Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
HuskerFlex

"Ethanol or regular unleaded?" story from Omaha World Herald

Recommended Posts

http://www.omaha.com/article/20110311/NEWS01/703119916#ethanol-or-regular-unleaded

Ethanol or regular unleaded?

The signs outside gas stations provide the price comparison for you:  Gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol usually costs 10 cents per gallon less than “regular” gas, at least in and around Omaha.  So if you put 20 gallons in your tank, you're saving $2 by using the 10 percent ethanol mix — so-called E10 — instead of regular.

 

But there's more to it. In many cases, you also will see a reduction in gas mileage.  Some studies say the mileage reduction may be up to 3 percent. Some drivers contend that it's more than that.  But since fuel at $3.45.9 per gallon costs about 2.8 percent less than gas at $3.55.9 per gallon, you would be close to breaking even with a fuel-economy reduction of around 3 percent. (That price percentage changes as prices rise or fall.)

 

Other considerations: E10 generally has higher octane levels than regular gas, and in some cases that can give you better vehicle performance.  Plus, the way you drive, the type, age and condition of your car, whether you're driving in the city or on the highway, whether your tires are properly inflated, the seasonal fuel blend that gas stations are selling — all make a difference.  You could write a book about all the controversies surrounding ethanol: whether tax breaks for blending ethanol with gasoline are justified; whether corn should be used as fuel; whether it's better to use a domestically produced product than an imported one; whether ethanol — or ethanol production — reduces pollution or increases it.

 

Those are important issues — as is the fact that you're simply buying less petroleum when you use any ethanol blend.  But many drivers just want to know whether the lower price of E10 — which isn't always priced less than regular, and in some states, is “regular” — really saves them money.  More consumers are going with E10 solely because of the lower per-gallon price, said Tim Keigher, executive director of the Nebraska Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

 

Fuel sales, Keigher said, are “very heavily dependent on price.”  Seventy to 75 percent of Nebraska retailers' total sales lately have been of ethanol-blended fuel, he said. (On average, E10 is about 8 cents per gallon cheaper than regular gas in both Nebraska and Iowa, according to AAA data.)  About 25 percent of drivers, Keigher said, just won't buy ethanol if they have a choice. 

 

Some of that opposition, he said, arises from vapor-lock problems the drivers experienced when they used ethanol in older cars with carburetors.  “With fuel injection, it doesn't happen anymore,” he said. (Auto manufacturers phased out carburetors in favor of fuel injectors more than 20 years ago.) 

 

A 2009 study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers, funded in part by the Nebraska Corn Board, looked at fuel-efficiencies of flex-fuel vehicles operating on different ethanol blends, from E10 to E85, which is up to 85 percent ethanol.  “When comparing fuel mileage, the higher ethanol blends tended to appear less efficient,” the researchers wrote.

However, they said, the mileage loss wasn't as large as the differences in energy content would suggest. The E85, for example, had 26.5 percent less energy per gallon than E10, but the fuel mileage decreased only 14 percent to 19 percent in the three vehicle models tested.

 

One of the report's authors, Loren Isom, said he wished they would have included regular gas, or E0, in the study.  “The theoretical energy loss from E0 to E10 should be about 3 percent,” he said. “That should be a worst-case scenario. ... The actual fuel loss, the mile-per-gallon loss, is typically not as bad as the theoretical BTU loss. I would predict less than 3 percent.”  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agrees with Isom, noting that the presence of ethanol in gas “may result in a 1 to 2 percent reduction in gas mileage in some vehicles. ... However, gas mileage is affected — to a greater extent — by type of engine, driving habits, weather conditions and vehicle maintenance.”

 

As for ethanol's effect on vehicles' durability and maintenance, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology who studied E20 — gas with a 20 percent ethanol blend — found last year that the fuel caused no measurable problems in the older (1998 to 2004) vehicles they tested.  “We had kind of had a presupposition of fuel pump failures, seals going bad,” said Brian Duddy, a co-leader of that research team. “We were bracing ourselves for that.  “That didn't happen. If it did, it was so minor that it didn't appear on the radar screen.”

 

Contact the writer:

402-444-1109, bob.glissmann@owh.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool article. Its interesting how I never had vapor lock problems with my GTO running 10% even in 110F days in Nebraska. It has always had a carb and it always ran better on the E10 than it did on anything else. There is a reason it was the first car I ran on E85, because I knew it liked ethanol, and also because it was sitting here wanting to be driven. It got the same mileage on both E10 and whatever else, and it managed 19-22 mpg with a 455 under the hood, an overdrive transmission, and highway gears. It would run 13.50s@105mph like that while weighing 4100lbs, so it wasnt a detuned engine at all.

 

I just havent had bad experiences with ethanol. Ive had many more with gas, particularly with water or other crud in it that clogs filters and eats pumps, but not ethanol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only personally know of 2 vehicles that didn't like e10, but none that I personally owned or drove.

 

One was a parent of a college friend.  They had an old "late 70s" van with the 360 I believe.  It was fine with e10 in the winter, but in the summer it would "vapor lock"...

My mom had a late 80s Oldsmobile v6 that had one of the last carbs that just would always vapor lock with e10...

 

Seriously there are the ONLY two vehicles that had ANY problems that I personally knew of.  Both are older, carbed engines and both were sort of the oddballs of their day.  Few if any of these are currently on the road.

 

I'd have liked it if they would have mentioned that the "gas" 90% of e10 is a lower grade which partially accounts for the negligible drop in e10's mileage if any.  All told, they did present very good researched factual information.  They avoided repeating and giving support to the "it ruins you milage" myth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But there's more to it. In many cases, you also will see a reduction in gas mileage.  Some studies say the mileage reduction may be up to 3 percent. Some drivers contend that it's more than that.  

.....they also thought the world was flat at one point.  ::)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ethanol or regular unleaded?

 

Too bad that is the comparison that has to be made.  I think Ricardo engines, my own experience, etc has shown that if you build an engine 'for' ethanol, you can get equivalent power AND diesel like mileage on fuel that costs substantially less than diesel and usually even a little cheaper than regular.  Just need the car co's to step up.

 

Also interesting people 'never forget' the vapor lock from 40 years ago, but up until recently seem to have totally forgotten about $4/gal fuel in 2008.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Qoute:

"Also interesting people 'never forget' the vapor lock from 40 years ago, but up until recently seem to have totally forgotten about $4/gal fuel in 2008"

 

amen brother! ;D They also forgot the Arab Embargo of the 70's and any lesson learned of sitting in lines- plus when we look back the price we were paying during that embargo seems small- 'till we apply inflation.

They have already forgotten the Gulf incident (s).

They also forget having to take carbs apart and cleaning the gum/varnish out so they would run again (particularly small engines), or the mechanical fuel pumps that often could not even make 25,000-30,000 miles before the diaphram started spraying out gas on hot exhaust manifolds, or accelerator pumps on the carbs that would also fail and spray all over the intake manifold. (one used to see a lot more car fires)- ALL THIS WAS BEFORE GASOHOL! Those were the days when FORD really did mean fix-or-repair-daily (or found on road dead) and other brands had similar monikers.

 

Yup- those were the good ol days ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

James, I also noticed this... you have to "unsubscribe" to each individual thread... started last week... :confused:

 

Profile... Modify profile... notifications... uncheck the checkbox.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They also forgot the Arab Embargo of the 70's and any lesson learned of sitting in lines- plus when we look back the price we were paying during that embargo seems small- 'till we apply inflation.
My dad bought a new 1972 El Camino. I remember putting 25 cent gas in it and shortly afterward I think it was a dollar on even/odd days. We qualified as farmers in VA and actually got all we wanted but the price definitely went up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember gas in the low 30's when I was a teenager. My dad was a bulk oil dealer in a small ND town and had a lot of farmer customers, who only paid when they could so my dad had to constantly go to the bank to cover it. With rationing, his fuel allowance was based on sales from a previous year so he was constantly running out and had to buy fuel from Canada or anyone else who had it for sale. I know he called his congressmen many times to ask for help and even called Mobil and told them to come over and pick up their damn sign, hoping it would help. It wasn't a fun time for him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...