E10 Has Arrived In Maine

Posted: 09/05/2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
The Portland Press Herald had a story tucked into it today announcing the arrival of the much dreaded, and unwanted (at least in my case) blend of fuel called E10.

Ethanol has arrived
Maine gas stations and marinas scramble to prepare customers for the blended gas.
Two years ago, Mike Perrino towed his 30-foot Pro-line boat from Maine to a fishing tournament in Massachusetts, topping off the gas tanks before heading to sea. Two miles out, the boat stopped.
Perrino later discovered that the gasoline he had bought in Massachusetts had destroyed his boat’s fuel lines and caused old gas tank deposits to clog fuel filters and carburetors. Eventually, he had to tear up the deck and replace the aluminum tanks.

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=186426&ac=PHnws for the article….

In an earlier post called “Watering Down The Whiskey” I mentioned that Ethanol was not really a very good alternative fuel for the automobiles here in this country, and that is especially true for older vehicles. The efficiency of this fuel is less than regular types of fuel such as regular gas and diesel, which lowers your mileage. This means that you use more fuel to get where you are going. Which increases the cost of travel. It also means that since you are using more fuel, you are offsetting the benefits of a cleaner fuel by increasing quantity used, thereby increasing pollutants put back into the atmosphere.

I’d like to say that it is difficult to understand why our elected representatives choose to follow the destructive path to encouraging the use of this fuel in all of its forms, but I know better. They follow the course they are on because they don’t take the time to do the research behind the facts. They are led around by whomever gives them the most donations. At the moment, the Ethanol industry are among the top contributors of political donations.

But what’s the big deal you may ask? The big deal is that we are being lied to, and the true costs of instituting the requirement that we use a less efficient fuel, and a potentially destructive fuel, are not being addressed by the people who are requiring us to use the product. There are many claims both for and against the fuel, some true, some not. Some of the claims in support of the switch to ethanol are;

1. Ethanol reduces CO2 emissions
2. Ethanol is more fuel efficient
3. Ethanol is cheaper to use
4. Ethanol is more widely available
5. Ethanol is a renewable resource
6. Ethanol reduces Global Warming

These are just some of the main point in support of using this as either an additive, or as an almost straight fuel in a blend called E85, or 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline. Here are some of the points in opposition of using Ethanol as an additive in our gasoline;

1. Ethanol reduces mileage
2. Ethanol attracts water
3. Ethanol causes rust in the fuel tank
4. Ethanol clogs filters
5. Ethanol degrades or destroys rubber tubing
6. Ethanol can eat away at gas tanks
7. Ethanol harms the components of your engine

So you can see that the arguments are wide ranging, and can be easily picked apart on a piece by piece effort by both sides. But the way to really determine the viability of Ethanol as a fuel is to look at the true bottom line of the issue, or exactly what is its cost, and what is the ROI, or return on our investment in this new fuel for Maine. One of the bigger issues directly attributed to this cost issue is the mileage the fuel provides. Does it increase the mileage, decrease the mileage, or is there no affect on the mileage?

Mileage is a tricky subject, and can be approached in several ways. In a nutshell, mileage is a general statement that describes the driving economy of the vehicle. The higher the mileage of a car, the cheaper it costs to drive. A lot of factors affect the mileage, or fuel economy of a car, and mileage varies from model to model, and can even vary within the same model car depending upon accessories and condition of that particular vehicle.

That being said, every vehicle on the road is different, and E10 fuel will have a different effectiveness for each vehicle. So what we need to do is look at the potential power available from the different fuels, and the environment the fuels are used in. at 75o F a gallon(US) of gasoline will have available a British Thermal Unit rating of 115,000 or 115,000BTU’s. That means you are going to get X amount of work out of that gallon or MPG for your vehicle. By changing the formula, we get a different outcome. This works in every equation to any problem. If you change a formula, you get a different outcome. Science works that way most of the time.

But one US gallon of Ethanol at 200 proof, which is the accepted standard today delivers 85,000 BTU’s. Substantially less than 87 Octane gasoline. That means you have to consume more than one gallon of E10 fuel to get the same mileage as you would the straight gasoline. Since E10 is a mixture of 10% Ethanol with gasoline, the potential BTU’s would be higher per gallon of mixed fuel than straight ethanol, but it would be lower than straight gasoline, still reducing the efficiency of the fuel.

The Octane rating on fuel is a way of indicating the level of Oxygen in the fuel, and nothing more. All it means is that the higher the octane/oxygen level, the cleaner the fuel burns. This being the case I would have to ask why the government isn’t requiring higher octane levels instead? One problem with the ethanol is that it attracts water. With enough water in the fuel, the worth of the octane becomes cancelled out.

Another item I came across was a study by the EPA from the 90’s that showed that as operating temperatures dropped, the level of harmful emissions increased, and the efficiency of E10 was reduced.

Out of the six pro statements in support of E10 listed above, only one of them could be verified in the time I spent reading the literature. Ethanol is made from a renewable source. All of the other statements are of a questionable nature. CO2 emissions were reduced in some studies, but they were all done at warmer temperatures. The studies that introduced a low temperature test environment found that the cleanness of E10 fuel was wiped out by the increase in almost all of the 40 some elements tested for in the vehicles emissions.

However, as for the statements against the use of E10, I almost immediately found evidence that the seven statements could be corroborated. But like I said in “Watering Down The Whiskey,” the effective cost of using E10 as a fuel is much higher when compared to straight 87 Octane gasoline. The cost comparison discrepancy becomes even greater when E85 is used. At $3.50 per US gallon of 87 Octane gasoline, the operating cost differential is minimal on a per gallon basis. If the cost per gallon drops by more than twenty cents per gallon, it may be worth it for the short term during the warmer summer months.

But as cold weather arrives, that cost differential will become enormous over the long term on a per vehicle basis. Maine gets a lot of cold weather, and since E10 causes increasing problems as the temperature drops, I can envision Maine’s auto service facilities making a good deal of profit starting in November for vehicles who use the E10. I think it’s time we start pulling together and let our elected officials know that we are not pleased with the way events are turning in this state of Maine, as well as on a National level.

Our own EPA has conducted studies proving the inefficiencies of E10 as a year round fuel additive. It’s about time we put our tax dollars to work making money for us, instead of taking it away from us. This whole bio-fuel argument came about over the UN’s desire to tax the world to pay for their redistribution of wealth programs. Global Warming was the birth child of that program. There is no conclusive evidence that global warming is caused by anthropogenic emissions. Granted, we do over pollute the atmosphere, but CO2 simply is not the demon some would have us believe it is.

The good news is that if your car is less than five years old, you should be OK with a result of just a couple of miles per gallon loss in efficiency as the weather gets colder. If your cars is five to ten years old, I’d probably make sure the fuel filter is changed a couple of time a year. Over ten years old, I’d be looking at the potential for some major repairs, and over twenty, can you say “walking to work today?”

Deuteronomy 28:50-52 (King James Version)

50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.
  1. Anonymous says:

    Dan i wholeheartedly agree. I am also a pilot and one of my planes can legally burn auto fuel,not anymore. The faa has banned ethanol as being too corrosive.

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