By December 30, 20104 Comments Read More →

Should The U.S Make More Ethanol Fuel To Reduce Oil Consumption?

A post I had written a while back about E-85 ethanol gasoline has been getting some traction lately and people have been leaving their comments. I thought I would post my reply to one of the recent comments.

The reader asked me about E-85 and ethanol gasoline and his request that the U.S produce more of this ethanol fuel to cut over seas fuel consumption.

Here is my reply, would love to get YOUR comments below the post.

I am definitely no expert with E-85, and do not use it myself but from what I have researched it costs MORE to produce than regular gasoline. The US government subsidizes the corn farmer heavily to produce the ethanol. The impact on the environment is much higher as well, more fertilizers, more water, more diesel fuel in farm equipment etc. etc.

The cold hard facts are, our nation MUST learn to consume less fuel….as well as, water, food, electricity, paper etc. etc. Our nation is a nation of consumers. Do you ever hear the government refer to us as “citizens” nope, we are the American CONSUMER. We have to keep consuming more of everything to keep our economy rolling…and the roll has been a slow roll lately.

I would much rather see the US government issue a 50% credit for every American that buys an American built Hybrid electric vehicle. Not a tax credit, but a voucher to pay 50% of the purchase price. So you as the consumer would pay 50% and the government would pay the other at the dealer level, no waiting to get paid or take a tax credit. You should also be given a 0 interest loan if needed.

1. This would cut our imported oil consumption drastically. And put more emphasis on domestic oil production and the jobs it creates.

2. This would put a lot of US auto workers to work, which the auto industry will be the biggest and fastest way to put our country to work and grow the economy.

3. This would cut air emissions drastically

4. This would save our government a heck of a lot more money than the $6 billion bailout that went to a select few of big banks.

5. This would drastically increase R&D of new battery innovations

We have to go back to being CITIZENS of this country and stop being consumers!

Just my two cents


Austin Davis

Posted in: Fuel Mileage

4 Comments on "Should The U.S Make More Ethanol Fuel To Reduce Oil Consumption?"

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  1. Nathan says:

    I worked as a mechanic in Michigan for a few years when they were really pushing the E85 fuel. Personally, I think it’s a bad idea. In order to run a vehicle on E85 it has to richen the mixture to somewhere around 10:1 instead of the usual 14.7:1, so vehicle get much worse gas mileage on E85. Additionally if you take away the subsidies it makes E85 cost quite a bit more per gallon then regular gasoline. Additionally if an oxygen sensor fails in a vehicle the computer can get confused and try to run the vehicle on an E85 mixture level when it actually has regular gas in the tank or vice versa.

    Personally I think the solution is going to be a combination of things, electrical vehicles will probably be a good solution in urban areas. Biodiesel and compresed natural gas are worth looking at for vehicles that need a longer range.

  2. Grumpy says:

    Personally, I think ethanol in any concentration is a poor choice. If you remove the subsidies, no one would ever purchase it because it is so much more expensive than regular gas plus it is a lower energy fuel – providing less bang for the buck and poorer mileage. I used to use ethanol fuel, but switched this past summer and now I get at least70 miles more per tank of gas. Do your own tests. Finally, I’ve never been comfortable with growing grains, corn, oilseeds, whatever for fuel while people are starving.

    That aside, I also think electric vehicles are also a poor/bad idea. By comparison with a regular vehicle, they are horrendously expensive and need heavy subsidies to encourage people to purchase them. I certainly don’t want to pay for half of an electrical vehicle out of my tax dollar when I have enough difficulty putting money aside to purchase my own vehicle.

    What about charging them? People living in appartments or rental properties are unlikely to have a magnanamous landlord that will be willing to install charging stations for each or even some tennants. In the northern areas, parking lots only provide electrical for block heaters only in winter and the power is cycled on and off so that it is on for only about 1 min out of every 5.

    If electrical vehicles really catch on, where is all that power for charging going to come from – 100 vehicles – no problem – 1 million – you need supplimentary generation. Coal fired plants – what a trade off there. Nuclear – way too expensive to build and investors wanting a quick buck aren’t going to be building too many new nuclear plants – and then you have to consider decomissioning them – a nightmare. Wind turbines – wind is usually at a minimum overnight when you need to charge them and is unreliable at best – lots of power when you don’t need it and none when you do – so you must build a backup source.

    Other drawbacks – short range – need two vehicles – one for city and one for country? Almost 0 resale value – you really want to buy a used electric vehicle with a battery that is worth almost half the value of the car and in unknown condition? We have no idea how long those batteries are going to last.

    It is also hard to judge how much ‘charge’ is left in a battery. Some reviews I’ve read state that in the early stages, the charge guage works fine but as the battery discharges, the charge drops off more rapidly and the test runs ended up in a ride back to a charging station in a tow truck.

    Sorry to be negative but so far a lot of green ideas have been implemented with little consideration to negative impact. Politicians and governments have jumped on board and are more than willing to throw money at them ‘just to be seen to be green’. Unfortunately most of these energy conservation or green generation ideas have failed badly and would never have gotten off the ground without the subsidies.

    The latest red light for me has been carbon sequestration where carbon dioxide is pumped deep into the bedrock – a mile or more deep. The concept is to take CO2 from the atmosphere and store it underground. The hope is that it won’t leak back to the surface. Unfortunately, bedrock is never really solid – it has lots and lots of cracks, micro fissures and ‘seals’ that are (unfortunately) not continuous. Lately, some of these sequestration fields have started to leak resulting in dead farm animals – in a CO2 cloud or accumulation in a valley or depression – there is no oxygen to breathe and the critters suffocate. To be blunt, if I lived within 100 miles of one of these wells, I’d move far, far away. Another green idea gone bad – and a bigger disaster waiting to happen.

    As far as I am concerned, they hybrid – gas plus electrical – is the best bet right now – but they have got to get the price down. For me personally, I don’t put enough annual mileage on a vehicle to warrent spending an extra 10 to 20K on a ‘green’ vehicle. And dont get me started on clf bulbs.

  3. atlana says:

    50% paid by government is a bit much I’d say, considering the volume of cars that are being bought then. No-interest loans and guaranteed loans is something more feasible and some tax write-off.

    on the bottom-line i do not think that hybrids are cutting it, we need to go totally away from gasoline fuel. Especially when one considers that the “5 most profitable corporations” in the past years have always been the oil-/gasoline-corps.

    now, the issue is, whats the best alternatives? biofuel? i dont think so, thats IMHO just Marketing Kool-Aid white-wash. fuelcells/hydrogen ? good energy-output-ratio and works well as we have seen on the one Honda FCX (if i recall right) Model, BUT it would require a all-new infrastructure of gasstations, which will not be cheap.

    I think the best alternative is going pure electrical – the infrastructure is already present, everybody has electrical outlets everywhere available, and if you’re in the middle of the boonies, the roof on your car has solar-cells to slowly recharge the batteries. especially with the next-gen solar-cells described here Batteries can be nano-/lithium-phosphate type of batteries, which have a very high density and very capable long-term durability. some details here with more links

    But unless the whole lobbing is thrown out of the american political system, there wont be any change – especially this drastic – anytime soon, and the billions of dollars from the oil-multis are being thrown towards Washington to keep the “american consumer” on the hook to keep getting financially drained/siphoned off.

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