Ethanol in gas?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Dr Nick, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. Dr Nick

    Dr Nick Guest

    my local stations just started using ethanol in their pumps (happend about 2
    weeks ago or so) they are all 10% ethanol. besides form what I've been
    reading about it getting worse gas mileage (which I find funny, because gas
    keeps going up steadly, and then one day I notice a 10% ethanol sticker, and
    gas was still higher.... seems pretty fishy to me, but what can you expect
    from oil companies. ) is ethanol bad for my engine (I4 2006 accord) what
    percentage of ethanol can it safely take? do any stations still use regular
    gas formulations (non ethanol)?

    Dr Nick, Apr 25, 2006
  2. Dr Nick

    jim beam Guest

    not specifically.
    up to 15% iirc.
    my local stations were pumping non-ethanol gas for a couple of weeks
    [the compulsory ethanol "oxygenate" mandate has been dropped for
    california], but have recently started with ethanol again. very
    distinctive change in odor, and in my case, hesitation on acceleration.
    with ethanol, my car has a very distinct "flat spot" at about 2000
    rpm. those two weeks without, the car was back to normal operation.
    all this ethanol b.s. is entirely unnecessary and serves only to
    "volumize" gas, i.e. you pay more for less. dig about on if you
    don't believe it. gasoline should be sold by the therm, not the gallon
    - that way, all these reduced mpg games would stop.
    jim beam, Apr 25, 2006
  3. Ethanol is fine. It can even be good for the car as long as it doesn't
    absorb enough water to separate because it dissolves some buildups that
    won't dissolve in oils. It's currently more expensive than gas because
    the distribution channels aren't set up right, or at least that's the
    claim. Ethanol blends have been around as long as gasoline so I think
    it's more of a scam.

    It's the heavy alcohols like methanol and brake fluids that are
    destructive. They absorb into materials with so much force that they
    swell up and disintegrate.
    Kevin McMurtrie, Apr 25, 2006
  4. Dr Nick

    notbob Guest

    Ethanol in gas is actually quite good. I prefer it. They've been
    playing around with it for years out here in CA. I remember back in
    the early 90s, there was a build up of Beacon stations all over
    NorCal. They were the first I recall seeing 10% ethenol. When they
    initially hit the market, their ethenol blend was one point octane
    higher across the range (reg, med, prem) than any other brand. I ran
    nothing but for several years.

    Finally, for some bizarre reason, Beacon took the alcohol out and went
    back to stright gas, losing that one point octane advantage. I think
    it was the oil companies paying off politicos. A couple years later,
    Arco started putting 10% ethenol in their gas (no octane number
    increase). That also only lasted a couple years. Finally, the oil
    companies paid off the pols at the fed level which forced that whole
    MTBE bullshit on us and alcohol again went away.

    MTBE is now gone and 10% alocohol is back. Still works great in my
    '87 Si with 240K miles on it. It worked great in my big ol' Dodge
    Van, too. That's where I could really tell what gasolines were worth
    a damn and which weren't. That big ol' V8 had an RV cam in it and was real
    sensitive to crummy gas with bogus octane ratings. On really hot days
    (95-105 F) going up a 3 mile grade on my commute, the low quality
    gasolines would make that sucker ping like crazy. Gasoline-ethenol
    blends always pinged less than straight gasolines. Shell and Exxon
    abosolutely sucked, despite being very high priced gas in NorCal. The
    best were gas/alky blends, Union76, non-alky Arco, and Chevron, in
    that order.

    notbob, Apr 25, 2006
  5. Dr Nick

    TeGGeR® Guest

    If so, that must be recent change. All the cars I've ever seen will take up
    to only 10% ethanol or 15% MTBE without alteration.

    Not quite. It's being added because the deep-green freaks have managed
    beyond all logic to convince legislators that ethanol is somehow
    "environmentally friendly".

    Ethanol is a non-starter without the government shoveling your taxes to the
    refiners to buy the stuff. Oxygenated fuels go stale very quickly and are
    tough on older cars' fuel systems.

    Also, the biggest lobbyist for ethanol and ethanol subsisdies is
    ArcherDanielsMidland (ADM). And just guess who America's biggest producer
    (and subsidy recipient) of industrial ethanol is...?

    For Canadian readers wishing to avoid ethanol, the only station that sells
    non-ethanolized gas is Esso (Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil). They still use MTBE,
    which is derived from natural gas, and they have no plans to move to
    ethanol any time soon.
    TeGGeR®, Apr 25, 2006
  6. Adding up to 10% ethanol to gas is actually good. In areas with cold
    winters it eliminates the need for using dry gas additives. The ethanol
    absorbs any water present in gasoline while still staying dissolved in
    the gasoline so that takes care of frozen fuel line problems. It also
    helps keep the gas tank clean--it can dissolve substances that gasoline
    can't. Here in New York we have had only the ethanol blend for several
    years and neither of my cars has shown any mileage decrease or any other
    bad effects.
    Kenneth J. Harris, Apr 25, 2006
  7. Dr Nick

    jmattis Guest

    May 5, 2006. That's when MTBE must be phased out per federal
    regulations. If your pump had MTBE before, it will now have up to 10%
    ethanol. Because MTBE has been detected in water supplies, and is a
    (suspected?) carcinogen, it is no longer required. So the billions of
    dollars we consumers paid to build the MTBE production plants is now
    wasted, and we'll pay additional billions to build ethanol plants.
    Thirty new plants are under construction now. The cost will be
    permanently higher than MTBE use, since ethanol must be trucked to the
    distribution facility and mixed into each tanker before it hits the
    road. Ethanol in pipelines doesn't work -- it absorbs a huge amount of
    water in transit. Pipelines are cheap per gallon moved, while tankers
    are another story.

    Most manufacturers already have completed their ethanol deliveries to
    the pumps by now. If you're not in an area that required MTBE, then
    the decision to sell an ethanol blend is strictly up to the local
    merchants. Financially, it is a bad move for the consumer, and i would
    avoid its use if possible.

    Ethanol at 10% results in a 6% loss of mileage compared to straight
    gas. You'll be back at the pump more often. MTBE at 11% concentration
    already cost you 3% in mileage, so this is just 3% more lost.
    Currently, ethanol is actually more expensive than the gas that it
    displaces in the blend. So you're paying more per gallon, and getting
    fewer miles. If you have a fairly modern car, ethanol won't really
    affect it's performance, only your pocketbook.

    Meanwhile, Cuba is making plans to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, but
    Congress won't let our producers do it, being fearful of the Greenies.
    So Congress can only blame the Prez, because they've got to transfer
    the heat that is rightfully on their shoulders.
    jmattis, Apr 25, 2006
  8. Dr Nick

    notbob Guest

    Nonsense. Ethanol in gas has been around CA for over 15 yrs, the MTBE
    requirements knocking it out of the mix for a short while. Typically,
    the most popular alky blend brands, Beacon and Arco, were also the least
    expensive. Arco has gone back to ethanol and is still the least
    expensive quality gas in CA.
    That's your choice. I'll take it over straight gas every time.
    I don't believe that. I also don't believe ethanol prices will remain
    high. Corn grows in the US like a weed. CA, after never having been
    a major corn producer, is converting whole counties to corn
    cultivation, along with building related ethanol plants. The "corn
    belt" is going to lose it's control on ethanol production and

    notbob, Apr 25, 2006
  9. Dr Nick

    butch burton Guest

    The Agri Business Lobby is the biggest booster of ethanol. It can harm
    certain rubber gaskets and o rings in older autos - dissolves them. It
    delivers less energy than straight gas. Ethanol gets an $18 per gallon
    subsidy from us taxpayers and still costs $118 per barrel - really $136
    with the subsidy included.

    Cornell University did a study of the efficiency of producing ethanol -
    they determined it took 129 BRU's of energy - inputs ranging from
    diesel fuel to till, harvest, transport and produce the stuff while
    only delivering 100 BTU's.

    Yes the US of A produces a whole lot of corn simply because the stuff
    is so subsidized - cash price is now around $2.35 per bushel - not much
    change from 40 years ago. When Mexico opened their borders to US corn,
    their local corn producers could not compete - nobody in the world can
    with that price - cotton is even worse. We have a fantastic amount of
    "carry over" corn from last year still in silos around the country.
    The Agri Business Lobby got the gasoline clean air bill passed last
    year that would require all gasoline in the US to be adultrated with
    ethanol and increase to 20% of the total blend over the next 10 years.
    I suspect ethanol in gasoline causes a net degredation to our
    environment after the inefficiency of the stuff along with the run off
    from the additional acers of corn being planted is taken into account.

    So IMHO all the whole ethanol thing boils down to is this - our
    congress - both houses cow tows to the Agri Business Lobby - pure and
    simple - like so many other issues - who has the money controls our
    federal political system. I know our system is "better" than most
    others - wow what a mess the rest of the world must be in for that to
    be true.

    End of rant.
    butch burton, Apr 25, 2006
  10. Dr Nick

    jmattis Guest

    In addition, the manufacture of corn-based ethanol takes a tremendous
    amount of water from the environment.

    It is sound, accepted fact that it takes 1.5 gallons of ethanol to move
    a vehicle as far as 1.0 gallons of gas. The earlier poster arguing
    against the gas mileage drop is either biased or truly ignorant.
    jmattis, Apr 25, 2006
  11. Perhaps you would like to give the your source for your statements that
    ethanol causes a 6% mileage decrease(= 1.5 gal ethanol approximates 1
    gal gas).
    Kenneth J. Harris, Apr 25, 2006
  12. Dr Nick

    Al Guest

    and then it just disappears from the planet?
    Al, Apr 26, 2006
  13. Dr Nick

    jim beam Guest

    simple math. ethanol has about half the calorific content of gasoline.
    factor that by the content ratio and you have your mileage decrease.
    jim beam, Apr 26, 2006
  14. Dr Nick

    jim beam Guest

    while i agree that it's not relevant, water is "lost" in ethanol
    production as it is consumed in production of the ethanol molecule.
    it's "released" again on combustion.
    jim beam, Apr 26, 2006
  15. Dr Nick

    jim beam Guest

    mtbe still reduces mpg's, so it's just another variant of the same game.
    whether it's ethanol, mtbe or some other "essential" ingredient,
    selling gasoline by the therm would completely stop this, what would in
    any other industry be technically referred to as, "a rip off".

    back when i was an undergrad, one of the hot ticket research areas was
    high temperature materials for combustion technology. basic
    thermodynamics show that the higher the combustion temperature
    achieved, the better the efficiency. but then, BOOM, suddenly, we have
    NOx emissions to worry about and the dream of high thermodynamic
    efficiency and significantly lower fuel consumption is forever dead.
    it's strange how things always seem to work out for the oil industry
    like this, isn't it?
    jim beam, Apr 26, 2006
  16. Dr Nick

    butch burton Guest

    MTBE is an interesting commodity - most of it is produced by our
    friends to the north - Canada. Well when the free trade agreements
    were negotiated with our neighbors in the Americas under the ageis of
    Carla Hill in the Bush 1 admin, there were clauses that provided for
    damages if an exporter was negatively affected by legislation passed by
    the country importing the product.

    MTBE was found to be a potential cancer causing agent - was removed as
    a gasoline additive from US gasoline blends. Now the US taxpayers are
    being sued big time by the Canadian producers and they stand to make a

    Now guess who is on the lead team of attorneys handling the Canadian
    suit against our govt - the lady who always wore the red suits - Carla
    Hill - ain't it funny how the revolving door works.

    Be interesting to see if anyone in our leadership calls bull shit on
    the whole ethanol game - won't happen too much money being made here.
    butch burton, Apr 26, 2006
  17. Dr Nick

    jim beam Guest

    all that is true. but the one i like the most is the one about the oil
    company that [successfully] lobbied for the introduction of mtbe in
    california. it was the same firm who had a certain california
    governor's wife on its board and whose refineries used a process that
    happened to produce a lot of mtbe as an otherwise unwanted by-product.
    jim beam, Apr 26, 2006
  18. Dr Nick

    TeGGeR® Guest

    Maybe so, but MTBE is derived from natural gas, and is a lot more
    financially viable than ethanol. Ethanol only works if you rob Peter to pay

    90% of emissions were removed from auto exhaust by about the late '80s. In
    spite of a 153% increase in vehicular traffic since 1970, the federal EPA
    says the air is about 53% cleaner than 1970, and that's in absolute terms.

    If the environuts would stop their insane fulmination about imaginary
    hobgoblins, we'd still have MMT as our octane booster. It's cheaper than
    MTBE or ethanol, and allows fuel to keep longer.

    I remember a brief, faddish infatuation with adiabatic technology in the
    '80s. That didn't last long.

    It was dead in the early '70s, when the EPA suddenly realized that their
    focus on reducing HC was resulting in higher NO. This resulted in an about-
    face in emissions regulation, and gave us EGR and lower compression ratios,
    along with lower mileage and power.

    Power and mileage did not begin to recover until computer engine management
    came along.

    To a point I suppose. But...

    It didn't work out for them when they were told to find an alternative to
    It didn't work out for them when they were prevented by the greenies and
    the NIMBYs from building new refineries.
    It didn't work out for them when they were told to produce "boutique" fuels
    for tiny markets.
    It didn't work out for them when they were told to reduce sulfur content.
    TeGGeR®, Apr 26, 2006
  19. Dr Nick

    jim beam Guest

    octane is not such an issue these days. better combustion chamber
    design has all but eliminated the serious issues that used to be such
    problems with low octane gas.
    which was fine if you didn't have a catalyst!
    but now we have catalysts! and they're very effective! so let's get
    back to the pursuit of high efficiency!
    it's definitely helped a lot, but it addresses service inefficiency, not
    thermodynamic efficiency, the fundamental issue.
    yes, but this is a high stakes machiavellian game with a LOT of money at
    stake. would you believe that in my town, there's a certain industrial
    interest group that pays a large retainer to an enviro-lawyer that
    ostensively acts against them? why? because it allows them to bleat
    about "unfair" market conditions and get other concessions up the wazoo.
    i'd love to be more specific, but it wouldn't be good for my career.

    "boutique" fuel is what i'm talking about in my response to butch. and
    sulfur is easy enough to do. but bleating about how hard it is allows
    tax concessions on infrastructure and price increases.
    jim beam, Apr 26, 2006
  20. Dr Nick

    CC Guest

    Global waming also causes an increase in the water evaporated out of
    the ocean....(But we get all that back in rain)
    Then again, it causes an increase in the melting rate of the ice caps
    and glaciers, so the sea level keeps rising.

    In the ocean it is salty, in the rain it is acidic, for drinking it is
    treated. So, how much energy are we additionally losing in the cycle
    to recover the water from burning the ethanol to purify the water to
    make it?

    and the point is --- not one.

    Ethanol provides less energy output per gallon. As one post already
    noted, You pay more and have to buy more at the higher price to go the
    same distance. And the factory that produces the ethanol gets its
    power from where? I have lost track of the percentages 70 %
    hydrocarbon based, 23 % nuclear 11.5% hydro and 0.5% other for
    Electricity generation????? I am sure those are not even close...

    Would they use Ethanol to generate electricity to run the plant?
    NO. Economics, Sarbanes Oxley, and SEC requirements that publicly
    traded companies must maximize shareholder value which means
    minimizing costs.....

    So, make us buy it at higher prices to go less distance (for the same
    volume) so they can sell more product requiring more fossil fuel to
    make .....and so on...
    CC, Apr 26, 2006
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