I have an 04 Ford Explorer that can use gasoline or E85. There are not many stations where I live that sell E85. Can I fill up with E85 when I find it and use regular gas when I can’t? How does E85 compair with gas as far as milage is concerned? Are there any drawbacks from using E85?

On a flex-fuel vehicle such as yours, they are totally interchangable-- no need to worry about that. The gas mileage hit for E85 is pretty severe. I’ve heard around 20-30% fewer MPG’s. Unless the E85 is significantly cheaper, which it usually isn’t, it makes much more sense to stick with the regular stuff.

As for drawbacks, the biggest one is that Ethanol doesn’t cut greenhouse gasses or reduce our dependancy on foreign oil like it’s supposed to since it takes more energy to make than it contains. As a result, more than a gallon of fossil fuels typically goes into the production and transportation of a gallon of ethanol. The worldwide push towards bio-fuels is also a major factor in steeply rising world food prices and is encouraging deforestation in many parts of the world.

I agree 100%.

Fueleconomy.gov quotes combined mileage of 12 MPG (10/14) for E85 and 16 MPG for gasoline (14/20). That means E85 needs to be about 3/4 the price of gasoline to break even. If gas is $4, then E85 must be less than $3.

It may not take MORE, but according to a recent article by the Natina geographic, in the US it takes about 85 BTUs to make 100 BTUs of ethanol, not a great performance. Sugarcane in Brazil, which needs no fertilizer and grows like crazy, needs only a small fraction of the energy to produce ethanol.

The US has import restrictions (not a total ban) on Brazilian ethanol, since it wil undercut Iowa farmers growing corn for ethanol. Is this nuts or what! I guess Brazilian farmers do not vote in US elections.

If that is the case, after you factor in the environmental damage wrought by bringing more land under cultivation, the cost is probably greater than the gain. One example of damage is the expansion of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico brought upon by fertilizer run-off. OTOH, increased sediment from erosion might help build the barrier islands off the coat of Louisiana.

Once the scientists figure out how to break down switch grass sugars as well as sugar cane then corn will be too costly to use. Hope it is soon.
That grass is hostile to farming. I am surprised with the high cost of gas more people are not walking or biking… it must not be too High yet. But could obesity in USA drop if fuel prices climb higher.

I guess Brazilian farmers do not vote in US elections.

Exactly! The only reason there’s such a push for corn-based ethanol is that Iowa grows a lot of corn, and votes first, so every presidential candidate has to pander to these yokels. Otherwise, it makes no sense to turn corn into fuel.

OTOH, increased sediment from erosion might help build the barrier islands off the coat of Louisiana.

Unfortunately not. The Mississippi and other rivers have been so channelized and leveed that they rarely overflow to deposit sediment nearby. All of it is flushed into the deep Gulf. Nothing goes to building islands.

If you are one of the three people in the USA who still think ethanol is a good idea, read this: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html from TIME Magazine.

The quote I found most memorable in the article is that the amount of corn needed to fill one SUV tank one time with ethanol based fuel would feed a peraon foer a year.

Note that farmers who raise their own feed for their cattle and hogs could sell it for more on the open market than they can the pigs they run it through. If the opportunity money is considered, each pig loses the farmer about $50-$60. Watch for ALL food prices to increase sharply until the government subsidies for ethanol production end.

Where can we grow enough sugarcane to offset corn-based ethanol?

Florida and Louisiana, but I can’t say it would be economic or not.

Agree; the good intent results in worse results than not doing it. If all the US corn crop and soy crop were turned into diesl and ethanol, it would only supply 8% of the current US fuel requirements. Planting all of Louisiana with sugarcane would probably not do it either.

The governor of one of the Amazon states in Brazil is also the owner of a 10,000 acre soybean plantation to serve the biodieselmarket!! So much for environmental stewartship by government.

When GM lobbied the government for easing the CAFE requirement they wanted FULL CREDIT for builing flex fuel vehicles so those would be excluded from the calculations. As if fuel for these vehicles was available all over!
They actually believed George Bush would by this!