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NTX5467

Ethanol Is Still Coming!

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The other day, I heard a blurb on the news about "funded" expansion of blender fuel pumps so higher blends of ethanol could be sold.  I found these articles online which confirms the program's existence.

 

Kansas.com/news/business/agriculture/article41796246.html  and

ethanolretailer.com/how-to-convert-to-ethanol/equipment-grants-and-tax-incentives

 

The first article is from a Kansas newspaper.  The second article is on the Ethanol Retailer website (ethanolretailer.com).  The second article mentions the states the program will be active in, what the financial assistance will be, and whom to contact for the assistance.

 

Ethanol Retailer, being an "industry advocate" desires to have more retail locations for E15 and higher blends of ethanol-blended gasoline.  They speak in glowing terms about how consumers (via phone surveys) "want" E15 (once they point out that E15 fuel is a nickel or dime less expensive per gallon).  For a retailer that's not "on the bandwagon", they make a compelling argument for ethanol in gasoline!  But nothing is mentioned about less mpg with the higher ethanol blends, much less the current E10 over E0!!

 

As I mentioned in another post, there was proposed legislation in TX to delete ethanol from gasoline sold in the state (as other states also had similar legislation under consideration).  When the financial impact of the legislation (if approved) was considered, the financial impact on the state would have been negative if it had been approved.

 

Negative?  Yes.  Using DOE estimates of how much mpg would improve with E0 gasoline, the loss in road tax revenue (fewer projected gallons being sold, of E0) would have been very significantly negative.  I believe they used the correction factor when going from "RFG" to E0, rather than E10 to E0, which means the tax losses (from less fuel being needed to travel the same number of miles) would have been double what their calculations were.  For this fact, the legislation failed, understandably, in an atmosphere where all existing tax revenues need to be maintained, rather than decreased.

 

The ethanol approval survey only mentioned prices at the pump being less than the current E0 fuels, not that it took more E15 fuel to travel the same distance.  Clearly, consumers desire to spend less at the pump, without knowing they could get fewer mpg in the process. 

 

The survey also noted that many of those surveyed didn't know that ethanol was in their gasoline.  Therefore, they were prime suspects to believe any goodness which the ethanol might allegedly lend to the gasoline situation.

 

I highly suggest you read these articles and figure out how to respond to this new "tack" of the ethanol advocates.  Clearly, they are considering only newer vehicles, which can be more ethanol-tolerant than older vehicles.  Also, note their comments on "phase separation"!!

 

Our Tax Dollars At Work!

 

Willis Bell  aka NTX5467

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The current E10 is blended by the fuel supplier and dispensed in a standard pump. For E15, the same is proposed. The millions of gasoline engine vehicles on the road cannot tolerate blends higher than E15 and still start, run and meet emission requirements except for vehicles specifically designed for E85 which is also blended at the fuel supplier. I don't understand the benefit of a pump that does the blending at the gas station as the US market does support a large fleet of vehicles (outside of the E85 vehicles) that could take advantage of such a system. Also that would require a total tear up of each gas station to install new pumps, lines and added fuel tanks.

Let me add that an E85 capable vehicle changes the engine control system based on sensing to run properly between E0 and E85. The rest of the fleet just assumes E0 and "tolerates" a level of ethanol without a specific ethanol sensing calibration.

Edited by Stude Light (see edit history)

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The blender pumps would allow the same pump to dispense E0, E10, E15, and E85 from the same nozzle.  Currently, E10 is splash-blended when the transport truck gets it at the fuel terminal.  Ethanol can't be transported via pipeline due to its water-absorption characteristics, so it must be trucked to the fuel terminal(s).

 

The ethanol proponents seem to be of the orientation that ethanol will help solve the global warming CO2 issues on a world-wide basis.  Only thing is that when you look for E85 fueling stations in the USA, it appears they are going to have to expand their infrastructure greatly in order to be able to sell that much ethanol-blended fuel by the 2030(?) time frame.  Bio-diesel is MUCH farther behind!

 

Ethanol "attacks"/degrades every metallic surface in the fuel system, plus the rubber-based items too . . . from the fuel cap forward.  Even the sealing solder on the ball bearing passage plugs in the carburetor's main body!  This is why modern vehicles have plastics replacing metal, when possible.  And, possibly, why the OEM electric fuel pumps have evolved from the vane-type to turbine pumps.  Now if they can figure out a way to get the rubber out of the fuel pressure regulator!

 

Owners of modern vehicles are oblivious to the ethanol issue as it does not affect their vehicles.  A recent survey (by ethanol operatives) revealed that about 70% of those surveyed didn't know the gasoline they were purchasing had ethanol in it (Perhaps they were in a state that didn't require pump labelling of ethanol content??).  But they wanted to purchase a fuel that was less expensive and had higher octane levels (89 vs 87/ E15 vs E10).  Only thing is that for those with metal gas tanks and pot metal carburetors, ethanol (especially in a consistently humid environment) is a pretty significant "deal".

 

NTX5467 

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I've seen discussion on these proposed blended pumps that offered E0, E10, E20, E50, E85 and I just don't understand why they proposed something like E20 when only the E85 fleet could use it.

As far as the global warming argument, look what I posted in the other PA ethanol discussion. Corn ethanol production is not very "green". Besides all the consumables and water requirements you need 100 BTUs of energy (mostly natural gas) to produce 167 BTUs of ethanol.

E85 has not caught on in the US since it is tied to the oil industry's distribution system. Recall when gas was $4 per gallon? Why was E85 $3.75? It just followed the oil prices and not the ethanol prices. In Brazil gasoline and ethanol compete in the market place and their cars are E0 to E100 capable (they have E100 since they don't have to worry about winter cold starts). One day gas is the better buy and the next it's ethanol. In the US, the oil companies just used the higher gas prices to hike up their returns on ethanol. Wonder how that is working with $1.27 gas prices today? For a consumer the E85 break even for loss of fuel economy is 20% which means it better be 25% less than gasoline to make it worth my while to fill up more often. It has never met that criteria in Michigan since it was introduced.

I'm no ethanol proponent as I know all the negatives it brings to our hardware and in the end is just not the environmental panacea that it is advertised as - just like electric cars and hybrids (if you look at what impact the batteries and electronics have on the environment). Depending on how long the gas prices stay low it may bankrupt the ethanol industry and a lot of these problems will be solved. Unfortunately we still have to deal with our well meaning and uninformed government officials. E10 is bad enough but E15 is terrible.

Scott

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You guys are still tilting at this windmill?  :wacko:

 

Constantly pining about how fuels aren't staying antique for our cars isn't helping anyone, and conveniently ignoring that corn is an interim feedstock to make biofuels only emphasizes the emptiness of the arguments.

 

A year and a half ago, the last time I weighed in on this silly debate, there were 2 pilot cellulosic ethanol plants tentatively operating in the U.S., and DuPont had just abandoned the paint market to pursue biofuels. There are now 16 operating plants in the U.S. making ethanol that never saw a corn kernel.  Does anyone really think that  continuing to shovel the tide back is helping?

 

Meanwhile has anyone done anything to assure access to fuels that won't hurt our antiques once "pump gas" isn't gasoline any more?  I haven't heard one word about efforts made to allow legal access to av-gas or marina fuels for registered antiques. 

 

It took about 20 years of commercial development for crude oil distillates to displace whale oil in the marketplace 150 years ago.  How much longer are we going to let the ethanol clock tick?  Something has to be done, but it has to be something a lot smarter than thinking we're the ones who can hold sway against the rest of society and (admit it) progress.

 

=====================

 

BTW, nobody but nobody outside the hobby gives a rat's behind about your pot metal carburetor, or mine.  Beyoncé was in 4th grade when the last carbureted car was sold in the U.S., and she's about 10 years away from the R&R Hall of Fame today.  It's almost impossible to find one in daily use any more.

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Get the politics out of ethanol and the stuff will quickly lose its appeal. I've said for years early presidential primaries need to be moved out of ethanol producing states.

 

Dave, whether you'll admit it or not, you know as well as anyone ethanol is a political game. They don't give a rat's behind about air quality/mileage/whatever as long as corn state votes can be bought.

 

People just thought Big Tobacco was bad about peddling influence. Big Ag and Big Pharma make the tobacco lobbies look like amateurs in comparison.

 

I find it odd that you never show up unless one of these discussions starts.

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My complaint isn't really about my 1923 Studebaker...nothing in its fuel system really cares.  It is my 1992 motorhome, 1996 Regal, 2001 Town and Country, 2005 Escape, lawn mowers, snowblowers, and the other 100 million folks in the same situation. Forcing them to drink higher and higher concentrations of ethanol is detrimental to these engines designed to run on gasoline.  E10 is tolerable but caused some upgrades of older engines, E15 will be worse.  If the country wants to use ethanol to offset oil usage, then come up with an ethanol compatible fleet....so we did.  GM was one of the first and switched to allow E85 in 75% of its fleet, Ford and others also went down that path.  What happened?

 

Ethanol was distributed by the oil industry and they controlled the price so when we had $4 gas and ethanol made sense they pushed the price right up with gasoline and no one bought it.  Remember, it takes a 20% price reduction to break even on the fuel economy hit.  So unless you really felt that ethanol was better for the environment and were willing to put extra money up for that argument it made no financial sense.  Now the automakers backed off considerably on offering E85 compatible vehicles as it made no economic sense for them.  Between these factors and now the low gas prices I figure that ethanol had its opportunity and it was lost.

 

I used to be an advocate of ethanol as I earn my income in two ways....designing, building and selling shiny new cars with the latest technology and crop farming.  Ethanol is good for both sources of my income.  But once I figured out that the corn ethanol process was almost CO2 neutral and the oil companies controlled the prices, I decided to stop drinking the Kool Aid.

 

If cellulosic becomes viable enough to compete with gasoline prices AND the OEMs then increase their E85 compatible fleets then I may get back on board but until then I am in no mood to have higher percentages of ethanol in the auto gas I use in all my "gasoline" engines.

 

One other thing I will note....there are two industries that won the "no ethanol" battle but they pay for it at the pump.  The boating folks, which is a pretty big group and the piston engine aviation enthusiast's, which is smaller than the old car buffs, by far.

Scott

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I wonder....If I just drive on back roads and not on highways... :P  

...and if we had a hobby with the foresight and guts to point out that that is what we do anyway, and that it wouldn't put a noticeable dent in tax revenue if our cars used the stuff.... :)

 

But I guess that's too much for some to imagine. 

 

BTW, e10 isn't going anywhere for a long while, but it is going.  Don't expect 20 years from now to be routinely buying the same stuff at the pump you buy today.  In the mean time your daily drivers are safe, and will be antiques themselves before they are not.  Also if anyone thinks this is being done as an economic decision in any sense they simply aren't paying attention.  You know why it's being done, and that it's an ever improving ongoing process/technology.  Instead of fighting over what's happening now try looking at where this is going. 

Edited by Dave@Moon (see edit history)
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That's true.  So is boat gas.  Neither have the added highway tax.

 

I wonder....If I just drive on back roads and not on highways... :P

Boat gas in New Hampshire does include the highway tax. A form must be submitted to Concord along with receipts in order to obtain a refund.

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I read, sometime ago, that auto makers said that E-15 will void their new car warranties.    15% ethanol in gas will play havoc in our vintage autos.

I noticed one of the Sprint Cup racing cars last Sunday advertising 15% ethanol gas on their roof and hood.   I got nauseous when I saw it.

I hope that they're not planning to replace 10% with 15% ethanol.   Here on Long Island, we cannot buy ethanol-free gas.

Rog

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I've spent the last several days looking about fuel issues, on the Internet.  In one ethanol article, it was done by a person who's more "late model" than many of us.  He had a different "take" on the phase separation issue, claiming it wasn't the ethanol, per se, that caused phase separation by the additives in the ethanol that caused it.  Not sure where he's seen that evidence.  The other issue is that many newer vehicles, but NOT all (even the "government-approved" 2001 and new models) will work with E15.  Many new cars' warranties are voided if anything other than E10 is used, but then the OEMs made that determination as it's "their" warranty that would be paying the bill.  Of course if E15 caused a fuel system failure on an older car that wasn't a flexfuel car, then it's on the taxpayer's dime.

 

Things seem to be headed toward E30, but another article I found stated that ONE pump installation at a fuel station was about $110K, back in 2015.  So, only newer stations will have E85 pumps.  Many are adding E15 to their newer stations, but not all of them.  Again, until more newer cars can use it, only FlexFuel cars should.

 

The turbo-hotrods of more current vehicles like ethanol'd fuels, but then their fuel systems are designed to handle it.  There is also an E100 advocacy group (98% ethanol, 2% denaturing agent).  They point to the advantages of such, plus that it's been in South America for decades, BUT no infrastructure in the USA nor vehicles to use it.

 

Many states have introduced legislation to either cap ethanol at E10, ban ethanol in their state, or allow higher blend levels.

 

The key issue with conversion of vehicles is the added amount of ethanol needed, which means altered fuel calibration curves (richer jetting and such).  Once altered, little chance of changing back, very easily.  With add-on fuel injection or OEM injection, it's usually a software change,, usually.

 

One article noted that it's easier to add something to the fuel to neutralize the ethanol than to try to remove the ethanol all together.  So, as with the issues osf unleaded fuels In the '70s, "here we go again" with fuel additives.

 

Even if somebody came up with a plastic fuel line that looked pretty much like a metal line, that was not damaged by ethanol fuel blends, that might be an option, but it would not affect the fuel calibrations of the carburetor, which is another significant ethanol-damaged item.  Or the rubber diaphragm in the fuel pump.

 

SEMA, by my observation, seems to be doing little to stop the E15 and such, other than writing a few letters.  The vintage vehicle ownership is certainly not the size or importance of the NEW car market, with the OEMs driving gasoline and motor oil choices we have for our older vehicles.

 

Everybody talks about the "more octane" issues with ethanol'd fuels.  Well . . . that depends upon how the fuel is blended.  Ethanol can increase the octane of a base fuel, with say Research Octane of 90, to about 92 Research Octane, but if the base fuel's octane is built to be Research Octane of 88, with the ethanol making it 90, then the alleged real benefits of "additional octane" of ethanol zilch, in the end.  The advocates talk about this added octane yielding better performance.  E15 typically sells for 7 cents/gallon less than E10, but at what fuel economy loss?

 

Whenever anybody touts the alleged benefits of E15 or E30, you have to look at what sort of organization it is and who might be supporting them.

 

NTX5467

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E15 will be the end the hobby and the end of the value these old cars have.  So, everyone will scurry to put the modern engine under the hood so the car can still be driven.  You'll sell your car for $200 so the next guy can spend $30,000 to install the modern rice burner.  Makes me sick.

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