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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol



  • avalon02whavalon02wh Posts: 764
    AAA is reporting E85 jumped over 50 cents in one day. Today $3.807 Yesterday $3.285 Me thinks someone keeps hitting the wrong key or two or three on the keyboard.

    "Crop's high price kills profit for ethanol plants"
    "The $7-a-bushel corn and construction costs that have nearly doubled in the past year brought the fledgling firm to its knees last week."

    What goes up too fast - explodes. :surprise:
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,374
    We were on the road last weekend for a basketball tournament (the season never stops) and I wound up having to fill up at a station that had an E10 blend. After a bit on the highway it felt like I had a little less power, but I dismissed that as my imagination and took a wait and see attitude. I was just about at empty when I filled up, and I ran out the tank driving 95 -99% highway miles, all at 55-65 mph.

    Now my car normally gets 32-33 mpg driving around locally and 33-35 mpg out on the highway. On the E10 tank I got just under 31 mpg. Now I had just put on new tires a few days before, so I figure maybe that has something to do with it as well, so I'll wait until I run the next tank through...

    In the meantime, my daughter turns 16 and gets her learners permit and she's learning to handle the clutch and 6 speed, so ALL the miles on this next tank of gas are going to be local and at least half are with a new driver behind the wheel not driving as efficiently as she eventually will be.

    Filled up this morning and the calculation came out to 32.9 mpg. So E10 gave me in the neighborhood of 8-10% less mileage. And I paid $3.95 for it vs $3.99 for regular unleaded.

    Color me not impressed


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  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Thank you for that report, you just validated my thoughts on E10.

    Now add to that the hit on your food bill. :mad:
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,661
    The misguided dash for biofuels has pushed up world food prices by 75 per cent, a major study has found.

    Demand for 'environmentally friendly' plant-based fuels has led to a slump in global food production and sent grocery bills soaring, according to the damning report from the World Bank.

    Since April, all diesel and petrol sold in the UK has contained 2.5 per cent biofuel. By 2010 the figure will increase to five per cent.

    The EU had planned a ten per cent biofuel target for 2020.

    However, following growing concerns that plant-derived fuels could be doing more harm than good, MEPs will vote whether to scrap the plan on Monday.

    The World Bank report, leaked to the Guardian, is based on the most detailed assessment of the food crisis so far.

    Kenneth Richter, of Friends of the Earth, said: 'This report shows that when MEPs vote on biofuels targets next week they will have the fate of millions in their hands.

    'Finding enough land to grow ten per cent of Europe's transport fuel will lead to more hunger and suffering as well as doing next to nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

    'Politicians must act responsibly and change course on this disastrous transport policy.

    The same goes for our bought off Congress. They need to put the people ahead of their own greed.

    Critics say biofuels take up land that would otherwise be used for food, reducing supplies and driving up prices.

    The grain needed to fill the tank of a 4x4 car could feed one person for a year.
  • texasestexases Posts: 6,079
    Thanks for the World Bank study post - it confirms what many of us have said, and directly contradicts what some ag-linked studies have inferred. Things like 'biofuels are not responsible for crop price increases'. What nonsense.
  • ronsmith38ronsmith38 Posts: 228
    Link to a BBC article on this study.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,661
    The governor of TX has asked to be exempted from the ethanol mandate. He says it is impacting the beef production. At $8 per bushel it will have a negative impact on the state of $3.59 BILLION. When will the other states that are being negatively impacted by the ethanol boondoggle start to rebel against this silly Energy Bill? Ahnold is too dumb to figure out what has happened in CA. So we are stuck with that mileage reducing crap in our gas.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary says, "You know what happens to all those little towns that have become dependent on the local still to employ them? That's right they become statistics. Casualties of the corn ethanol boondoggle. There are 90 towns in the Midwest that had a corn still in the late 70s or early 80s that are no longer there."


    Small towns in the USA dying off because an industry in the area ended has been a characteristic of American society since the 1800s.

    We have survived so far. And the people in those little towns will move on to bigger and better things or stay there and work in another job. If the town "goes away" the people don't just sit in their little house and starve to death.

    They don't all just wither and die because a company moves on.

    America is stronger than you seem to give it credit for.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,661
    Small towns in the USA dying off because an industry in the area ended has been a characteristic of American society since the 1800s.

    I understand that. I just don't like the government causing the problems. If you have not guessed I am against our government sticking there nose into private business. The ethanol boondoggle of the late 1970s is identical to this ethanol mess. It has not saved us any imported oil. It has only managed to be part of the huge run up in the price of oil and FOOD cost. It is easy for you to not worry. So far your gas has not been laced with 10% ethanol causing a reduction in your fuel economy as it has here in the land of flakes.
  • texasestexases Posts: 6,079
    Here's an article on Europe doing an about-face, starting to move away from biofuels because of their huge negative impact on food prices and deforestation:
    EU-"no" to biofuels
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,374
    Attitudes towards flex fuel are changing.

    Survey Says...


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  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Higher prices and less MPG. Doesn't take long to figure out that it's not a good deal.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,661
    Something else occurred to me yesterday as I filled my Sequoia. I had driven 152 miles in 41 days. The mileage dropped to 13.85 MPG, from the normal 14.95 MPG. I am thinking that the 10% ethanol evaporates when sitting for that period of time. All my tests indicate that E10 loses at least 10% mileage on the Sequoia.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Good point, I never gave it much thought.

    I usually never come to work with more than half a tank of gas in my Ranger and never keep track of my MPG as I use it so little, maybe 5,000 to 7,000 miles a year.
    While it sits in the parking lot at work while I’m gone 15 days I must lose a lot of alcohol to evaporation.

    What a bargin :sick:
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,374
    I don't think it's evaporation as your gas tank would need to be open for that to occur. Yes, there are fumes in the empty space in your tank, but it's a sealed system and there's no room for that much to evaporate, at least my gut is telling me that.

    If you have ten gallons of fuel in a 13 gallon tank, it feels like a very small faction could evaporate into that empty space. Now put that 10 gallons of fuel in a sealed oil tanker and I can see it all eventually becoming airborne.

    An interesting question to ponder though.


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  • texasestexases Posts: 6,079
    As much as I dislike ethanol, I have to agree that not much of it can evaporate once it's in the tank. However, you are bringing up another major problem with E10 - ethanol does have a much higher 'vapor pressure', or ability to evaporate. That's one of the specs that gas has to meet, and ethanol makes it harder to meet the spec. Harder = more expensive, of course.
  • janmac1janmac1 Posts: 1
    I've noticed with my Prius that my mileage has gone waaaay down since I've been forced to buy gas with 10% ethanol. I've lost at least 8 mpg. Nothing else about my driving has changed. This represents a 10% decrease.
  • ronsmith38ronsmith38 Posts: 228
    You were getting 80 MPG, now 72?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 36,593
    In reality.. if ethanol is only 70% as efficient as gasoline, then E10 would only be 3% less efficient that straight regular gas..

    For most people, that is less than one mile per gallon...

    Of course, the argument could be made that the mixture of ethanol/gasoline creates a fuel that is less than the sum of its parts.. Whether that is valid or not, I have no idea, but it doesn't seem likely.

    And.. one more point.. Where I live, tanks are labeled, "May contain up to 10% ethanol". So, it may have 10%, or less... or, even none at all.. You'll never know.

    I'm not a fan of ethanol.. it seems to be one big political boondoggle... but, 10% less MPG? Seems like there might be more variables at work.

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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,374
    I think the silliest thing I've heard was the claim that there's a "sweet spot" where the proportion actually gets you more mileage. Pretty good trick with adding something that doesn't have as much energy as regular unleaded and getting more out of the combo :surprise:


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  • 7milehi7milehi Posts: 28
    I know some will try to argue but on average I'm getting 4-5mpg less when using ethanol blended fuel in my 08 Taurus. For a while I kept wondering why my mpg would vary so much driving basically the same route and driving style. Then I started to pay attention where I was buyuing my fuel and here are my facts. When filling up with 10% ethanol gas I will get between 21.5 - 24 mpg. When filling up with non-ethanol gas my mpg will be between 26 - 29 mpg. This is based on 8 tank fills, and thats enough evidence for me.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Thanks for the information, very helpful on two fronts.

    1.The ethanol issue
    2.We are planning to purchase "maybe" a Taurus and I thank you for the MPG figures.
  • Do you realize America sends $2 Billion PER DAY to Middle East Countries for oil to power our vehicles? That's over $700 Billion per year. That's more than America's $520 Billion per year defense budget to protect our country.. That's more than 5 times what the Iraq War has cost. Those dollars are funding radical schools that provide the troops we're fighting in Iraq & Afganistan, the terrorists that brought 9/11 to America's doorstep and the ARAB national investment funds that have bought large stake in CITIbank, Morgan Stanley, Newscorp, etc.. Oil powered vehicles are mortgaging America's future.

    You should be THRILLED that AMERICAN innovation is trying to figure out how to power our cars. Flex fuels will create millions of jobs in America and keep BILLIONS of dollars in AMERICA.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Can someone else deal with this one, :sick: I don't have the energy.

    Thank you
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,661
    Welcome to the Forum.

    Sadly most of what you are saying is true. Except Ethanol has not SAVED US one penny in foreign oil. There are reasons to believe it has actually taken more oil to produce than the energy ethanol has provided. It was poorly mandated as a payoff to the agriculture lobby. It is corporate welfare and not to save oil. When we develop REAL alternatives I will be an early adopter. If you are truly interested in alternatives check out what T. Boone Pickins has to say.
  • It's critical we "connect the dots about the danger of dependence on foreign oil" ...sooner than later...our freedom is riding on it.
    Americans are 4% of the world population. The US has only 3% of the world oil reserves. The US uses 25% of annual oil production. That means we're sending American dollars out of the US to satisfy our oil adiction- $700 Billion per year.
    Here is a link to July 22, 2008 Senate Testimony by Dr. Gal Luft, Executive Director of The INSTITUTE FOR THE ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL SECURITY (IAGS) on “Breaking Oil’s Monopoly in the Transportation Sector” :
    The Saudi's HATE ethanol.
    Each gallon of ethanol is a reduction of American dollars transfering to t he Middle East
    Currently the yearly $3 Billion dollar ethanol subsiday reduces by $16 billion American dollars sent to the middle east. It also reduces $6 Billion NOT paid out in farm subsidies paid NOT to farm!
    Check it out: or .
    Our technology will get better. It must. Pressure your Congressmen and Senators to make it SOONER!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,661
    The gentleman is right about Brazil having a good ethanol market. Ethanol from sugar makes good sense. Ethanol from CORN does not. He rambles about Flex Fuel Vehicles becoming mainstream in America. I have in CA a 99 Ford Ranger that is Flex Fuel rated. There are only two stations in San Diego county that sell E85. The closest is 35 miles from me. It will cut my already lousy mileage even further than the ethanol laced regular we are forced to buy in this state. To say I hate corn ethanol and what it is doing to our country is an understatement. It also has some very Serious environmental hazards attached to it. I think you really need to go back on this thread and read some of the downsides to using food for fuel. If Congress was serious as was pointed out in your article. They would get rid of the tariff on ethanol from Brazil as a starting point.

    I think the Saudis love ethanol. They sell a barrel of oil to produce a barrel of ethanol from Corn. Except where they are using coal to produce ethanol. That's a real clean way to do it.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,374
    Seems like I'm not alone in getting less than stellar results from ethanol.

    Something To It?

    Ethanol is going to have to save me money or get me to use less gasoline (reduce my oil jones) for it to make sense. Right now it fails on both accounts. The price difference at the pump for the "blend" in my area ranges from NO difference to 2 or three cents lower. Less than 1%, and since I'm right around a 10% hit in mileage, I'm buying gas more often than I used to. So much for using less gas.

    They can "mandate" that our cars need to run on ham sandwhiches by 2010. That doesn't mean it will make any sense once we start to see real world results.


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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,661
    “Why Do You Put Alcohol in Your Tank?” demands a large sign outside one gas station here, which reassures drivers that it sells only “100% Gas.”

    I wish I could find such a gas station here in San Diego. I would not be so negative on Ethanol if it was an option and not a Government mandate. A mandate based on paying off corporations like ADM and Verasun. It is just a big smokescreen to make the masses feel like we have an alternative energy source. If it was a true alternative that did not need to be subsidized to exist I could get behind it. Give me some biodiesel made with algae and I will start to believe in alternative fuels.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,164
    I just had a real world example last week when I hit a station taht actually sold gasoline without the 10% ethanol. The car which hovered between 26 and 28 mpg on 10% ethanol got a solid 30 in the same mix of driving with gasoline.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
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