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The fight over E15 is not over yet

The Environmental Protection Agency has given the approval for retailers to sell 15% ethanol blended fuel. The fuel we purchase at most gas stations around the country today already has 10% ethanol mixed in. The EPA and other supporters of the plan have wanted to add an additional 5% ethanol to the fuel mix for cars built after 2001.
 
"Today, the last significant federal hurdle has been cleared to allow consumers to buy fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15)," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This gets us one step closer to giving the American consumer a real choice at the pump. The public has a right to choose between imported oil and home-grown energy and today’s action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advances that goal."
 
The goal of the plan is to help reduce the dependence on foreign oil by using ethanol derived from corn.
 
“In the eyes of the federal government, E15 is a legal fuel for sale to cars, pickups, and SUVs made since 2001,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “With all i’s dotted and t’s crossed as far as EPA is concerned, our undivided focus will turn to addressing state regulatory issues, identifying retailers wishing to offer E15, and paving the way to greater use of domestically produced ethanol."
 
There are still other issues that have to be overcome before E15 makes it to pumps. These issues include pending litigation and threats from Washington. The U.S. House of Representatives has previously threatened to block the EPA's plans to force E15 sales at stations around the country. Many still argue that the use of E15 could cause millions of dollars in damage to engines in vehicles around the country.
 
One of the organizations opposing the rollout of E15 is the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute or OPEI. According to OPEI, government tests show that E15 is harmful to outdoor power equipment, boats, marine engines, and other non-road engine products. Adding an additional option at the pump could confuse consumers leading to misfueling and damage of engines according to OPEI.
 
"For the first time in American history, fuel used for some automobiles may no longer safe for any non-road products. It may, in fact, destroy or damage generators, chain saws, utility vehicles, lawn mowers, boats and marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, and more," says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, one of the industry groups who have been sending warnings to the federal government about E15.
 
Keiser added, "[The] EPA purports to educate tens of millions of Americans using hundreds of millions of engine products, asserting it will educate these users with a 3 inch by 3 inch pump label. It's frighteningly inadequate."
 
Some major automakers also argue E15 could harm engines in cars and trucks as well.

Sources: Autoblog, Wisconsin Ag Connection



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By Mathos on 6/19/2012 12:37:10 PM , Rating: 3
I work at a garden center at a major retailer. As well as doing small engine and boat motor repairs on the side as a hobby. I can tell you first hand the effects of even 10% Ethanol on said small motors. The motors themselves by their nature are air heatsink cooled, yes thats what those fins on the sides of most small motors are for. Those motors are designed to dissipate the heat generated from the combustion of regular E0 gas. It's a given fact, that Ethanol burns hotter than standard Gas. So, even E10 will burn a fair amount hatter than E0. Due to the extra heat output, and compression requirements it causes cylinder fouling, it puts much more stress on the cast aluminum engine blocks. It causes the motor oil to foul faster due to the extra heat. I can count at least 10 times where I've seen lawn mowers with the sides of the cylinder walls having been blown out since e10 was mandated in Texas.

The EPA approving it isn't the problem. The problem happens when the states decide to mandate that % of ethanol in the fuel. At that point it doesn't matter where you go, there is no choice of what you get. For example, in Texas e10 is a state mandate. Doesn't matter where you go in Texas now, you can't find a gas station that still sells e0. One of the last ones I knew of was right down the road from me, and they forced him to shut down and wouldn't sell fuel to him until he started selling e10 only. Which is sad, because I'm right next to a lake. And, it was one of the few places boaters could go to get gas for their boats.

Also, if e15 gets mandated, I can no longer drive my main 4wd vehicle, because it's a 97 Blazer. Which means, in order to get back and forth to work, I have to buy a new car, which I don't have the credit for.

And at the guy saying Ethanol has cleaning properties, you're confusing Ethanol with Isopropanol Which would be rubbing alcohol or the kind you use to clean things. Ethanol is more or less grain alcohol, the kind you find in Whiskey for example.




By Jeff7181 on 6/19/2012 3:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
Please explain how fuel mix with a higher percentage of ethanol burns hotter, given that pure ethanol has less energy than pure gasoline.

In other words, if I put 5 pounds of gasoline through an engine, that's worth about 100,000 BTU's. If I put 4 pounds of gasoline and 1 pound of ethanol through an engine, that's worth about 92,000 BTU's.

Physics would seem to contradict your claimed "fact" that ethanol burns hotter than gasoline.


By chromal on 6/19/2012 4:46:46 PM , Rating: 3
I saw the 'burns hotter' statement and was kinda confused as well. Performance modders routinely add methanol injection to COOL their engines.

Rather than 'burns hotter,' it would be more correct to say 'burns leaner.' In a fuel-injected engine with a closed-loop oxygen sensor, the fuel injection computer can compensate for this effect somewhat by reading a lean condition on the front heated O2 sensor and pulsing the injectors longer, thereby injecting a larger volume of fuel+ethanol per combustion cycle in a given cylinder.

Engines with carburetors, however, must be manually tuned specifically for the fuel (and altitude) that they run. At a certain point, larger carb jets must be retrofitted, or in the case of an EFI engine, larger injectors, as the ethanol content goes up in order to keep the combustion mixture stoichiometric, e.g.: the air-fuel ratio is neither lean (too hot, hard on engine) nor rich (inefficient, hard on catalytic converter).

The stoichiometric air:fuel ratio for E0 is 14.64:1, for E10 it drops to 14.08:1, and for E15, it is 13.79:1. E85 is 9.85:1. As the ethanol content rises, you want proportionally less air in the mexture, or you will run lean and too hot.

Different fuel-injected cars have different margins of adjustment before their fuel computers can no longer maintain a stoichiometric air:fuel mixture while operating in closed loop as the ethanol content goes up.


By Jeff7181 on 6/19/2012 3:45:47 PM , Rating: 2
I think I see how you thought ethanol burns hotter now...

Ethanol will wash the oil off the cylinder walls and allow more metal to metal contact, increase friction and thus heat. So you see heat related damage to cylinder walls, but it's not because ethanol burns hotter. It's because it doesn't allow the oil to do its job of reducing friction and heat.


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