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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol

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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    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: 28,845
    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: 5,854
    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: 5,510
    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: 27,613
    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.

    regards,
    kyfdx
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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    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: 28,845
    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” : http://www.iags.org/LUFT_Senate_HSGA_072208.pdf
    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: www.setamericafree.com or www.pickensplan.com .
    Our technology will get better. It must. Pressure your Congressmen and Senators to make it SOONER!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,845
    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.

    PS
    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: 5,854
    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: 28,845
    “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 Posts: 9,326
    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.
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