Print 45 comment(s) - last by Jeff7181.. on Jul 6 at 1:30 PM

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: It's about time...
By 91TTZ on 6/23/2011 9:57:44 AM , Rating: 2
consider for a moment if a 1.8L e85 only engine made the same 200 hp as a 2.5L gasoline engine--and got the same MPG. would you consider the e85 only engine "inferior"?

No, it would be a superior engine since it would be operating at a higher efficiency. But it isn't going to happen since ethanol doesn't have the same energy content as gasoline.

Gasoline- 114,000 BTU/gallon
Ethanol- 81,800 BTU/gallon
Diesel- 129,500 BTU/gallon

i've seen countless cars modified to run on e85 tunes which has increased power output by 25-35% while increasing fuel consumption by 30%. my conjecture is simply that if you maintain that tuning/burn efficiency/compression ratio/boost, and DOWNSIZE the displacement--you can achieve relative parity with gasoline engines in power output AND mpg.

I doubt that. The fuel you're burning has less energy content compared to gasoline so you're going to have to make a tradeoff. You can either have less power or less MPG. But unless you somehow come up with an engine design that's more efficient than the type we use now, it's just not going to happen as long as you can apply those same tricks to a gasoline engine.

RE: It's about time...
By Jeff7181 on 7/6/2011 1:30:36 PM , Rating: 2
Stoichometric ratio for gasoline is 14.7:1 and for E85 it's about 9.7:1.

This means, for the SAME volume of air, you can burn more E85 than pure gasoline. However, gasoline has more energy than E85 as you pointed out, and if you do the math it's pretty much a wash - you have about the same BTU with each assuming the stoichiometric ratio is maintained. Where the benefits of E85 (or pure ethanol) become more obvious is when you build an engine specifically for it with a higher compression ratio. 13:1 is at the high end for a gasoline engine... a performance engine designed to run on E85 or pure ethanol could have a compression ratio as high as 20:1. This is where you start to see an increase in efficiency (in both power and mpg) over gasoline.

That said, E85 has no business in cars on the road today.

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