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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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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.

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