Rumors abound. I have heard that E85 fuel 1) causes about a 2 to 5 percent loss of MPG. 2) that ethanol eats seals and such and ultimately damages the car. 3) number 2 is not a problem for cars newer than 2000. 4) Does little to enhance the environment but reduces the food supply. Personally I have noticed a reduction in mileage when I used ethanol laced gasoline, but can’t quantify the loss. Are there any unbiased, unpoliticly motivated data available?

  1. E85 reduces economy about 30%. E10 is in the 2-5% range, all based on reduced BTU content.
  2. Modern cars can handle E10. Only flex-fuel can handle E85
  3. True for E10
  4. True, according to a number of studies. Current biofuels have been termed “A crime against humanity” by researchers in Europe.

Sorry, I used the wrong term. I wasn’t talking about E85, I’m referring to the 10 to 15 percent ethanol added to our usual unleaded. It seems that one really has to shop carefully for autofuel to avoid putting alcohol in the gas tank.

I’m referring to the 10 to 15 percent ethanol added to our usual unleaded. It seems that one really has to shop carefully for autofuel to avoid putting alcohol in the gas tank.

Some states it CAN’T be avoided. The feds have required a Oxygenater to be added to all gasoline. It’s either Ethanol or MTBE. Personally I’ll take the MTBE. At the low amounts that are added to gas it won’t harm the car one bit.

In my vehicles the mileage reduction is more like 5-10% when using E10. This is based on more than a year of measuring, with and without ethanol (E10, not E85).

It’s very hard where I live to find gasoline that does not have ethanol.

I don’t believe E10 will damage most modern cars. Mine are both more than 10 years old, and I use E10, mostly because I have no real choice.

I will pay extra for pure gasoline when I can find it, but it’s becoming more difficult every day.

  1. E85 will reduce your fuel economy, as will E10 to a lesser extent. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline. However, Ethanol is supposed to produce less emissions, which is why E10 is being used so much. However, this drop in fuel economy with E10 isn’t large enough to worry about, especially while gas is less than $2 a gallon.

  2. Today’s cars can easily handle E10 without any damage, even if they were made before 2000.

  3. See #2.

  4. It really depends on which kind of ethanol you are talking about. In South America they make ethanol from sugar cane. It is an efficient production process and it doesn’t hurt the food supply. Here in the USA we make ethanol from corn, which hurts the food supply and isn’t very efficient yet. If we can improve the production processes and use farm byproducts like corn husks instead of corn, we can make it without hurting the food supply.

If you want data to see how ethanol is being used properly, take a look at Brazil. Brazil is totally energy independent because they get their ethanol from sugar cane. If only we shared Brazil’s desire for energy independence, the problem would already be solved here in the USA.

Here’s the problem with sugar cane - what was growing there before? A rain forest! Great for the environment! Brazil is energy independent because of the large volume of oil they’re producing from a number of new discoveries offshore. And cane won’t work for the US, anyway.

The ability to ferment waste plant matter (e.g., corn stalks) is where ethanol becomes a viable fuel. Until then, ethanol fuel just makes some farmers in the Midwest rich.

I am not saying one solution fits everyone or every country. I just admire the fact that Brazil took control of their destiny. They were Brazil’s rain forests, not ours, and I am sure sugar cane plants also produce Oxygen. As much as I like to preserve the environment, I think Brazil did the right thing.

The time I spent as a truck driver taught me that there are vast areas of the USA where farming could be done. Something like switch grass could be planted and harvested without being fertilized or watered. Our government pays subsidies to farmers so they won’t farm and so food prices won’t fall through the floor. So in some cases, there is unused farm land with nothing growing on it. There are abandoned and uninhabited farms all over this country where switch grass could be grown and developed into biofuel, and yes, some of that farm land, especially in Florida, could be used to grown sugar cane.

Personally, I think biodiesel is more viable than Ethanol, but in any case, I believe we could become energy independent if we really wanted to. The problem is that every time we get upset at high gas prices, they come back down and we return to being apathetic. We seem to have no sense of history as long as gas is cheap.