Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling starch crops, corn mostly. Only a relative handful of renewable energy companies produce it, but virtually all the ethanol they generate comes from renewable crops grown on American farms. One acre of corn can be processed into about 330 gallons of combustible ethanol.
E85 has a number of benefits and we are going to review them, as well as compare them to pump gas, conventional race gas, and methanol injection.
E85 at the Service Pump
E85 requires about 30% more fuel by volume to make the same horsepower. That means we upsize injectors, pumps, and lines accordingly. All of our fuel systems that are E85 compatible have taken that into consideration.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ETHANOL?
- SAVE MONEY AT THE PUMP: FFV drivers reported maintaining similar mileage to regular gas when filling up with up to 30 percent ethanol.
- BOLSTER AMERICA’S ECONOMY: Ethanol supports local economies by keeping jobs in the U.S.
- DECREASE TAILPIPE EMISSIONS LIKE CO2 AND PARTICULATE MATTER: Additionally, grain-based ethanol can reduce GHG emissions by 57 percent compared to gasoline.
- STRENGTHEN U.S. ECONOMY: Diversifying the American energy basket reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
WHAT IS A FLEX FUEL VEHICLE?
HOW CAN I TELL IF I AM DRIVING A FLEX FUEL VEHICLE?
- Consult your owner’s manual.
- Look on the gas cap to see if it is yellow or says E85 compatible.
- Check the back of the vehicle to see if the rear says FLEX FUEL.
- Enter your vehicle make, model and year at: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/search/light?fuel_ type_code=E85_GSL
WHAT HAPPENS IF I ACCIDENTALLY FUEL MY GASOLINE-ONLY POWERED VEHICLE WITH E85?
- Although your vehicle was not manufactured to run on E85, no problems should occur if you mistakenly fuel once with the alternative fuel. The largest difference between an E85 powered vehicle and a gasoline powered (legacy) vehicle is that their computer modules are meant to read different amounts of oxygen within the fuel. E85 contains a higher amount of oxygen than gasoline and E85 compatible vehicles are made to read that higher amount. When a higher amount of oxygen is read by a gasoline powered vehicle, your “check engine light” may appear. A number of other parts on the FFV’s fuel delivery system are modified to be ethanol-compatible. The fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel injectors, computer system and anti-siphon device have been modified slightly. Alcohol fuels can be more corrosive than gasoline. Therefore; fuel system parts have been upgraded to be ethanol-compatible.
Ultimately it is a drivers choice, but we do need to be firm in recommending that only FFVs use E85 and to state that we are not responsible for damages.
IS E85 MORE TOXIC OR DANGEROUS THAN GASOLINE?
- No. 100 percent ethanol can be and is ingested by human beings. The fuel ethanol must be “denatured” with gasoline or a bitter agent to prevent ingestion. Also, ethanol does not contain the harmful carcinogens and toxins found in gasoline.
IS ETHANOL PRODUCTION EFFICIENT?
- Over the past ten years, ethanol production facilities have substantially improved efficiency and efficacy.
- Energy output from ethanol facilities continues to increase.
- A recent USDA study shows that for every 1 BTU required for energy production, 2.3 BTUs of energy are produced.
DOES ETHANOL PRODUCTION REQUIRE A LOT OF WATER?
- Most of the water used is subsequently released back into the atmosphere in the form of steam, thus creating a self-sustaining cycle.
- Water require to produce ethanol has dropped almost 36 percent over the last 10 years.
- Today, production only requires 2.7 gallons of water/gallon.