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Associated Press
This marks the third year in a row the mandated levels have been reduced

All across the country today, most of the gasoline that is sold at the pumps by all major fueling stations has 10 percent ethanol in it. Some station may sell fuel that has no ethanol, but 10 percent is usually the norm. Some automakers feel that ethanol needs to be eliminated to hit future fuel economy standards.

Supporters point to the claims that the use of ethanol reduces the amount of fuel we need from imported crude oil and creates jobs for farmers who grow corn. It’s estimated that about 40 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. goes into ethanol production. Corn, however, isn't the only plant material that we can get ethanol from.

Cellulosic ethanol comes from non-food crops and the EPA had expected the use of this sort of ethanol produced from plants like switchgrass, waste products, and woody pulp to increase significantly. The problem is that the mass production of cellulosic ethanol hasn’t happened the way the EPA envisioned. An energy law passed in 2007 mandated that the U.S. was to use 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in fuel by 2012. The fuel hasn’t been made in significant enough quantities to meet that goal and the EPA is now proposing a cut back on the goal. 

The EPA wants to cut the goal back to no more than 12.9 million gallons of the cellulosic ethanol in fuel next year and based on market availability of the fuel that number could be far less. The Detroit News reports that this is the third year in a row that estimates for cellulosic ethanol use have been slashed. Previously the target for 2012 and 2011 for cellulosic ethanol use were 100 million gallons each year, which was cut to 6.5 million gallons for each year.

The EPA said, "[We will] continue to evaluate the market as it works to finalize the cellulosic standard in the coming months. The agency remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead."

To reach the future goals for cellulosic ethanol production, the government is looking to help companies break ground on new refineries to produce cellulosic ethanol. President Obama said in March, "Over the next two years, we'll help entrepreneurs break ground for four next-generation biorefineries — each with a capacity of more than 20 million gallons per year."

The reason for the big push to move from corn-based ethanol to cellulosic ethanol is that some claim the high use of corn for fuel is driving up the price of some food products.

The U.S. Senate recently voted to repeal the subsidy on ethanol of $0.45 cents per gallon.



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Direct Injection
By btc909 on 6/22/2011 1:33:38 PM , Rating: 2
Don't think you will see less than 10% Ethanol in your fuel per gallon at the pump. Ethanol will continue to gum up your injectors which does wonders for direct injected engines.




RE: Direct Injection
By geddarkstorm on 6/22/2011 2:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
You know, I was wondering why about a year ago or so my little Kia (yes, cheap plastic car, not everyone has enough money for cool things :P) stopped being able to process normal grade gasoline without randomly losing engine power at times. Injectors were cleaned, engine was serviced, belts replaced, spark plugs replaced, better oil used... and still the problem persisted the same. Even medium grade gas (which I am forced to use now) sometimes doesn't deliver enough power to the car like it used to back two or three years ago, but at least I don't have complete engine shut down while slowing to do a turn.

Now I see that 10% ethanol has been put in pretty much all major pump stations? That would certainly explain it.

I now have to spend a whole lot more money than I used to for less quality fuel. Wow. Count me out from being a supporter of ethanol.


RE: Direct Injection
By FITCamaro on 6/22/2011 2:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
Midgrade gas vs Regular does nothing to produce more power unless your engine is designed to run on midgrade vs. regular.

The octane rating of the gas you need is determined by the compression of your motor. Putting premium in a Civic isn't going to make it make more power. In some engines, higher octane gas will make the car produce less power and get lower fuel economy.


RE: Direct Injection
By geddarkstorm on 6/22/2011 4:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
That is very interesting information, thank you.

Regular definitely doesn't work right though, as the engine can literally shut down while driving when using regular, but not with premium. Considering it's had a full 60k engine service by the dealership after the issue, I'm not sure what is up.


RE: Direct Injection
By inperfectdarkness on 6/22/2011 9:58:59 PM , Rating: 2
if your car is designed for premium, you should always use premium. if it's designed for regular, you shouldn't see a benefit from switching to premium.

if you do see a difference, consider the source of your gasoline--crappy stations may have crappy gas. i wouldn't put it past some stations to deliberately have sub-par regular gas...just so that people will buy the premium.

all EFI cars since 1990 should detect knock. if there's not enough fuel to prevent knock, it should be telling the injectors to add more. worst case, even if ethanol was "leaning out" you engine, EFI would compensate for it. ethanol is NOT the problem.


RE: Direct Injection
By YashBudini on 6/22/2011 6:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Midgrade gas vs Regular does nothing to produce more power unless your engine is designed to run on midgrade vs. regular.

Engines that can adapt the advance curve to best utilize whatever fuel comes along are not designed for any particular fuel.

quote:
The octane rating of the gas you need is determined by the compression of your motor.

That's only 1 factor. As long as you mitigate pre-ignition you can keep increasing it, which is what you've seen over the last few years.

quote:
In some engines, higher octane gas will make the car produce less power and get lower fuel economy.

And in engines with knock sensors spark advance may be greater, leading to better mileage, though not necessarily enough to augment the added cost. In addition Amoco Ultra is clear, pretty much has eliminated all gums and varnishes through an extra refining step, which leads to a cleaner engine.


RE: Direct Injection
By FITCamaro on 6/23/2011 12:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Engines that can adapt the advance curve to best utilize whatever fuel comes along are not designed for any particular fuel.


A car that recommends 87 octane will not make any more power running 93. Period.

quote:
That's only 1 factor. As long as you mitigate pre-ignition you can keep increasing it, which is what you've seen over the last few years.


Pre-ignition only occurs when running too low of an octane fuel in an engine with higher compression designed for higher octane fuel. Yes these days this is largely mitigated with the use of knock sensors and adjusting spark timing in the computer. But you will have less power and lower fuel economy as a result.

In some vehicles, namely older ones, if the engine calls for 87 octane, running 93 octane will result in the burn taking too long. Resulting in unburnt fuel being ejected from the chamber when the exhaust valves open. This means you used the same amount of fuel, didn't burn it all, resulting in a smaller bang, resulting in less power, and resulting in poorer fuel efficiency.

From a guy who builds engines I was told you want to run the lowest octane that doesn't ping. Anything higher and you're wasting your money. Running higher grade fuel than the recommended octane is nothing but that, a waste of money.

Now start modding the engine, and that changes things.


RE: Direct Injection
By TimboG on 6/23/2011 1:17:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Resulting in unburnt fuel being ejected from the chamber when the exhaust valves open.


All of the last 20 years worth of engines have camshafts that are designed to "scavenge" unburnt fuel back into the cylinder to be re-burnt.

The fact is that since the burn does not happen prematurely when using a higher octane fuel without ethanol gives an overall increase in torque, not horsepower.
With the gear ratios reaching above 1.4 to 1 in all new cars that increase in torque yields an overall increase in MPG. Everyone keeps screaming power/horsepower, neither of those mean squat while running the gear ratios we do now requires more torque to maintain any real advantage of an increase in MPG.

Yes, I know everyone wants to blow their horn about ethanol but the truth is that with the decrease in torque lowering overall MPG we still end up burning the same amount of petroleum to go the same distance with today’s engines and electronics.
Why a decrease in torque with ethanol while ethanol prevents spark knock?
Simple. Ethanol has a lower BTU than petroleum fuels. With a lower BTU neither torque nor horsepower can be mathematically equivelent at the peak ignition timing. The higher the pressure at the time of ignition the higher the available torque and horsepower. That is taking into account the available BTU to extract the “power”or"torque" from.

Most engines, even the non-E85 engines are seeing a 10% decrease in MPG with the addition of the 10% ethanol. So that the 10% ethanol in your tank did nothing but prevent spark knock. Since the knock sensor did not see a problem the ECM allowed the spark curve and injector pulse width to remain at the normal, preprogrammed parameters so the engine would produce the maximum power/torque available from the specific engine design.

If this does not prompt you to study basic physics in relation to burn timing vs. BTU and to only start typing, I can’t help you.

My English sucks, good thing I studied physics.
Thanks


RE: Direct Injection
By YashBudini on 6/23/2011 7:17:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Pre-ignition only occurs when running too low of an octane fuel in an engine with higher compression designed for higher octane fuel.

My point was and is today's engines have techniques like squirting oil onto the underside of the piston to cool it, which allows more compression on regular gas without detonation.

(Preignition can also occur when carbon deposits build up. )

Compare typical compression ratios today versus 10 years ago, they are still climbing.

quote:
with the use of knock sensors and adjusting spark timing in the computer. But you will have less power and lower fuel economy as a result.


With this scenario a company can claim the car runs on regular fine (and it does relatively) while still offering something more with better gas, which is what I initially stated. Dive through the last decade of car reviews in Car & Driver, quite a few cars "required" regular gas, but also stated (premium is recommended) by the manufacturer.

Yeah I get zippo from going from mid grade to premium, but going from regular to mid grade my engine has less hestitation.

Also consider - If a company like Amoco filtered out all the resins and varnishes out of their premium how could they dispose of the gunk? Dropping it into their lower grade gas is one option.


RE: Direct Injection
By Gzus666 on 6/22/2011 3:11:47 PM , Rating: 1
Thanks for making random assumptions. The reason you have to raise your octane is likely due to carbon deposits on the valves and/or pistons. Effectively this raises the compression ratio and carbon causes hot spots which can cause detonation. If you have a cleaning done either on your own or by a shop, the problem would go away. This has nothing to do with ethanol.


RE: Direct Injection
By geddarkstorm on 6/22/2011 4:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, it was a random correlation assumption. Mainly because the engine has been serviced by the dealership, more than once, since the start of this, including a major overhaul.

I know higher octane prevents knocking, which has to do with the carbon deposits you mention, and is a particular issue with an older car (this is an '04), but knocking isn't what's going on here. The engine losing power and literally shutting down while driving is the issue; but only on regular and not premium gasoline (there are still moments where it tries to stall on premium, but won't actually).

Since it has been majorly serviced (I doubt they cleaned the engine so thoroughly though), and since I used cleaners for the injectors and chambers myself to try to fix the issue (with no effect except while the cleaner was in the fuel tank, increasing power for the duration, but neither increasing or decreasing it once the next refill occurred), I'm not sure what is up. Ethanol does have a lower energy density, so it would decrease the energy content of the gasoline it's added to. That's why I made the assumption since it seems to be a power issue.

Anyways, thanks for the info.


RE: Direct Injection
By Gzus666 on 6/22/2011 4:48:53 PM , Rating: 1
The reason it loses power is because modern cars have knock sensors. You don't hear the knock because the second the knock starts, the computer starts forwarding timing to compensate for the issue. I haven't heard a modern vehicle knock because it is compensated for so quickly, but you can tell when the power drops out, much like what you describe. The other thing is the computer will usually richen up the fuel mixture, which can add to the problem. Curious, did you have an actual shop look at this problem? If they didn't figure it out, I would complain for my money back, cause this is basic engine troubleshooting. They should be able to see this with basic computer diagnostics.

I'd be willing to bet a good clean with Seafoam would clear it up. The other way is to heat the engine up real hot, take a vacuum line and suck small amounts of cold water in the intake, this can loosen up the deposits, but this is dangerous if you don't know what you are doing and sort of shade tree, so the Seafoam is probably your best bet.

It could be something else and I obviously would have a hard time accurately diagnosing it over the Internet, but since so much has already been changed, you are most likely looking at carbon deposits. A lot of the time you can pull a spark plug and put the piston at TDC and check the top with a flashlight. Worst case you can rent a bore scope and check things out that way to verify. Honestly though, with things running better as octane goes up, it immediately makes me think carbon.


RE: Direct Injection
By geddarkstorm on 6/22/2011 5:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
This is great info, thanks a bunch. I'll be looking into this more for sure! And apologizing to Ethanol for the quick judgment.


"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher














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