28 January 2007

Ethanol-blended gasoline: Coming soon to a pump near you

Lacing gasoline with alcohol (ethanol, commonly called ethyl or grain alcohol) is nothing new. Ethanol fuel blends were used as early as the Model T Ford days, both as a cheap additive to stretch gasoline supplies, and as an octane booster – until replaced by tetraethyl lead around the end of World War I. In 1975, when the United States phased out leaded gasoline, ethanol’s prospects grew brighter as demand increased.

All gasoline currently sold in Minnesota contains ethanol. The blend is 1 to 10 or a 10 percent mixture. Originally nicknamed gasohol, this mixture is now referred to as E10, there being other blends ranging from 5 percent (E5) to 85 percent (E85). Both houses of the Minnesota legislature have passed bills that could require gasoline sold in that state to contain 20 percent ethanol (E20). Further, the Federal government’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates a production capacity increase for ethanol from the current 4 billion gallons per year to 7.5 billion gallons by 2010.

Why all the interest in gasoline mixed with ethanol, and what are the likely consequences for our older cars?

Ethanol’s appeal is that it can be produced domestically, fits easily into the present distribution system, and provides nearly the same energy per gallon as pure gasoline. Enhancing its appeal, ethanol can be produced either from crops or agricultural/industrial waste. At the core, ethanol blended gasoline claims two primary benefits: higher prices to farmers (primarily for corn) and reduced reliance on unstable foreign oil sources.

However, using the yardstick of energy in to energy out, ethanol is a loser; it takes more energy (in the form of fossil fuels) to grow the corn, make and blend the ethanol, and, finally, burn it for energy that to use fossil fuels alone. So why the rush to ethanol? At the top of the list, legislators find helping farmers and offering an alternative to our foreign oil sources to be both popular and patriotic – keys to being re-elected. There are a few technical reasons as well. Since the lead phase-out, MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) has been used as a fuel oxygenate, but MTBE is a known carcinogen, and ethanol, which can be a substitute, is not.

It is widely recognized that alcohol packs less energy than gasoline, so the question becomes how much bang do you loose with your buck when you buy alcohol-blended gasoline?

The reality, at least with the milder blends, is different than you’d suspect just from looking at the raw numbers. Ethanol alone produces 76,100 btu of energy per gallon while gasoline contains from 108,000 to 117,000 btu/gallon. But, keep in mind, we’re not talking about ethanol alone, but ethanol/gasoline blends. Although a 10 percent ethanol blend has 2 percent less energy content than gasoline, it’s the energy range within gasoline itself where the more noticeable energy – and therefore mileage–loss occurs.

Refineries brew different grades of gasoline for winter and summer driving. The difference in energy content between winter and summer grades can vary by as much as five percent. Thankfully, most of us enjoy driving our old cars in summer months – the time that gasoline packs its greater punch. But, you lose more just by buying gasoline in wintertime than you do by filling up in summer months with E10. There is hope that as ethanol competes with gasoline as a fuel source, lower prices will result.

The presence of ethanol-blended gasoline is sure to increase causing us to fret about the consequences of this fuel used in older cars. It’s possible that pumps with pure gasoline will still be available for vehicles 20 years old and older – that’s what the Minnesota legislature is contemplating as it prepares to mandate an E20 blend. Where the E85 blend is available (currently E85 can only be found at some 650 of the 170,000 retail gasoline stations in the United States), it will be used only in specially equipped, newer vehicles. But with E10 becoming common, especially in the Midwest, what are the consequences of its use in older vehicles?

Not to worry, say most fuel authorities. Any of today’s gasoline formulations, not just ethanol blends, is more aggressive toward elastomers (such as rubber fuel lines, fuel pump diaphragms, and rubb4er seals under carburetor float needles) than the gasoline we pumped 40 years ago. So, even though a mild ethanol blend could potentially harm rubber fuel system parts in older cars, this is not seen likely – one reason being any fuel system parts replaced since the early 1980s are compatible with today’s fuels.

There is a risk, however, of ethanol’s cleaning effect loosening sediment in old fuel tanks and plugging fuel lines or filters. (When using an ethanol-blended fuel, it’s a good idea to have an extra fuel filter or two on hand.) Most at risk are older vehicles whose fuel tanks have been sealed with that sloshy goo sold as a fuel tank liner. Ethanol at work on this stuff could be a real nightmare.

If you own a vehicle built before the mid-1980s, stay away from the richer ethanol blends, using plain gasoline where available. If E10 is the only choice, and the fuel tank is known to contain sediment or has been sealed, plan to replace the tank or have it boiled and re-sealed with product that’s impervious to alcohol.

 

6 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Chianna I really nedeed to find this info, thank God! September 1, 2011 at 11:35
    I really nedeed to find this info, thank God!
  • 2
    Cade Alright arlihgt alright that's exactly what I needed! September 2, 2011 at 08:51
    Alright arlihgt alright that's exactly what I needed!
  • 3
    Burchard You keep it up now, udnetsrand? Really good to know. October 5, 2011 at 05:21
    You keep it up now, udnetsrand? Really good to know.
  • 4
    Butch This was so hlefpul and easy! Do you have any articles on rehab? October 6, 2011 at 15:39
    This was so hlefpul and easy! Do you have any articles on rehab?
  • 5
    Candid Thanks guys, I just about lost it lokiong for this. October 6, 2011 at 05:18
    Thanks guys, I just about lost it lokiong for this.
  • 6
    Sanjeev Agua-Luna.com -I LIVE OFF GRID-It's free. and I get about 10 times better miaglee per gallon.let me start off by saying Hydrogen is a great option for the concept of free energy. I built my first hydrogen cell about 5 years ago. Have converted over 50 vehicles in the last 10 years (gydrogen and EV) and now currently run 2 trucks (and another EV), my home hot water heater, home stove and home generator on hydrogen for free with caught rain water and the help of a $10 solar panel. I offer a step by step DIY guide to walk anyone interested threw the process. You can find it at www agua-luna com or you can email me.There are basically 3 safe ways to make and use it chemically, electrically and molecularly, the first 2 being easier so I'll only discuss them here. The fallowing steps were taking directly out of a DIY guide I offer to those who would like to run their vehicles or home on hydrogen safely. The entire guide is available at www agua-luna com On demand h2 generators are a bit different from the Hollywood versions like seen Chain Reaction with Keanu Reeves, that tend to explode violently every time a film is being made. However when used in an on-demand system there is no storage of hydrogen and oxygen in its gas form, only liquid (water) and is only transformed into gas “on-demand” in small cylinder size amounts. It’s actually safer then gasoline as it doesn’t evaporate, creating explosive fumes in the tank like gas. the following were actually taken out of my $5 guide available at www agua-luna com Chemically 1. You’ll need a 6inch x 1ft schedule 40 pvc pipe. With pvc cement glue a cap on the bottom and use a screw on cap for the top. Drill a small hole (1/4inch or so) in the side close to the top, screwing in a small copper shut off valve. Place a few feet of stranded (food grade is good) flex hose to the valve and into the air intake of your engine (carburetor or fuel injections). 2. Now crunch up a couple aluminum cans (beer cans, soda cans etc) and drop them into the pvc pipe, along with a couple cups of lye (Red Devil drain opener has lye in it, some Clorox and Drano’s do to). 3. Then simply add water, screw on the top and wait a few minutes. What happens in simplicity is that aluminum and lye don’t really get along so they battle, and as always the innocent civilians (water H2O) that the most casualties, by giving up its hydrogen and oxygen. This then builds up in the void of the pipe and is ready to be vented into your engine, by opening the valve. You may need to start your engine on gas then switch it off after the hydrogen starts burning. Electrical is a bit easier then Chemically. 1. Simply take a small solar panel 1.5 amps is what I use ($9 at harborfreight.com), connect the 2 wires from the panel +- to 2 conductors (carbon cores of batteries work well, just be careful removing it from the jacket), but any conductive material will work ie. Copper, aluminum, steel, etc. 2. Drop the wires into a water tank (I use 55gal drums), make sure they don’t touch each other. 3. Drill a small hole (1/4inch or so) in the side close to the top, screwing in a small copper shut off valve. Place a few feet of stranded (food grade is good) flex hose to the valve and into the air intake of your engine (carburetor or fuel injections). 4. Then simply add water, screw on the top cap and wait. After a few hours tiny bubbles will form and rise off one conductor (that’s hydrogen) and even smaller bubbles that just looks like foam will rise off the other (oxygen). I don’t remember which likes the positive and which likes the neg hydrogen or the oxygen. The third method is more complicated and is what I use for my vehicles. It’s just a modified Joe’s Cell, there’s a step by step DIY guide available to walk you threw the process here www agua-luna comIt also covers the other 2 methods described in more detail.www agua-luna comHope this helped, feel free to contact me personally if you have any questions if you’d like assistance in making your first self sufficient steps, I’m willing to walk you step by step threw the process. I’ve written several how-to DIY guides available at www agua-luna com on the subject. I also offer online and on-site workshops, seminars and internships to help others help the environment.Dan MartinAlterative Energy / Sustainable Consultant, Living 100% on Alternative & Author of How One Simple Yet Incredibly Powerful Resource Is Transforming The Lives of Regular People From All Over The World Instantly Elevating Their Income & Lowering Their Debt, While Saving The Environment by Using FREE ENERGY All With Just One Click of A Mouse For more info Visit: www AGUA-LUNA comStop Global Warming, Receive a FREE Solar Panels Now!!!References : May 15, 2012 at 16:45
    Agua-Luna.com -I LIVE OFF GRID-It's free. and I get about 10 times better miaglee per gallon.let me start off by saying Hydrogen is a great option for the concept of free energy. I built my first hydrogen cell about 5 years ago. Have converted over 50 vehicles in the last 10 years (gydrogen and EV) and now currently run 2 trucks (and another EV), my home hot water heater, home stove and home generator on hydrogen for free with caught rain water and the help of a $10 solar panel. I offer a step by step DIY guide to walk anyone interested threw the process. You can find it at www agua-luna com or you can email me.There are basically 3 safe ways to make and use it chemically, electrically and molecularly, the first 2 being easier so I'll only discuss them here. The fallowing steps were taking directly out of a DIY guide I offer to those who would like to run their vehicles or home on hydrogen safely. The entire guide is available at www agua-luna com On demand h2 generators are a bit different from the Hollywood versions like seen Chain Reaction with Keanu Reeves, that tend to explode violently every time a film is being made. However when used in an on-demand system there is no storage of hydrogen and oxygen in its gas form, only liquid (water) and is only transformed into gas “on-demand” in small cylinder size amounts. It’s actually safer then gasoline as it doesn’t evaporate, creating explosive fumes in the tank like gas. the following were actually taken out of my $5 guide available at www agua-luna com Chemically 1. You’ll need a 6inch x 1ft schedule 40 pvc pipe. With pvc cement glue a cap on the bottom and use a screw on cap for the top. Drill a small hole (1/4inch or so) in the side close to the top, screwing in a small copper shut off valve. Place a few feet of stranded (food grade is good) flex hose to the valve and into the air intake of your engine (carburetor or fuel injections). 2. Now crunch up a couple aluminum cans (beer cans, soda cans etc) and drop them into the pvc pipe, along with a couple cups of lye (Red Devil drain opener has lye in it, some Clorox and Drano’s do to). 3. Then simply add water, screw on the top and wait a few minutes. What happens in simplicity is that aluminum and lye don’t really get along so they battle, and as always the innocent civilians (water H2O) that the most casualties, by giving up its hydrogen and oxygen. This then builds up in the void of the pipe and is ready to be vented into your engine, by opening the valve. You may need to start your engine on gas then switch it off after the hydrogen starts burning. Electrical is a bit easier then Chemically. 1. Simply take a small solar panel 1.5 amps is what I use ($9 at harborfreight.com), connect the 2 wires from the panel +- to 2 conductors (carbon cores of batteries work well, just be careful removing it from the jacket), but any conductive material will work ie. Copper, aluminum, steel, etc. 2. Drop the wires into a water tank (I use 55gal drums), make sure they don’t touch each other. 3. Drill a small hole (1/4inch or so) in the side close to the top, screwing in a small copper shut off valve. Place a few feet of stranded (food grade is good) flex hose to the valve and into the air intake of your engine (carburetor or fuel injections). 4. Then simply add water, screw on the top cap and wait. After a few hours tiny bubbles will form and rise off one conductor (that’s hydrogen) and even smaller bubbles that just looks like foam will rise off the other (oxygen). I don’t remember which likes the positive and which likes the neg hydrogen or the oxygen. The third method is more complicated and is what I use for my vehicles. It’s just a modified Joe’s Cell, there’s a step by step DIY guide available to walk you threw the process here www agua-luna comIt also covers the other 2 methods described in more detail.www agua-luna comHope this helped, feel free to contact me personally if you have any questions if you’d like assistance in making your first self sufficient steps, I’m willing to walk you step by step threw the process. I’ve written several how-to DIY guides available at www agua-luna com on the subject. I also offer online and on-site workshops, seminars and internships to help others help the environment.Dan MartinAlterative Energy / Sustainable Consultant, Living 100% on Alternative & Author of How One Simple Yet Incredibly Powerful Resource Is Transforming The Lives of Regular People From All Over The World Instantly Elevating Their Income & Lowering Their Debt, While Saving The Environment by Using FREE ENERGY All With Just One Click of A Mouse For more info Visit: www AGUA-LUNA comStop Global Warming, Receive a FREE Solar Panels Now!!!References :

Join the Discussion