Ethanol Fuel

I live in South Central Pa. and drive a 2003 Explorer 6 cylinder 4wd. This car was built to run flex fuels. I have found that I can now get ethanol fuel 85% ethanol & 15% regular gas. IWhen I used regular gasoiline I was getting about 100miles plus to the quarter tank. Overall I was getting about 20mpg city and highway combine out of a full tank. Since I have been using the ethanol blend I have noticed that I am still getting about 100 miles to the first quarter tank and about 300 miles to the tank overall. I can get the ethanol for as little as $1.99 to $2.59 gallon compared to $3.00 plus a gallon. It is pretty much of a no brainer about the price. The mielage is the puzzler. If anyone has any suggestion or comments about how to improve my mileage (other than getting rid of my guzzler) I welcome them.

Ethanol has less energy than gasoline, meaning you’ll burn more fuel for the same performance. There currently is no fix, except to return to regular gasoline. Funny how not much is said about that in the ads.

Yup, as I recall, E85 has 72% the energy content of gasoline.

As others have said, ethanol contains less energy per gallon than gasoline. So you have to burn more ethanol to get the same performance that you would from gasoline.

But what I want to know is, did you look in the owners manual to see if the service intervals/specifications change when running E85?


Yup! The dirty little secret regarding ethanol is that your mileage is reduced, thus making it not so much of a bargain unless it is substantially cheaper than regular gasoline.

While ethanol produced from sugar cane might be a good environmental solution, the US approach of making ethanol from corn is probably one of the bigger scams to come down the pike in a long time. Have you noticed the price of food recently? One of the factors in the 5% rise in food costs over the past 6-12 months is the fact that much of the corn in this country is now being diverted to ethanol production. In reality, the only people who are really in favor of this scheme are farmers and the politicians of both parties who are courting votes in Iowa and other states that produce a lot of corn.

Besides the inflationary effect on food prices, once you factor in the necessity to transport ethanol by tanker truck rather than by pipeline (it is too corrosive to run through the pipes), the overall energy efficiency of this fuel goes down even further. Just as with the current crop of hybrid vehicles, I predict that the ethanol craze (at least corn-derived ethanol) will end after the widespead introduction of Clean Diesel technology.

Cellulosic Ethanol, produced from products like the waste from saw mills and from plants like Switch Grass, does make some sense–unlike corn-derived ethanol. Of course, you will still have the problem of not being able to transport ethanol by pipeline, but at least you would not be driving up the cost of food through the use of Cellulosic Ethanol.

But, as it is currently produced from corn in this country, I believe the whole ethanol craze to be little more than a scam once you factor in all of the negatives. Cellulosic Ethanol is not yet a reality, but once the technology is perfected, it would make a whole lot more sense than corn-derived ethanol.

You should expect 15-20% lower fuel mileage with E85. That’s just the way it is. At $2 a gallon it’s probably worth it. At $2.60 it’s questionable.

Read your owners manual concerning E85. Some manufacturers require more frequent oil changes when using E85. I have to ask myself, “Why?”

“I have to ask myself, “Why?””

…and that’s why you’re not a lobbyist for agriculture.

Basic laws of nature and chemistry dictate that the smaller lighter molecules of ethanol have less heat content than those of gasoline. But they do allow a higher compression ratio, which would only be feasible if you only burned ethanol. In the MPG post we stated that diesel fuel, with heavier molecules, has a better heat content than gasoline. I lived in a foreign city where many of the taxis ran on subsidized Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The drivers liked it except for the need to fill up frequently. Natural gas is the lightest hydrocarbon fuel.

On a previous post, E85, we concluded that ethanol from corn was an immoral product to get farm votes. I still believe that; at least 85 % of the total heat content is expanded in making the stuff, and it is driving up the price of corn and other cereal crops. Ethanol from sugarcane, as made in Brazil, is a sensible product, however.

Thank You,
I did not check that but I will. Although it really doesn’t matter too much from everything I have read in response to my post. I will probably be switching back to regular gas anyhow. The ethanol is still hard to locate and a drive from my home to get it.

I cannot tell you how good it is to see you post this. It shows the truth is spreading, and more and more people are starting to realize that ethanol is one of the biggest scams to be foisted upon the public since Harold Hill sold a marching band to a gullible Iowa town.

How ironic that the epicenter for the ethanol craze in this country is, in fact, Iowa.

Never mind!

The break-even pump price for E85 based on its lesser energy content can be computed from:

E85 cost/gal ? Gasoline cost/gal ? (0.15 + 0.85 ? 0.66) or

E85 cost/gal ? 0.71 ? Gasoline cost/gal

where 0.66 is the approximate ratio of the energy content between pure ethanol and gasoline.

Therefore, with gasoline at $3.00/gal, E85 must be $2.13/gal or less for E85 to be the cheaper alternative.

Doesn’t ethanol burn cleaner/pollute less/keep the engine clean & free® of carbon deposits? Rocketman

Doesn’t ethanol burn cleaner

Depends on what chemical you’re measuring. Some come out cleaner, and with some ethanol is the greater polluter by far.

/pollute less

At the car itself, the pollution might be a little less (again depending on which chemical you’re measuring), but you have to also consider the entire ethanol chain. We don’t have to grow oil - we just go out and collect it. We have to grow the raw product for ethanol, and largescale farming is an environmental disaster. From the pesticides and fertilizer to soil runoff and nitrogen depletion, corn is very environmentally taxing to grow. Additionally the tractor, the spreader, the combine, and the transport truck all use diesel, which once again burns oil. Just because the pollution isn’t AT the car doesn’t mean it’s not caused BY the car.

/keep the engine clean & free® of carbon deposits?

100% gasoline keeps the engine clean and free of carbon deposits too. There are additives in the gas that are specifically designed to do this.

The main benefit of ethanol is the lower oxides of nitrogen (NOX) produced, which is achieved with as little as 5% ethanol added. NOX causes photochemical smog, for which Los Angeles is famous, but many other cities like Denver, Houston and others are now suffering through. I would be in favor of the 5% since it has a significant benefit in urban areas. It does nothing to reduce greenhouse gasses (CO2) of course, or total energy use. Since ethanol burns cleaner inside the engine, you would have fewer deposits, like burning propane, for instance. EXXON developed an engine oil for gas fired engines (propane, natural gas) which allows 20,000 miles between oil drains. So burning light fuels may make your engine last a while longer.

As a side note to this. I was back in upstate NY this weekend visting family.

There use to be a Miller Brewery in Fulton NY (about 20 miles nw of Syracuse). The plant is being coverted to Ethanol fuel plant…The FIRST in the North East.

shouldn’t be too hard. Ethanol is just moonshine. They mix in gas at the factory before it gets shipped out, even for the pure stuff, just so people don’t buy it and drink it.

Ethanol is lots of politics rather than good science.

The agricultural community has, to its credit, achieved two great accomplishments. They’ve found profitable markets for almost all of their byproducts and they’ve managed to get the fedaral government to pay them to keep total production down…to not grow crops…to keep the market prices up. In order for any dent to be made in the use of dinosaur fuels via ethenol, agricultural production would have to increase substantially. And the feds pay the growers to not increase production. Anybody else notice a paradox there?

And the jury is still out on whether the energy use to produce ethenol is lower than the energy it provides. However, politics marches on.

That’s a higher and better use than brewing the Champagne of Bottled Beers. ;^)