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More ethanol coming to pumps near you
New blend will work in any vehicle built back to 2001

The EPA is set to finalize use of a new ethanol/gasoline that might be in pumps at your local station this summer.

The current 10% blend will be replaced by a 15% blend that is expected to be available in time for the heavy summer driving season. The EPA approved the raising of the ethanol content to 15% in January -- corn farmers and the ethanol industry understandably welcomed the ruling.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told the Senate Agriculture Committee during a hearing, "We are now in the process of completing a rule that will establish national labeling. We expect to issue a final rule in the next few months." The labeling will help protect the consumer from using the new fuel in an unapproved engine.

The EPA will officially register E15 this spring, which is a requirement before the fuel can be sold at the pump. The agency has also recently received the emissions and health information to support the registration and is currently reviewing that information.

Not everyone is behind the plan to raise ethanol content in gasoline through. Critics say that using more corn for fuel will drive already high corn process up to even higher levels. Ethanol trade group Growth Energy notes that more ethanol will help people fighting fuel prices at the pump. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said, "Lifting the regulatory barriers preventing higher blends of U.S.-made ethanol from getting into the pump would start to push gas prices down right away."

The new E15 fuel can be used in all vehicles built since 2001. That means that 74% of all gasoline burning vehicles on the road will be able to use the new fuel accounting for 85% of gasoline demand. 

UPDATED: Justin Starkey, owner of VMP Tuning, had this to say about the new 15% ethanol blend and what it means for fuel economy and auto enthusiasts:

It basically hurts everyone… 

Fuel economy goes down, because of the lower energy content in the ethanol.

If you have a turbocharged or supercharge vehicle with high fuel demands at WOT, it will push your injector and fuel pump duty cycles higher.

Having more ethanol in the gas makes tuning cars more difficult and more inconsistent.  The ethanol level in the gasonline is not always held at a full 15%.  It can be all over the place from one fillup to the next.  If your car is tuned with a wideband while running 15% ethanol, and then you run fuel with no ethanol in it, you’re air to fuel ratio can shift over a point richer. This is huge from a tuning standpoint in terms of power and efficiency.  The OEMs have realized this and most 2011+ Fords including the Mustang GT and Shelby GT500 use widebands from the factory.  These vehicles are closed loop at WOT (wide open throttle) and are constantly correcting air/fuel ratio at all operating conditions.  The PCM keeps the actual A/F and the commanded A/F the same, this is great for performance, efficiency, reliability, and safety.



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RE: Awesome
By Samus on 3/14/2011 12:32:37 PM , Rating: 0
Ethanol can yield improved power along with identical fuel economy in turbo vehicles, since its octane is higher. Unfortunately, most vehicles lack proper calibration or technology to efficiently burn it, slightly decreasing their overall fuel economy.

Look up a Chevy Malibu E85, Tahoe E85, or Focus E85 ("flex fuel" compatible) vehicle economy numbers, they are actually lower than 87 octane gasoline. I'd predict they might lose power too if grossly mis-calibrated.

Then do a search for Golf GTI's or Mazda MX5 Turbo's and look at the added performance with little impact on overall fuel economy. None of these numbers are "official" because they are mostly people custom tuning their cars to burn E85.

The reason the United States auto industry doesn't do this is because of a present lack of Turbo-engine availability (Ford says Ecoboost all the time, but in reality, it is only currently available in ONE of their vehicles, the $40k Ford Taurus SHO. But they'll continue to say its coming, its coming, as they have for years...

IF Ford/GM can get their shit together and work with the EPA (perhaps this is the case here?) to standardize a high octane, ethanol based fuel, they can universally calibrate their engines to it. They didn't do that with E85, but this time they might actually have turbo technology ready for the public.


RE: Awesome
By wookie1 on 3/14/2011 12:39:46 PM , Rating: 3
The bigger problem is that the automakers have big concerns over the increased ethanol and its effect on the fuel system. Also, the E15 absorbs water more easily, so your gas will go bad faster. All a car needs for calibrating the fuel mixture is a composition sensor that detects how much ethanol is in the fuel and the tuning parameters for it. This is the easy part.

Don't feel bad, though, just more pork for the corn farmers.


RE: Awesome
By bah12 on 3/14/2011 12:46:18 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Don't feel bad, though, just more pork for the corn farmers.
I know screw those bently driving yuppies, I hate it when I see all these douchebag farmers acting like their sH*t don't stink. /sarcasm

Seriously of all the corrupt professions in the US, I don't rank the "pork" ridden farmers in my list of concerns. Now all the Warren Buffets of the world that trade in large volumes of commodities such as corn, well that would be a proper group to be trimming the "pork" from.


RE: Awesome
By zinfamous on 3/14/2011 1:01:31 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, I don't think you get it. Corn farmers grow the corn simply because they are paid to do it--not from selling the corn itself--because it is an unprofitable crop--but because the Feds pay them to do it.

"pork-ridden" is also completely unfair. These guys aren't rolling in cash by growing corn, they are living comfortably sure, but many of the Iowa growers seem to think the whole affair is ridiculous, and would very well be off growing something worth-while, if the Feds didn't pay them to grow non-consumable items (some 80% of the corn now grown in this country is unpalatable--it is grown for animal feed and now ethanol production).

Buffet is not your boogeyman, and neither are the farmers.


RE: Awesome
By bah12 on 3/14/2011 2:53:05 PM , Rating: 3
Hence the /sarcasm tag. The OP was the one who was chastising the "pork" for these farmers. Like you said, and I agree, I hardly think the corn farmer is the source of any corruption/controversy.


RE: Awesome
By wookie1 on 3/14/2011 3:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
You say that "pork-ridden" is unfair, yet bemoan the effects of the pork-fest in the same paragraph! I'm not saying that family farmers are rolling in dough. As you say, they're being paid to grow non-consumable crops instead of something useful for food but rather for this ethanol debacle. So, we waste tax money to pay them to grow ethanol crops that really don't benefit anyone, rather than just growing food. Also, remember that the big corporate farms get subsidized as well, not just the family farm.


RE: Awesome
By mindless1 on 3/15/2011 2:25:22 AM , Rating: 2
If the farmers choose to do it they are to blame. Like welfare, a person can choose not to take the handout, to either grow that "worth-while" crop instead, or find another line of work.

The government does not put a gun to their heads and force them to grow corn! They are leeches.


RE: Awesome
By jah1subs on 3/14/2011 4:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
Above 10% ethanol, I worry at what strength of ethanol, below E85 (85% Ethanol), should one be driving a flex fuel system with no rubber and other parts that can be damaged by the ethanol.


RE: Awesome
By Iaiken on 3/14/2011 1:22:11 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently you've never seen this study:

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy11osti/49187.pdf

quote:
The overall results of the program were not conclusive insofar as no clear trends in the overall performance of all equipment could be established. New and used equipment such as shear valves, flow limiters, submersible turbine pumps, and hoses generally performed well. Some new and used equipment demonstrated a reduced level of safety or performance, or both, during either long-term exposure or performance tests. Dispenser meter/manifold/valve assemblies in particular demonstrated largely noncompliant results. Nozzles, breakaways, and swivels, both new and used, experienced noncompliant results during performance testing. Responses of nonmetals, primarily gaskets and seals, were involved with these noncompliances.


There is a reason why Germans boycotted 91 octane fuel that was forced upon them by their government. BMW had previously tested 91 with 10% and 15% ethanol and ruled it in non-compliance with your warranty because of the extensive damage that it could do to the aluminum valve train, high pressure fuel pumps and injector mixers. If you took your car in for any of the above problems, BMW/MINI will test your fuel and anything above 5% ethanol is non-compliant and voids your warranty because both the warranty and owners manual states specifically that you must use 91 octane with 0% ethanol.

For cars that are dialed in for ethanol and do not use aluminum valve trains/manifolds or heated injector mixers, or high pressure fuel pumps that were not designed to deal with the increased density that water so absorbed by the ethanol causes, or if your classic car doesn't have a fully sealed gas tank.

No thanks! Owners of such cars need to get together and throw a class action against the EPA to prevent them from mandating ethanol in 91 octane. At the very least, consumers should have a choice and companies should not be held liable for designs predating the addition of ethanol being adversely affected by its use.


RE: Awesome
By tastyratz on 3/14/2011 1:48:48 PM , Rating: 4
Ill understood.

Turbocharged engines can run more efficiently under positive pressure when you have higher octanes to reduce chance of knock, but modern gas engines with direct injection negate a LOT of that now. This does not impact your gas mileage per say, but reduce your momentary full throttle efficiency of sorts. E85 has become the new race gas for many even if it costs more per mile (compared to airplane fuel it does not though)

Ethanol has a higher octane rating and can result in more overall horsepower
76,000 = BTU of energy in a gallon of ethanol
B. 116,090 = BTU of energy in a gallon of gasoline

Another consideration? going to e15 will not mean higher octanes at the pump, it means gas companies can now use a lower grade gas with that ethanol boost to meet those same pump ratings. For your performance gain you will see nothing at all.

Ethanol is roughly 1/3 less energy dense compared to gasoline in practice. No matter what engine you put it in you have the same figures. Replace your 30mpg fuel with e100 and get 20mpg in the same car. Since we are not doing a complete swap this figure lands someplace in between. The pooch receiving the screwing is the consumer. We are being forced to relinquish our older and classic cars for a new fuel that while it might lower gas prices, unless it lowers the price in relation to the change in gas mileage (which I assure you it won't) then it will effectively cost us more at the pump.

My wife and I own 5 cars, none older than 2001. I cringed at e10 and this e15 business irritates me.


RE: Awesome
By Philippine Mango on 3/14/2011 10:18:36 PM , Rating: 2
RFTM.. 99% chance that the owners manuals says the car can use fuels with up to 10% ethanol content.. Prove me wrong by listing your vehicles if you so choose.


RE: Awesome
By tastyratz on 3/15/2011 12:36:07 AM , Rating: 2
sure
civic? owners manual says 2004 or newer.

prelude? not listed... but no Honda s older than 2003 list as far as I can find.

My Nissan's? Nissan says only for cars manufactured since January 1st 2004.

By all technicality I should not run even e10. It will not cause instant catastrophic failure per say... but nonetheless.


RE: Awesome
By Iaiken on 3/15/2011 1:58:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
up to 10% ethanol content


There is no way you can guarantee that you will only get 10%. When they pipe the fuel from the filling station to the truck, the fuel is separated by a 'plug' of ethanol that gets into even those fuels that are supposed to contain 0%.

There have already been spot tests that have found E10 stations can contain anywhere from 8% to 14% ethanol already. This also means that there is a good chance that it contains anywhere from 1% to 2% water by volume.

In North America there is a funny consumer law that requires the manufacturer to provide you with any product that they specifically require you to use for the maintenance of your car. The more specific they are, the bigger the chance of getting nailed. For example, MINI recently started offering free oil changes for the life of the warranty because the required you to use a specific full synthetic by Castrol in order to keep your warranty.

So instead of specifying that you need to use Shell V-Power with 0% ethanol, they state that you can use anything that contains up to 10% (but in Germany this number is 0%). What does this tell you? Instead of going against the government and possibly having to supply drivers with gasoline, they have taken the other road of letting you run up to 10% and just replacing your fuel pumps and filters when they finally pitch a fit (and they will). I guarantee you they WILL test your fuel and if you are 11% ethanol or higher, they will void the warranty for your drive train. I've seen it happen and there are documented cases of it all over the net and the MINI community.

The problems with the BMW 335's high pressure fuel pumps were also traced back to E10 gasoline with some cars going through as many as 2 pumps per year.

This is definitely one of those cases where you need to be careful not to step in the bullsh*t because it can be might expensive to fix the resultant problems.


RE: Awesome
By Iaiken on 3/15/2011 2:03:13 AM , Rating: 2
If you are interested in reading more see this:

http://www.toptiergas.com/

The upper tier of automobile manufacture basically come right out and say (indirectly of course) that ethanol is cr*p and causes them tons of headaches when it comes to reliability.


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