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Is oxygenated gasoline really worth it?

sdayalanisdayalani Member Posts: 60
I've been debating whether to switch from conventional gasoline to ethanol-blended oxygenated fuels (10% ethanol 90% gasoline).

I've been reading a lot about the advantages of ethanol .. its characteristic to keep the fuel system clean, reduced emissions, a natural gas-line antifreeze in winter etc.

The only downsides I came across were the fact that ethanol is corrosive and since it only has about 97% of the caloric energy of conventional gasoline, fuel economy is reduced by 2-3%.

I was wondering if the pros of ethanol blended gas outweigh its cons for me to make a switch.
Any input would be welcome


  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Member Posts: 183
    My area uses mandated oxygenated fuel for 4 months in the winter. My mixed driving drops from 27-32 Miles per gallon (depending on whether AC is run) to 18. Areas 20 -- 50 miles away don't have to use it. Hard on fuel filters runs rougher, puts out more particulates.
  • namfflownamfflow Member Posts: 202
    Here in the cereal state (california) these fuels are used all year long. In my opinion, they are useless hype. They worsen gas mileage as your car's computer has to richen up the mixture to compensate for the fuel loss. The government likes it because they can say that the emissions are lower even though more fuel in consumed. The reality is actual miles driven for the fuel is the same so the true emissions output per mile, is the same. Looks great on an ad campaign and further inflates the oil companies profits.
  • hengheng Member Posts: 411
    Like the other 2 posts, oxygenated fuel is mandated in my area at certain times of the year. So how do you get to choose?
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Member Posts: 647
    ... if you drove a 20+ year old car that does not have a closed loop engine managment system, and is running a bit rich.

    Any modern car that uses an Oxygen sensor to evaluate the exhaust will simply compensate for the added oxygen by adding more fuel to the mixture.

    So it might help some older carburated cars. But again there are probably as many running rich as are running lean, so as I think and type, it will probably do as much harm as good in the older cars too.

  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Member Posts: 183
    With our area, I can drive about 25 miles and get regular gas during the 4 months that we have oxygenated fuel. It is limited to one county. Gas stations in border areas loose a lot of business in winter because the residents go over the hill to get regular gas.

    I live in the center of the county, but any trip that we take out of the area, we fill up with standard fuel.
  • sdayalanisdayalani Member Posts: 60
    re. it being hard on fuel filters, i read that ethanol has a tendency to clean up the fuel system. So if one were to use it in a car which has a dirty fuel system, it cleans up the dirt and grime that has already accumulated - and hence clogs up the fuel filter.

    one article i read said that such a problem was only limited to pre-1989 vehicles that ran on leaded fuel (leaded fuel leaves more residue and gummy deposits in the fuel tank).

    my fuel filter is due for a change in 3 months ... i guess one option would be to switch to ethanol-blended gasoline 2 tanks prior to changing the fuel filter so that whatever dirt currently exists gets accumulated.
    with current gasolines containing detergents and cleaning agents, i wonder whether my fuel system has any deposits or not.
  • dweezildweezil Member Posts: 271
    within the next year or so. It has a tendency to leach out of holding tanks and into the water table. There was a report on a town here in CA. that 60 Minutes covered that had the problem. The ethanol had gotten into the wells and pretty much killed the entire place.
    This with the CA. required upgraded tanks the gas stations had to install.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    It is MTB that is being phased out. This was mainly due to pollution of Lake Tahoe, and other groundwater sources. Ethanol is very much alive in California.
  • carnut30carnut30 Member Posts: 51
    ....and it is true that MTBE is being phased out in any jurisdiction where the citizens are making the effort.
    It is true that oxygen in fuels costs money and reduces range while producing nothing in lowered emissions in 99% of the cars now on the road.
    It is rumored that ethanol costs more in energy input than one obtains from it.
    Methanol, when wet, also has problems with forming an insoluble lower layer in gasoline.
    I think that the ether from glycol and isobutylene (call it ethylene di-t-butyl ether) would be a good one for octane boosting with fewer problems than MTBE.
    At present, oxygenated gasoline is NOT worth it in my opinion.
  • sdayalanisdayalani Member Posts: 60
    ethanol-blended gasoline costs the same as conventional gasoline - the higher cost of ethanol being offset by federal rebates.
    in addition, overall sulpur content is also reduced since etthanol displaces 10% of gasoline.

    maybe in california, sulphur content doesnt make much of a difference since average sulphur content in gasoline is 30ppm.
    but over here in toronto - canada we have among the highest sulphur levels in gasoline.

    federal regulations currently limit sulphur content to 1000 ppm, to be reduced to 30 ppm by 2005 with an interim reduction to 150ppm by july 2002.

    current average levels of sulphur in gasoline in ontario canada are around 340ppm (still relatively high) and it just so happens that the gasoline provider that supplies gas with the lowest sulphur content (180ppm) also happens to be the one that supplies ethanol-blended gasoline.

    the 3 main conventional gasoline providers have a sulphur content of 700ppm, 550ppm and 500ppm, which are still way above 180ppm.
  • daysailerdaysailer Member Posts: 720
    Federal subsidies don't fall out of the sky, they are a COST that is borne by all in taxes. Ethanol poses serious problems and increased cost as a gasoline additive, its benefits accrue ONLY to the agricultural industry.
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Member Posts: 647
    ...I have a real issue with turning corn (food) into fuel for our cars when there are people starving in the world.

  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Member Posts: 1,308
    Yeah, but here in Iowa, the farmers are loving this whole ethanol thing. Honestly, people are starving in the world more as a result of political climates than food production.
    Having said that, I don't use ethanol in either of my cars; the Volvo's owner's manual specifically recommends against it, and I notice a definite loss of fuel mileage with the Honda, on the order of four or five mpg.
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Member Posts: 647
    but I still have a problem with it.

    And yes, I do understand local political climates in third world nations are largely to blame.

    I just think it sends the world the wrong message. "We would rather turn corn into fuel than send it to starving people."

    Of course, I think Sam Kinneson(sp?) was on to something when he said instead of sending food, send U-Hauls, since you can't grow food in the desert. 8^)

  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Member Posts: 183
    In Brazil they use alcohol extensively, and it has helped the economy of the sugar cane regions.

    I wonder how much difference it would be if the ethanol was run year around. When I go winter camping it takes a lot longer, and consumes more fuel to boil water than it does in the summer. Perhaps some of the woes are caused by temp as well. At least for those of us who get it only in the Winter.
This discussion has been closed.