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Ethanol Chronicles - An Almost Daily Blog - Latest Posts As Of December 31, 2015


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Lively, Spirited and Sometimes Humorous Repartee Concerning Energy Issues

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL

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Marc J. Rauch

On a fairly regular basis, Bob Gordon and I answer questions and respond to comments that are either emailed to us or that we find on other outlets. The following are some of the best of the banter sessions. Should you get to the point where you'd just like to peruse one single long document that can answer nearly all the questions CLICK HERE.

If you would like to participate please use the LiveFyre discussion box near the bottom of the page.


December 31, 2015

Posted by GREYSWYND:

Does ethanol effect gas mileage negatively? My mechanic told me it does. My gas tank holds approximately 17.5 gallons of gas. I'm getting roughly 240 miles per tank, stop and go city/suburban driving. I drive a 2002 Toyota Sienna. I've heard a lot of hate stories about ethanol.

At first I was siding with the other side about ethanol sucking water out of the air because I was biased, but when I heard your analogy of setting out ethanol in a glass and seeing whether or not the glass filled due to it sucking water out of the air sold me. The ethanol would of course, evaporate.

On top of that condensation isn't the same thing as hygro-whatever-you-call-it, like you explained. So why are you so pro-ethanol?


Reply from MARC:

Hey, Grey, I hope you had a great Christmas and that tonight will kick off a special New Year for you and your family.

Let me start with the 'ethanol in a glass' situation and its related issues:

Of course evaporation would take place and that's one of the factors that makes the claim that ethanol sucks water out of the air so ridiculous: if your fuel was exposed to open air it would evaporate. This is true with gasoline as well, only slower. The point is, when would you have a situation in which you would just have your engine fuel left in the open? It doesn't happen in cars or motorcycles, except by accident; and it doesn't even happen in boats. Mercury Marine - the largest manufacturer of marine engines positively states that "ethanol does not grab water molecules out of the air." And they correctly attribute water collecting in boat fuel tanks as the result of condensation, not because the ethanol in the ethanol-gasoline blend sucked the water molecules out of the air.

Condensation is not the same as the hygroscopic process. People either ignorantly or intentionally confuse the two. An overly simplified way to look at what the hygroscopic process does is to say that a hygroscopic substance has a "wicking effect" on adjacent water. Cotton balls are a hygroscopic substance. If you place a cotton ball on your kitchen counter (instead of a glass of alcohol) the cotton ball doesn't suck moisture out of the air. But, if you place some water immediately adjacent to the cotton ball, the cotton ball will wick-up the water and "hold" it. This is essentially what ethanol does. Ethanol breaks down water molecules and it can hold the water elements. This is why Dry Gas (ethanol) is used in gasoline engines/tanks when there is water present because of condensation or other causes. The ethanol's hygroscopic characteristics allow the engine to fire and then expel the moisture in the exhaust.

You'd think that a certified auto mechanic would know the difference. Unfortunately, from experience in arguing the issue, I can tell you that there are far too many "certified mechanics" who should be labeled certifiably nuts, not certified mechanics.

Regarding your question "Does ethanol effect gas mileage negatively," let me break the question down. First, I'm sure that when you write "gas" you are meaning liquid gasoline, and not airlike fluid gas such as natural gas or propane, right?

Okay, so the question should really be: Does the presence of ethanol in a gasoline-optimized internal combustion engine negatively effect the output (mileage) of that engine? The answer is yes, of course it does. The reason it does is that the gasoline-optimized engine is designed to run on the characteristics of gasoline. If the same engine was optimized to run on ethanol then ethanol would produce comparable or better output (mileage) results than gasoline in a gasoline-optimized engine. The issue is optimization, not energy content or BTU rating.

This can also be proven by trying to use diesel fuel in a gasoline-optimized engine. Even though diesel has more "energy content" than gasoline (higher BTU rating), if you filled your gasoline vehicle tank with diesel you would not get more MPG, in fact you would get no MPG. This is because the gasoline-optimized engine is not optimized to run on diesel fuel. Similar to the ethanol-optimized engine scenario, a comparably sized diesel-optimized engine running on diesel fuel will get better MPG than the gasoline-optimized engine running on gasoline.

Now, the question is, if ethanol or an ethanol-gasoline blend negatively affects the MPG of a gasoline-powered vehicle why would anyone use it?

The answer has three parts:

1. The lower cost of ethanol usually makes up for the loss of MPG in a gasoline-powered vehicle. If you were to use E85 in a vehicle and get 15% fewer miles, but the E85 save you 20% of the cost of ethanol-free gasoline, then you gain 5%. So the use of ethanol doesn't negatively effect your vehicle's MPG, it would have a positive effect.

2. By using domestically produced ethanol it helps to make us independent from the oil industry. Even domestic gasoline is controlled by OPEC in terms of availability and pricing. Using less gasoline, regardless of where it is produced, hurts foreign oil producers.

3. Ethanol is significantly cleaner burning. This helps with clean air and water. You'll notice I'm not referring to so called man-made climate change, I'm simply referring to having clean air and safer water supplies.

Regarding your 2002 Toyota Sienna: I have a non-flex fuel 2002 Ford Taurus. I use various blend levels of ethanol-gasoline, including E85. My car seems to run best at about a E30 to E40 level, which I achieve by 'splash-blending' my own mix (I pull up to an E85 pump and then to an E10 pump). The reason my car works better at E30-E40 than E85 is because the car's computer doesn't no how to handle the E85. But this is not an issue of lower "energy content," it's an issue of the car not knowing the proper air mixture (along with not knowing how to adjust timing and piston stroke length) necessary to run on E85.

If you have never tried anything higher than E10 in your Sienna, pump in one gallon of E85 the next time you fill up. See what happens. Most likely you'll not notice anything different. The next time try two gallons of E85, and so on until you experience a change in performance or MPG levels that you're unhappy with. You may never be unhappy, or you may find that a mid-range blend works fine, save you a little money, and gives you satisfaction that you're doing something to help defeat terrorists and make America energy independent.

It is within all of this that explains why I like ethanol. I can put it best by saying: I'd rather have my fuel money go to American farmers than to terrorists and foreign regimes that hate us.

If you have any further questions or comments please let me hear from you.



December 11, 2015

Posted by LITESONG:

Ethanol blends do NOT save oil supplies. In my last five, low 87 octane, low compression ratio (9:1 to 11:1) gasoline engines, using 10% ethanol blend(E10) lost 8%, 8%, 7%-8%, 7% & 5% mpg vs. 87 octane, ethanol-free gasoline(E0). Also, oil is burned to make ethanol, ship to blending sites & support the lying "ethanol in gasoline industry". The "ethanol in gasoline industry" produces an inefficient product & uses more oil than it can minimally save.


Reply from MARC:

Hey Happy Holidays, Litesong -

I'm glad to hear from you. Frankly, I rely on people such as yourself to help me keep my ETHANOL CHRONICLES blog stocked with things to respond to, and the pickings have been very meager the last few weeks. Either people are wry of crossing keyboards with me or they're busy worrying about where the next oil-funded terrorist act will take place.

I'm not completely sure what you are trying to say by referencing compression rations, but to the point that your last five fill-ups did not demonstrate that ethanol reduces the amount of gasoline being used, you are incorrect. If you replace one substance with another substance then you are automatically using less of the first substance.

The only way that you would not reduce the use of petroleum oil is to show that the manufacture of the ethanol requires so much petroleum oil fuels that it exceeded the original requirement. I recognize that you are trying to make that case by writing that "... oil is burned to make ethanol, ship to blending sites...," but taking into account whatever petroleum oil fuels are used in ethanol production it is not enough for your statement to be correct. In case you are not aware of it, all petroleum oil fuels that might be needed to make ethanol can be replaced by ethanol-based fuels, and this often occurs.

Moreover, virtually all fuels and usable energy sources require the use of other energy and fuels, so your comment is irrelevant if you are trying to imply that ethanol production suffers from some unique problem compared to gasoline and diesel fuel. Petroleum oil fuels are also used to find, ship, refine, and ship again crude oil and the finished petroleum fuels. In fact, the entire process of making gasoline is actually causes gasoline to be more energy negative than the production of ethanol.

Therefore, the issue of you getting less MPG by using an ethanol blend is not an issue of whether ethanol is helping to reduce America's dependency on petroleum oil, it is a personal issue of whether you are saving money by using E10 versus E0 (ethanol-free gasoline).

To determine if it is economically beneficial to use E10 you simply compare the price of E10 to E0. If you get 8% less MPG with E10 but save 10% on the cost of E0, then you have a net gain of 2%. In some regions of America, ethanol-free gasoline can cost $2 or $3 more per gallon than E10. So if the cost of E10 is about $2.50 per gallon and you have to pay $3.50 for E0, then you are far ahead. In some areas E0 is only about 50 cents per gallon more than E10. This would result in a net savings of 12% by using E10. Since you find the loss of 8% MPG to be a bad, I presume you should be overjoyed in saving 12% or more on every gallon of fuel you purchase.

But let me take this issue further. Some people would argue that the overall reduction of petroleum oil that is displaced by E10 ethanol-gasoline is so insignificant that it's not worth the bother. To those people I say, "fine, so then that's why America should be switching to E30, E40, E50 or E85 as the required blend level. This way every consumer would save even more money and we would be able to displace significant quantities of petroleum oil fuels.

The topic of ethanol versus gasoline is clouded in lies, but they are the lies invented and disseminated by the oil industry.



November 12, 2015

Posted by RAYMOND B:

Gasohol takes more energy to produce using fossil fuels than it produces. It is not a solution to the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels at all. It has caused world food prices to rise that has hurt least developed countries the most. In Brazil they have deforested large parts of their rain forests to grow sugar cane to make ethanol for gasohol. Is that a success story?


Reply from MARC:

Hi Ray - Good to hear from you. As I count it you make three points against ethanol. All three are incorrect; They're based on outright lies or gross exaggerations.

I'm not criticizing you for making these incorrect statements because they are three of the most common incorrect statements that are made when arguing against ethanol. But what surprises me is that you have allowed yourself to be taken in by these misstatements. I say this because you seem to be a person that has done some investigation into the subject.

For example, I read some of the other comments you've made on online forums and it's clear that you know that all energy sources and fuels require energy to find and produce. So when you complain about ethanol requiring more energy from fossil fuels to produce than the amount of energy the ethanol creates, I'm disappointed in you. Gasoline is more energy negative to produce than ethanol. You should have already known this.

Regarding the claim that ethanol causes food prices to rise has already been retracted by the very same organization that started the lie: The World Bank. They retracted it in 2010, and again on two later occasions. In the absence of The World Bank's report there has never been another authoritative attempt to blame ethanol for food price increases.

As for Brazilian deforestation for sugar crops, no, that's incorrect as well. There has been deforestation in Brazil, but it's not to clear land for sugar cane production. Sugar is grown in other regions. It's similar to the U.S., where the best regions to grow crops for ethanol are not where the lumber industry gets most of their lumber.

I'm sure you'll respond and ask me to provide information that supports my comments. I look forward to hearing back from you, but if you'd like to save a step you can simply read my 60+ page report titled "Truth About Ethanol..." CLICK HERE to read it.


Follow up from RAYMOND B:

Thanks for the comment. I will look up your report. The articles I've (previously) read state exactly what I said in my initial comment about ethanol. This is another very politically charged topic. Farmers have profited immensely from ethanol made from corn since corn prices have skyrocketed. They are firm supporters of the efficiency of ethanol fuel.

If all fossil fuels are banned by 2030 there will be no remaining large scale agricultural industry in the USA or the world. Fossil fuels are needed for agriculture and 17% of all the energy we use is in agriculture. The USA feeds the world.

When we were dependent on the Middle East for oil it made sense to make ethanol for gasohol. We now are a larger producer of oil than Saudi Arabia and don't need their oil. We don't even need Canada's shale oil which we have the refineries to refine.

I remain very skeptical of the claim that oil uses more oil energy than it produces.. I'd want to see proof of that. I also want proof that making gasohol produces more energy than the oil energy used to grow corn , sugar beets or sugar cane and distill the alcohol from it.

I certainly am interested in knowing the truth and it is getting very hard to find truth in all the pseudoscientific claims being made on Internet news.


Reply from MARC:

Ray, thanks for your reply. It sure is a politically charged topic, and given the amount of money involved in all aspects how could it not be.

To say that farmers have "profited immensely from ethanol made from corn since corn prices have skyrocketed" is convolutedly incorrect.

For the moment, let's say that farmers have profited immensely. So what? Perhaps they're entitled to profit immensely, finally. If, as you write, America feeds the world, then why shouldn't farming be very profitable? There has been no restriction on how much the oil industry can profit. I'd rather American farmers be rich than foreign dictators.

But, corn prices have not skyrocketed, and during the times that corn prices have been pushed up it is due to commodity speculators, the farmers aren't necessarily the ones that profited. As a matter of interest, corn prices this past June were about the same or slightly higher than they were in the 1970's, 1980's, and much of the 1990's. Recent prices are higher than in June, but they are about half what they were in 2011-2013.

Additionally, I never wrote that ethanol "produces more energy than the oil energy used to grow corn, sugar beets or sugar cane and distill the alcohol from it." I wrote that gasoline was more energy-negative than ethanol. As you know, all man-made fuels require energy to produce them. This is due to the need to "convert" the raw material into its final usable form.

Links to the studies and reports related to gasoline being more energy negative than ethanol can be found in Chapter 5 of my report that I mentioned to you previously.


Follow up from RAYMOND B:

I beg to differ. I own a farm and have rented 22 acres to a big farmer who raises corn. He told me corn prices tripled when government started the ethanol production programs and mandated gasohol. He even doubled the rent he was paying me because of the higher profits.

Maybe you are using the wrong time frame. Compare corn prices before the gasohol program and after the gasohol programs. In subsequent years I do not know what is happening to corn prices. I do know that corn production per acre has skyrocketed due to genetically modified corn and use of RoundUp and other herbicides that allow weed free crops and no till farming. The increase productivity of all American farms per acre has meant that least productive acres have been taken out of farming and used for other purposes. This may have brought corn prices back down. I just don't have the data.

If farmer are not making any additional money from growing corn for ethanol why are farmers and farmer dominated states so intent on keeping the ethanol program alive. Politicians have wanted to kill the ethanol from corn program for years now and have been unsuccessful.

I don't understand "convolutedly incorrect." Are you a farmer or a farm lobbyist? To say farmers have not profited by higher corn prices is just not what the local farmers are telling me here in Maryland where I live . Are you saying middlemen are making all the profits or saying there are no large windfall profits from growing corn for ethanol? We both may be correct. Sometime articles only cover small times frames and portray a different picture than in larger time frames. I'd like to sort out what is true.


Reply from MARC:

Ray, other than if you're trying to find areas of contrariness, I'm not sure what it is that you believe that differs from what I've presented.

You question my use of "convolutedly incorrect." I used this because the intention of most farmers - like all other businessmen - is to make a profit. Perhaps people became so used to hearing about farmers struggling financially that they think it's alarming to learn that they've made a profit.

Clearly, the advent of the ethanol blends in place of poisonous leaded gasoline and MTBE gasoline has benefitted farmers, but so what? If someone has been struggling for years to produce blue dye and the fashion industry decides that blue is the "hot" color you wouldn't think ill of the guy for now being successful. Even if the dye manufacturer increased his prices because of the change in fashion trends you wouldn't fault him; after all, that's what supply and demand is all about. So you've "convoluted" the whole reason for being in business, and added in incorrect data to boot.

Now, you might be trying to say that the corn farmers took unfair advantage by tripling or quadrupling their prices, but that would be incorrect. The primary reason for corn prices going higher after the government decision to mandate ethanol-gasoline blends was due to commodity speculators pushing the prices up. The farmers themselves didn't benefit to the degree that the prices increased. And I would venture to say that many may have only marginally benefitted, with the only benefit being that they finally had a crop with a solid market.

The calendar dates that I refer to are stated in the paragraphs of my previous post. The figures I quote come from a website called Trading Economics, it's URL is http://www.tradingeconomics.com/commodity/corn. You can also find the history of crude oil prices at that website at http://www.tradingeconomics.com/commodity/crude-oil. You'll be able to search a wide variety of commodities and prices over many decades, and compare them against each other.

What you'll find is that there has been dynamic price changes since the ethanol mandate, but that the ups and downs correspond to the dynamic changes in the price of crude oil and oil-based fuels. So in addition to the corn prices fluctuating because of commodity speculators, the farmers and ethanol distributors were also affected as the price of diesel and gasoline skyrocketed.

I have come across people on message boards, and at events that I've spoken at, who will challenge me by comparing a specific date when the price of corn was very low to a specific date when the price of corn was very high - and they will use that narrow example to prove how unreasonable the price of corn has become. But that kind of comparison is like calling a baseball player "a lousy hitter" simply because he batted just .147 during a particular weekend series, when he batted .347 for the entire season.

You do have to look at the larger picture, in fact a picture that's large enough to take into account all the other benefits related to substituting foreign dominated petroleum fuels with domestic non-fossil fuels.


Follow up from RAYMOND B:

Marc, I have no problem with farmers making money. They are hard working people and as long as government does not subsidize gasohol to make it competitive with gasoline it is fine with me. That has not been the case. I know you claim gasohol does not require more energy to manufacture than it releases but that is what I have read in several articles over many years. I doubt gasohol would exist in a free market.

With that said and realizing we may agree to disagree, I looked up corn prices and spoke with the farmer who rents 22 acres of my farm. Corn prices were pretty stable until 2007 when they rose from $100-110/ton to $280 to 335/ton.

The market for corn here in Maryland is different than the market in the mid-west. The farmer told me that 3 years ago corn prices in Maryland hit 6-7 times usual prices due to the drought in the midwest. Then 2 years ago they were $5.50 a bushel. When the corn hit its high fertilizer and herbicide and seed prices were still low so farmers had an exceptionally good years and made money. Then the seed companies, fertilizer companies and herbicide manufacturers raised their prices in response to the enormously high corn prices 3 years ago and when corn prices dropped back the prices for these remained high and Maryland farmer barely broke even raising corn last year.

I discovered ethanol replaces about 1 billion gals of oil a year now. By 2009 ethanol market share in the US gasoline supply reached 8% by volume.

Gasohol is supposed to release slightly less CO2 than pure gasoline but E10 (10% ethanol gasoline mixture now marketed n the USA) really does not make a big difference with regard to CO2 emissions when you count the oil used to plant, pick and distill corn into ethanol. decaying plant organic matter emits 60 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere a year compared to 8 gigatons of carbon emitted from humans burning fossil fuels, so you can see 10% ethanol really is irrelevant in reducing CO2 emissions.

So the issue really boils down is why is the government subsidizing gasool ? it made sense when we wanted to stop dependence on Arabian oil but now the USA is producing more oil than Saudi Arabia thanks to fracking. We have an oil excess and that has driven down gasoline prices and made gasohol even less competitive. I am sorry but I am just a retired middle class fellow and I can't afford to pay more for gasohol just because some politicians from Iowa wants to help the farmers. It makes no sense. It takes money away from my pocket that I need to pay other bills, and if our government is going to pick winners and losers to subsidize we are making a serious mistake in a free market.

Obama ordered that the US Navy use synthetic fuels rather than drilled oil. That doubled the cost of fuel for our navy. Again, us taxpayers foot the bills and it makes no sense. If subsidizing different industries is the game of the future, well start with my synthetic sun machine that MAY extract sunlight from cucumbers as in "Gulliver's Travels." I'll need about $10 billion in start up money Cash only, deposited into a numbered Cayman Island bank account. If I fail, I promise I did try really hard to make the project work, at least as hard as Solyndra's CEO tried to make Solyndra produce a single solar panel. I promise to also do as well as Fisker Car Co. that produced not a single electric or hybrid car at their US plant in Newark, DE; despite the large government subsidies Obama gave them.


Reply from MARC:

Ray, if you have no problem with farmers making money then why do you keep making a big deal out of corn prices? A $4 box of corn flakes only contains about 6 cents worth of corn. I've already explained why there was a large increase in corn prices, if you have information that contradicts me then present it.

And if you aren't happy about subsidies, why are you not complaining about the subsidies given to the very profitable oil companies, which greatly exceeds anything given to all other energy resources combined?

Furthermore, subsidies to the oil industry allow gasoline to be competitive with ethanol, not the other way around. If the oil companies had to pay for wars fought for oil, global defense of shipping, and exploration and development, gasoline would be $15 - $20 per gallon in America.

For some reason some people who consider themselves to be patriotic Americans have confused relying on a foreign dominated oil industry with supporting America. I think you've fallen into that trap. Moreover, ethanol has reduced the price of gasoline.

As for emissions, thanks to ethanol-gasoline blends we have less poison in the air and the skies over our large cities are the cleanest they been in decades.

There's plenty of reasons to dislike Obama and his anti-American policies, and I believe I am as harsh a critic of him as anyone, but giving away too much money is something that every president has done for at least 100 years - regardless of their political party.



November 8, 2015

Posted by MICKEY SHAY:

Hi Auto Channel! Recently there have been posts by groups like Smarter fuel future saying Iowan corn farmers are depleting Iowa's top soil. Can you refute this in anyway or is it true that limited crop rotation is damaging the soil?

Reply from MARC:

Hi Mickey - Thanks for reading our Ethanol Chronicles and for your comments and questions over the past several weeks.

You bring up a great topic for two reasons: There's the question of soil depletion, which is an important issue; and then you mention groups like Smarter Fuel Foundation, which definitely deserve to be exposed.

I'll address the soil issue first: The oil industry and their paid assassins have made it a habit to focus on a problematic point and make it seem as if ethanol (and other alternative fuels) are the sole cause of the problem. The issue of corrosion is a great example. Big Oil spreads exaggerated information about ethanol being corrosive and causing engine damage. As I've stated on a number of occasions, all liquids are corrosive, including and especially water. Air, wind, solar rays are also corrosive. Gasoline is of course corrosive, which is why certain materials cannot be legally used to hold gasoline. But the oil industry doesn't tell you this, instead they make it seems as if only ethanol causes corrosion.

Big Oil's issue with soil depletion follows the same fallacious line of attack. Therefore, in the same way that we respond to the corrosion claim, that's how we respond to the point of soil depletion: Everything causes soil depletion. Growing crops depletes the soil; not growing crops depletes the soil; rain depletes soil; no rain depletes soil; wind depletes the soil; solar rays depletes the soil; walking on soil depletes the soil; driving motor vehicles on soil depletes the soil, animals walking on soil depletes the soil. But ethanol opponents don't acknowledge any of this, they make it seem as if only corn crops deplete the soil.

For the moment, let's look at the most extreme case scenario. Let's pretend that only corn crops damage the soil, and let's pretend that nothing can be done to stop the damage caused by growing corn. And now let's pretend that the oil industry and groups like Smarter Fuel Future are filled with good people who are truly concerned about this problem. Then why are they not calling for the elimination of all products that are made from corn? The soil doesn't know if the corn being grown is for ethanol or corn chips or corn syrup. So if corn growing is so detrimental, and if these good people care so much, why does the oil industry and groups like Smarter Fuel Future "partner" with the junk food industry? Why do we need corn chips and corn flakes and corn syrup sweeteners. Why are we feeding animals corn or corn by-products like distillers grains? Can't chickens, ducks and cattle find something else to eat? Don't these animals know that they are helping to destroy all the good soil?

If growing corn is so bad then why is any corn grown anywhere in the world for use in any product?

The answer is that the oil industry's depiction of ethanol causing a soil problem is as grossly exaggerated and untrue as every other lie they spread about alternative fuels.

Mickey, this brings me to the second point illuminated by your question: Groups like Smarter Fuel Foundation. The oil industry and their paid assassins set up these shill, scammy organizations as a way to try and legitimize the lies and disinformation that they use to denigrate all competition. These groups use names that make them sound either socially concerned or scientific, or both. They have no concern for people other than themselves. They are all liars and thieves, and they are complicit in the killing of humans and animals. Petroleum oil is responsible for the death of millions of human beings. The industry is responsible for numerous wars.



October 17, 2015

Posted by PAUL SCHLUETER:

Marc, I enjoy reading the conversations you have with people who do not understand the concept of how fuel BTU content is mostly irrelevant to car mpg. Maybe I can give you some additional material to use in these conversations. I have had this conversation with many people over the years and it amazes me how difficult it is for some people to understand. What I find most people understand more easily is explaining that an internal combustion engine is a device that converts fuel BTU's into mechanical power AKA Horsepower, and unfortunately not very efficiently because most of the BTU's are wasted as excess heat. However, almost anyone who knows how engines work, knows that long stroke, high compression engines have mechanical advantage.

When I explain that gasoline optimized engines can only convert about 25% of the gasoline BTU's into mechanical power, but high compression ethanol optimized engines can convert about 35% of the ethanol BTU's into mechanical power, this seems to help clear up the misunderstanding. The reason most current model FlexFuel cars have such a mileage penalty when running E85 is because no manufacturer is presently using an ethanol optimized engine. Hopefully that will change in the not too distant future.

Ford has been working on some new engines to take advantage of ethanol, see this link, Ethanol Optimized Engine.

And, Cummins has developed an engine that is in testing right now, see this link, A Cummins Gasoline Engine?.


Reply from MARC:

Hi Paul - Thanks for your comments and links, all of which are greatly informative.

Let me address your last point first: You are absolutely correct that vehicles designated as "flex fuel" vehicles are not optimized to use ethanol, they are merely more "friendly" to ethanol blends. Therefore they do not maximize the potential of the ethanol fuel. A flex fuel vehicle typically just has an adjusted software program that understands that a fuel other than non-ethanol fuel is being used. The flex-fuel vehicles still lack the ability to adjust to all three of the necessary changes that would permit them to optimize the ethanol. Most people don't know this and so when they argue with me or others about how flex fuel vehicles get less MPG they think it's because ethanol is inferior to gasoline.

The oil industry has done a very good job in hoodwinking the public - they do a very bad job at protecting the public from poison, but they are very good liars and they know how to steal more money from the public.

A recent webinar presented by FuelsInstitute.org, titled "ELECTRIC AND HIGH OCTANE VEHICLES--DEVELOPMENTS AND IMPLICATIONS," addressed this issue and talked about how the only way for auto manufacturers to meet the coming emissions standards is to build new engines that are optimized to run specifically on higher octane fuel blends. They state that there's only two ways to achieve the higher octane blends: one with toluene, and the other with ethanol. But, they point out, toluene is more expensive than ethanol and is poison. So the only safe and inexpensive alternative is ethanol. The webinar talks about all new "gasoline" engines being designed specifically to optimize blends like E30, or higher.

Now, let me address the BTU portion of your comment; and let me again thank you for your comments on this point, along with a big thank you to fblee for his insightful and informative comments. Any discussion about BTUs with respect to internal combustion engines is completely irrelevant. The term BTU (British Thermal Unit) is misused to explain something that has no relationship to how and why it was originated. It has become a convenient marketing tool, but that doesn't make it's use correct.

As I'm sure you know, and as I've explained on many occasions. BTU was coined as a measurement of how much energy is required to heat water by one degree. The specific need and reason for this was for steam-powered engines (stationary and mobile engines). People wanted to know which source of fuel (such as wood, coal, kerosene, or alcohol) was more efficient to heat water. Boiling water has nothing to do with an internal combustion engine. In fact, if a person's internal combustion engine is boiling water (the water in the radiator or windshield washer container) then they are in serious trouble.

The term originated in the 1850's before the first commercially successful internal combustion engine was invented, and definitely before the first modern internal combustion engine that was built by Siegfried Marcus in 1864.

So as I said, ranking an internal combustion engine fuel by BTU is nothing more than a marketing or labeling tool. Always the best example of BTU irrelevance is comparing diesel fuel to gasoline. If BTUs were the significant factor, then you should be able to use diesel fuel in a gasoline engine and achieve better MPG.

If internal combustion engines could only be built to gasoline specifications and characteristics, then it might be appropriate to use gasoline fuel as the benchmark with which to compare fuels. However, because internal combustion fuels can be built and adjusted to the specifications and characteristics of various liquid and gas fuels - and the performance results of those engines/fuels are equal to or better than the gasoline ICE - then the BTU comparison between the fuels is simply coincidental window dressing.

I agree that there are mathematical equations that can be used to show the difference in the supposed energy content of the various fuels, but this is just reverse-engineering to try to make a point. I would compare these formulas to the following:

If I asked you "Which would you rather have, 2 apples plus 2 more apples; or 690 apples divided by 3 minus 227 apples; what would you say? If you like apples you would rather have the 4 apples than the 3 apples, even though the 2nd equation is so much sexier.

So, if engine "A" is optimized to run on ethanol (with 76k BTUs) and it gets 30 miles per gallon of ethanol fuel, and you can buy ethanol for $2.10 per gallon; or engine "B" is optimized to run on gasoline (with 116k BTUs) and it gets 27 miles per gallon of gasoline fuel that costs $2.59 per gallon, how important is it that gasoline has a higher BTU rating than ethanol? Answer: It's not important at all, and there's no scientific or mathematical equation that can make BTUs important in an internal combustion engine.

For the oil industry to pretend that the BTU ratings mean something special they might as well market gasoline this way: "Gasoline has a gold color, while ethanol is clear and has no color; wouldn't you rather have gold than nothing?"

Gasoline is poison; it's a rip-off; it's unpatriotic; and it's responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women.



October 16, 2015

Posted by TOM K:

The amount of energy in any given fuel doesn't have a bearing on it's MPG??? Is that what you actually said? Marc, Go back to school.... and don't waste my time.....


Reply from MARC:

Tom, you're back so soon - it was just a couple of days ago that you tried to make the same point and I soundly thrashed you. Well, okay, I'm happy to do it again.

The BTU rating of gasoline is irrelevant. A gasoline-optimized internal combustion engine delivers the MPG it does because it is optimized to run on gasoline. The same engine optimized to run on ethanol, and using ethanol, will deliver comparable or better MPG than the gasoline-optimized engine.

If you tried to use gasoline in an ethanol-optimized engine it will deliver far less MPG. If BTU was the important factor then gasoline would achieve better results even in an ethanol optimized engine.

If what you learned in school, or think you learned in school, is what you posted above, then you wasted your own time.

By the way, a quick and easy way to prove that engine-optimization and not BTU rating is the key, think about this: Diesel fuel has a higher BTU rating than gasoline. However, if you put diesel fuel in a gasoline-optimized engine you do not get better MPG, you would get less MPG.

I look forward to your next attempt.


Posted by DAVID N:

MPG is per gallon. A gallon of ethonal doesn't not have the same amount of energy as a gallon of gas. The efficiency of a typical gas engine is pretty low, 20-30% so even if you optimize the engine to run ethanol (ethonal has a higher octane ~110, so you could theroy run it has a higher compression, higher compression in carnot cycle leads to greater effiecney) but that doesn't mean you will get get better mpg's due to fact that if you had a 100% ethonal engine you still have significantly lower about of BTU's per gallon than gas. BTU's are the basic measurement of energy and the ability to do work.


Reply from MARC:

Dave - Should you choose to post another message you might want to use spell and grammar check before you hit the 'submit button.' But let me try to understand what you wrote and respond appropriately.

If you take two comparable spark ignited internal combustion engines and optimize one for ethanol and the other for gasoline, the ethanol engine will deliver more MPG and more horse power. This has been proven by studies and tests for more than 100 years.

For example, the following excerpt is from a Paper to the American Society for Environmental History, Annual Conference March 26-30, 2003 By William Kovarik, Ph.D:

“Studies of alcohol as an internal combustion engine fuel began in the U.S. with the Edison Electric Testing Laboratory and Columbia University in 1906. Elihu Thomson reported that despite a smaller heat or B.T.U. value, "a gallon of alcohol will develop substantially the same power in an internal combustion engine as a gallon of gasoline. This is owing to the superior efficiency of operation..." (New York Times Aug. 5, 1906) Other researchers confirmed the same phenomena around the same time."

“USDA tests in 1906 also demonstrated the efficiency of alcohol in engines and described how gasoline engines could be modified for higher power with pure alcohol fuel or for equivalent fuel consumption, depending on the need. The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) and the U.S. Navy performed 2000 tests on alcohol and gasoline engines in 1907 and 1908 in Norfolk, Va. and St. Louis, Mo. They found that much higher engine compression ratios could be achieved with alcohol than with gasoline. When the compression ratios were adjusted for each fuel, fuel economy was virtually equal despite the greater B.T.U. value of gasoline. "In regard to general cleanliness, such as absence of smoke and disagreeable odors, alcohol has many advantages over gasoline or kerosene as a fuel," the report said. "The exhaust from an alcohol engine is never clouded with a black or grayish smoke." USGS continued the comparative tests and later noted that alcohol was "a more ideal fuel than gasoline" with better efficiency despite the high cost.”

You should also see the Ethanol Vehicle Challenge 1998.

And read the results of the studies conducted by Matthew Brusstar and others: Economical, High-Efficiency Engine Technologies for Alcohol Fuels and High Efficiency and Low Emissions from a Port-Injected Engine with Alcohol Fuels.


Follow up by DAVID N:

So your best argument is a paper in 1906? Before direct injection, fuel injectors, etc that have greatly increased the MPG's of the modern engine? Quote for the ethanol vehicle challenge " competition's opening ceremony, when a small engine fire broke out.....The Wayne State vehicle, which attained 29.2 miles per gallon highway driving and a top speed of 81 mph from a standing start in a little more than 16 seconds". My 2015 Subaru Legacy averages 42 mpg highway, 0-60 in 8.4 seconds with AWD. Not sure what the top speed is but it still had more in it when I pushed to 95mph.


Reply from MARC:

No, my best argument isn't a paper written in 1906, it was written in 2003. It quotes studies done 100 years ago and more. You didn't finish reading what I wrote, and you obviously didn't read the tests and studies I suggested. These studies were done fairly recently.

What I was showing you is that knowledge of BTU irrelevancy has existed since the invention of the internal combustion engine. There are guys like you running around spouting wrong information because of oil industry propaganda. You heard something about BTUs and you never stopped to consider that BTU measurement relates to heating water, not powering internal combustion engines.

To your point of modern engines and direct injection, etc., these improvements also improve the performance of ethanol fuels. In any event, these improvements prove that engine-optimization, not BTU rating, is what is relevant. Didn't you realize this?


Follow up by DAVID N:

BTU's (British Thermal Unit) are a measure of the energy output. As most all of engines run a carnot cycle (exception be rotary engines), you are talking about how much heat energy you produce in a given cycle of rotation in an engine. Few BTU's the less energy availability for the thermodynamic cycle of your car's engine which creates less MPG's.


Reply from MARC:

David, on this point you're exactly correct that BTU is a measure of energy output, specifically, the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of water by 1 degree.

However, internal combustion engines don't run on water or steam. If we were discussing steam-powered vehicles or in-home water heaters then BTUs would be significant. Therefore, the rest of your comment is wrong.

Internal combustion engines are optimized to run on specific fuels. Optimization is achieved by mechanical adjustments. A gasoline-powered ICE is optimized (adjusted) to run on gasoline. Performance of that engine is dependent upon the optimization. The proof of this is that if you tried to use another liquid fuel that has a higher BTU rating (such as diesel) in a gasoline-optimized engine you do not get better MPG, you get worse MPG - in fact the engine would not run on 100% diesel.

A gasoline-optimized engine might operate on a blend of 80% gasoline and 20% diesel (if you accidentally put some diesel in the tank), but it doesn't get better MPG to correspond with the higher BTU diesel, it gets worse MPG.


Follow up by DAVID N:

BTU as is a measurement of Joules, the basic measurement for all energy. 1 BTU = 1055.05585 Joules. Energy is a measurement of how much work is done. An engine's primary purpose is to do work. Diesel is an ICE engine, it just will no work in a normal gas engine. 87 pump gas has a max compression ratio of about 10x while diesel is in the range of 18 to 22x, so your gas engine simply doesn't compress the fuel enough to produce the explosion to do work. Diesel engines don't use spark plugs to create the explosion but rather compression to create the explosion. No engine will run properly on incorrect fuel eg if you put 2 stroke fuel in a 4 stroke engine, it might run, just not very well. Your response makes no sense.


Reply from MARC:

Exactly, it's all about engine optimization, not BTUs. Your continuous attempts to make BTU measurements important are what doesn't make sense.

Follow up by DAVID N:

You missed my point. A car will always go further on a gallon gas than a gallon of ethanol. Look at Brazil that uses E100, in vehicles made for E100 as compared to E10, there was an increase in HP and Torque of around 8% but there was a drop in fuel efficiency of 20-25%. This was on the same car the VW Polo. So you are burning more fuel to go the same distance which is only partly offset by the lower cost per gallon of E100.


Reply from MARC:

No, David, you have no point because you are incorrect. An engine (car) optimized to run on ethanol with deliver more MPG than a comparable engine (car) optimized to run on gasoline.

Go back and read the resource information I posted above.



October 13, 2015

Posted by TOM K:

Ethanol does have a higher octane but it has a lower BTU count, that's why you get such poor mpg with it. I think corn based ethanol has been a failure in this country.


Reply from MARC:

Tom - It's nice that you decided to try this message board, but BTUs have nothing to do with MPG.

And ethanol has not been a failure, it's been a great success. All you have to do is go to any large city and look up. In fact, if you live in the L.A. area and you can see the Hollywood Hills from LAX, thank ethanol. The skies over America are the cleanest they've been in decades.

Good try, though.


Posted by BILL B (coming to TOM K's rescue):

The clear skies in L.A. are not a result of using ethanol. Unleaded gasoline, better emission controls, more efficient automobile's, government standards and many other factors have done that. All ethanol does is keep the price of corn higher to pacify the National Farmers Organization and their lobbyists. It's been known for decades that ethanol is bad for a manifold of reasons.


Reply from MARC:

Bill, I love your comments. You made my day. It shows just how ignorant ethanol opponents are. In just a few words you made the case for ethanol.

There would be no unleaded gasoline if it wasn't for ethanol. Tetraethyl-lead was added to gasoline in order to eliminate engine knock. The previous way to eliminate knock was to put ethanol in gasoline. Leaded gasoline was the invention of GM and the oil industry to duplicate the results of a ethanol-gasoline blends. Leaded gasoline was preferable to GM and the oil industry because they could patent the formula and make billions of dollars.

When the oil industry and automobile industry were faced with the requirements to eliminate harmful emissions they tried using MTBE in place of ethanol. MTBE did eliminate knock, but it did little to clean the air (MTBE is a by product of petroleum oil). In addition, MTBE is nearly as poisonous as Tetraethyl-Lead, so it was discontinued.

The mandate to use ethanol in blends came after the advent of catalytic converters and some improvements in engine design. However, the effect on air quality during the MTBE was slight. The big jump in cleaning the air came after using ethanol.

You also wrote that improvements in the air were a result of better emission controls and government standards. You're making a silly semantic argument. The controls brought to play was to eliminate as much as possible fuels that created too much airborne residue. Government standards, per se, didn't clean the air - the air didn't say "Oh we have to clean up because the government says we have to." Enhanced emission control is due to using ethanol. Government standards were met because of ethanol use.

It is possible to buy ethanol-free gasoline (E0). And modern ethanol-free gasoline does eliminate knock by using other additives called aromatics. These primary aromatics are called benzene and toluene and they are petroleum oil by-products, not unlike MTBE. They stink, literally. They are more expensive than ethanol, which is why and ethanol-free gasoline costs more than E10...sometimes lots more. Additionally benzine and toluene are hazardous to breathe and they are not as clean burning as ethanol.

If you would like to see some videos that demonstrate how harmful aromatics are go to YouTube and search for any of the following video titles:
1. Fuel Emissions - Gas, Ethanol, E85, Kerosene
2. E0 and E10 MVI 2090
3. Aromatics Styrofoam Balls
4. Swelling Plastic Video 120413
5. Aromatics Testing with Styrofoam Part Two
6. Aromatics Testing with Styrofoam



October 3, 2015

Posted by ROBERT P:

Marc, Unlike you and The Auto Channel that keeps defending ethanol, I have spent 31 years of my professional life working on automotive, marine, recreational, and power equipment. I have been a card carrying member of the antique outboard association, and besides owning my own Marina I am a A.S.E.certified master mechanic and have been for 27 years. I make thousands of dollars a year repairing damage to boat engines and fuel systems caused directly by the corrosive and hygroscopic nature of this solvent. It degrades over time destroys seals, steel fuel lines, steel fuel tanks, hoses, carburetor floats, needle valves, metal screws inside the fuel system and metal sending units. It also forms all kinds of solids when left inside carb fuel bowls for extended periods and becomes almost inflammable after a few years. IT ALSO IS NOT EFFICIENT AND CREATES LESS POWER.

I have burned fuel from 1975 out of a 25 ft sea ray salvage boat that was 100% gasoline it provided more power and required nothing more than a little stabilzer. I used to be a GM dealership tech for over ten years and when the flex fuel trucks first came out we had to recall them all due to the sending units flaking rust in the first 6 months of operation so bad they would clog the fuel system. Ethanol at this point has more minuses and if it were not for government subsidies it would be unsustainable and drive up the cost of fuel.


Reply from MARC:

Robert, your comments provide a great example of how little some engine mechanics know about engines, even when they are so-called certified mechanics. Basically everything you wrote is wrong or a gross over exaggeration. And your experience as a dealership tech is rather meaningless because dealerships often have the worst mechanics.

Engines break down. Engines break down regardless of the fuel the use. Everything you blame on ethanol is also true of gasoline and diesel fuel, and it has been true since the invention of the internal combustion engine. If someone owns an older boat or car they are always advised to not use ethanol blends...always. I don't know any ethanol proponent that tells owners of older vehicles to use ethanol unless the engines and fuel systems have been fitted with modern components. If you have customers with antique boats and you let them use E10 at your marina then you should have been responsible for any problems and costs - I hope you didn't make thousands of dollars by providing shoddy service.

In general, if you've experienced situations in which your customers' boats were subject to extensive "clogging" it's because they should have had their engines cleaned and serviced, or because you did a lousy job in cleaning and servicing the engines. If you question my comments then go argue with Mercury Marine. They'll tell you that you are wrong.

You use the term "hygroscopic nature," and I guarantee you don't know what you're talking about because what you think it means isn't what it actually means.

Your comments about leaving "all kinds of solids...for extended periods and (it) becomes almost inflammable after a few years" is a joke. What mechanic would leave any type of fuel or solids in an engine for extended periods or even years? I'll tell you what kind of mechanic: A lousy one.

To top it off, your claim that ethanol creates "less power" is proof positive that you don't know what you're talking about.

Oh, in case you didn't get the memo, government subsidies on retail sales of ethanol-gasoline blends ended a few years ago...and ethanol blends are still cheaper than ethanol-free gasoline.


Follow up by ROBERT P:

Its funny how you separate yourself from mechanics showing that you are clearly not one and that you lack any high volume real world perspective.

As for your reference to Mercury Marine's research, the boating industry does not concur. They have done they're own research on ethanol and other alternatives. They have found a better less damaging alternative.


Reply from MARC:

I'm not a mechanic. While that's a not problem for me, it should be for you. If I, as a layman, know more than you about how internal combustion engines work, your customers should be running for the hills.

Mercury conducted significant research that far, far, far overshadows anything you've done. They presented the information in a public online webinar in 2011 and they stand by the results today. You say that the boating industry does not concur. That's incorrect; Mercury Marine is a big part of the industry and their results have been published in multiple boating publications, which no other serious player in the industry has challenged.

Incidentally, my personal knowledge comes from more than 4 decades of working on my own vehicles with internal combustion engines. I've owned classic and antique cars, new cars, and an antique ELCO boat. Then I combine my hand-on experience with extensive research, and mix it together with truth and common sense.


Follow up by ROBERT P:

Please enlighten me on how you test for ethanol content in fuels using a test tube water and fuel. Then explain how it us not hygroscopic. While your at it explain why gasoline free of ethanol can sit in a glass vessel for hours and not have water form across the bottom while a vessel filled with 10% ethanol/gasoline quickly forms a water layer. Then explain why metal parts corrode in ethanol based fuels and not in 100% gasoline. Then explain how efficient it is while at the same time produces less power per volume.


Reply from MARC:

Robert, first, what does testing fuel in a test tube have to do with something being hygroscopic?

Second, if you place any fuel in an open container and water appears after a few hours it is the result of condensation, not hygroscopic characteristics. There is a difference. If you don't know this then it's proof that you don't know what you are talking about.

Third, ethanol breaks water down. If water formed in an open container that has E10 in it, the water would mix with the ethanol and you would not be able to see the water unless the water content became too great to mix with the ethanol. Gasoline does not have the same miscible characteristics of ethanol, so if any condensation forms in a container with ethanol-free gasoline it will separate from the gasoline over time.

Fourth, your understanding of the word "hygroscopic" is the classic misunderstanding of what the word means. A hygroscopic substance does not absorb water from thin air. A hygroscopic substance attracts water from its environment. The word "environment" does not mean "thin air." It means "adjacent." It works in a "wicking" fashion. If you don't know what "wicking" means, look it up.

Fifth, you make it sound like only ethanol is corrosive. All liquids are corrosive, including and especially water. Air, wind, solar rays are also corrosive. Gasoline is of course corrosive, which is why certain materials cannot be legally used to hold gasoline. The solution to the problem is to use materials that are resistant to the liquid being used. Modern vehicles use metal, rubber and plastic that are resistant to ethanol corrosion. Vehicles produced prior to the modern ethanol-fuel generation used materials that were not susceptible to gasoline or diesel.

These are extremely basic principles. If you don't know these things then it not only proves that you don't know what you are talking about, it means that you should have your certification revoked. It's funny how some mechanics use their ASE certification as if it were a medical degree.

Lastly, ethanol has more octane than gasoline. This delivers more power, not less power. It's why race engines favor ethanol or methanol fuels. It delivers more power because you can use higher compression engines with longer piston strokes. Even in an engine that is not optimized for longer piston strokes, ethanol will provide additional horse power. You should be ashamed at yourself for even bringing this point up.

Consider yourself enlightened. I hope you use the enlightenment wisely.


Follow up by ROBERT P:

In a gasoline engine ethanol produces less power. Period. Also water has a higher octane reading than gas.


Reply from MARC:

Robert, water has a higher octane reading than gas? Are you sniffing the fumes while typing?


Follow up by ROBERT P:

You're the worst kind of moron. Dumb and overconfident. Closed minded. Always right and unwilling to look at facts. Read this: http://www.alcoholinjectionsystems.com/a11/116+-Octane-With-Water-Injection!/article_info.html.


Reply from MARC:

I'm only right about the things I'm right about. On the things that I'm not right, I'm wrong. I think that what has you puzzled is that we just haven't been discussing anything that I'm not right about.

Anyway, it seems you didn't take the time to read the article connected to the link you sent me. It has nothing to do with "water having a higher octane rating than gasoline." You really don't know anything about engines, do you?


Follow up by ROBERT P:

Yeesh, I don't have time for this and you clearly require mental treatment. I will go back to fixing imaginary fuel issues.


Reply from MARC:

For the first time, I think you inadvertently revealed the truth, you just want to go back to "fixing imaginary fuel issues" (these are all your words).



September 29, 2016

Posted by LMAC N:

Ethanol has FAR less energy-density per gallon than gasoline has. A perfect, stoichiometric ratio of air-to-fuel for gasoline is 14.7:1 -- for Ethanol it's 9:1. In other words it takes about 40% MORE Ethanol to generate the same amount of energy -- you need 1.4 gallons of Ethanol to go as far as 1 gallon of gasoline will take you. So which is a more efficient use of resources?

And speaking of efficient use of resources -- corn is one of the WORST ways, in terms of gallons-of-ethanol-produced-per-acre, to make Ethanol. It takes a LOT more corn to make a gallon of Ethanol than it does, say, switchgrass or sugarcane (about twice as much, actually). Do you not think that corn-growers can be just as greedy as the oil companies? Do you not think that they have lobbyists in D.C. that are pressuring the government to require corn-based ethanol so that THEY can get rich? Is it only the oil companies who are screwing the consumer, or are corn farmers capable of doing it, too?

IF we were able to produce ethanol from any cellulosic plant material, THEN we would achieve an efficiency that would rival gasoline in terms of the cost-per-unit-of-energy-obtained. But we cannot do that yet. Technology will get us there eventually, I'm sure -- but until then, Ethanol is NOT the panacea that you make it out to be.

For the average car on the road, Ethanol DOES do damage in multiple ways. It's EXTREMELY corrosive when compared to gasoline, and eats away at aluminum fuel tanks and rubber fuel-hoses. Most cars on the road today do not have the stainless-steel fuel-tanks and fuel-lines needed to handle Ethanol.


Reply from MARC:

Hi LMAC - As far as your "stoichiometric ratio" is concerned, you should stow-your-metric-ratio. It serves no purpose in this discussion.

The BTU rating of gasoline over ethanol has nothing to do with how engines perform. An engine optimized for ethanol delivers more horse power per gallon of fuel than an engine optimized for gasoline. This issue has been erroneously raised numerous times on this blog. Repeating the erroneous information doesn't make it true, and my having to repeat the correct information multiple times doesn't make it false.

While corn is not near the top of the list in raw materials that can be used for ethanol there are several good reasons why it is being used. However, the amount of acreage being used to grow corn is irrelevant as we happen the have enough land at this time.

In the future other crops with better "ethanol yields" will undoubtedly come into higher use in the U.S.

Older cars (pre-early 1990's) do have components that are susceptible to alcohol deterioration. However, any pre-early 1990's cars on the road are susceptible to all kinds of problems anyway, regardless of the fuel used. So when repairs are made the new parts used should be alcohol resistant parts.

Not all rubber and plastic is susceptible to alcohol. Gasoline is also corrosive, which is one of the reasons why fuel system repair didn't just start when E10 fuel was mandated. One of the most corrosive liquids is water. It can be rendered rather harmless in engines and other places by using materials that are not subject to easy water corrosion.


Follow up by LMAC N:

A stoichiometric mixture is determined by the laws of physics. Engine "optimization" has nothing to do with it. It requires 40% more ethanol than gasoline to make a stoichiometric mixture. Period. End of story. You cannot get around the laws of physics. Miles per gallon will ALWAYS be worse on ethanol than it will on pure gasoline. Period. That is part of the laws of physics -- there is simply less energy in a gallon of ethanol than there is in a gallon of gasoline, no matter how much you may wish it to be different.


Reply from MARC:

Fuel optimization has everything to do with the issue. BTU ranking is irrelevant. This has been known for more than 100 years and was testified to before Congress in 1906.

If BTUs and not engine optimization was important then you would be able to achieve better mileage by using diesel fuel in a gasoline engine, which has a higher BTU ranking. As it relates to internal combustion engines, you can take your understanding of "physics" and use it as a physic.


Follow up by LMAC N:

It takes X amount of work to move a car from point A to point B. Period. Doesn't matter what fuel you use. Doesn't matter how the engine is optimized. It takes X amount of work to get a car from point A to point B.

Ethanol has LESS energy available per gallon. This is a KNOWN FACT!! It is a LAW of PHYSICS. You cannot escape this fact! Gasoline has 114,000 BTU per gallon. Ethanol has 76,100 BTU per gallon. THIS IS A FACT!!!!!!!!!! LOOK IT UP!!!!!!!!!

Therefore, if ethanol has less energy available per gallon than gasoline does, it WILL take MORE ethanol to produce the same amount of work!!!! You CANNOT deny that! It is a mathematical FACT!

Using more ethanol to go from point A to point B means FEWER MILES PER GALLON OF ETHANOL!!!!! ALWAYS!!!!!!!! PERIOD!!! END OF STORY!!!!!

It doesn't matter how the engine is "optimized". The engine cannot change the amount of available energy in the fuel!!!! There is only so much energy available in a gallon of fuel -- and the amount of energy available in that gallon of fuel is dependent upon WHAT KIND OF FUEL IT IS. It is NOT dependent upon how well the engine is optimized!!!!!

Pouring fuel into an engine does NOT change the characteristics of the FUEL!!!! No matter HOW the engine is "optimized"!!!!!!!


Reply from MARC:

It's not a question of the Laws of Physics, it a issue of engine optimization. In any event, the so-called Laws of Physics can be mitigated or rendered irrelevant by external forces. The use of pulleys to lift great weights is one example. You can make up an equation that expresses the energy required to lift a 10 ton cement block, but the use of a pulley makes the effort nearly effortless.

A gasoline-powered internal combustion engine is optimized to run on gasoline. A diesel-powered internal combustion engine is optimized to run on diesel. Diesel's BTU rating is higher than Gasoline, yet if you attempted to use diesel in a gasoline-optimized ICE it won't run. Conversely, if you attempted to use gasoline in a diesel optimized ICE you don't get reduced performance, you get NO performance.

If we were discussing a steam engine and we had to calculate which fuel to use to heat the water to create the steam then BTUs are important. Internal combustion engines do not work on steam.

Pouring fuel into an engine actually does change the characteristics of the fuel, it transforms from a liquid state; but I understand your point on this and agree. However, an engine's characteristics can be changed to fit the fuel, and this is precisely what happens.

The fact that ethanol or methanol can be used at all in a gasoline-powered engine is incredible. It's normally perfectly correct to assume that anything used in a device that is not optimized for that thing will get reduced or no results, but it has nothing to do with the Laws of Physics or with one substance being inferior to another. It's OPTIMIZATION. Any conversation about the difference in BTU is a waste of time.

A Beatles song on CD, DVD, digital, 8-track cartridge, or vinyl will be the same. The song is the same; the lyrics are the same; the music is the same. But just because the song and its components are the same doesn't mean you can expect to use a CD in an 8-track player.

Going back to fuels, there are two facts that remain: First, an internal combustion engine optimized to run on ethanol will out perform an internal combustion engine optimized to run on gasoline. The ethanol engine will provide greater MPG and more horse-power. This is a fact, and you can look it up.

Second, if you use E85 in a gasoline-optimized engine and lose 10% MPG, but the E85 costs 15% less than the E10 or E0 gasoline, then you have a net gain. This is a fact, ask a math teacher to explain it to you.

By the way, the information that I present is nothing new, it has been known since the advent of the internal combustion engine, but the oil industry has done a very good job on confusing people like you. As I've mentioned previously, these facts were also testified to in Congressional Hearing in 1906 and the oil industry was never able to refute the information.


Follow up by LMAC N:

THE AMOUNT OF WORK IT TAKES TO LIFT A ONE-TON BLOCK IS THE SAME WITH OR WITHOUT A PULLEY!!!! If you lift a one-ton block 1 meter off the ground, you have applied the same amount of energy to that block with or without a pulley!!!! With a pulley, it took twice the amount of TIME to do it, therefore your energy PER SECOND decreased, but the TOTAL AMOUNT of work done IS THE SAME!!!!!

A 1-ton block that is 1 meter off the ground has the same amount of potential energy NO MATTER HOW IT GOT TO BE ONE METER OFF THE GROUND!!! If you lifted it directly, or if you lifted it with a pulley, IT HAS THE SAME AMOUNT OF POTENTIAL ENERGY!!!!!!!!


Reply from MARC:

You made a good point, separating the difference between "energy" required and the "force" used in the example of lifting a block of cement. However, in doing so you actually help prove the point as to how and why BTUs are irrelevant for internal combustion engines.

One of the 3 characteristics that are different in an ethanol-optimized engine is that it has a longer piston stoke. The longer piston stroke provides more force. Gasoline, even with its higher BTUs can't effectively push the piston in an ethanol-optimized engine. With this extra force an ethanol-optimized engine/car can travel faster and further on the same volume of liquid fuel (ethanol vs. gasoline).

Conversely, ethanol doesn't effectively utilize the shorter piston stroke and spark timing of a gasoline-optimized engine, so it uses more fuel to accomplish the same task.

Therefore, it is as I've maintained, engine optimization and not BTUs is the key. And the example that higher BTU diesel fuel can't be used in a gasoline engine further confirms it. And it's why gasoline in a diesel engine doesn't just get 10 or 15% fewer MPG than diesel, it will get no MPG.

The following excerpt is from a Paper to the American Society for Environmental History, Annual Conference March 26-30, 2003 By William Kovarik, Ph.D.:

“Studies of alcohol as an internal combustion engine fuel began in the U.S. with the Edison Electric Testing Laboratory and Columbia University in 1906. Elihu Thomson reported that despite a smaller heat or B.T.U. value, "a gallon of alcohol will develop substantially the same power in an internal combustion engine as a gallon of gasoline. This is owing to the superior efficiency of operation..." (New York Times Aug. 5, 1906) Other researchers confirmed the same phenomena around the same time.

“USDA tests in 1906 also demonstrated the efficiency of alcohol in engines and described how gasoline engines could be modified for higher power with pure alcohol fuel or for equivalent fuel consumption, depending on the need. The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) and the U.S. Navy performed 2000 tests on alcohol and gasoline engines in 1907 and 1908 in Norfolk, Va. and St. Louis, Mo. They found that much higher engine compression ratios could be achieved with alcohol than with gasoline. When the compression ratios were adjusted for each fuel, fuel economy was virtually equal despite the greater B.T.U. value of gasoline. "In regard to general cleanliness, such as absence of smoke and disagreeable odors, alcohol has many advantages over gasoline or kerosene as a fuel," the report said. "The exhaust from an alcohol engine is never clouded with a black or grayish smoke." USGS continued the comparative tests and later noted that alcohol was "a more ideal fuel than gasoline" with better efficiency despite the high cost.”

In the "Ethanol Vehicle Challenge 1998" tests were conducted on ethanol-optimized Chevrolet Malibus versus stock Chevy Malibus. The tests showed that most ethanol optimized vehicles tested on the dynamometer exceeded the fuel efficiency of the stock Malibu, with the best schools showing efficiency improvements of 13 to 15%. In the city portion of the dynamometer testing, all the vehicles demonstrated a higher fuel efficiency than the stock Malibu. SEE: Ethanol Vehicle Challenge 1998.

Additionally, tests and studies conducted by Matthew Brusstar of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency show that ethanol-optimized engines deliver greater MPG. SEE: Economical, High-Efficiency Engine Technologies For Alcohol Fuels and High Efficiency and Low Emissions from a Port-Injected Engine with Neat Alcohol Fuels.

PERIOD, this is the end of the story!!!!



September 26, 2016

Posted by GREG W:

AAA states that average gas price in my area is $2.34 yesterday with E85 being offered at $1.99. Nationwide it's $2.47 and $1.97. One gallon of gasoline yields 116,000 BTUs, (British Thermal Unit). One gallon of corn based ethanol yields only 76,000 BTU's. Let's take the lesser of the ethanol prices, $1.97, and multiply that by 1.53 = $3.01 is the over-under or break-even point of ethanol.

Average car drives about 1,000 miles per month (250 miles per week). If the car holds 15 gallons of gasoline and gets 25 MPG, the range per tank would be 375 miles.

If the same car uses E85 and gets only 65% of that typical mileage, then the range per tank is 225 miles. That's over 4 fillings per month. However, over a protracted period, let's say one year, you would have to fill your tank ONLY 22 more times with E85 than otherwise, (54 fill-ups vs 32 fill-ups). That's one more fill-up every 2 weeks.

Nationwide now:
with gasoline
12,000 miles per year / 25 mpg = 480 gallons

with ethanol
12,000 miles per year / 15 mpg = 800 gallons
800 x $1.97 per gallon = $1,576.00 per year with E85
$390.40 difference.


Reply from MARC:

Greg - BTU ratings are irrelevant when considering fuel in an internal combustion engine; we're not boiling water. So you should lose any references to BTUs in attempting to calculate fuel economy in passenger cars and trucks.

To simplify things even more, throw out any reference to AAA, unless you want to discuss where to get route maps... but then with today's GPS devices, AAA isn't even needed for that.

Furthermore, your calculation of E85 getting only 65% of the mileage of E10 or E0 is a joke. It's based on the nonsense BTU issue, which has nothing to do with an internal combustion engine.

In practical, actual driving experience E85 will only lose between 5% and 15% of MPG compared to E10 or E0, depending upon the vehicle. So if you lose 10% in miles, but the price of E85 is 20% less than E10 or E0 then it's a net gain. If you lost 20% in MPG but the E85 is 20% cheaper then you break even. I won't go through all the math on various prices and mileage losses, but it's clear that the scenario you painted is incorrect.


Posted by HOPE-FULL-LEE:

I can just see God saying "why are you people burning FOOD in your cars, I GAVE YOU OIL!!"

I have three beautiful children that I don't want to see go hungry at some point in their lives.


Reply from MARC:

What I think God might be really saying is "Why are you people allowing your young men and women to be killed fighting wars over oil that is controlled by countries that hate you? I gave you the ability to grow things that can be made into useful products. Why are you using corn to make unhealthful sweeteners, when the corn can be used to produce fuel to power your cars and make the air clean."

Maybe this is what you should be concerned about, considering that you have three beautiful children to protect and take care of?

Perhaps God is wondering why you don't use the brains he gave you?


Posted by RICK:

ADM - Archer Daniels Midland - lobbies and spends millions to sway (bribe) congress to vote in ways that benefit ADM such as corn for ethanol which ADM grows. You are correct - the average citizen is no longer represented by congress hasn't been for just about a century. Congress is for sale and the buyers are shills for big corporations.


Reply from MARC:

Rick - The oil industry spends far, far more money on lobbies than ADM; and the oil lobby has owned Congress for more than 100 years. Proportionately whatever ADM spends is just a fraction of the oil industry. Corn used to produce ethanol in America is grown by American farmers. The oil industry is controlled by foreign oil producers and terrorist countries. No American serviceman or woman was ever killed defending the production and distribution of ethanol.

Why is there a disconnect with you and others on this? Are you not patriots? Do you not know how to add and subtract? Do you not care about U.S. military personnel being killed?

By the way, Rick, even if you're just a shill for the oil industry, it's not relevant if you are or not; answering these questions should elicit only one response if you are an American.



September 17, 2015

Posted by SCOTT B:

Hi Marc - I'm a fairly new convert to E85. I started using it when my employer gave me a nice Ford F150 to drive for my work duties. Being a flex fuel vehicle, and me being a curious person, I started using E85. I had all the same misconceptions that everyone else has. But I had to know for myself. Needless to say, I'm all on board now. When the truck kept running and the sky didn't fall down around me, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about Ethanol. Which is when I came across your blog on the Auto Channel web page.

I enjoy what you have written. It's a learning experience for me and I'm enjoying it. And once you start paying attention, its amazing what you start hearing others spew; with nothing but hearsay to back it up with. Big oil has brainwashed well.

Now I know I'm not supposed to, but I have been using it in my 2011 BMW GS motorcycle, as well as my wife's 2013 Honda CRV. The CRV did drop MPG from about 32 to 22. And the check engine light came on after about 50 miles. But I knew this would probably happen. Of course it went out after going back to e10. The bike LOVES the stuff. It wants 91 octane anyway. Much cheaper this way.

Here in Minnesota, E85 is usually $.70 a gallon less than regular. You would think it would be less since we make so much of it here in State. Still, I paid $1.65 per gallon just this afternoon when I filled the tank.

Keep up the good fight. I know I will. Thanks for your writings. I'll keep reading.


Reply from MARC:

Scott, thanks for reading the blog and for writing in. Your experience is pretty standard, and you're right, when you learn that the sky doesn't fall and your teeth don't fall out simply from using E85 it's a rather amazing feeling.

Using E85 in non-flex fuel vehicles does produce different MPG results, based upon the vehicle. The on-board computer isn't sure what to do. You may find that by "splash blending" your own mix to achieve something around E30 or E40 will work better and give you a positive Cost vs MPG loss result. Splash blending is when you pump in X amount of E85 and then move to an E10 pump and fill the rest of the way.

At some point, you may wish to install an Alcohol Fuel Conversion Kit on your wife's car. The kit will help you to achieve better results and it can be used with E100. The kit can be purchased from David Blume's company at http://www.permaculture.com/store/conversion_kits. By the way, David's book "Alcohol Can Be A Gas" is fantastic. You can read about it, and order it from his website.

In general, the retail cost for E85 should be less, but it's pretty much controlled by the oil company that's delivering the fuel. They don't want to hurt their regular gasoline sales. You may be able to find an ethanol producer in Minnesota that is selling ethanol directly to consumers at their plants and that price might be more advantageous.



August 26, 2015

Posted by DENNIS:

There's no ethanol-free gasoline in Houston. I have to ride 50 miles to the coast to find it. It is a ridiculous law perpetuated by graft from large agriculture lobbyists. Given the current level of corruption, I am afraid it will be here for a while.


Reply from MARC:

How about the political graft and corruption from the oil industry that forced us to use only poison gasoline for 8 decades.


Follow on from DENNIS:

Are you talking about leaded gasoline?


Reply from MARC:

Leaded gasoline and then gasoline with MTBE.


Follow on from DENNIS:

They were both used until the unintended consequences caused them to be banned in this country. Still widely used in Asia. Next.


Reply from MARC:

Hey Dennis, thanks for the continued exchange.

I'll respond to your last point first. They also eat dogs in Asia, and I assume you've seen photos of the air in China.

By unintended consequences do you mean the acknowledgement that lead and MTBE are poisonous, or do you mean the rigged OPEC supply problems and our dependence on foreign oil, or do you mean both?

NEXT, is right!


Follow on from DENNIS:

I would agree with all of your points other than the poisonous nature of MTBE, which is still under investigation. I am still not a lover of Ethanol due to it causing food prices to rise.

I would love to use something besides gasoline, but nothing is available yet. Unless your electric vehicle gets its electricity from wind, solar, or geothermal, you are just transferring the CO2 from your tailpipe to a smokestack. The consumers are not the enemy.


Reply from MARC:

Dennis, I was happy to receive this response from you. I was thinking you were going to tell me that dog tastes good and that we should eat them here, too.

I'm also glad to see that you didn't try to argue tetraethyl lead's dangerous qualities.

Anyway, the inhalation of MTBE is dangerous and causes cancer. There is no dispute on this. The uncertainty concerns how dangerous it is in drinking water. Now I acknowledge that drinking water contains traces of arsenic, and yet it doesn't routinely kill humans; and you can have minute quantities of chlorine bleach in drinking water and it won't kill humans, but why take the chance with MTBE?

You can argue that ethanol might also get into the drinking water supply, but ethanol spills evaporate before it can seep down into aquifers and drains. And humans can safely consume rather large quantities of ethanol (alcohol). Drinking fuel grade ethanol will make you sick and probably kill you, but that's because of the denaturing ingredient added to ethanol to stop people from drinking it.

So your only argument left is the food-prices canard. When The World Bank first issued the report in 2008 that blamed ethanol production for food scarcity and price hikes it caused a great sensation, and the oil industry jumped all over it.

Since that time The World Bank has retracted those statements on multiple occasions and placed the blame of rising food prices squarely on the shoulders of the oil industry. The myth continues to be spread because it's always much harder to retract a story at a later time. The oil industry paid a large number of media personalities and publications to carry the story. When The World Bank retracted the blame the oil industry didn't pony up the money to try and retract the story; they've continued to ride the wave ever since.

As for electric vehicles, no, that's not the solution and it probably won't be for 30, 40, 50 or more years. Ethanol is the solution. Methanol is a good 2nd, and CNG is another good solution.

You are correct that the American consumers are not the enemy. I just wish that the American Petroleum Institute and its members didn't act towards us as if we were.



August 23, 2015

Posted by WRENCHER:

Corn based ethanol is indeed a waste of time and resources. Even the studies that show that you have a net gain of energy only have it at a razor-thin margin. But there's a lot of cash behind this whole thing and nothing speaks louder than $$$$. It's actually very strange since now you have environmental groups teaming up with oil companies to combat the ethanol lobbyists. Shared goals make strange bedfellows.

That said, and since the sugar industry is arguably more influential than the corn industry, why aren't we making bio-fuels out of cane sugar like they do in Brazil? The energy density of the final product is much higher and sugar cane produces more than double the amount of ethanol per acre of land. I know there are challenges to growing a tropical crop in a largely temperate region but if you've driven past a cornfield lately you'll know that we're pretty good at getting plants to do what we want.

On a personal note, I run my V-Strom (Suzuki motorcycle) on whatever's cheapest. It hasn't complained yet. E10 seems to have a largely negligible effect on performance and fuel economy.


Reply from MARC:

Hi Wrencher - I read through your comments, and found them to be an interesting mix of positive and negative. On the one hand you have found that the use of E10 has no ill effects on your motorcycle, which mirrors my own E10 motorcycle experience, but on the other hand you make negative statements about EROEI (energy returned on energy invested).

I'm sorry to say that you're wrong about the corn's net energy gain or loss. The information that you're using to base the opinion on was incorrect in some instances, and outdated in others.

However, the real point to make is that no "energy" resource comes without the expenditure of energy, and gasoline is terrible. In fact, gasoline takes more energy to produce than ethanol. The studies done to counter the Pimentel-Patzek hatchet job studies show this. Google Bruce Dale and you'll find this information. Dale participated in a televised debate against Pimentel and Patzek and you can watch it in its entirety by CLICKING HERE.

It is true that some environmental groups oppose ethanol, and it's primarily because they are still relying on the wrong EROEI information.

In addition, the "energy density" between ethanol and gasoline, or ethanol produced from sugar vs. corn is irrelevant. MPG is a result of energy optimization, not fuel BTU content.


Reply from SIMON JOHN (to the comments made by WRENCHER):

Brazil's ethanol fuels are based on sugar cane and are quite different. Mechanics all agree ethanol causes problems particularly in older vehicles and should never be used in boats.


Reply from MARC:

SJ - Fuel ethanol is fuel ethanol. It doesn't matter if it's made from corn or sugar or beets or sorghum. To suggest that an engine and fuel system parts react differently is ludicrous. The engine does not say "Yeech, this tastes like bourbon, I want rum."

Regarding your other incorrect admonishment of using ethanol-gasoline blends in boats, you might want to read/listen to the Mercury Marine Ethanol Webinar. The full webinar can be found by CLICKING HERE.

An abbreviated version of the results can be found by CLICKING HERE



August 16, 2015

Posted by PYWAKET 1:

This guy, Marc Rauch is a known ethanol industry apologist. Read his history (before he hides it) and you'll see that it's practially the only thing he ever posts about.


Reply from MARC:

Hey Py, I hope your having a great weekend.

I'm not an apologist; what would I have to apologize for?

I'm an investigative journalist, a TV-film producer, and I am the co-owner and co-publisher of The Auto Channel (the Internet's largest automotive information resource). Unlike you and many of those who post wrong information about ethanol (and lots of other things), I don't have to hide behind little child screen names. My articles about ethanol have been widely published; I've been a guest many times on radio and TV shows; I've given presentations at all kinds of seminars; and I appeared before a Congressional committee to talk about ethanol.

You can Google my name or just visit my website and do a search for my editorials - I write about all kinds of things, including wine, cooking, and baseball. The best piece I've done on ethanol is a 60+ page report on ethanol that destroys all anti-ethanol myths.

I'm happy to take on anyone at anytime, and I'll even publish whatever comments you care to make - along with my corrections - on The Auto Channel website. If you know anyone working at a petroleum oil company or any of the PR firms that work for the oil industry please see if they have the courage to debate me on the issues.


Follow up by PYWAKET 1:

1) My name is Pywaket, not "Py", thank you very much. And yes, that is my real name. Shall I refer to you as Ma, from now on?

2) I would think that an "investigative journalist" would know the difference between "your" and "you're".

3) Any idiot can appear before a Congressional committee if they're friendly to powerful people with an agenda (ADM, anyone?). If there's any group that has nearly as much influence in Congress as Big Oil, it's Big Ag, and you are definitely a shill for them.

4) Your online history shows largely you arguing with people about ethanol. People who are clearly unhappy about being forced to use a product they don't like, don't want, and that causes them problems. I trust them more than some self-important "journalist" who goes around telling them that they don't know what they are talking about. Especially when I've experienced the same problems they have.

4a) I fly airplanes. Many of the engines I've flown behind can be approved to run on Mogas, which is automotive gasoline. Every single one of those, though, says "no ethanol in the fuel", right in the STC that was approved by the FAA. I'm supposed to trust my life to your inane ramblings over the knowledge of the engineers and designers at Lycoming, Continental and Bombardier/Rotax? I don't think so.

5) "Widely published" means nothing, as does "being a guest". Most newspapers and television stations are desperate for cheap filler material, and you fit the bill.


Reply from MARC:

Hey Py, pretty good response.

1) Yes, you can refer to me as Ma if you want.

2) Good catch on my your/you're spelling error; thanks for the heads up. But if spelling was important to you then you should have you picked up on your misspelling of the word "practically" in your first post.

Also, as long as you're going to be so persnickety about common typos, then perhaps you should have been more careful in using the word "shill" to describe me in your 2nd post. A shill is someone who pretends not to have any relationship with the person/people being touted. I never hide what I do. I would have thought that someone with sufficient intelligence to fly airplanes would own a dictionary.

3) There are a lot of idiots who do appear before Congressional committees. Everyone testifying against ethanol are great examples. I have to laugh at your comparison of ADM versus the oil companies. It's like comparing a little league baseball player to a major league player. They both play baseball but there's a huge difference between them. The amount of influence peddled by the oil companies greatly, greatly over shadows the influence that ADM wields.

For example, in the same year that ExxonMobil reported their fiscal fourth quarter profit as $40 billion, Archer Daniels Midland reported their fiscal fourth quarter profit of $372 million. Although $372 million is nothing to sneeze at, it’s less than 1% of ExxonMobil’s profit. Corporate revenue and profits are often tied directly to political influence. Can you guess who has the greater amount of influence with Washington? (Rhetorical question, no need to answer)

And since any idiot can appear before a Congressional committee, when were you last there?

4) Yes, I do argue a lot with people who are spreading lies about ethanol. Some are true shills, for the oil industry; and some are just people that have no idea of what they are writing about. I believe that fuel independence is of primary concern to America and that ethanol can be a major player in ending dependence on foreign oil and restoring the health of our economy. I believe that we have lost too many military men and women fighting to support foreign terrorist regimes. Excuse me for caring. Excuse me for being vigorous in how much I care. It's a shame that you don't have the same concern for America, but maybe you're not American - maybe Pywaket is not an American name.

By the way, I hope you noticed that NO ONE is able to provide information that refutes the facts I present.

4a) I don't get your reference to airplane engines not using ethanol. Certainly you must know that planes can and have used ethanol. The reason the FAA has restricted it's use is because the airplane engine industry is so small that they were not affected by the regulations regarding ethanol resistant parts. The government just didn't feel that planes were significant enough to worry about. It's simply a matter of swapping out parts. The Auto Channel has a great video of stunt pilot Greg Poe flying his ethanol-powered plane at the California Capital Air Show. You can watch it by CLICKING HERE. And if you search Google you'll find other examples.

Also, I don't think you'll find any comments from me suggesting that pilots should use ethanol in their planes. So I don't know why you felt it necessary to exaggerate and pretend that anything I've written pertains to your safety while flying.

5) This point is sort of like your Point 3. Yes, media outlets are hungry for cheap filler material. That's one of the reasons why there is so much junk published in favor of gasoline and the oil industry, even though both have proven to be poison to humans and other animal life.

But you shouldn't be too harsh on your criticism about the content that media outlets accept; after all, if it wasn't for their low standards you would never get your empty comments published.

I am looking forward to your next try because I think this could prove to be the most entertaining exchange yet on my Ethanol Chronicles blog.


August 9, 2015

Posted by COMPETITION ACCESSORIES:

What I want to talk about is ethanol fuels and what it's doing to motorcycles. First off, pure ethanol is hygroscopic; it attracts water, to the point that it will pull it out of the air. Ethanol and gasoline will mix, but ethanol, gasoline and water will not; the ethanol-water mixture will come out of solution and settle on the bottom of your tank or carburetor bowl. Add a little oxygen to the mix, and you get rust. The water can also sink to the bottom due to it's heavier density causing the carbs to become gummed or have a solidified gel/varnish that will also damage the carbs.


Reply from MARC:

Hi CA - You are correct, ethanol is a hygroscopic substance. However, what you've done - that is to say what others have done and you've followed them - is to misuse the meaning of the word "hygroscopic" to attribute qualities to ethanol (alcohol) that do not exist. And this is where the problem lies.

Different substances are hygroscopic. In addition to ethanol, salt, cotton, diesel fuel, and even gasoline are also hygroscopic. And the different hygroscopic substances react differently. If you leave salt in an open container it will clump up because of moisture in the air, but water does not form at the bottom of the salt shaker. In a general full definition of "hygroscopic," a hygroscopic substance can attract moisture from its environment. So you have wrongfully translated that to "ethanol sucks water right out of the air." The word "environment" means "near" or "adjacent", it doesn't mean "air." The word "attract" doesn't mean "absorbs" or "sucks."

There are two ways to prove this: Fill a drinking glass half way with alcohol and leave it on your kitchen counter overnight (or a couple of days). If alcohol could attract water right out the air the drinking glass would have more liquid in it as the days pass. But it won't have more liquid (it'll actually have less liquid).

2nd test: Place a dry cotton ball on your kitchen counter and let it sit overnight. The cotton ball is a hygroscopic substance. If it could suck moisture right out of the air the cotton ball will get wet. But it won't. However, if you place the dry cotton ball "adjacent" to a small puddle of any liquid it will absorb the liquid in a 'wicking' process.

Next points: For some reason you have forgotten, or never learned, that if your gasoline tank developed some water (usually through the natural process of condensation), you would use a product such as Dry Gas to solve the problem. Dry Gas is ethanol. If ethanol caused water to form, Dry Gas wouldn't be used to get rid of the water. Ethanol gets rid of the water problem by breaking up the water into molecules and allows ignition to take place. When the engine then runs it expels the water molecules in the exhaust. The gumming up and "varnish" comes as a result of the burnt gasoline residue. The ethanol works as a solvent to get rid of the gasoline residue and varnish. The result may be to turn the gasoline residue/varnish into a gummy substance, but over the course of time any internal combustion engine will experience this problem and need to be cleaned. You would then use an alcohol-based product, or a product that emulates alcohol's solvent characteristics. This has been true since the birth of internal combustion engines. The whole point of having a gasoline that has a "detergent" is to do what ethanol does...but ethanol does it better.

If you have only ever used ethanol-free gasoline then your engine has a lot of residue. If you suddenly switch to an ethanol blend you may find that there is an overwhelming amount of gunk that is just too much for the usual running engine to handle on its own. But blaming the problem on ethanol would be like blaming a clogged drain in your bathroom sink on the soap for doing too good of a job. In any event, once the engine is cleaned out the ethanol blend will help keep the engine clean. To explain the varnish thing better: If you ever worked with a piece of finished wood, and you wanted to remove the varnish, you would use an alcohol-based solvent to remove the hard dried varnish. If alcohol caused the varnish to occur you wouldn't use alcohol to remove the varnish.

I've owned and rode motorcycles for a long time. I have never, ever, experienced the separation problems that you and other ethanol opponents claim will happen. If you are experiencing problems it is because the problems are caused by the gasoline and/or are just normal problems that will occur with any internal combustion engine.


Follow Up by COMPETITION ACCESSORIES:

You may be the one rider that has not experienced any issues with ethanol fuel. The AMA is currently fighting to stop the mandate for E15 fuel blends because it is such an issue for small carbureted motors. With over 25,000 signatures already ethanol fuel is clearly an issue. We can discuss the semantics of fuel separation and ethanol properties all day, but lets focus on the real problem instead. Ethanol fuel causes carburetor failure.


Reply from MARC:

Firstly, there is no E15 mandate to fight; any claim by you or others is simply a scare tactic. The EPA has only ever approved E15 for use, they haven't mandated it.

Second, the AMA may be receiving some financial inducements from the oil industry to go against E15.

Additionally, the only semantics issue is your misuse of words and definitions. The facts are the facts. Do the two tests I suggested. I've owned more than one bike. Moreover, everyday I see plenty of motorcycles whizzing by and they have no problems with E10, and where I live/work ethanol-free gasoline is not easy or cheap to come by. You have exaggerated the problems and blamed the wrong fuel for those problems. And it's clear that I am not the only motorcycle owner/rider to not experience problems with ethanol as all you have to do is read some of the other comments on your YouTube message board.


Follow up by COMPETITION ACCESSORIES:

You are entitled to your opinion and in the Auto industry the consensus may be different, but this is a moto channel. I'll stick by the 25,000 American Motorcyclist Association members that also have an issue with ethanol fuel and continue to warn of the shortcomings.


Reply from MARC:

CA - Calling "facts" just an opinion is a goofy way out of the discussion.

By the way, there are more than 5 million licensed motorcycle riders in America (and more than 8 million registered motorcycles). Having 25,000 signatures represents less than 1/2 of 1% of licensed motorcycle riders. If the problems exist, in the manner in which you claim, there would be signatures of far more than 1/2 of 1% of all licensed riders. Statistically speaking, you have virtually disproven your claim that ethanol routinely causes problems in motorcycles.


Follow up by COMPETITION ACCESSORIES:

Here is a link to an article that the EPA admits ethanol fuel causes damage to engines not designed for blended fuels. It is true that many cars can and do produce higher power output with ethanol fuels. In the case of motors not designed to operate on blended fuels it can cause major issues. Our service department regularly services motorcycles and atv's that have failed fuel systems as a direct result of blended fuels. Renewable fuel sources are important for our future but an increase to E15 is not the answer. http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/News/14-04-21/EPA_acknowledges_that_ethanol_damages_engines.aspx


Reply from MARC:

And here is the 2010 press conference where the EPA announced that E15 and E20 was safe to use in all modern gasoline powered cars and trucks:



If your service department is intentionally describing the wrong causes of customers' problems, and exaggerating the repairs necessary it may be fraud. If your service department is simply misdiagnosing and treating the problem you wouldn't be the first service department to not know what they are doing.


August 6, 2015

From MARC

If you've been following the ETHANOL CHRONICLES blog you might have figured I took a vacation or dropped down a well. I didn't. In the past week I got busy writing two Open Letters to critics of ethanol. One was to John Voelcker, senior editor at GreenCarReports.com. The other was to Ken Cohen, VP of public and government affairs for Exxon Mobil Corporation. It's possible that you have already read these two editorials, but more likely you have not. So for today I'm going to use these two pieces as my current contribution. To read the Open Letters just click on these links:

Open Letter To Green Car Reports About Ethanol

Open Letter To Ken Cohen ExxonMobil


July 27, 2015

Posted by BRIAN W

Mr. Rauch,
While you made some good points about ethanol, but it looks like there are other automobile writers who disagree with you. I found this article from Edmunds.com while searching the Internet and they say that ethanol delivers poorer performance and a decrease in MPG. I was wondering if you would comment on it?


Reply from MARC

Hi Brian - Thanks for your email and for taking the time to contact us. I hope you're having a very enjoyable summer.

The 8-year old story from Edmunds that you submitted is interesting but merely one of any number of anecdotal stories that could show one fuel better than the other. For those not familiar with the Edmunds article, and they don't wish to read that article before continuing, I'll give a brief summary: Two of Edmunds' writers compared gasoline against E85 by driving a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe LT roundtrip from Las Vegas to San Diego on two successive days. The first day they used gasoline, the 2nd day they used E85. The authors did not specify if the gasoline was E10 or some type of ethanol-free gasoline.

The result of their test was:

Gas Result: From San Diego to Las Vegas and back, we used 36.5 gallons of regular gasoline and achieved an average fuel economy of 18.3 mpg.

Gas Cost: We spent $124.66 for gasoline for the trip. The average pump price was $3.42 per gallon.

E85 Result: From San Diego to Las Vegas and back we used 50 gallons of E85 and achieved an average fuel economy of 13.5 mpg.

E85 Cost: We spent $154.29 on E85 for the trip. The average pump price was $3.09 per gallon.

Gas/E85 difference: The fuel economy of our Tahoe on E85, under these conditions, was 26.5 percent worse than it was when running on gas.

The Edmunds article closes with a comment about ethanol being energy negative (takes more energy to produce than it delivers).

Right off the bat, environmental conditions, such as the wind the authors talked about, could have easily accounted for any difference. Unless the wind blew in precisely the same directions, for the same length of time, and exactly the same speed (not just close to the same speeds), you can't make a accurate comparison between the two roundtrips.

In addition, as the writer pointed out, there were different traveling speeds in the outbound and inbound drive. While you can say "X will make up for Y" in a general sense, you don't really know if X plus a wind speed of 10 MPH can be directly offset by Y plus the same wind speed. And this doesn't even account for how the vehicle burns gas at the different speeds. It's possible that if the vehicle's optimum MPG efficiency is attained at 60 MPH, 65 MPH could produce significantly different MPG results than 55 MPH, even though both speeds are 5 MPH different than the optimum. Over a protracted distance travelled even the slightest difference can add up to an alarming difference, but unless that distance is traveled on a regular basis by an individual then the difference could be irrelevant in their consideration of which fuel to use.

In my estimation a more correct test would be to have two identical vehicles, using different respective fuels, with equal payloads traveling alongside each other for the entire distance - whatever the distance might be. Also, either vehicle would have to avoid any "drafting" assistance that might occur if either vehicle followed too closely another vehicle. On the other hand, a pure engine bench test with equally optimized engines - one optimized for 100% alcohol and one optimized for 100% unleaded gasoline - is probably the only way to do it. In my understanding, any bench tests conducted of optimized engines have shown that the MPG efficiency is equal.

I think the important point to learn from the Edmunds' test is that the results were quite similar, and that the writer did not report that the vehicle suffered any damage to its engine due to using alcohol. As you may know, one of the pernicious "manufactured" complaints made against the use of alcohol in a "gasoline" engine is that alcohol will damage it.

One more point on the Edmunds' test: If you go to a filling station that sells e85, you may notice a little sign that reads that the e85 may in fact only contain 70% alcohol, not 85%. I don't know enough to be able to say if the difference in the 15% could produce better or worse results, but it seems likely that there would be some difference. If the vehicle was optimized to run as an e85 flex-fuel vehicle but it was only being fed e70, then it is conceivable that the fuel economy would be affected.

Regarding the question raised about ethanol being energy negative, the Edmunds' story was written shortly after Ted Pimentel and Tad Patzek issued a very derogatory report on ethanol. They claimed ethanol was energy negative. This report was commissioned by the oil industry, and the oil industry had their PR people working overtime to get the results out to the media. I would say that the two Edmunds writers were relying on the Pimentel-Patzek report, or a third party report of the report.

However, as it turns out the Pimentel-Patzek report was severely criticized by several other studies that showed the Pimentel-Patzek methodology and findings to be very wrong. I discuss this in greater detail in the lengthy report I wrote in June 2013. You can find this discussion in Part 5 by CLICKING HERE.

I hope I have answered your request and addressed your issues.


July 24, 2015

Posted by GRANDDAD1:

If I am paying for gasoline, I should be getting 100% gasoline and not a watered down substitute. Once again Government intervening where they have no business to be. Article 1 Section 8 US Constitution outline Government responsibilities.


Reply from MARC:

Hi Granddad - You make an interesting point. It could be nice if you were able to buy 100% gasoline and have it work in your automobile. After all, when you hand over your dollar bills to pay for the fuel you are paying 100 cents per $1 dollar bill. It's not like you're paying with some bills that you printed that only reflect 90 cents per $1 dollar bill. Isn't that right?

The problem is that there is no such thing as 100% gasoline, and there's a couple of reasons for this. First, gasoline is not one single substance that is refined from petroleum; it's actually a composite of multiple ingredients.

Second, way back, about 100 years ago as automobile technology and road building was improving, consumers wanted vehicles that would perform better and go faster. This required that vehicles need high compression engines. But gasoline couldn't be used in high compression engines because gasoline caused a hideous "knock" that would rip the engines apart. Some manufacturers, like Ford, built cars that could be manually adjusted to accept gasoline or an alternative such as ethanol. Ethanol (alcohol) doesn't produce the knocking problem that gasoline does.

Some fuel refiners solved the knocking problem by adding ethanol to the gasoline. But when Prohibition was enacted (largely because of Rockefeller providing money to pay off politicians to vote for Prohibition), alcohol was almost legally impossible to come by. This meant that a new fuel had to be created. Luckily for General Motors they had 3 very good scientists leading the charge. They added tetraethyl lead to gasoline, and leaded gasoline was born. The tetraethyl lead stopped the knocking, and allowed vehicles to use engines that had exclusively high compression engines.

From your prospective, Granddad, this would have left you in the same situation of not getting 100% gasoline for your 100 cent dollar bills. You were buying gasoline plus tetraethyl lead.

There was a worrisome issue with tetraethyl lead: it's poison. Handling it or just inhaling it could kill humans...and it did. GM and their fuel partner (Standard Oil, aka Exxon/Mobil) tried very hard to hide this fact from the public. They were successful for decades. It was like how the tobacco industry paid off politicians and doctors to hide the health dangers of smoking and chewing tobacco.

Eventually the public and some politicians woke up and began to make changes. Tetraethyl lead had to be eliminated from gasoline, but then the knock problem would re-emerge. The oil industry could have chosen to use ethanol in place of the lead since Prohibition had been overturned long ago. The oil industry didn't like this idea because they were worried that people would remember that ethanol is inherently a better fuel. Also, the oil industry doesn't control alcohol production, so they would have to share some of the profits.

Consequently, the oil industry introduced their idea of a good solution: gasoline with MTBE. MTBE is basically a substance that mimics ethanol's anti-knock characteristics. The oil industry used their financial muscle to get politicians and auto manufacturers to accept this new fuel. However, MTBE proved to be almost as bad as tetraethyl-lead, so it had to go.

By the way Granddad, this meant that you were again not getting 100% gasoline for your 100 cent dollar bills.

So we finally came full circle and oil producers only had one alternative that was safe to humans and could be used safely in modern high-compression engines. That solution is ethanol.

For some reason, Granddad, no one explained all this to you. You were deceived by the oil industry. To make matters worse, they continued to deceive you by feeding you lies about ethanol. So you think that you should be getting 100% of something that you wouldn't want to use if you could get it. Moreover, ethanol doesn't "water down" gasoline, that's not what happens. Ethanol also doesn't dilute the effectiveness of gasoline (if that's your meaning) because the addition of ethanol to gasoline raises the overall octane, unless the oil refiners purposely choose to dumb-down the gasoline's octane - which they do in the hopes that you will have an inferior experience using the ethanol-gasoline blend.

In closing your comments, you cited article 1, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution as a way to complain about ethanol-gasoline blends. I'm not a Constitutional Scholar so I looked up the source material. Article 1, Section 8 has nothing to do with public health and safety issues; it concerns taxes. And on that score, Article 1, Section 8 clearly allows the government to levy taxes; which we know the government does. So I would say that if you wish to use the Constitution as a tool against ethanol that you should re-research the document.

I hope I was able to help clear up your misunderstanding of ethanol's use, and that you have a great rest of the weekend.


Posted by JEFF A:

Thanks for your historical analysis of ethanol. Now let's talk about the damage ethanol does, not to the engine's metallic parts, but the rubber ones. The cars of today are made with rubber specially formulated to handle alcohol. I believe Jay Leno's intent in writing his AutoWeek magazine story was that people should be able to buy unadulterated gasoline for older cars if they want it, so they don't have to replace the rubber seals in carburetors, fuel tanks, install new fuel pumps (the kind that bolt to the side of your engine), and let's not forget all the fuel lines. In Brazil they still went through the same painful transition we are going through today with our cars 15 years old and older. In Missouri you can get pure gasoline still but you have to shop around and it's premium only. If I had an antique car, I would need this option to keep it all original.


Reply from MARC:

Hi Jeff - I'm glad you found my historical analysis helpful.

If Jay Leno was only referring to older cars I wouldn't have published a lengthy rebuke of his article in February. I would have either not responded, or I would have said that I agree with the general advice of not using high level ethanol-gasoline blends in vehicles manufactured prior to the early 1990's.

Unfortunately Jay didn't limit his criticism to older vehicles, and because Jay has never responded to the volume of criticism he's received by acknowledging that he only meant older vehicles then I must assume that he was making it as a blanket statement.

Quoting from the article I published on February 23rd, here's in part what I wrote:

"... the problem to me is that Jay didn't say "write to your legislators to demand more freedom of fuel choice to give us old car owners easier access to ethanol-free gasoline," he's instead calling for less freedom of fuel choice. More importantly, as much as I hate to say it, Jay is using information to sway the argument that is untrue and misleading. And so, since I think that Jay should know, and does know better, that he is lying in the AutoWeek story.

For example, in the new AutoWeek story, Jay states that "ethanol will absorb water from ambient air...causing corrosion and inhibiting combustion."

Ethanol doesn't absorb water from the ambient air. This lie is one of the oldest and most malicious of the lies created by the oil industry to denigrate ethanol. The only thing new in how Jay used this lie is that he used the word "ambient." I've not seen that before. I've seen quotes that use the word "thin" to denote ordinary air that we normally breathe, but not "ambient." Regardless, this is not what occurs.

It seems many years ago that some clever oil industry person must have learned that ethanol (alcohol) is a hygroscopic substance, and that the general dictionary definition for a hygroscopic substance is that it can attract moisture from its environment. What the oil industry wag then did was to substitute the word "attract" with "absorb," and "air" for environment. Thus, attracting moisture from its environment magically became absorbing water out of thin air.

To prove that alcohol will not absorb water right out of the thin or ambient air, I always offer this simple at-home experiment: Fill any open container halfway with alcohol and place it on your kitchen counter. Allow it to sit for one or more days. If alcohol absorbs water right out of the air, then when you check the level of liquid in the ensuing days you would find that it has risen. If you find that the level of the liquid in the container has risen (without any manipulation, change to the environment of your indoor kitchen, or interference to the natural process) and you can document it, I will pay you $1,000.

Incidentally, cotton is also a hygroscopic substance. So just as additional proof that being a hygroscopic substance doesn't mean that it absorbs water right out of the air, place a ball of cotton on the other side of your kitchen counter and see if it gets saturated with water from just sitting out in the open.

Moving on to one of Jay's other points, if you were to pour a gallon of water in your gasoline tank your vehicle will probably have great difficulty starting. But that's not how water gets in your gasoline tank, unless you're very, very drunk when you go to the filling station. You can get water in your fuel system because of condensation. So what do you do if you have some water in your fuel system? Do you stick a straw in and suck it out? No, you add a product like Dry Gas. Dry Gas is ethanol, meaning that you use ethanol to solve the problem of water in your gasoline tank. That's right, to solve the problem!

Ethanol doesn't actually absorb the water, it breaks the water molecules down so that ignition and combustion of the gasoline can take place. The water molecules are then expelled in the exhaust. In other words, ethanol aids combustion, not inhibits combustion as Jay stated."

Jeff, you write about the possibility of needing to replace and/or repair some of the components that might get damaged by the ethanol. There are two points I would like to make on this issue:

To start, and speaking purely anecdotally, my own personal experience is different. My experience with older cars and different gasoline fuels concerns a 1956 Bentley S1 that I owned and drove regularly for more than 20 years. I purchased the vehicle when leaded-gasoline was still the only gasoline fuel commonly available. My ownership lasted through the unleaded MTBE era and into the E10 era.

Friends belonging to the Bentley Owners Club members were very concerned when unleaded gasoline was proposed and mandated. The frantic claims were very similar to the frantic claims later made against E10. I never experienced any problems switching to unleaded gasoline with MTBE.

When MTBE was finally ordered off the market, I heard all the same complaints about the coming of E10. Fortunately, I personally never experienced any problems with using E10.

There was a time when I did have to replace the fuel pump and some of the hoses, but this occurred less than one year after I purchased the vehicle in England and had it shipped to the U.S. So it was during the leaded-gasoline era. It was my understanding that this was the first time the car needed to have its fuel pump replaced. I never again had to replace those parts.

The second point is that all parts will need to be replaced at some point anyway, as I discovered with my Bentley. So if it's necessary to switch out a part, switch to a part that is not so susceptible to ethanol. I know that car collectors would rather not use non-original parts, when possible, but that's the price that you pay for progress. The reasons for mandating a switch away from leaded gasoline were to benefit all of society, not just a relatively minute number of enthusiasts. The argument that was made to Jay Leno after his Autoweek article was: Why should we have to be concerned with your collection. You should be concerned with us...the very vast majority.

I'm sure you would agree that Jay can afford to change parts, and he can definitely afford to have non-ethanol gasoline shipped to his garage, if he doesn't already do so. So his beef and attempt to sway national policy is very exaggerated, greedy and self-centered. I've briefly met Jay Leno on a couple of occasions at automotive events. Those occasions do not qualify for me knowing what kind of guy he is. However, I do have a very good friend who was helped by Jay; Jay went out of his way when he clearly did not have to. Based on this experience I would say that Jay was not a greedy and self-centered person. Combining that with Jay's other public articles and videos in which he has expressed great favor of ethanol and other alternative fuels, I was very surprised at Jay's about face on ethanol. To me it happened only because Jay was looking for sponsorship from the oil companies of his new automotive TV show.


July 19, 2015

Posted by CHARLES W:

If ethanol in gasoline is a benefit, then why mandates and subsidies? How can it make sense to turn good food into poor fuel and consume non-renewable resources to do it?


Reply from MARC:

Hi Charlie - Most corn grown for ethanol in the U.S. is not intended for human consumption; it's grown specifically to be used for ethanol and/or animal consumption. Therefore, it's not a case of turning good food into bad food. You could ask, "Wouldn't it be better to grow it so that it is suitable for human consumption?" To which I would reply, "Why, have you had any trouble finding corn in your local groceries stores?"

The mandates have to do with the environment. Would you prefer to go back to leaded gasoline or gasoline with MTBE? If you don't use lead, MTBE or ethanol as anti-knock additives what would you use? Ethanol-free gasoline (which contains other ingredients to mitigate knock) often costs twice as much as E10. Is that your idea of a good solution?

Regarding subsidies: no energy sector is more subsidized than the oil industry. If you hate subsidies, then you should hate oil subsidies. In any event, one of the largest subsidies available to the ethanol industry was eliminated more than two years ago. E85 is still usually cheaper than E10, and in most instances far less expensive than ethanol-free gasoline.

I hope the foregoing helps you to understand the issues.


Posted by SCOTT R:

The real problem is that ethanol is not the answer to the problem. It reduces mileage by 20% ( but based on ethanol percentage ~ 2% overall). It has driven the price of meat in the US almost to unobtainable levels because of the loss of corn for feed. Its use is a "feel good" patch so that congress who would have a problem spelling ethanol, can feel like they have done something for the environment. If they really were serious they would look at the technology of the power plants and focus on maximizing them. While they have made strides, they are far from going as far as they can. America has lost the will and ability to do the development needed and have left that to other countries. That is a national shame.


Reply from MARC:

Hi Scotty - Although it's already late Saturday, I hope the rest of your weekend will be lots of fun. I think that your desire to improve the technology at power plants is admirable. If you have or know of any workable solutions I'd love to hear more.

Regarding mileage reduction due to ethanol added to gasoline, you are however incorrect. Also, the food vs. fuel issue is not a real issue. It was only invented by the oil industry to denigrate America's potential to rely on ethanol.

I bring these points up because if you're like me, a patriotic American who wants what is best for our country, then I know you'll appreciate learning the facts.

Corn use for ethanol has no effect on food prices. The sole reason why American farmers grow as much corn as they do is because there is the profitable demand for the corn for ethanol production. If this demand was not there the farmers would not be growing the corn. In fact, they might not be growing anything.

I would rather my fuel money rewards American farmers rather than foreign dictators and terrorist regimes.

Exxon/Mobil, like all petroleum oil companies is a predatory organization whose only desire is to keep American enslaved by it's poisonous fuels and destructive economic practices.

You'll probably have some questions, and you may even strike out at me as if I have been the one misleading you over this issue. However, I can assure you that I can provide point-by-point indisputable evidence to back up my position. All you have to do is be willing to read the material (or watch the videos, in some cases).


July 16, 2015

Posted by LIBERTY AND JUSTICE:

If energy content is not relevant, let's consider a "zero BTU" fuel like water. Can you make an optimized ICE that runs on water and gets the same miles per $ or miles per gallon or whatever metric you choose? What about something in-between a hydrocarbon and ethanol, maybe a carbohydrate. Can you make an equally efficient optimized ICE that runs directly on corn waste or pyrolysis oil?

Useful energy out = energy content * efficiency of converting energy content to useful energy.

If you have less energy content, you would have to have a greater efficiency in order to get the same useful energy out (which is proportional to things like "miles"). Is there a reason that ethanol would make it easier to develop an engine *more* efficient than (equal-cost to be fair) gasoline or diesel engines?


Reply from MARC:

Hi LJ - You're asking some questions that I can't answer for two reasons: First, I'm not a chemical or mechanical engineer. Second, I don't know if what you're asking even makes sense to ask.

However, I think you're trying to compare apples and hammers (I use hammers instead of the proverbial oranges because the comparison is far greater than just comparing two different fruits).

Water, in it's normal liquid state, can't by definition be used as a fuel for an internal combustion engine: it is not combustible. On the other hand, if you use the water to create hydrogen, the hydrogen could be used as a fuel in an ICE. Unfortunately, with the exception of BMW no other automakers seemed to be interested in building hydrogen-powered ICE vehicles, and so this possibility seems dead.

The hydrogen could be used to power fuel-cell vehicles, and when and if issues related to batteries, etc. can be ironed out, fuel-cell electric vehicles will probably become the dominant form of passenger vehicles (in 40 or 50 or 80 years from now).


Follow up from LIBERTY AND JUSTICE:

Over the short term, the amount of available U.S. farmland is relatively fixed. Very little of it is unused. And it is actually decreasing with time due to development. An acre of ground used to grow corn for ethanol is an acre not used to grow corn for food or used to grow soy beans or wheat or even hay- crops which also feed into the food pipeline. If "ethanol corn" increases, food crops decrease. Generally less food means higher prices for food. Why wouldn't this be the case?

And "profitable demand for corn for ethanol production" is profitable because of subsidies and mandates, isn't it?


Reply from MARC:

Hi again LJ - Thanks for your comments and question. America has 440 million acres of 'cropland,' and 939 million acres of 'farmland.' According to land definitions, farmland is not quite as good as cropland, but suitable for growing things such as specialized energy crops.

According to David Blume, who’s one of the most experienced and knowledgeable guys in the world on ethanol and ethanol production:

“Of its nearly half a billion acres of prime cropland, the U.S. uses only 72.1 million acres for corn in an average year. The land used for corn takes up only 16.6% of our prime cropland, and only 7.45% of our total agricultural land. Even if, for alcohol production, we used only what the USDA considers prime flat cropland, we would still have to produce only 368.5 gallons of alcohol per acre to meet 100% of the demand for transportation fuel at today’s (2007) levels. Corn could easily produce this level—and a wide variety of standard crops yield up to triple this.”

BTW, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration we have been using less fuel since 2007, so while this quote from David Blume may seem outdated, it is actually as accurate today. Also, corn yields per acre have increased since 2007.

Corn crops have not impacted other crops. You'll notice that we've had no food riots in America and there is no shortage of corn-on-the-cob, canned corn, corn chips, or corn flakes.

Regarding the subsidy issue, no energy sector is more subsidized than the oil industry, and that industry is highly profitable. There was a fairly large subsidy for ethanol at the pump but it was cancelled more than 2 years ago. E85 is still usually 50-70 cents cheaper per gallon than E10. E10 and E85 are far cheaper than ethanol-free gasoline.

Farmers grow corn because they can make a profit. For America it's better than growing crops that they can't make a profit on, which we then have to subsidize, or even pay the farmers not to grow.

As far as mandates, would you rather go back to leaded gasoline or gasoline with MTBE? If we didn't have tetraethyl-lead or MTBE or ethanol what would we use as the anti-knock agent in gasoline? What would we use to help reduce harmful engine emissions?

But the concern of mandates is over-blown. For example, during Prohibition there was a mandate to only use gasoline, a fuel that is inferior to ethanol. And from the time of Prohibition repeal up to the time that ethanol was mandated as the additive to gasoline, we were virtually mandated to not use ethanol blends because the oil industry didn't want to provide it. There was no freedom of choice until the government ethanol mandates.

I would like to see gasoline and petroleum diesel be discontinued to the greatest extent possible, but I'm still okay with having a choice as long as the petroleum oil choices don't include ingredients that are poisonous. If a consumer wants to buy ethanol-free gasoline, and they are okay with spending up to twice as much for it (as compared to an ethanol blend), fine. But I would like the oil industry to stop the ridiculous lies about ethanol. If their products are better let them prove it.


July 14, 2015

Posted by Erocker

Corn ethanol does not lower CO2 compared to gas.
Corn ethanol causes a larger dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico
Corn ethanol leads to Nitrogen fertilizer polluted ground water
Corn ethanol leads to polution from pesticides.
Corn ethanol leads to plowing of grass lands to add corn fields
Corn ethanol leads to destruction of forest lands to add corn fields
Corn ethanol is increasing the Ogallala Aquifer Depletion.
Corn ethanol pollutes the air with formaldehydes and Acetaldehyde.
Corn ethanol use leads to higher levels of ozone pollution.
Corn ethanol leads to higher food prices.
Corn ethanol uses as much energy to make as it delivers.
Corn ethanol separates out of gas over time (shelf life 3 months)
Corn ethanol has only 2/3 the BTU power of gas
Corn ethanol costs more per BTU than gasoline.
Corn ethanol can be very corrosive
Corn ethanol is often distilled using coal as a heat source.
Corn ethanol distillers exhaust high levels of VOCs polution


Reply from MARC

Hi Erocker -

All of your points are either outright lies, gross exaggerations, or just plain irrelevant. I presume you found this list somewhere and have merely re-posted it.

If you created the list on your own and posted it in an attempt to make a personal statement, then you are simply trying to deceive other readers.

To another person named 'Carney' you wrote "You are so into your corn ethanol lobby lies you actually can not see the truth when it is presented to you." Actually, Erocker, you are so into your anti-ethanol lies that you don't know the truth.

If you're interested, a very good place to start is my 58-page report: "TRUTH ABOUT ETHANOL - Book Review and Reply to Robert Bryce's GUSHER OF LIES." To read it CLICK HERE.

The only individual point that I don't address in the 58-page report is the issue of ethanol being corrosive. I didn't address it because it was not discussed in the Robert Bryce book I was reviewing. In any event, of course ethanol is corrosive, it's a solvent. Among other benefits, ethanol is used to clean engines.

But everything is corrosive: Gasoline is corrosive, the wind is corrosive, and water may be one of the most corrosive substances of all. So to state an obvious characteristic and include it in a list to denigrate ethanol is meaningless. All corrosive substances and forces (wind) can be mitigated or eliminated entirely by the use of materials that are resistant to the corrosive substance.

I'd be happy to continue this conversation with you once you've read my report. But if all you're going to do is just reply with the same hollow generic statements then you should save your energy.


Follow up from EROCKER:

All are true and I can get you current news articles on any of them. Which one would you like to see. They are easy for you or any other person to find with the use of Google. I can see you are probably a farmer and don't want people to know the truth about this product because you are probably on the welfare program known as the ethanol mandate and this would expose this program and all the lies that the ethanol lobby is putting out.

Reply from MARC:

Hi again E -

No, I'm not a farmer. There were no farms in Brooklyn when I grew up.

If you would read the report I suggested to you, you would see that I am the co-owner and co-publisher of the Internet's largest automotive information resource.

I know that the misinformation you provided is easily available on the Internet, and that's why I wrote the 58-page report plus dozens of others that respond to the lies.

The reason I asked you to read my report is because if you are simply re-posting information that you have yourself not verified then you shouldn't be doing it unless you work for the oil industry.

By the way, I do now grow some vegetables in my backyard, and I have a plum tree and a couple of orange trees. But I still think that this does not qualify me as being a farmer.

I look forward to your next reply...after you have read my report.


Follow up from EROCKER:

I have noticed a lot of bad information coming from you writings. If you write it in your book that doesn't make it true. It appears you are a book writer and need to sell your books and that is what you are about. Not interested in you book of lies.


Reply from MARC:

Hi E-

First, let me get a little housekeeping out of the way. You wrote "you" twice when what you really meant was to write "your." I'm only bringing it up because it makes you sound ignorant and I know that's not the image you would wish to portray.

Let me turn my attention to your comments. You write "I have noticed a lot of bad information coming from you writings." Okay, could you point out what that information is and could you provide references that set the bad information right?

Then you write "It appears you are a book writer and need to sell your books and that is what you are about." Yes, I am an author, in addition to being a film maker. But I'm not trying to sell you a book. The report that I referenced is completely free. You don't even have to register to get access to it - it's just there and FREE!

As a matter of interest, the book that I wrote about was not FREE, I had to buy it. The author of that book, Robert Bryce, knew I was in the media but still did not offer me a complementary copy.

In closing, although you wish to not avail yourself of the information I have provided, and you wish to be very combative, I still thank you for responding. At some point someone else will come across your original post, then they'll read my reply. Then they'll read your responses where you refuse to want to see what I have written. This will pique their curiosity and they will read what I wrote (after all, it's free, so why not). When they read what I wrote and compare it to the lies you presented they will laugh at you. And so I will have accomplished what I set out to do, which is to inform people of the truth.

I hope you have a great rest of the week and a fun summer.


Follow up from EROCKER

Good luck with your book of out right lies, gross exaggerations or irrelevant. Got to quit wasting my time with you nonsense.


Reply from MARC:

Thank you, and I hope your grammar and spelling lessons go well.


July 12, 2015

Posted by TS:

Ethanol is subsidized, but you have to remember that it has less energy per gallon. I don't have the specifics for pricing in your area, but let me throw out a few numbers to illustrate. Say E85 is $2.70 and regular gasoline (E10 unfortunately since it's virtually impossible to find gas without ethanol added, even in Texas) is $3.00.

E100 has a specific energy of 26.4, while unadulterated gasoline has a specific energy of 44.4.
E85 has (.85*26.4+.15*44.4) = 29.1
E10 has (.10*26.4+.90*44.4) = 42.6

Energy per $
E85 = 29.1/$2.70 = 10.78
E10 = 42.6/$3.00 = 14.20

Even though in the example E85 is $2.70 and regular gasoline is $3.00, the regular gasoline gives you 31% more energy per dollar spent.


Reply from MARC:

Hi TS - Please allow me to jump in here. Internal combustion engines are inorganic, non-sentient machines. They do not react to the "food" they consume in the same way that a live animal does. There is also no emotional highs or lows felt by the machine to affect output. The energy output of an internal combustion engine is entirely related to engine optimization (mechanical adjustments, parts and computer software).

The comparative measurements of fuel BTUs is an irrelevant intellectual exercise.

A comparably sized engine that is optimized to run on ethanol will produce the same or better MPG than an engine optimized to run on gasoline. When arguing energy balance issues as it pertains to automobile fuel, it is inaccurate to discount ethanol's lower BTU rating into the final net energy equation. At the least, one gallon of ethanol is equal to one gallon of gasoline.

It doesn't matter that gasoline is rated at about 114,000 BTUs per gallon, and ethanol is rated at 76,100 BTUs per gallon. MPG efficiency makes them 1:1 for all practical purposes.

Moreover, in actual use, a vehicle using E85 instead of E10 or ethanol-free gasoline does not experience the same loss in MPG as the BTU differences on paper indicate. Therefore, if you lose 8-15% in MPG but save 15-25% in cost per gallon, then using E85 is more economically efficient.


Follow up from TS:

You are chemically incorrect and it has nothing to do with how the engine "feels". The reality is that gasoline simply has a lot more power density than ethanol so you will go a lot further on a tank. You cannot change the laws of chemistry.

Now granted, ethanol can be burned at higher compression so in an optimized set-up can actually produce more horsepower than gasoline, but that still requires more fuel for the energy produced.


Reply from MARC

Hi TS - Thanks for your latest reply. I think you missed the sarcasm in my point about emotion.

It's not a question of being "chemically" correct or incorrect. It's a question of mechanics, that is, engine optimization. If we were discussing heating water to create steam to power a steam engine then the BTU difference between ethanol and gasoline would be important. But there's no water heating involved in an internal combustion engine. The factors that come to play are the mechanics of the ICE.

To test the irrelevancy of BTUs, as I'm sure you know, diesel has a higher BTU rating than gasoline. Yet, if you put diesel fuel in a gasoline-powered engine you would get far less miles, perhaps none. And if you put gasoline in a diesel-powered engine you wouldn't get 10% fewer miles, you would probably not get any miles as the engine might not start.

An internal combustion engine optimized to run on ethanol will deliver MPG that is equal to, or greater than a comparable internal combustion engine optimized to run on gasoline.


Follow up from TS:

Thanks, but you're still wrong. Yes, engines need to be designed for a specific fuel in order to run well for it, but a diesel optimized engine will still get more MPG on diesel than a gasoline optimized engine on gasoline than an ethanol optimized engine on ethanol and the reason is simply that when using the proper fuel their relative efficiencies compared to the energy contained in the fuels are very similar so the energy density of the fuel dominates.

Reply from MARC:

Hi again, TS - Thank you for your recent reply.

I'm not incorrect, and I think you are confusing things a bit.

If you can match a diesel-powered engine to a comparable gasoline or ethanol powered engine, and the diesel engine gets more MPGs it's because a diesel engine is a more efficient ICE. This has been known for more than 125 years. The reason why diesel engines didn't become the primary engines used in automobiles was because they cost more to manufacture and they were much heavier.

On the other hand, gasoline and ethanol powered engines were never selected for use as train engines or heavy trucks is because they didn't have the power of a diesel, and the weight and cost of manufacture was much less relevant. In modern times, cost and weight of diesel engines have been mitigated by new materials and manufacturing techniques/volume; and it's why there are so many proponents of diesel-powered passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, other oil industry issues have kept diesel fuel from being readily available, and available at the lower price that it should be. When I was young diesel fuel always cost less than gasoline, and very recently diesel has been selling in many areas for less than gasoline, but for 20 years (give or take) diesel was more expensive than gasoline.

However, keep in mind that diesel fuel doesn't need to be produced from petroleum oil. Rudolf Diesel (inventor of the diesel engine) used peanut oil to make the fuel, and renewable diesel or bio-diesel (made cheaper from ethanol) will deliver exactly the same mileage in a diesel-powered engine as petroleum diesel fuel.

The reason for my bringing diesel into the discussion that you and I are having is to show that BTUs (so-called 'energy content') is not relative in the argument between gasoline and ethanol. The issue is simply engine optimization. In fact, the thing that I really find amazing is that a substance other than petroleum-based gasoline can be used in a gasoline-optimized engine at all. It's sort of like discovering that you can use a music CD on an old phonograph record player. And what's more amazing is that even if you lose some MPG when you use ethanol in a gasoline-optimized engine, the cheaper price for the ethanol more than makes up for the loss in MPG.

Again, the whole creation of BTU rating and understanding was to determine what it takes to heat water one degree. This was important (and still is important) when dealing with steam engines or water heaters or cooking using fire. BTUs have no importance in internal combustion engines. Engine optimization is the key.

If there was a significant higher cost in building an ethanol optimized engine versus a gasoline engine then that information could be used against the ethanol engine. However, the engines are virtually the same. The differences are merely mechanical and software adjustments that require no additional practical cost.


July 10, 2015

Posted by BABALUGATZ:

Ethanol is a failure. Costs MORE to produce than its worth, highly subsidized & never mind old cars.....it's junk within 6 months, NO MATTER the age of the car. Turns to varnish rather quickly.


Reply from MARC

Hey, Babalugatz, I'm glad you had the opportunity to join the conversation. The "ugatz" part of your screen name made me laugh; it reminds me of my youth growing up in Brooklyn and my Italian friends.

In any event, you couldn't be further from the truth, from a factual standpoint and from a metaphoric perspective.

What I mean by "metaphoric" is that you can't say it costs more than it's worth because it is worth what people will pay. The point I think you are trying to make, and it's an typical incorrect criticism of ethanol, is that it requires more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy it produces. This is often referred to as EROEI (energy returned on energy invested). The notion that ethanol is negative EROEI is incorrect. The study conducted by Ted Pimentel and Tad Patzek is pretty much the originator of the negative EROEI theory. That study has been discredited several times over by subsequent studies conducted by the U.S. government's labs and by universities - including the university that hosted Patzek (UC Berkeley).

The subsequent studies actually showed that gasoline and other petroleum oil products are EROEI negative. If you have a real interest in learning more about this you can find an hour-long video online of a C-SPAN debate of Pimentel/Patzek vs. Bruce Dale and John Sheehan.

The question in my mind is whether you know you are wrong and just posting the information for some unknown purpose, or do you not know you are incorrect.

So because I'm not sure what motivated your post I'll respond as if I'm talking to other readers who are seeking truthful information, and you can just follow along.

All sources of energy have been highly subsidized by the government; this is true whether we are discussing nuclear, hydroelectric, thermal, solar, bio, or fossil. But the single largest recipient of governmental subsidies has been for petroleum oil related products. There are subsidies that were granted to the petroleum industry a century ago that have never been retired, and remember that the petroleum industry is a very, very profitable industry. If all subsidies and allowances granted to the oil industry were removed today, and the oil industry had to pay for U.S. military protection for defense of the oil fields and worldwide shipping, gasoline would probably cost $15 to $20 per gallon. To single out ethanol is an unfair and wrong criticism.

Moreover, while there had been an at-the-pump government subsidy of ethanol, that subsidy was discontinued nearly two years ago. Yet, E85 without the subsidy is still less expensive at the pump than E10 or non-ethanol gasoline.

To say that ethanol left in the fuel system of an idle engine is junk within 6 months may be true, but it's also true of gasoline - perhaps more so. It's not helpful to debate which is worse, the point is that you should not leave fuel in the fuel system of an engine that sits idle for 6 months. If you do so you can expect to experience some big problems...and THIS is true no matter the age of the car.

The "varnish" that you are referring to is caused by the gasoline component, not the alcohol component. If you have ever worked with finished wood items, you would know that varnish is often removed or softened by using alcohol. Ethanol/alcohol is a solvent. It cleans engines.

I look forward to any reply you would like to make.


Follow up from BABALUGATZ:

Well, I'm off on the subsidy thing but....you can't eat oil or gas.....Ethanol is/has been driving up food prices across the board....Cattle feed, thousands of food products made from corn.


REPLY FROM MARC:

I'm glad to see that I was helpful in straightening out the subsidy issue. You're correct, you can't eat or drink petroleum oil or gasoline. But you are incorrect about ethanol production causing food prices to rise.

The issue of ethanol causing food prices to rise came to a head in 2008 when The World Bank published a report that blamed rising food prices on increased ethanol production. The oil industry was quick to jump on this and spent tons of money to get media outlets and on-air media personalities to hawk the story. It caused quite a sensation.

However, the report was wrong. In 2010, The World Bank published another report on food prices, in which they reevaluated the data on the earlier report blaming ethanol. They now correctly blamed the skyrocketing cost of petroleum oil products for the food price increases. The petroleum products that caused the skyrocketing crude oil prices included gasoline, diesel fuel, plastic (for food packaging), and printing inks (also for food packaging).

About two years later, The World Bank published another report on the subject and reiterated that it was rising petroleum oil prices that were the cause of the food price increases.

In 2010, a $4 box of cornflakes contained about 6 cents worth of corn. Even if corn prices rose 50% that would mean that there's only 9 cents worth of corn in a $4 box of cornflakes. There's a lot of space between 6 or 9 cents and $4. So clearly it's not a rise in corn prices that is the problem.

As a matter of interest, current and recent corn prices (June 2015 bushel) are about the same or slightly higher than they were in the 1970's, 1980's, and much of the 1990's. You can check this out for yourself at http://www.tradingeconomics.com/commodity/corn.

As we all know, oil and petroleum oil fuel prices have also been lower in recent months. Yet food prices keep rising. So if oil prices are down, and corn prices are down, why are food prices rising and why does the blame continue to fall on ethanol production? Food prices are rising because there are many other factors to consider, such as the significant increases in minimum wages paid to employees at food processing plants and retail stores, higher costs in real estate, higher taxes of all types, and higher advertising/marketing costs.

Needless to say, the oil industry never corrected the false stories and, without the appropriate financial incentive to do so, the media outlets and media personalities had no financial motivation to revisit and recant their previous anti-ethanol broadcasts. Consequently, there far too many uncorrected media reports that are all too easily available. People like you read or hear these reports and assume they are (still) accurate.

One other thing, Babalu, most corn used for ethanol production is not grown for human consumption; so it's not a question of corn-laden trucks suddenly being diverted from the mouths of obese junk-food eaters or starving peoples in far-flung lands. Corn grown for ethanol provides work and profits for one of the most important sectors of the American economy and society: domestic farmers.


July 2, 2015

Posted by LANCEM:

I've seen cars that sat only 6 months to a year completely disabled by this garbage ethanol. it destroys everything it touches. Gas tanks look like they've been coated with a thick nasty coat of black tar and crusty, super-rust on the inside. The odor of it will make you vomit it's so nauseating. All metal lines, carbs and pumps same. Rubber rots from the inside on it. I've replaced more gas tanks and the parts above than I care to mention. Fact is I've lost count. The old unleaded or non ethanol fuels when they sat, they simply evaporated sooner or later. If they left anything they left a bit of powdery yellow substance that just washed out and was burned with the new gas running through. Ethanol destroys EVERYTHING it touches.

More ethanol, more destruction. More vehicle repairs, parts sold, the whole beeswax. So it's not just farmers who have a stake in ethanol being increased in our fuel supplies. I wish it was as simple as egging our representatives but it's not. They do what's best for THEM, not US.


Reply from MARC:

Lance - When ethanol blends (of any percentage) are used in vehicles that have hardly ever or never used an ethanol blend there is a great likelihood that there will be what you describe as "a thick nasty coat of black tar and crusty." This is because ethanol is a solvent. In other words, what is happening is that the ethanol is cleaning the engine. The residue is actually caused by the inefficient burning of gasoline.

In time, the engines would need to be cleaned anyway, and the chances are that the product used to clean the engines would be either ethanol-based or a product that was formulated to replicate the cleaning characteristics of ethanol (alcohol). As I'm sure you know, in the several decades that the only gasoline available in America was ethanol-free gasoline. Yet all during that time it was common place for internal combustion engines to have experienced all the problems, and more, that you attribute to ethanol-gasoline blends.

There's no question that if a person goes directly from long term ethanol-free gasoline use to using high ethanol-gasoline blends that the cleaning process can exacerbate the need to clean the engine and fuel line parts. So the answer is to slowly, over several fill-ups, increase the ethanol-gasoline blends you use. In a sense, it's like changing the food you feed a dog: You should never go cold-turkey from one food to the other. Even though the new food might be the best for your dog, the sudden change will cause digestive problems that can also result in something that looks like a thick nasty coat of tar.

Ethanol is a corrosive substance, but so is gasoline; and gasoline can also be used as a solvent but it's flammable explosive qualities make it much more dangerous than alcohol. Air is also corrosive; and of course water is one of the most corrosive liquids on Earth. The not-so-secret secret is to use materials that are resistant to the substance you are dealing with.

Take water for instance: We can't live without it and we consume it as if it has no corrosive characteristics whatsoever. We swim and bathe in water, including the most corrosive of all water, salt water. It's not that the water we consume and bathe in is not corrosive, it's that our bodies are not very susceptible to water corrosion.

It's the same with engine fuels. You can't just put gasoline in any old container, it must be a container that is not susceptible. The same is true for alcohol (ethanol). Everyone knows that you can leave scotch, rum, vodka, whiskey and brandy in a glass bottle or metal flask in your home for years and there will be no degradation of the alcohol nor the container during that time. There will also be no so-called "phase separation," even if you leave the top off the bottle - although you will lose some or all of the liquid because of evaporation.

The same is true of rubbing alcohol, regardless of what the rubbing alcohol is made from. Some rubbing alcohols are just regular grain alcohols with a denaturizing ingredient to render it non-drinkable. And if you have rubbing alcohol in your home chances are that it is in a plastic bottle. The question to then ask yourself is why doesn't the alcohol eat away at the plastic bottle? The answer is because these bottles were manufactured to be resistant to ethanol's solvent characteristics.

During prohibition (when alcohol was supposedly not available in America) and in the decades subsequent to the end of prohibition, automobile parts makers used materials that were not highly susceptible to gasoline corrosion. The parts didn't not corrode because the gasoline was not corrosive, but because of the materials used. If ethanol fuel or blends had been America's primary engine fuels then auto parts manufacturers would have used parts that were resistant to ethanol.

Incidentally, in those parts of the world (like England) where ethanol-gasoline blends were always available, they didn't experience any greater problems using the ethanol-gasoline blends because the automobiles built for use in those countries used parts that were resistant to gasoline and to ethanol.

So when ethanol-gasoline blends were being introduced into America it was necessary to build all new cars with ethanol resistant engine and fuel system parts. Since that time, engines and fuel systems built with ethanol resistant parts do not experience the problems that older internal combustion engines might experience.

There are another couple of points I'd like to address: You wrote that the odor of the thick nasty coat of black tar will make you vomit it's so nauseating. The odor is because of the gasoline. Ethanol often has a very sweet, pleasing odor, even after extended periods of time.

You also wrote that the old unleaded or non-ethanol fuels left in an idle engine will simply (and safely) evaporate sooner or later. What you left out is that the gasoline will turn to a varnish like substance that can destroy the engine and fuel system. In the decades in which ethanol was not used in fuel the problem of leaving gasoline in an idle engine for protracted periods of time always existed. This is not a new problem caused by ethanol, nor is it a problem made worse by ethanol.

So when you write that you've "replaced more gas tanks and the parts above than I care to mention," and imply that it is only because of the ethanol, you are being terribly disingenuous. An engine mechanic in the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's and 1980's could have made the exact same declaration and it would have only pertained to non-ethanol gasolines.

It is true that American farmers are among the top beneficiaries of ethanol production; and this is true whether the ethanol is made from corn, sugar, beets, or any other crop. But the thing I always say is that I would rather have my fuel money go to support American farmers than to foreign regimes and terrorist countries. If we're talking about doing what is best for the U.S., the best is to keep as much money as possible here and to employ and many Americans as possible.

Also, remember that no American service men and women have ever died defending domestic ethanol production and distribution. Depending upon which wars you can subscribe to be oil related it could be said that more than a million Americans have died defending Arab oil countries and Russia.

I welcome any and all replies you would like to make Lance. I only hope you will carefully read what I just wrote and avoid inventing facts or taking my words out of context. If need be, please read the sentences two or three times to get the context correct.


Follow up from LANCEM:

I HAVE. Read my post above! I collect older 60's-70's police vehicles. IF a car ever sits an extended length of time with ethanol in it you can kiss it's fuel system goodbye. You WILL be replacing every component.

I've got a stack of at least six fuel tanks and the carbs and fuel pumps that went with them in my scrap metal pile. The stuff is HORRIBLE for vehicles and actually costs more petroleum to create it than the simple straight up leaded and unleaded fuels we used prior to the Gov. needing to find a use for all that tons of extra corn they. paid farmers to grow every year.


Reply from MARC:

Hi Lance - Good to hear from you again so soon. You make two excellent points: Older vehicles, such as 60's-70's vehicles, are susceptible to ethanol-gasoline blends; and this is especially true if the blend has a high level of ethanol, and/or if the vehicles sit idle for extended periods of time with fuel in the system.

I do not know one single person that would argue with your concerns or with the above statement.

However, speaking purely anecdotally, my own personal experience is different. My experience with older cars and different gasoline fuels concerns a 1956 Bentley S1 that I owned and drove regularly for more than 20 years. I purchased the vehicle when leaded-gasoline was still the only gasoline fuel commonly available. My ownership lasted through the unleaded MTBE era and into the E10 era.

Bentley Owners Club members were very concerned when unleaded gasoline was proposed and mandated. The frantic claims were very similar to the frantic claims later made against E10. I never experienced any problems switching to unleaded gasoline with MTBE. When MTBE was finally ordered off the market, I heard all the same complaints about the coming of E10. Fortunately, I personally never experienced any problems with using E10.

There was a time when I did have to replace the fuel pump and some of the hoses, but this occurred less than one year after I purchased the vehicle in England and had it shipped to the U.S. So it was during the leaded-gasoline era. It was my understanding that this was the first time the car needed to have its fuel pump replaced.

The point you may be making is that you and other owners of older cars have to make unnecessary changes, or changes that are not original (or original replicas) to the vehicle. I know this is something that collectors of anything hate to do. First, the parts will need to be replaced at some point anyway, as I discovered with my Bentley. Second, the reasons for mandating a switch away from leaded gasoline were to benefit all of society, not just a relatively minute number of enthusiasts. The argument that was made to Jay Leno after his Autoweek article was: "Why should we have to be concerned with your collection. You should be concerned with us...the very vast majority."

Lance, I will take exception to your comment that "The stuff (meaning ethanol) is HORRIBLE for vehicles and actually costs more petroleum to create it than the simple straight up leaded and unleaded fuels we used prior to the Gov." This is untrue.

The basis for the claim that ethanol is EROEI negative comes from the study conducted by Ted Pimentel and Tad Patzek. The study was incorrect and has been discredited a number of times in other university and government studies. In fact, subsequent studies showed that gasoline is far more energy negative than ethanol. David Blume has written about this for years, and we at The Auto Channel have written extensively about this. For more information about the EROEI studies please READ THIS PAGE.

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