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Ethanol Conversion Untruths, Misinformation and Negative Overstatement: One Example, PBS' Motor Week E85 Conversion Story


SEE ALSO: Cash For Clunkers - An Economic Stimulus Not a Big Idea Solution

By Bob Gordon
President and Co-publisher
The Auto Channel

Originally published May 25, 2009

There are a growing number of automotive aftermarket companies offering E85 Flex-fuel conversion kits for many of the U.S.’s 192 million EFI equipped cars and trucks. Vehicles that if converted to run on Ethanol would save American drivers billions of dollars each year and stop our support of the Oil Cartel that has been strangling our country for the past 50 years while also making Mother Earth a lot happier.

Be aware that it is illegal and against federal law to install these devices EXCEPT for a certain make and year that Flex Fuel U.S. has gotten EPA certification on. Doing so carries a $10K fine for "Fuel System Tampering".

So what’s the problem you ask.

There seems to be a concerted campaign to slow up or prevent the support of converting existing gasoline powered vehicles into cars and trucks that run on Ethanol. The next generation Ethanol made from U.S. farmer grown switchgrass or as most of us know it as plain old hay. We believe that E85 could be our best stopgap in the, must happen, move away from gasoline powered vehicles into a EV-Motoring sustainable future.

As a good example of misinformation, some of you may have watched Pat Goss the in house mechanic and “expert” on Motor Week, the long running PBS TV car show and pass on what we have now discovered is just GM propaganda.(See Complete Story Below)

The premise of the Motor Week story was to illustrate the enormity of a Flex Fuel retrofit conversion of a GM/Chevy’s 5.3L engine & fuel system, an engine available as both a gasoline and flex fuel version to power the Tahoe, Silverado and Suburban would be. The gist of the story was to show how different most of the main parts of the Flex Fuel version was from the gasoline powered version.

Well what was shown and discussed just wasn't accurate or even true!

Just today I have been made aware of a presentation that the Ohio BioSystems Cooperative has put together to show some of the misconceptions and untruths about E85 can hurt our nation.

A section in the Ohio BioSystems presentation contains side by side part numbers for both the Flex Fuel and Gasoline versions of the 5.3L engine, they show a comparison of the part numbers of these OE parts as listed in the GM inventory... and folks, over 85% carry the SAME PART NUMBER for both the gasoline powered version and Flex Fuel Version…85% are the exact same part.

Below you will can see the parts, which are linked to the appropriate page in the Ohio BioSystems presentation, the red highlights show the part numbers that are different but in fact may be the exact same part.

You can read the complete presentation for yourself (but don't forget the Rolaids and your anger control breathing) at:

You'll see that over 85% of the part numbers were EXACTLY THE SAME, leading to our conclusion that maybe the conversion of certain gasoline engines to flex fuel is really not such a big's the only way to take our existing fleet and make it green and fuzzy.

The Motor Week misinformation example is just an easy one for me to point to,(and I like easy) but there are many, many others.

I have talked with manufactures of Ethanol conversion kits and other bright smart engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs who want to do what’s right for their customers, our country and the ecology and instead of getting support and encouragement from our government they are getting roadblocks from the EPA…roadblocks, while our nation is losing our most precious asset, our children in the defense of our need for oil to power our cars and trucks to maintain the freedom of mobility that our country is proud of...road blocks, huh?

Let me know what you think;

EPA Regs

Motor Week Pat Goss E85 Compatibility Segment

See Motor Week and ACE Ethanol Research Video

As drivers we all have to do our part to help reduce emissions and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and one way to do that of course is with flex fuel vehicles, but for some of you who are trying to do your part, you're being taken! There are people out there who are selling kits, especially on the Internet, who say these kits will convert your non flex-fuel vehicle into a flex-fuel vehicle, and they'll do it very economically. Well don't believe it. Our friends at General Motors have supplied us with the things that are different on a flex-fuel vehicle than they are on a non flex-fuel.

Beginning right at the beginning, where you put the fuel in all of this stuff is different. The hoses are different, the wiring connections are different, there's a flame arrestor, there's an anti-siphon valve, all kinds of things that have to be changed to make this system work.

But it gets worse. The fuel pump, the capsule assembly, the fuel gauge, all of these things inside the tank are different, so you have to change that. Even the tank itself, if it happens to be steel and a product called Turn Metal, will have problems if you use E-85.

Then under the hood of the car, the fuel rail itself that distributes the fuel to the fuel injectors has to be stainless steel. The injectors have to be changed, they have to be bigger and they have to be made of a different material.

Then the computer that controls the injectors has to be different, has to be able to operate and control things relative to gasoline or E-85.

How does it know? Well, it knows by this fuel identifier that has to be installed in the system. It tells the computer which program to use based on the fuel that's moving through it.

So, if you think that's all, no, there's more coming up. See buried way deep in the engine; valves, intake and exhaust valves and valve seats. We have valves here, we have valve seats, you can see them in the cylinder head. They are different; they are made of a metal that doesn't erode when you use ethanol. So you're looking at a major operation right there: the cylinder heads have to be replaced.

All of this makes it absolutely impractical to convert a non flex-fuel vehicle into a flex-fuel vehicle. Save your money, drive more gently and you will be doing your part.

If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.