QOTD: Ethanol? Or Ethanot?

Sure, let’s start with week with a political question. Why not? It’s not like we’ve never had an opinion or two around here (that goes for both the writers and readers).

Last week, noise was being made and digital ink was being spilled concerning the issue of ethanol. What do you want to see in your tank?

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Getting Out the Corn Vote: Trump Proposes Lifting Summer E15 Gasoline Ban

If you’re like this writer, seeing “may contain up to 10 percent ethanol” at the gas pump leaves you frowning, then reaching for the premium nozzle. It’s not just that 91 octane helps my tiny turbo run better — I don’t like paying through the nose (as I do for all grades) for slightly less energy by volume.

Should President Donald Trump move forward with reported changes to U.S. ethanol laws, you can expect to see more corn alcohol at your local gas station. And I don’t mean Jim Beam.

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Piston Slap: Corny Fuel Talk From Iowa?

Duncan writes:

My daily driver is a 2013 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec (with about 22,000 miles), making a claimed 429 hp on premium gas (91 octane, I assume). The power dips to 421 hp (claimed) when running on regular. Here in Iowa, we have the luxury of purchasing fuel with no ethanol.

The 87 octane gas w/o corn costs almost as much as 91 with. If it was your money, what would you put in the tank? 87 with no ethanol ($2.40ish a gallon), 87 with ethanol ($2.20ish) or 91 with ethanol ($2.50ish)? Running 87 or 91 without ethanol does improve mileage, whereas I do not notice an increase in performance running 91 or 93 — though it is recommended (but not required) by the good folks at Hyundai.

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Piston Slap: Decomposition of the Fuel Composition Sensor?

Longtime TTAC commentor rrhyne56 writes:

Flex Fuel. I see it more and more. From what I’ve heard, this mainly means the vehicle has a fuel system that alcohol wouldn’t eat up. (Mainly, yes. — SM)

So here’s my question: do the more recent models of these vehicles have the ability to sense what level of alcohol is in the fuel lines and adjust the engine accordingly, to make best advantage of whatever current gasoline/alcohol or alcohol/gasoline mixture is entering the engine? I watched a build on Mighty Car Mods where the Haltech engineer was tweaking just such a system.

I know, I know, I ought to just Google it. But I thought it might make for some lively discussion.

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Kitman Begins His Literary Quest to Find the Truth About Ethanol

One struggles to count on more than one finger the number of fuels debated more than ethanol — in America, corn-based ethanol specifically. Many detractors claim ethanol’s disadvantages outweigh its benefits. Proponents for ethanol in our fuel supply contend the fuel’s geopolitical positives and other factors give ethyl alcohol much needed consideration. Unfortunately, both sides of the ethanol coin have a multitude of reasons for supporting or protesting the fuel beyond the immediately obvious.

Enter Automobile’s Jamie Kitman. The man is looking to separate the corn from the husk in a new multi-part series dubbed “ The War Against Ethanol.”

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Piston Slap: Tolerate the Government's Ethanol Boondoggle?

David writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Is it worth the extra 40¢/gallon to go for 91 octane ethanol-free gasoline based on its durability merits?

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Piston Slap: E15 and The Kiss of Death?

Robin writes:

Sajeev, here is a possible line of discussion: ethanol fuel. It’s hard to find straight gasoline now and impossible in the more populous counties of Texas. E15 is around the corner. My old D21 is still running strong at over 200K (previously discussed here and here —SM) but I fear that adding E15 might be the kiss of death for its early ’90s system.

Additives, alternatives and a point of discussion?

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For First Time, E.P.A. Proposes Cutting Renewable Fuel Standards' 2014 Ethanol Requirement for Gasoline Blends

While ethanol producers have been lobbying to increase the blend of that alcohol in standard gasoline to 15%, many in the auto industry have opposed that increase, saying that it could damage cars. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has, for the first time, proposed reducing the ethanol requirement in the nation’s fuel supply. Actually, what they are proposing is a smaller increase in the overall use of ethanol, which means that the national standard may not be raised to E15.

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Piston Slap: The Corrosive Effects of Ethanol Laced Gasoline?

Misha writes:

Hi Sajeev!

I’m a long time lurker, first time asker. I was curious about the effects of E85/E90 ethanol laced gasoline. I have read a bunch about how older cars are susceptible to corrosion damage to various parts of the fuel line.

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AAA: No More Alcohol For Cars!

The AAA asked the U.S. government to prohibit the sale of E15. Only about 5 percent of the 240 million light duty vehicles on U.S. roads today are approved by manufacturers to run on the gasoline that contains 15 percent alcohol, and the other 95 percent could be ruined by the wicked fuel, says the AAA. The industry agrees.

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House Science Committee Approves Bill Blocking E15

The House Science Committee approved a bill that bars the EPA from approving E15 gasoline without a further study into its effects. The bill passed 19-7 as members voted along party lines. The bill was sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

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What's Wrong With This Picture: E15 Ethanol Is Coming Edition
Study: Ethanol Industry Must Go Back To E85 To Beat "Blend Wall"

Recently the ethanol industry has “suffered” from a problem that epitomizes the problematic nature of government subsidies. Known as the “blend wall” this obstacle was created not by negligence on the part of the industry, but by the fact that its lobbying efforts have been far more effective than its marketing efforts. The problem, in a nutshell, is that the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard mandates a steady increase in the amount of ethanol blended into the national fuel supply, from 9 billion gallons per year (BGY) in 2008 to 36 BGY in 2022… but with gasoline consumption falling and with standard pump gasoline capped at a maximum of ten percent ethanol ( recently raised to 15% for vehicles built after 2007), the industry that’s supposed to get America off gas needs more gas to blend its ethanol into. As a study in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics puts it

Total national consumption of gasoline in the United States has been about 140 billion gallons in 2010 and is expected to fall over time due to increasing fuel economy standards. Thus, at present, if every drop of gasoline were blended as E10, the maximum ethanol that could be absorbed would be 14 billion gallons. In reality, 10% cannot be blended in all regions and seasons. Most experts consider an average blend of 9% to be the effective maximum, which amounts to about 12.6 billion gallons. U.S. ethanol production capacity already exceeds this level. Thus, our ability to consume ethanol has reached a limit called the blend wall.

The solution: well, the EPA’s ruling allowing 15% ethanol blends was supposed to fix the problem, but according to this report, that “fix” would only buy some four years before the industry is back to bumping against the blend wall. The solution?

With ethanol as the primary biofuel and either blend limit (E10 or E15), a substantial increase in E85 would be required to fulfill the mandate.

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Automakers Sue To Stop E15 Ethanol Blends

When oil and food industry groups sued to roll back the EPA’s ruling allowing E15 ethanol blends in 2007 and later model-year cars, we concluded

the political tail has wagged the scientific dog on ethanol ever since the farm lobby realized that ethanol could be the next corn syrup. With any luck, this lawsuit could just be the point at which science re-asserts itself.

The missing link: the automakers. Though auto manufacturers have been slowly climbing on board the anti-ethanol bandwagon, in no small part because large domestic OEMs like GM were once closely allied with the ethanol industry, it seems that the coalition to stop E15 is now complete. A new group known as the Engine Products Group, comprised of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, has filed a new petition to block the EPA’s E15 ruling.

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Oil, Food Industry Groups Sue To Stop E15 Ethanol
  • FreedMike That wagon is yummy.
  • Syke Thanks, somehow I missed that.
  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?