Monday, February 28, 2011

Ethanol Free Gasoline

Ethanol is primarily made from corn. Petroleum industry workers disdainfully refer to ethanol laced gasoline as "whiskey grade."
Word on the streets lately is that the government is fixing to increase the corn based ethanol content in gasoline to 15% from the current 10%.

This is a curious development since we're supposed to be going green but ethanol in gasoline decreases fuel efficiency and costs much more to bring to market. There is no pipeline for it in place throughout the country as for real gasoline. It is also one more drain on our tax money, as the way the government gets gas stations to sell gasoline with ethanol is through money incentives. Not to mention that using corn to make ethanol has driven up food prices worldwide, a particular hardship on third world countries where a small change in food prices can make the difference between life and starvation.

Interestingly, the ethanol is trucked from wherever it is made to distributors, then mixed in right before they fill the tanker trucks you see delivering gas to your local station. The truck driver simply tells the distributor whether his load is supposed to have ethanol or not and they switch it on or not right there when they fill up the tanker.

From what I can tell listening and reading around, there's also an issue with plastic components in the fuel lines of older cars and small engine appliances like lawnmowers, weedeaters, compressors, etc. The ethanol has a tendency to eat through the parts if they're not made out of the right kind of plastic. The car companies, long used to dealing with government pinheads, have accommodated ethanol in the newer model vehicles now that they know it's pretty much the rule of the road, making parts out of Teflon instead of plastic. Ever wonder why it costs so much to buy a car and then buy parts for it for repairs? Thank your federal government.

Luckily it's not yet completely the rule of the road. You can still find no-ethanol gasoline if you look for it. And from what I hear, many drivers do seek it out. That's why some gas stations choose to sell ethanol free gas - all other things being equal, it's a marketing advantage.

I drive an older model car. I started using ethanol free gasoline a few weeks ago. I have seen a marked difference in my gas mileage and engine performance in general. Word is that ethanol produces half the energy of regular gasoline and can degrade gas mileage by about 10%. I haven't done an exact comparison, like driving a full tank of ethanol gas and then comparing it to a full tank of no-ethanol, but from what I'm seeing, 10% or maybe more seems about right. Using the no-ethanol gas also seems to have cut down on the ping in my engine, as if I were using higher octane gasoline.

Here's a link to a listing of ethanol free gas stations in the U.S. I've checked it out locally and found it to be accurate. I recommend you try a tank or two of real unadulterated gasoline. And if I were running a no ethanol gas station, I think I'd have a nice big display of 100 watt incandescent light bulbs for sale before the government ban on them goes into effect in 2012...