E10 For ME?

Posted: 27/05/2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,
E10 for ME? That’s a loaded question if I ever heard one. With the growing insurgence of this questionable fuel, it’s time somebody takes a good look at it and answer the question. So far it seems we have two camps entrenched in opposing positions on the subject. One says it’s the worst thing to put in your tank, the other say’s it’s the best. One of the arguments I’ve heard in support of the usage of ethanol is its widespread usage in other countries. According to some reporters, over 80% of the vehicles in Brazil are Ethanol powered.

So it was only a matter of time before this bird came to roost in good old Maine. Of course, the biggest promoter of the use of bio-fuels are those harbingers of doom, the global warming activists. That alone is enough to make me question the viability of the usage of bio-fuels here in Maine. Is it a good idea or not? Is it safe or not? Is it really more efficient or not? I could go an and on asking questions, but they still wouldn’t get answered. A venue such as this one really cannot do the argument any justice, whether for or against, but I’ll do my best. My puny little brain will have to work overtime on this one.

First of all, you have to realize that there are three separate arguments intertwined in the use of ethanol as a fuel. The big one is the global warming issue, which isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Eventually it will, but the damage will already have been done, much to the resulting detriment of environmental and conservation efforts. Sooner or later people will wise up to the fact that the only ones who benefitted from the global warming hysteria are those who invested in green technology.

The second issue is the so called peak oil argument, where it has been claimed that the world’s supply of oil will peak very soon, if it already hasn’t and then start to decline The resulting shortages and chaos from the lack of oil based fuel will probably cause a good portion of the world’s societies to crumble, or at least stumble into failure. And then of course there’s he argument nobody really thought of too much beforehand. How will the production of ethanol affect food stock production, since much of the worlds ethanol is made from food crops?

Since we have to deal with this in a nutshell fashion, I’ll just briefly touch upon some points. As far as the global warming angle goes, I really do not believe that the issue should be addressed. Mostly because there is more credible evidence that ongoing climate change is just a natural part of the earth’s cycles and patterns. As much as they would like to claim they have done so, the Al Gore crowd have not presented irrefutable evidence that anthropogenic emissions are the cause of global warming. Nor have they been able to prove that the world is even warming as fast as they claim, or to the extent they have claimed. The preponderance of evidence they use to develop their theories of global climate change are actually based on computer models and simulations.

Statistical analysis is a valuable tool, and is in fact generated with computer models, but those models are based in fact, and upon historical data. The statistics developed by the green crowd and presented as fact are actually predictions of the future. No man may tell what tomorrow will bring us. They can only guess. And so far, none of the predictions have come to pass. But because of intense promotion and effective marketing of these theories and predictions, a large potion of the population have come to believe global warming as being fact.

The second aspect of this argument is the peak oil theory. I consider that hogwash right from the get go. Mostly because oil supplies actually started to decline when the first bucket was removed from the ground by mankind. Oil is not being produced in any way shape or form, anywhere. Therefore, the level of supply was at its peak before we discovered it. Common sense says that the supply of oil will in fact disappear at some point. But the question is when? If the consumption stays at the level it is today, we may well have 100 years or more of oil still in the ground. Personally, I don’t see rate of consumption remaining constant, but I see no need to view the current situation as something to hyperventilate over. We don’t need to jump onto an alternative fuel just because some people would have us panic.

So that brings us to the big question of is it necessary to use E10 in Maine? Necessary? Absolutely not. A good idea? Possibly. Is it a good idea? That’s where I start to have a problem with E10. There hasn’t been enough information disseminated to the public for us to make an educated choice in the matter. But from what I have read, while some areas of the world have had adequate results from the use of E10, I’ve read enough bad things about it where I would question its viability in Maine’s climate.

On 08 May, ‘08 I discussed my basic feelings on the subject and showed some of my reasoning.
http://dlsoucy.blogspot.com/2008/05/e10-has-arrived-in-maine.html and also at http://dlsoucy.blogspot.com/2008/05/watering-down-whiskey.html on 01 May ‘08.

My position hasn’t changed on the use of this fuel, but I believe more strongly than ever that we are going to see rising repair costs, hard starting in the winter, more frozen gas lines along with other problems. At least with older cars. And that’s what most people here in amine have, older cars.

The general consensus in most of the forums I’ve visited is that E10 usually contributes to a decline in mileage of about 5 % in average vehicles. Some have a greater reduction and some have less. Either way, you’ll experience a drop in mileage in older vehicles. Newer models of five years old or less seem to do fine with it as they are designed to work with certain blends of ethanol and petroleum based fuel. Some websites actually suggest that you may experience a decline of as much as 20%.

One of the big issues I’m looking into is the possibility of gas line freeze ups and clogged filters. Those seem to be the two biggest complaints I’ve read and heard. But overall, the direction the investigation is taking is that ethanol is not all its advertised to be. The fuel is high in oxygen content, which raises the octane rating, but octane doesn’t equate to energy, which is BTU’s. The BTU rating for ethanol is lower than in petroleum based fuels. Much lower. That equates to a fuel that is less efficient, so it takes more to do the same work as petro fuel. Not only that, while the global warming activists are jumping all over the fact that the biofuel emits lower levels of CO2, they neglect to mention that it also emits 30% more NO and other acid rain causing emissions. The end result of using biofuel is that we will be returning to the past as far as clean air goes.

For a full discussion surrounding the claims of ethanol usage and whether or not it is a practical alternative, a good source is http://www.archive.org/details/Myths_of_Biofuels at the Prelinger Archives.

Bottom line is, out of all the sources reviewed, everyone that had a way to gain, financially or emotionally, from the use and promotion of E10 had positive things to say about cold weather operations. Those that had no way to gain reported problems such as hard starting, lower mileage, erratic operation and frozen lines. I feel as though E10 has some limited benefit, but I also feel as though it is wrong for the consumers to not have a choice in products. I’ll take pure petro fuel any day.

Ezekiel 15:3-5 (King James Version)

3 Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?
4 Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?
5 Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?


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