You may be already driving a car that is factory ready for E-85 and not know it!
FFV’s (Flexible Fuel Vehicles), factory ready to use E-85, are widely available. Approximately 2 million FFV’s
have already been sold in the United States, even though many buyers are completely unaware that they use E85 fuel (85% Ethanol).
This is according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition. Check your owner's manual, visit with your dealer, or see this
list of current model year FFVs to determine if you drive a vehicle that can fuel with E85. Here is a list of car models currently
available as flexible fuel vehicles. http://www.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/progs/afdc/search_type.cgi?1|E85_GSLN
This related link takes you to a site where you can search vehicles made in year 2000 or later to see if they are already
considered an FFV vehicle. http://www.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/afdc/afv/models.html
Here is the root link for this site.
Also you can buy a used FFV that was previously used as a fleet vehicle, at a considerably reduced price. These tend to be
in excellent condition, but may have high mileage.
You can try the General Services Administration (GSA), which leases vehicles to federal government agencies. When these government
AFVs (alternative fuel vehicles, as they are also called) are traded for newer models, GSA Fleet Vehicle Sales auctions them.
GSA resale vehicles are auctioned to the highest bidder at regional GSA events held primarily between April and October. More
auction information on the GSA can be found on its Web site, above.
E85 fueling stations are located primarily in the Midwest; more than 150 public E85 stations are available across the United
States. The actual fueling process is the same as fueling with gasoline or diesel. Visit our station locator to find the stations
in your area.
In most other areas of the US, E-10 is widely available. It is generally labeled, “unleaded premium”. While the
10% ethanol does reduce emissions and is much more environmentally friendly that the MTBE it replaces, it is not considered
a clean fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 , like E85 is.
Award to North Dakota for Ethanol
Aviation Fuel Study
The University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research
Center has been awarded a $765,000 contract from the Federal Aviation Administration to optimize and develop the specifications for aviation-grade
ethanol fuel. This fuel can be utilized in Piper, Cirrus and Cessna aircraft. "We burn 532,000 gallons of aviation gas annually,"
said Bruce Smith, Dean, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. "With estimates showing that this fuel can be as much
as 50 cents less per gallon than our current aviation gas, switching to aviation ethanol will create important savings."
benefits of aviation ethanol include the fact that it is lead-free, its high octane content provides more power than standard
aviation gasoline and it causes less engine wear than aviation gas, allowing longer time between engine overhauls.
If alcohol is such a great fuel (and fuel additive),
then why isnt everyone using it?
The truth is, most
petroleum companies have used it, at some point in their history, and many continue to use ethanol as an octane booster /
oxygenator. Pure grain alcohol is rated at 106 octane, and it is so good that
it doesnt take all that much to raise the octane of 85 or 87 octane up to 90 octane, so that it can be sold as premium and
obtain a much higher price. Alcohol fuel has been the main fuel of the Indianapolis 500 for almost its entire history, and
fuel dragsters racing the ¼ mile drag strip use alcohol fuel. Ethanol (grain
alcohol) was popularized during the OPEC oil embargo, around 1979-1981, because US-produced ethanol could displace from 5% to 10% of the fuel needed in the US,
while imports were being shorted. So, the big five oil companies (at that time they were Shell, Arco, Standard Oil, Texaco,
and Mobil) all started building big commercial distillation plants in the deep
South, including Texas, but mostly around Mississippi and Louisiana (this was because it was easy to bring in the large quantities
of grain (as well as imported molasses from Caribbean sugar cane, and sugar beet
pulp from all the Southern sugar beet farms. This wasnt the first time ethanol
was used, either. During World War Two, ethanol was produced in very large quantities, and many new plants in the Midwest
were built to supply the US Navy & Airforce planes with aviation fuel, which was anywhere from 20 % ethanol to pure 100%
alcohol. People in the US used ethanol- spiked fuel to conserve petroleum for the war effort, and gas rationing was so stringent
at this time that people were issued gas stamps which they had to show at the
gas station, to show that they were allowed to buy gas say, twice a month (or whatever their allotment).
So the petroleum
companies already knew a lot about ethanol as a fuel and as an additive, and have had this in their bag of tricks for a long
time. All through the 40s and early 50s, premium gas wasnt called premium, it was called ethyl, short for ethyl alcohol. In
the 50s, though, someone came up with the idea of adding this incredibly cheap waste product, lead dust from the mining and
metals industry, to gasoline. Leaded gas displaced ethanol because it was a lot
cheaper and because it did slow down the combustion of the gasoline (which tends to burn to fast to be able to get all the
power out of it). They could still offer a premium brand, and it cost a lot less to make it, the oil companies profited enormously.
They just ignored the fact that lead did not enter into the combustion cycle at all: it just inhibited it, and ended up as
lead dust all over the cities, which started getting heavily polluted and grayish colored from all the lead dust landing on
the streets, of the walls of buildings, and on the hands of little children playing outside.
Well, with the oil embargo of the 70s, they went back to ethanol, as an octane booster.
They made a marketing mistake, though: they decided to call it Gasohol, and they promoted it hard and heavy. The term,
gasohol confused people though, and a very high percentage of people werent sure if they could put it in their car.
At this time, ethanol
started so getting popular as an alternative fuel, that many people, from farmers organizing alcohol production co-ops (like
the one we started in California: the Calif. Alcohol Fuel Producers Association, or CAPFA). Even big companies like Archer-Daniels/Midlands
(as in Midlands Oil) started turning corn into fuel grade ethanol. Ethanol production
came into its own during the late 70s early 80s, so much so that a new trade journal, Gasohol, USA, flourished almost immediately
after going to press, and became a major industry trade journal, with big advertising dollars from the growing ethanol industry. Suddenly farmers knew they could produce their own fuel, as well as the fact that
this was a clean- burning fuel, much better for your engine in many, many ways. Now these people had a voice, with this widely circulated magazine.
What happened then was that the petroleum industry started running
a counter-advertising campaign against the growing grass-roots effort intent on converting cars to switch to alcohol. To give
you an idea of how big this movement was, many groups, such as CAPFA, and Chuck Stones company, Future Fuels of America, started
lobbying their congressmen, and talking to their state governors, and we even got an alcohol fuel tax exemption passed in
Congress (an exemption which continues to this day). So every week you started seeing articles in the newspaper about how
corrosive, or how inefficient pure alcohol was, while at the gas pumps, people saw gasohol with signs saying, contains ethyl
alcohol, and they didnt know what to do. So gasohol sales dropped, and the shortage of unleaded regular persisted, keeping
the unleaded gas market overextended. So, regular gas prices continued to soar, and oil companies continued to make a killing
with the high prices they were getting. A lot of this was totally twisted propaganda,
with adulterated and manipulated statistics. They would say things like it takes more energy to produce it than you get out
of it. Well sure, you could make a case for inefficiency if you purposely built
a plant that was designed to be inefficient. This would be like only testing one particular car, say, a big 1960 model Cadillac
V-8 engine for fuel efficiency, and never bothering to ever test another car on the road to see if there was ever anything
better than that. In fact, the propaganda was even worse than that: they didnt bother to actually test alcohol production
facilities, rather, they just built a case from a theoretical, completely made-up assumptions, in short, a flawed mathematical
model. This same mathematical model would keep re-appearing in so many reports, that people accepted it as true, just because
the oil pundits had told them so many times that it was true. A couple
agricultural universities, such as UC Davis, subsequently did studies of these new commercial distillation plants to disprove
this myth, and they determined that with an efficiently run distillation plant you have a net energy gain of over 65%, which
is not a bad equation at all.
OK, enough history for the moment. Let us look at MTBE itself,
and what has happened throughout the world wherever it was used. First of all, through no fault of the MTBE additive, most
gasoline stations throughout the world have underground buried gasoline storage tanks. In some soils, which are fairly inert
or non-corrosive, these tanks can stay buried for 200 years and they will never leak (although, being mostly steel, they will
rust if not properly internally and externally coated with an anti-rust coating. However, there are a lot of different types
of soils in the world, and many are quite aggressive & corrosive, so even a lot of
new tanks less than 10 years in the ground, and a whole lot more older tanks, 20 or 30 years underground, developed
leaks. The gasoline seeped out continuously, perhaps at a slow rate, but that gasoline keeps traveling followed by even more
gas continually leaking and spreading, eventually working itself down in to the aquifer, or water table as it is commonly
called. As nasty as petroleum is, it still tends to float on top of water, and does not invariably contaminate the water supply. Some aquifers are like underground rivers, and the gas gets mixed in and even though
it can be quite diluted, it is poisonous. In fact the MTBE is thought to be cancer-causing a dilutions of parts per billion,
while many other carcinogens must be 1,000 times more concentrated, and are measured rather, in parts per million. In other words, MTBE is some bad, nasty stuff. Once it gets
down into the underground water supply, how are we ever going to get it out? It can cause birth defects, as well as cancer,
and the point is, why take the risk to mix it in our gasoline and store it dangerously close to our underground drinking water
supply, if we have a much safer product available?
At the beginning of this answer I stated that ethanol is an
Oxygenator. This is because there is an Oxygen molecule at the core of its chemical makeup. So, when it is burned with gasoline,
it tends to make it more efficient as it provides more oxygen inside the cylinder during
the combustion cycle.
You can guess the answer to why oil companies still prefer to
use MTBE over ethanol: cost. They may only save $0.03/gallon, but over the millions of gallons of gas they sell, this is a
big figure for them. It is likely to be more like $0.30/gallon cheaper than ethanol, which cost the refineries around $0.80/gal.
First of all, to mix alcohol with gasoline, you have to remove
all the water content, because water and gas dont mix, but alcohol mixes quite well with gasoline. See this link, How Pure do you want it?
Thanks for your note. I'm glad you find my alcohol
fuel book useful. I'll be happy to post a link to your site, and I'd be pleased to have you link to me also. I must take issue with a few of the comments in your message:
by-products of [ethanol] combustion are water and CO2, both of which recycle into the environment, with no net gain of pollution.
There are other minor combustion products, including nitrogen oxides,
aldehydes, and other products of partial combustion of alcohol. These are of course minor compared to gasoline exhaust,
but they are not negligible.
Aldehydes in particular can be noticeable and cause the eyes to burn when an engine is not
set up properly, and they are found in quantities greater than in gasoline exhaust.
can make 160 proof alcohol yourself for about $0.80 per gallon, and then when it burns, the 20% water content also boils (meaning
that it expands in volume by 1800 times) and therefore you get additional steam power out of the fuel.
See my comments on fuel proof at the beginning of Chapter 4. (click on the link, Going on the Road,
Also, it's incorrect to assume that you get additional steam power out of the fuel. First the water in the fuel has to
evaporate, which takes a lot of energy (from the combustion reaction), and you can't get more than that energy back in the
form of expansion. And the presence of too much water in the fuel makes it more difficult to adequately vaporize the fuel
for combustion, which is a challenge even with minimal water.
I must defer to your experience, as you
have put a lot more miles on alcohol than I have.
You are also right about the aldehydes, but still, they are a lot less
obnoxious than gasoline burners. Although it is pretty easy to tune up to the best power range (the extent of my tuning was
adjusting the needle valve and advancing the timing), which I also assumed (perhaps incorrectly) would have the least amount
of pollution. My thinking was that if I advanced the timing until it sounded right and gave me all the power I needed, it
would by default be about the right burn mix for lowest pollution. I once got the Calif. Air Resources board to accept a challenge
to run there best tests on my 1980 Ford Courier truck before and after conversion, but just after they got around to running
the first set of tests, our group, CAPFA folded, and I didn't get to do the complete optimixed conversion we intended to do.
I have run 5 different pickups and cars on various small quantities of alcohol, usually not more than one or two tanks
full at a time until I completely ran it dry and had to refill with gas. This was about 20 years ago, but I never did a full
conversion on my cars: they always had a manual choke and that was the extent of my fuel adjustment. We did have a couple
folks in our group who did full on conversions, and got great mileage. The first was a 56 Chevy straight six, with 10.5:1
compression, so while it was a bit lower than the optimal 12:1, we ran that sucker for about a year with 16-18 miles per gallon,
exactly the same as with gas. We assumed we must be getting some steam power, because we were getting better mileage
than what the petroleum guys were predicting. I think there must be an optimum range here, and with a high compression engine,
160 to 180 proof works really great: plenty of power and good mileage, too!
Sometimes we ran 160, sometimes 180 proof. The main
thing with 160 proof was that we had to start it with a special gas squirt from a converted windshield washer pump, and hopefully
get it warm enough to run on moonshine. I realize there is a cooling effect in the process of vaporization, but this is one
of the great things, as the engine didn't get as hot. The clogging up of your fuel jet may have been the corrosion effect
from the alcohol attacking the surface coating stuff normally found on the inside of your fuel tank.
I also ran my Kawasaki
440 cc motorcycle on my own 160 proof, and it ran just great! Perhaps I wasn't having any trouble with the oil as I liked
to use synthetic oil, which was never bothered by the alcohol.
Thank you for your information on engine conversion. http://running_on_alcohol.tripod.com/ethanolfuel/id12.html
I was always the person in our group, the Calif. Alcohol Fuel Producers Association, who ran the still building workshops,
as we had a guy named Jody who taught the engine conversion stuff, along with Hollis Osborne, a high school shop teacher who
let us use the school workshop for our first couple of classes, back in 1979. So my expertise is really on making stills and
running them, not so much on engine modifications. But I used to support myself by working on cars, so I am not a stranger
to gas engines.
Converting your engine