Correction. Corn is for whiskey - like the finely aged stuff from a nice charred oak barrel.


#17

I don’t understand - congress enacted the laws, president approved them, EPA published (crazy) regulations, all related to ethanol. If you’re saying they did it in response to pressure from big ag, whatever, fine, but nothing had to happen until the government put it in place…


#18

Whatever texases. Continue to worry about half the problem and make it all as simple as trite and meaningless lines about how bad government is at stuff.

Aside from that, it seems to be, btw, that if elected reps (regardless of party) go to congress and represent the interests of their constituents - well, isn’t that their job?

I don’t disagree with anyone about ethanol. I just think it’s counterproductive to keep exclusive focus on government as the issue. The longer people do that, the longer the same sh tuff keeps going on.


#19

When all is said and done, however, people get the goverment they deserve, unless it is overthrown by outside forces.That tends to be true only in smaller and weaker countries. The Ukraine is a current example of Russia undermining the normal political process. Neither Canada or Mexico has much influence on US politics.

The US has, by and large over the ages had good government but with many flawed programs that were designed to bribe the electorate! Left wingers would of course say it was all a conspiracy between big business (capitalists) and the government.


#20

We rent out some South Dakota farm land and the values have gone from about $700 to $6000 an acre over the last 20 years. I’m on the fence and have to admit I don’t know enough about the whole issue, but part of the reason for the subsidies is that we needed production to exceed the demand to cope with bad years. Farmers would have reduced output in certain crops to compensate if it wasn’t for the government. Same thing with milk production. Back in the old days farmers would dump the milk rather than sell it at a loss. Then of course in the 80’s when everyone was going broke and farms were being taken back by the banks, wasn’t good for anyone. So not saying there isn’t some adjustment needed but you have to be careful not to destroy a whole industry again that many rural economies count on.