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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol



  • bassprobasspro Posts: 34
    On your PS.. I cannot tell you exactly what ethanol does to an engine but I can tell you what I have read on many sites Auto/Truck/Marine. Mixed with fuel and NO moisture,there is no real issue.

    Of course the ethanol as we all know has less BTU's of work per cc or % of the fuel mixture and therefore produces less power per stroke of the engine unless the engine is a flex fuel and it will adjust the timing and other computer controlled items such as the duration of the injector cycle (longer open for the ethanol) to help keep the HP up.

    The real problem is when the fuel mixture is exposed to moisture in the refinery storage tank,during the blending process, moisture in the transport truck,moisture in the gas station tank,or moisture in your gas tank.

    The ethanol will mix with any moisture and settle with the water in the bottom of the tank. In the tank, depending on the contaminates, you could end up with a milky substance or an acid that will rust and corrode the tank, fuel lines, injector. If your fuel system corrodes the injectors and the raw fuel could leak by and just set on top of the engine until the next startup and corrode the piston top and cylinder walls. Problems can be slight and gradual or get bad quick.

    All that said many companies are scrambling to make products to keep the blend from separating up to bonding with the separated moisture/ethanol with varying degrees of success.

    The boating world is the worst of course,but it is an issue in the automotive world.

    That is my limited knowledge and two cents. Put a dollar with it and you can get a cup of coffee!!!!!!!!
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    That sounds like a decent explanation to me. And you can still get a nickel cup of coffee at at Wall Drug in South Dakota.

    My 99 Ford Ranger is a Flex Fuel V6. It gets horrible mileage on our CA crap ethanol gas. Best ever is 16 MPG.

    It is also wasteful. I have to drain my wood chipper and weed eater in the fall or it messes up the the carb.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    "When I bought the "no-name" brand I got 23mpg but when I bought a name brand (Mobil) I got 25mpg."

    Some of this is a repeat of my above post, just trying to drive home a thought. Quality may seem initially to cost more, but may actually be the least expensive in the long run.

    A while back a local Gas station, changed from Texaco to Shell and lowered the price to just a little more than the local "Flash Foods" station.

    FWIW: I've seen Marathon,Flash Foods and Exxon tankers filling the tanks at Flash Foods.

    Thought I would give Shell a try as they have always advertised superior mileage and now are advertising that they clean fuel systems and valves better than the others.

    Yeah, I know advertising is advertising, but thought I would prove them wrong. As it turned out my Pilot increased mileage about 10%, Went from 18-19 mpg local driving to 20-21 mpg. Hyway driving increased about the same.

    Now, the Shell is a nickel or so higher than the "FF" brands. Therefore it cost about 2.5% more for Shell but we get 10% better mileage. Plus the Shell just might run a bit cleaner in the engine. Seems to me like a win-win situation.

    I've run 6-8 tanks of the Shell and the mileage is holding. With that in mind, the Shell would have to go to 23 cents higher than the FF for break even cost vs mileage of the two..
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    They use ethanol because it´s CHEAP, not because of "political" reasons as you point out.

    And NOTHING went wrong!

    In fact, the country rid itself of oil imports because of that, something we americans try and can´t achieve!

    And now 85% of all cars are flex and they STILL make ethanol only cars.

    Don´t believe me? I lived in Brazil, you obviously did not even visit the country!

    So please don´t write stuff like that: it really makes you look really uninformed.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    "In fact, the country rid itself of oil imports because of that, ..."

    Are they not using any dino fuels now?

    "And now 85% of all cars are flex and they STILL make ethanol only cars."

    What about the 15% that are not "Flex" ? Are they just abandoned because they are not set up to burn Ethanol?

  • texasestexases Posts: 8,922
    Brazil is consuming over 2 million barrels of oil per day, has been for years, and it's increasing. The reason they're no longer importing oil is the amazing string of large offshore oil discoveries made over the last two decades. That's a very different way to become 'energy independent'!
    read more here
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Thank you. That is correct.

    Brazil is set up to make use of whatever is cheapest to run at the time. Their ethanol costs way less that ours because they make it from sugar cane which is a far superior source than corn.

    And of course they don't have to pay a 56 cent tariff to themselves...
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    For correcting our uninformed friend from Brazil.

    With sugar prices going up, look for Brazil to abandon ethanol as they have done in the past.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    1 - Brazil NEVER abandoned ethanol
    2 - Prices did go up last year because most of the sugar was sold to India, but now is actually 10% LOWER

    Please don´t write unbelievable dumb things like that, please!
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    The large offshore discoveries you mention (locally known as "pre-sal") are NOT OPERATIONAL as of now and they were discovered only last year.

    In fact, it will still take more than 5 years to start drilling, for they are over 7Km below the surface of the sea (and btw Brazil´s Petrobras is the ONLY company in the world with the deep sea technology to do it)

    I´ll tell you why america can´t become energy independent. It´s because of wishful thinkers like yourself that think america can develop other means and keep discussing the obvious, when it would be so easy just to copy the brazilian model.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    Yes, that is quite correct.

    And Brazil just dropped all tariffs on ethanol imports. However, the corn producers said they would not follow suit, claiming Brazil has internal subsidies: a LIE considering they were all dropped in 1996.

    Thank you for your knowledgeable post
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    when it would be so easy just to copy the brazilian model.

    Which countries in So America would you like US to take over and plant Sugar Cane? We do not have the capacity to grow very much sugar cane in the USA. We use the much less efficient crop, Corn for ethanol.

    And Brazil did abandon the use of E100 ethanol fuel when the price of sugar went up and oil prices fell during the late 1980s. Leaving many car owners in Brazil with no fuel for the ethanol only vehicles.

    Ethanol is not the great savior you are being led to believe.

    But an unregulated biofuels boom in Brazil could mean bust for the Amazon rain forest and a vast savanna ecosystem known as the Cerrado, environmentalists warn.

    Expanding large-scale agriculture to grow sugarcane, critics say, will worsen the loss of species diversity, water-quality problems, and habitat fragmentation in some of the world's most biologically diverse regions.

    "The primary concern is that the biofuels push will directly or indirectly increase the loss to Brazil's remaining natural high biodiversity areas, such as the Cerrado," said John Buchanan, a senior director for the U.S.-based nonprofit Conservation International.

    Sugar Farming Not So Sweet?

    The 740,100-square-mile (1.9-million-square-kilometer) Cerrado region is South America's largest savanna—one of the richest in the world, in terms of bird, reptile, fish, and insect species.

    According to a study published last year in the journal Conservation Biology, more than 50 percent of the Cerrado has already been transformed into pastureland, causing soil erosion, biodiversity loss, fragmentation, and the spread of nonnative grasses.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    By the way. Welcome back to the Forum.

    Good to have a perspective from other countries. I hope your vehicle is getting better mileage with ethanol laced gas than ours is.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,922
    edited April 2010
    Those 'pre-salt discoveries are just the latest of what is one of the longest-running strings of outstanding oil discoveries in the world, second only to (maybe) offshore Africa. Here's a recent plot of production and consumption, including a forecast. Nothing but up, on both (just about doubled production in 10 years, amazing):
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Thank you for setting the record straight. My understanding is ethanol is about 20% of Brazil's fuel consumption. It makes a good story for the eco crowd to throw around. Actually the US produces more ethanol from Corn than Brazil does from sugar cane.

    The US produces more ethanol than Brazil by a long shot. And it has not cut our consumption of oil at all. t-2008-2012/
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    Brazil did NOT abandon the model in the 80´s: there was a short shortage of ethanol due to a freeze, and that was that.

    And I can tell you for a fact because I LIVED there.

    So, unless you can provide this kind of proof you can´t really discuss here. Sorry.

    As for growing sugarcane, in the US it is done around the lake okeechobee in Florida, which has plenty of land to spare. Also, it was grown in Hawaii but they chose other crops. And finally it requires much less space than corn.

    So, it is PERFECTLY feasible. And without "having to take over" any country like the US unfortunately has had to do lately to keep its gaz guzzlers up and running (AKA Iraq)

    Do more reading or better GO TO BRAZIL and stop talking about what you can´t prove beyond some silly links.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    No, there are actually MORE cars running on ethanol than in gasoline in Brazil. That was announced by Petrobras a year ago.

    And the US does NOT produce more ethanol than Brazil "by a long shot": it just surpassed Brazil last year as well.

    And finally most of the ethanol produced is actually used by the industry to manufacture chemical products.

    In fact, it is not with the mere 10% that is mixed with gasoline of the 1200 fuel pumps that sell E85 that the US will cut its dependence on oil: so trying to say it hasn´t helped it´s just silly.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,237
    edited April 2010
    "Up to 10%" ethanol blended fuel has cut the mileage on my cars by 10%, so I'm buying 10% more fuel and using the same amount (or more since it's "up to 10%") of oil/gas to operate my vehicles.

    It's reducing our oil consumption by ZERO, and some people want to UP the percentage of ethanol in our gas??

    And if you think there's some "magic ratio" that increases mileage performance, I have a bridge and HHO kit to sell you. :P

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 128,240
    Yeah... but, if the percentage of ethanol was 100%, would your car get 100% less fuel mileage? ;)

    At some point, and with cars designed to run on ethanol, there is the possibility for saving a huge amount of oil.. and, reducing our dependence. It isn't all about your pocketbook...

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,237
    Since we don't have anywhere near the capacity to create that much ethanol (even if it were a good idea to turn food into fuel) that's kind of a straw man argument

    And I wasn't talking about MY pocketbook. I'm not using any less oil because of ethanol.

    Facts are annoying things

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    Silver 2012 Nissan Versa Hatchback & White 2019 Nissan Rogue S

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  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    edited April 2010
    There is a lot to be said about living somewhere and experiencing , first hand, things that are going on. However.....!

    >"And I can tell you for a fact because I LIVED there."

    Living there alone doesn't make someone an "Expert", or even knowledgeable on a subject. Only what they observed. Our present administration and congress are examples of sheeple blindly believing what they are told.

    >"So, unless you can provide this kind of proof you can´t really discuss here. Sorry."

    What kind of proof have you provided? You say you lived there, and you say you have the facts.

    Then you say: "Do more reading or better GO TO BRAZIL and stop talking about what you can´t prove beyond some silly links."

    Traditionally, links are how we back up statements. Other than that we are only presenting our own opinions.

    >"So, unless you can provide this kind of proof you can´t really discuss here. Sorry."


  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    edited April 2010
    Thank you.

    Our friend from Brazil would like Ethanol to be something it is not. He does not understand our culture of blocking huge tracts of land from any kind of use but recreation. The amount of sugar cane we could grow would be insignificant. He also does not have the facts on how much ethanol is used in Brazil. I posted facts with links. As you have mentioned he has not posted any links to back up his opinions.

    Ethanol from sugar cane may be economically good for Brazil. It is ecologically damaging. The GHG from burning far exceeds the CO2 the sugar cane absorbs in growing. Each time the cane field is burnt it takes 90+ years to mitigate the GHG damage to the environment. Brazil needs to ban the burning now not in 2017.

    (Reuters) - Almost 100 sugar and ethanol mills in Brazil's main sugar cane state Sao Paulo have agreed to stop the practice of burning cane fields by 2017, the Sugar Cane Industry Union (Unica) said on Monday.

    More issues with sugar cane production:

    Cutting sugar cane is a physical exhausting task that demands a high level of muscular strenght and resistance. Vigorous men - and women - take this job under stressful conditions and use their force to the level of exhaustion, as they are paid by production - not by earning fixed wages. An average man can cut 8 tons of burnt cane stalks per day. Some push themselves much more and reach 12 tons/day. This extreme effort has leaded some of them to sudden death (12 cases reported in 2005).

    When the sugar cane field is not submited to fire, an average man can only cut 3 tons/day and record holders barely surpass 6 ton/day. Burning cane also serve to kill or remove poisonous animals, as snakes. Because they get more tons/day and are free from snakes and the cutting edges of dry leaves of the plants, cutters prefer to operate in burnt cane fields.

    At the present state-of-art, 28% of all sugar cane is already harvested mechanically, by combo harvesters.

    These harvesting machines bring two kind of problems. First, as already mentioned, is unemployment - but that is finding solution. Second is that combos are large machines, running on diesel oil and so, oil dependent.

    So the question will be? When sugar cane is all harvested and processed by machines, how much fossil fuel will it take to produce a gallon of ethanol? My guess is very similar to producing ethanol using corn.

    Brazil will be subsidizing the ethanol industry the same as we do in the USA.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Brazil: sugar cane plantations devastate vital Cerrado region.

    Sugar cane plantations and mills are rapidly expanding for bioethanol production and already having devastating effects in the biologically diverse area of Brazil's Cerrado, the savannah region, which supplies Brazil's main hydrological basins. MARIA LUISA MENDONCA in interviews with affected people, finds rivers are being diverted, huge amounts of water are being used by sugar mill companies, and sugar cane plantations, contrary to Brazil's President Lula's claims, are replacing areas of food production, and destroying forest reserves. The mills are bringing human rights abuses, poison to the land, water, people and animals and local agriculture is disappearing. Food can only become scarcer and more costly and sugar cane for biofuel use is supposed to double in the region.

    The Brazilian Cerrado: A biodiversity hotspot on the high, flat, central plateau of Brazil, covers over 2 million square kilometres: three times the size of Texas. Portions extend into Bolivia and Paraguay, making it the largest woodland-savannah in South America, and the richest savannah for biodiversity the entire world.

    Brazilians destroying their land for fuel
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,922
    "As for growing sugarcane, in the US it is done around the lake okeechobee in Florida, which has plenty of land to spare"

    See the post above, about the ecological damage from cane production. Florida is the last place I'd want to see more 'land to spare' converted to farming, it has major problems as it is with over-farming and damage to the ecosystems that exist in no other state.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I would far rather drill for oil off the coast of Florida than to drain the Okeechobee swamp to raise sugar cane for ethanol. It will not be long before those in Key West will see oil platforms producing oil for Cuba. Oil we could have claimed. Oh well.

    Hopefully Brazil wakes up before they end up destroying their most valuable assets. Not everyone in Brazil agrees with Galonga. My guess he is one of the ones making big money off of ethanol from sugar cane.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Ding! You win the contest. First prize is an accelerating Camry and all the ethanol to run it!
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    The biggest proof that I´ve lived there is that so far I´ve debunked every single argument you threw.

    And those were facts, not "opinions" as you point out.

    And yes, the fact that someone lived in a place DOES make him an EXPERT when COMPARED to people who´ve NEVER BEEN THERE.

    But of course you would never reckon that all your arguments were disproved, and prefer now to attack the other party instead of focusing on the issue.

    And, as usual, you will try to keep your head straight by saying "suit yourself" and quitting this conversation, instead of DISPROVING the facts I told you.

    May I suggest you GO THERE and then discuss. Otherwise any discussion you have with ANYONE will just be based on wikipedia-type links.
  • Steve EliasSteve Elias Posts: 2,187
    galonga, I think that many readers recognize the significant successes of ethanol in Brazil - especially when they are compared to the scam which ethanol-in-fuel continues to be here in USA.

    Just because something makes economic sense in Brazil does not mean it makes sense in USA. But oversimplify and compare apples to oranges if that's what you gotta do, man!

    For USA I recommend a reduction in ethanol-in-fuel and a gender-specific tax-credit for Brazil-waxing taxpayers.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    Brazil just hasn´t had any subsidy for ethanol ever since 1996.

    And it just now dumped an import subsidy, therefore any country can sell ethanol to Brazil without any surcharge.

    The US however refused to do the same.

    Need links? ver-seen-a-more-ridiculous-statement-than-his-claim-that-brazilian-ethanol-enjoy- s-generous-subsidies-from-the-brazilian-government/

    and ieves-that-free-trade-is-a-two-way-street/

    The more you speak, the worse you look man. You better just throw the towel and do some reading.
  • galongagalonga Posts: 50
    You have spoken very well my friend.

    The fact that it worked in Brazil doesn´t necessarily mean it will work in the US indeed.

    However, with people like this other fellow claiming stuff about a country they obviously do not know, and blindly refusing to even try the technology, America will never rid itself of its oil dependency.

    Brazil achieved it in part because of a military regime that did not ask the people if they wanted ethanol or not: it just took the steps to implement it, and it WORKED.

    America´s democracy allows people to speak about things they do not even bother to comprehend, and therefore makes it very difficult to take the required measures to implement ANYTHING, not just ethanol.
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