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From InsideLine.com:

Gas and Alcohol Really Do Mix: Is E85 the Answer to Easing the Oil Crisis? The President Thinks So.

On the last day of January, President Bush delivered his "addicted to oil" speech. Coming from an oilman president, this is akin to Milton S. Hershey warning us that we're addicted to chocolate, but this administration does not seem much interested in irony.

Anyway, President Bush said it is time for the United States to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past." He asked Congress to fund a 22-percent increase in federal energy research to focus on several strategies, including ethanol, which is typically made from corn but can also be made from agricultural waste and other sources. "Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years," he said.

In other words: Let's pay Farmer Brown rather than Sheik Bin Lootin.

Since then, alcohol is the overnight success story that was decades in the making. There's a lot to like about alcohol. True, it's more corrosive than gasoline — I mean, have you seen Teddy Kennedy? — but manufacturers seem able to build fuel delivery systems and engines that can run happily for a long time on heavy doses of alcohol. It's the fuel of choice in Brazil, which makes Brazil our template for two things: running cars on ethanol and swimsuit design.

The fuel Bush was talking about is E85, so called because it's 85-percent alcohol, 15-percent gasoline. (Or, for Senator Kennedy, "170 proof.")

Why do we need the 15-percent gasoline? Because the alcohol is less volatile, and the gasoline helps the engine start and idle, especially in cold weather. Diesel engines can run on E95, which has just 5-percent gasoline.

Corn or, as we call it, "maize"
The alcohol in ethanol is produced from grain in a process that is similar — fermentation and all — to distilling alcohol for drinking. But there's a new ethanol plant in Louisiana that, when completed, should be able to make ethanol from rice hulls and bagasse, which is what's left over from harvesting sugar cane, as well as from rice straw, which is residue after rice harvesting. Disposing of rice straw costs California farmers as much as $18 million a year. Among the 30-odd ethanol plants under construction are some that could make alcohol from municipal solid waste, which is more plentiful even than rice straw.

Corn, though, is the current crop of choice. How much corn to make how much alcohol? According to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, "One bushel of corn produces about 2.7 gallons of ethanol, 11.4 pounds of gluten feed (which is 20-percent protein), 3 pounds of gluten meal (60-percent protein) and 1.6 pounds of corn oil."

At most pumps, E85 costs about the same as regular gasoline, but the price should drop when government subsidies kick in and production rises. Illinois, for instance, charges sales tax on gasoline but not on E85.

E85 is similar enough to gasoline — but burns cleaner — so the changes required to make an engine compatible with either E85 or pure gasoline are simple and inexpensive. These flexible-fuel vehicles, or FFVs, can run on gas, E85 or any combination of the two.

Do you already own an FFV?
None of this is new, as there are about 5 million FFVs already on the road, everything from trucks and SUVs to family sedans from Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford and GMC. There are a handful of other FFVs on the road from Isuzu, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury and Nissan. How do you find out if you have one? Log onto e85fuel.com, which is hosted by the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, and click on the "Is your vehicle compatible?" link. If you are in doubt, there's even a guide that uses your vehicle's identification number to tell you if it is an FFV.

So what's the downside to E85? The central problem is that a tank of E85, despite having a slightly higher octane rating, just doesn't have as much energy as a tank of gasoline, so your miles-per-gallon declines. According to the EPA, a new Ford Crown Victoria FFV with a 4.6-liter V8 engine is rated at 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway on gasoline. On E85, that mileage drops to 12 mpg in the city, 18 mpg on the highway. With a Nissan Titan — the only Japanese-brand E85-capable vehicle listed — city/highway mileage is 14/18 on gas, 10/13 on E85. The Dodge Caravan with the 3.3-liter V6 gets 19/26 on gas, 13/17 on E85.

Also at e85fuel.com, you'll find what could be considered another downside of E85 — a state-by-state list showing where you can buy it, and can't. Mostly can't. Ford says about 500 out of 180,000 filling stations in the United States sell E85. The vast majority is in the Corn Belt — which includes Illinois, Indiana and Missouri — but more pumps are being added daily, part of a joint push involving the government, auto manufacturers and fuel companies.

According to e85fuel.com, more than a dozen states have no E85 outlets, and many others have E85 pumps that aren't accessible to the public, only to government agencies. Florida, for instance, has two pumps — one at Kennedy Space Center, the other at an air force base — but you can't use them. Texas has five outlets, but only one, in San Antonio, is open to the public. California has four outlets, with just one in San Diego that's accessible to civilians.

But Missouri, home to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition — and lots of corn farmers — has 25 outlets, with 24 open to the public. Illinois has more than 100.

American as apple pie, if pie used corn
Some manufacturers, particularly Ford and General Motors, are solidly on the E85 bandwagon, and both assembled elaborate ethanol presentations for the Chicago auto show, which took place just two weeks after Bush's speech. Ford says that during the 2006 model year, it will build 250,000 FFVs. GM thinks it can sell 400,000 FFVs a year.

Currently, E85 is pretty much the domain of U.S. brands, putting them ahead — in this area, at least — of the Japanese, Koreans and Europeans.

But given that — at present anyway — E85 gives you worse mileage than gasoline, those U.S. manufacturers are counting on at least a little home-team support, as well as sentiment that would allow you to pay more if you could contribute to cleaner air and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

On that, even George Bush and Ted Kennedy can agree.



Brent Dewar, GM vice president, plugs the "FlexFuel" capability of the 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche during its debut at the Chicago auto show. (Photo courtesy of General Motors Corporation)


With perhaps 5 million vehicles already on the road that can use E85 fuel, GM will begin reminding owners with a yellow gas cap, indicating Flex-Fuel Vehicle status. (Photo courtesy of General Motors Corporation)
 

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Very good points. But try to remember that the money whores are supporting this. Try to research and determine what choices for propulsion energy sources are not on the table, and why.
 

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Good idea for the environment, but I see one major problem. If it currently costs about the same as gasoline, but you'll get farther on gasoline, which are you gonna buy? Its a no-brainer. Until the price of E85 is proportional to that of gasoline, why would anyone pay just as much and get less out of it?
 

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I understand that ethanol usage actually is a net energy consumer. When you factor energy used in production of the fertilizers, energy used obtaining water (when necessary), fuel consumed farming, fuel consumed during transportation involved in all of the processes, and energy required in processing the ethanol, it actually uses more BTUs than it produces. Food for thought.
 

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SILVER BULLET said:
I understand that ethanol usage actually is a net energy consumer. When you factor energy used in production of the fertilizers, energy used obtaining water (when necessary), fuel consumed farming, fuel consumed during transportation involved in all of the processes, and energy required in processing the ethanol, it actually uses more BTUs than it produces. Food for thought.
Good thoughts. How about this: what if most or all of the machines and/or vehicles needed to produce ethanol could be made to run on ethanol?

One thing to keep in mind is that no matter what fuel they develop, there will always be some waste. The internal combustion engine is HUGELY inefficient. Most of the energy converted during combustion is lost to heat. I can't remember the exact figures but I believe it was as high as 75%. There's got to be a more efficient alternative to gasoline.
 

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froggy81500 said:
Good thoughts. How about this: what if most or all of the machines and/or vehicles needed to produce ethanol could be made to run on ethanol?

One thing to keep in mind is that no matter what fuel they develop, there will always be some waste. The internal combustion engine is HUGELY inefficient. Most of the energy converted during combustion is lost to heat. I can't remember the exact figures but I believe it was as high as 75%. There's got to be a more efficient alternative to gasoline.
You present a good question that illustrates the point: If ethanol production is in fact a net enegy consumer, where would the defecit (using more energy to produce it that it yields) come from? :farmer:
 

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And we have much smaller growing season. Than Brazil's year round season. And look at the MPG, worse big time. So i want a fuel that cost's the same. But gets almost 10 mpg less on the hwy. I think not.
 
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Being from the cornbelt, E85 and Ethanol sucks regular 87 works the best and gets me the best gas mileage. I think my car runs better on normal fuel and has a little more power with 87, also the polution created by making ethanol fuels just doesn't make it a perfect fuel choice for me.
 

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SILVER BULLET said:
I understand that ethanol usage actually is a net energy consumer. When you factor energy used in production of the fertilizers, energy used obtaining water (when necessary), fuel consumed farming, fuel consumed during transportation involved in all of the processes, and energy required in processing the ethanol, it actually uses more BTUs than it produces. Food for thought.
I think a good part of that only applies to growing and using corn specifically for ethanol. But using farm waste is a matter of disposal. That waste has to go somewhere and if we're using it for fuel that seems like a net gain to me. If nothing else, it would be great to see co-ops making farm fuel off their own waste products.

And if we're gonna' compare this to gasoline then someone had better factor in how many BTUs it takes to discover, extract, transport and process crude just to make gasoline, plus the cost of transporting the gasoline ...
 

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froggy81500 said:
If it currently costs about the same as gasoline, but you'll get farther on gasoline, which are you gonna buy?
Here in South Dakota, E85 is signficantly cheaper than gasoline (about $1.90 a gallon).
 

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D76G12 said:
I think a good part of that only applies to growing and using corn specifically for ethanol. But using farm waste is a matter of disposal. That waste has to go somewhere and if we're using it for fuel that seems like a net gain to me. If nothing else, it would be great to see co-ops making farm fuel off their own waste products.

And if we're gonna' compare this to gasoline then someone had better factor in how many BTUs it takes to discover, extract, transport and process crude just to make gasoline, plus the cost of transporting the gasoline ...
Waste is probably a good area to evaluate. Gasoline cost should also include about 300 billion dollars a year for the military costs directly related to wars or defense of oil producing countries.

If we look at the real cost of gasoline, its probably about 12 dollars a gallon, with war costs included. Many other options are truely viable if we allow ourselves to look at the total real costs.

Oil sands, more exploration (Mexico found a field larger than Saudi Arabia's Gulwar field in the Gulf of Mexico recently) and more refineries are needed. Syn fuels derived from coal are an area to explore. :color_:
 

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calvin1234 said:
Here in South Dakota, E85 is signficantly cheaper than gasoline (about $1.90 a gallon).
Yeah but that's not the only thing to factor in. If a car is getting less MPG on ethanol than gasoline, even though you're paying less pre gallon, you may still pay more in the long run.

These are hypothetical numbers for the sake of this conversation:

Let's atke the Dodge Caravan from the beginning post and say it has a 20 gallon tank to make things easier. According to the article, it gets 26 MPG on gasoline but only 17 MPG on E85.
Say gasoline is $3.00/gallon, E85 is $2.00/gallon.
It'll cost $60 to fill with gas, $40 to fill with E85.
With gas, the caravan could go 520 miles, but only 340 miles with E85. There's a 180 mile difference. In order to get an additional 180 miles with E85, you'd need an additional 10.6 gallons (rounded) @ $2.00/gallon=$21.20 added to the original fill-up of $40 becomes $61.20.

So even though E85 may cost less than gasoline, its possible that in the overall picture it will actually cost the consumer more.

I've made the following comparison before. Liken gasoline to a bag of chips, and E85 to a salad. Gasoline, just like chips, isn't good for the environment, where chips aren't really good for you. Then you have E85 and the salad, which the salad is healthy for you and the E85 healthy for the environment. But which one is cheaper? Its expensive to eat healthy and expensive to drive healthy. Until the costs of E85 and hybrids come down to make it more adventageous to purchase them, they just aren't going to be competitive. Look at the obesity problem here. There's my point, its cheaper to each junk food than good, health foods like fresh produce. And in the long run, people's health suffers, as does the health of the environment wehn using gasoline.

And I'm stating the obvious when I say the economy (money) will always win over environmental concerns any day. One of two things would have to happen to change that, the costs of alternatives to gasoline more competitive, and/or the Government mandating it, in effect outlawing gasoline. And banning gasoline would severely impact the economy and that isn't going to happen. So we are left with automakers and fuel makers to figure out how to make these alternatives affordable.
 

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I think we should just continue the war on the Middle East, but drop the nice guy attitude. When we take your country over, we're taking your resources. They are ours now.

:)

I love how on one hand people will say that the only reason we're in Iraq is because we want the oil and the President is an oil whore (when in reality, every drop still belongs to them and we haven't taxed them, taken any, forced them to reduce prices, etc.), and then in the next sentence they'll complain about gas prices. You can't have both sides of the fence.
 

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95PGTTech said:
I love how on one hand people will say that the only reason we're in Iraq is because we want the oil and the President is an oil whore (when in reality, every drop still belongs to them and we haven't taxed them, taken any, forced them to reduce prices, etc.), and then in the next sentence they'll complain about gas prices. You can't have both sides of the fence.
Well, the goal wasn't to go in and "take" the oil. That would be stealing. There are legal ways of "stealing". Its rampant throughout politics. The purpose was to protect the oil, not take it. To install a Government that would be more favorable to US interests (ie. oil) and that becomes a return on investment. There's been tens, maybe hundreds, of billions of dollars invested in this war, and some people on the hill are looking for a return on that investment. From that perspective, Iraq is starting to look like stocks of Enron. The top guys kept putting a good look to it, when in actuality it was going to tank, and it did. Now look at Iraq, WMD's, chemical and bioweapons, etc... , were the reasons to invest in this war. And what did they get, nothing, nada, zilch, nunka... Just like Enron. The public was lied to and are paying bigtime. And who is going to be held accountable on Capital Hill for wasting our hard earned tax dollars on the Iraq "stock" that tanked?
 

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froggy81500 said:
If a car is getting less MPG on ethanol than gasoline, even though you're paying less per gallon, you may still pay more in the long run.
Liken gasoline to a bag of chips, and E85 to a salad....
Point well taken. One question: Has anyone here tried E85 in a non-flexfuel car? It's not suppose to hurt it if you do it once, even though it might trigger the CEL.
.
 

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froggy81500 said:
Well, the goal wasn't to go in and "take" the oil. That would be stealing. There are legal ways of "stealing". Its rampant throughout politics. The purpose was to protect the oil, not take it. To install a Government that would be more favorable to US interests (ie. oil) and that becomes a return on investment. There's been tens, maybe hundreds, of billions of dollars invested in this war, and some people on the hill are looking for a return on that investment. From that perspective, Iraq is starting to look like stocks of Enron. The top guys kept putting a good look to it, when in actuality it was going to tank, and it did. Now look at Iraq, WMD's, chemical and bioweapons, etc... , were the reasons to invest in this war. And what did they get, nothing, nada, zilch, nunka... Just like Enron. The public was lied to and are paying bigtime. And who is going to be held accountable on Capital Hill for wasting our hard earned tax dollars on the Iraq "stock" that tanked?
It's all going to be blamed on the Presidency of course. I mean, he was the only one making decisions, the only one with input, so he should be the only one in trouble, right?

There is plenty of blame to go around, and it lies with far more people than just the President. :sneaky2:
 

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95PGTTech said:
I think we should just continue the war on the Middle East, but drop the nice guy attitude. When we take your country over, we're taking your resources. They are ours now.

:)

I love how on one hand people will say that the only reason we're in Iraq is because we want the oil and the President is an oil whore (when in reality, every drop still belongs to them and we haven't taxed them, taken any, forced them to reduce prices, etc.), and then in the next sentence they'll complain about gas prices. You can't have both sides of the fence.
Am I missing something here?

First you say Iraq's resources are ours now. No more Mr. nice guy. "We're taking your resources."

Then a straw man argument is used, twice, and then justification of theft is attempted. I say theft because that's what you boast we did.
If our real goal was to secure the oil to keep prices down for the empire, we have failed. If the goal was to get the WMDs, we failed. If the goal was to install democracy, we need to ask what gives us the right?

If you reply might makes right, that says something also. :auto_04:
 

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95PGTTech said:
It's all going to be blamed on the Presidency of course. I mean, he was the only one making decisions, the only one with input, so he should be the only one in trouble, right?
Correct! - that's what being a leader is all about. If he wants to act like King George then he should have to deal with the consequences of being King instead of shoving the blame off on his subordinates. Congress didn't urge him to invade Iraq and no one else has any kind of power over the President (even Congress has very little).

"If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen."
 
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