E85 Boondoggle of the Day: U.S. Gov Suckers Station Owners

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
e85 boondoggle of the day u s gov suckers station owners

There are two main reasons why E85 is going nowhere fast: over-production and under-consumption. The U.S. Department of Energy has tackled the latter part of the non-equation with a federally-funded report exhorting gas station owners to get on the corn juice bandwagon. E85 Retail Business Case: When and Why to Sell E85 advises that "E85 offers relief from this [local] competition by differentiating a station as green, cutting edge, patriotic, and pro-farmer." So, greenwashing it is! What about, you know, making money? "E85 projects can be profitable investments. However, their profitability depends on numerous factors… This checklist includes robust local competition in the gasoline market, access to low E85 costs, mid-grade tanks available for conversion, large potential throughput of E85, and state or local incentives for E85 infrastructure." Large throughput as in sales? Good luck with that. Meanwhile, there's lots of agri-prop. My favorite argument: who cares about gas anyway? The money's in snack foods and car washes! And that's good news because "even if E85 drew no new customers but merely converted gasoline customers from the same store, the number of customer visits would increase. This is because a vehicle’s range is reduced by 23% to 28% when operating on E85 because of ethanol’s lower energy content compared to gasoline." The mind boondoggles.

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  • Simonptn Simonptn on Mar 18, 2008

    Can someone confirm something I heard (or thought I heard) on NPR this morning. They were talking to someone filling up on E85 in a filling station in Iowa who said it was over $5 a gallon. So it is about 40-50% more expensive than gas and range is reduced by 23-25%. My math isn't up to it but that seems to be getting close to double the price of gas. Can this be right? Why is there even a conversation still going on? So I would not be able to afford to fill up the car or to eat. Breathing won't be that much fun after that. At least it will be warm.

  • Simonptn Simonptn on Mar 18, 2008

    http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/driving/used_car_reviews/article3552994.ece On a related topic ... This is an account of how a BMW 520d went from London to Switzerland on less fuel than a Prius, including some deliberate diversions off the highway to even up the score. (And the Prius even turned off the A/C)

  • on Mar 18, 2008
    As far as fuel mixes go, I noticed in the report that engines can be optimized if they are built to solely run on E85, which seems to mean other mixes could be optimized as well. The DOE report says that an engine optimized to run solely on E85 could actually obtain 24% better fuel economy than a flex-fuel engine. Thankfully, infrastructure issues should prevent that from ever becoming a reality. Yes, by using smaller higher compression, higher output (per liter of displacement) engines. Take advantage of the high octane offered by alcohols. The problem is you wouldn't be able to operate using currently common fuels. The problem I have is that we are ignoring the environmental effects (some of us anyway) in the name of the environment and independence from foriegn oil. On top of it all, the government is shoveling our money into propping up ethanol production.