EPA urged to mull over ethanol by car manufacturers

Submitted by RositaA on Sat, 10/16/2010 - 01:49

Dependence on foreign oil is a hot topic, however it isn't a new one. Each and every president since Jimmy Carter has said something about yet. Ethanol is one of the many substitute fuels that have been suggested. Most gas stations use E10, or a 10 percent ethanol mixture, in the gas they sell already. The next stage in ethanol, E15, or 15 percent ethanol, is set to be out next year. The EPA is mulling whether to declare it safe for older cars. Auto firms are urging the EPA to wait until enough evidence has been compiled. Source for this article - EPA urged to mull over ethanol by automakers by Car Deal Expert.

E15 as well as the Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency has the oversight on approving new fuels. Right now, it is weighing the merits of E15. E15 means a 15 percent ethanol gas mixture. The Department of Energy is testing the effects of E15 on autos that are no older than 10 years, according to Popular Mechanics. That isn't an incredibly realistic testing range. About 88 percent of all vehicles in use within the U.S. are over 10 years of age. The Auto Alliance, a consortium of automobile manufacturers, has advised the Environmental Protection Agency not for making any ruling on E15 until Auto Alliance studies have been completed. At least one study, by engineering group Ricardo, Inc., found that E15 has no harmful effects on automobiles older than 10 years.

Ethanol used as gas

Ethanol is a portmanteau of the name of the compound ethyl alcohol. In other words, ethanol is booze. The liquid certainly could be used as a gas. It is combustible, or rather it contains lots of energy. That said, ethanol has 34 percent less energy per unit of volume than gasoline, according to Wikipedia. As result, an ethanol-only engine uses 50 percent more fuel than a gasoline engine. With greater compression, ethanol engines can produce more power and become more efficient. However, ethanol as a fuel has not been proven to achieve greater fuel efficiency, or miles per gallon, than gasoline has.

Unintended consequences

Use of ethanol is not likely to be completely curtailed. Grain has been a gasoline crop for some time, and will continue. However, the danger with supplanting gas with ethanol is that crops, especially grains, increase in scarcity and therefore cost. Cheap and abundant grain can't be discounted, as that is the very thing which made, and nevertheless makes, civilization itself possible.

Additional reading

Popular Mechanics