Ethanol Reduces Mileage

Discussion in 'In the News' started by lamebums, May 31, 2008.

  1. lamebums

    lamebums Member

    Some see a drop of over 28% using E10!

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]Gail Kinsey Hill - Newhouse News Service - May 24, 2008

    Maybe with enough attention, ethanol will be stopped in its tracks and identified as the scam it truly is. I had to use this picture though. :) - Ed.

    PORTLAND, Ore. - When ethanol began flowing into Oregon fuel tanks early this year, its costly little secret was scarcely mentioned: It packs one-third less explosive energy than gasoline and so reduces vehicle mileage on the road.

    Oregon requires a 10 percent blend with gasoline, known as E10, which cuts mileage by 3 percent, according to official estimates. That costs you an additional $73 a year at the fuel pump, based on today's prices for regular gasoline.

    But many Oregonians don't believe the 3 percent figure and maintain the drop is 10 percent or more, raising out-of-pocket costs much higher. It's enough to throw into question the real cost of cleaner air from ethanol use and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

    When Oregon lawmakers enthusiastically passed the alternative fuels bill in 2007, they barely mentioned ethanol's lower energy content. Instead, they emphasized E10's benefits: cleaner air and a healthier economy.

    Now, record-high gas prices have thrown the mileage gap into sharp relief. Tapped-out consumers are scrutinizing every penny they have to shell out at the pump and track any discernable upticks. Drivers are finding that their mileage has dropped far more than 3 percent.

    "It's just not fair to anyone who drives a car," said Ron Spuhler, a retiree who lives in Gresham, Ore., and now gets 21.5 miles per gallon in his 1999 Buick instead of the previous ethanol-free readings of 24 mpg.

    That's a drop of 10 percent and an extra $7 every time he fills the tank.

    Spuhler, like so many Oregonians, is unimpressed with the government's account.

    He insists the truth comes out when the rubber meets the road. Decades as a truck driver taught him the ups and downs of gas mileage, he said.

    Besides, he said, his Buick has a computerized mileage read-out and "it doesn't lie."

    For years, gas stations in the greater Portland area have pumped E10 in the winter months to meet federal clean air requirements. "I noticed it every time," Spuhler said.

    Spuhler said he has complained to state and federal officials but "it's like talking to a brick wall."

    James Bong, who lives in Milwaukie, Ore., and drives a 1994 Ford pickup to work in Oregon City, has channeled his frustration into trips across the Columbia River into Washington state, where he fills up on ethanol-free gasoline.

    Sherman Harris owns the 76 station in Vancouver, Wash., that Bong visits. He said an "amazing number" of Oregon drivers seek him out.

    "They say they're noticing a huge difference," Harris said of the Oregon customers. "If they're driving from Oregon, across the bridge, they should know what they're talking about."

    Washington stations must pump at least E2 - a blend of 2 percent ethanol - by Dec. 1 of this year, with increases to E10 if certain conditions are met. Many already have made the switch.

    Harris' station is one of the few that still uses no ethanol at all.

    Bong said his truck gets 13.9 miles per gallon with Harris' gas but just 10 mpg with E10. That's a wallet-pounding difference of 28 percent.

    "I'll do anything to shave a cost," he said.

    Bong rejects officials' arguments that poor maintenance or inconsistent driving behavior is to blame. He said he takes good care of both his vehicles - he also owns a four-wheel-drive pickup - and has compared mileage over like terrain.

    "They can say what they want, but those of us who use cars and observe what's going on, we notice a big difference," Bong said… [rm][/rm]
  2. bomber991

    bomber991 Well-Known Member

    Bong, James Bong. Hehe, I'd be saying that all the time if that was my name.

    I'm gonna be taking a trip to Houston in June, it'll be interesting to see how gassing up with the 10%ish ethanol there will affect the mileage on the return trip. However, I'm thinking the change in elevation from there back to here is also going to skew my numbers.

    I wouldn't have such a problem with E10 if it was only a 2 to 3% hit, but anything higher than that is just no good.

    Ahh... ethanol sounds so good in theory. Grow the gas here instead of drilling it out of the earth in the evil bungholes of the world. Less pollution as well, so that also sounds good. But I guess it doesn't work like that at all.

    You know I've been wondering to myself lately, what would be better for the USA, to get us off of foreign oil, or to get us off of imported goods from China and the like? Maybe we can't mine all of the raw materials we need, but it seems like we could process them and make our own goods at home, seems that all those jobs created would be great for our economy. If we accomplished one of those two things I'd think it would make things a lot better here, but anyways this is going offtopic, sorry guys.
  3. warthog1984

    warthog1984 Well-Known Member

    Is this really the kind of thing we want on the front page? We just had a thread about how the worst of the ethanol bashing is impossible and now its showing up on the front page?

    I'll be honest. When I joined, CleanMPG was very positive and accepting even with my Dakota but lately its started being more outlandish and negative.

    IMO, this sort of thing not only hurts the community but also our image with the public.

    my $.02
  4. lamebums

    lamebums Member

    I see what you mean, but isn't the whole point about the news is to report the truth however controversial or unpopular it may be?

    And as to your Dakota, I can't speak for everyone but I'm accepting and positive towards people and their vehicles no matter what they drive.

    I have a particular bone to pick with ethanol because 1) it's in EVERY gas station in Northern Kentucky, as well as RFG so it's a double whammy and 2) neither Kentucky, Ohio, nor Indiana have laws that let us know what we're really putting in our tanks! I've seen what happens with mileage and I can tell you with yet another E10 tank in my car I'm losing 10 possibly 15% of my FE. :(
  5. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    Why does fuel with 3% less energy cut mileage by 10% or more? I know it's possible but really don't understand how ethanol has such a drastic impact on mileage.
  6. lamebums

    lamebums Member

    I'm no mechanic but from my understanding, the oxenygation in the fuel gets to the O2 sensor, which then tells the engine to squirt more fuel into the chamber to burn up the oxygen. It would be a vicious cycle, though. I'm not 100% on that though (again, not a mechanic.)

    I do know one thing though: the mileage logs don't lie.

    Then again it is very possible that some stations are selling ethanol at a much higher percentage than 10 :angry:

    This is straight gas vs. E10 RFG. I'm going to add three tanks of E10 soon (<10 days) to this, to see the mileage drop. My Sg is already reporting 50.6 after half a tank so I'm already looking at ~15% drop. :(

    I have to respectfully ask anyone who believes this is impossible please hold judgment until after I get three tanks of E10 in my car to verify this data.
  7. trackermpg

    trackermpg Well-Known Member

    Great sign!

    I for one wouldn't feel so bad about he ethanol issue if (BIG IF!):

    We would start making most, if not all cars as efficient as the available technologies. Why do we seem to choose to devote our resources to technologies that will help us go to war and protect (take?) other countries fossil fuels, rather than making technology available that will reduce our dependence on those countries. We can decide to put a man on the moon and make it happen in less than ten years, but we can't make a fleet of vehicles that averages 40+ mpg? We can go from "not even bag phones yet" to a cell phone in every man, woman, and child's pocket, many of them with a pc on board in less than 10 years. I just watched some friends put a non military vehicle into orbit not so long ago, and they didn't take 10 years to do it. I heard somewhere we have some pretty educated and creative engineers that may be capable of developing affordable fuel efficient cars. Maybe we should let them?

    Why does something designed to make the air cleaner make me feel so dirty??? If we were making the strides we are capable of in making more efficient cars, I doubt that I would mind (more than a little) that we were using Ethanol to further (??) reduce emissions...

    How much of a reduction in emissions does Ethanol give exactly us versus the increase in emissions because we have to burn more gas? Is Haliburton in the corn business too?

    [/end sarcasm, I'm tired]

    I'm confused, but thats not news...:eek: (<<== that's also not sarcasm ;))
  8. PA_CivicCX

    PA_CivicCX Fast Medical Transport Cruiser

    Lamebums is on the right track with this.

    Computer ECUs that burn straight gasoline are not equipped to take on any chemical mixture other than gasoline for proper burning.

    When your car's computer is basing its fuel maps, Air/Fuel Ratio, and Injector durations on 10 parts per 10 Gasoline, reducing it to 9 parts per 10 Gasoline starts an avalanche of problems. When the ECU reads the sensors and finds that the target AFR does not match the fuel map position - which happens with E10 or 9/10 gas, it tends to compensate by running the injector & fuel pump durations longer compared to 10/10 gas. But, making the problem worse is the fact that the computer needs to pump more 9/10 gas to bring it up to the missing fuel volume for the AFR reading in the fuel maps.

    So, as far as the computer is concerned, the injectors have to pump in 115% (or more) 9/10 gas to bring the AFR up to its necessary Fuel map reading.

    I avoid E10 like the plague it is. Since I have to drive my vehicle for more than 60k miles per year (the nature of the business I run) and I need to squeeze every reasonable mile out of my cars, things that are not business efficient or time efficient must be cut out. And based on my fuel bills versus my mileage, E10 is bad for business.
  9. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member

    I agree with the Dakota driver - we want to keep it positive, especially now that we have a wide audience.

    One of the key differences with this site compared to the other hypermiling sites is this is set up to encourage everyone (even the FSP) to increase their MPG.

    And heck - if a FSP increases their MPG by 20% it will do a lot more good than if I increase my MPG another 5%.

    Please Keep it positive
  10. Indigo

    Indigo Witch with wry sense of humor

    Let's see... The ethanol scam has made my car drop from 46 MPG to 42 MPG. It's also quadripled the price of a gallon of milk and doubled the price of a loaf of bread. It's raised gas prices by at least 50 cents (probably more). It doesn't actually help the environment, since corn-ethanol is a net energy loss compared to just refining gasoline. It has, however, sparked food riots around the world and caused people to actually starve to death.

    Since Bush invented this scam, I guess it falls under the category of "Compassionate Conservatism", ha ha.
  11. aca2983

    aca2983 Well-Known Member

    I'm not fan of ethanol and the politics surrounding it, but this issue gets overplayed.

    Some of us have been dealing with E10 gas for quite some time now.

    Don't forget that ethanol was added as a replacement for MTBE, which was some nasty stuff.

    If everyone stopped b*tching and applied a few simple hypermiling techniques, you'd easily compensate for the FE differences in the fuel. If that doesn't work, stop obsessing about FE and think a little about VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled). Do you really need to take all those little wasteful trips to Dunkin Donuts, or can you consolidate your trips?

    IMO, cutting your VMT is a lot easier than raising your FE, and its a shame that a lot of people overlook that.
  12. rxhybrid

    rxhybrid Well-Known Member


    I have a log to throw onto the fire.

    The "Truth" is subjective. I prefer a well controlled experiment with hard data and peer review.

    Everyone here is concerned about fuel use. The problem is we all have differing opinions.

    Some people are worried about price, other are worried about global warming, others are worried about the third world, others are worried about personal choice. This list can go on and on.

    I understand it is human nature to be interested in sensationalism, but I would also like to see more scientific, hard core data and results.

    Blaming, hating and other detractions may help people feel better that the problems we are confronting are not their fault (Yep, I am guilty as anyone). Very human, but also very easy to use as a tool to control other people.
  13. CaliberMan71

    CaliberMan71 Banned

    I do not understand how Brazil can use sugar cane ethanol and I have heard sugar cane ethanol has 12% more energy in it that corn ethanol. Why do we not use sugar cane? Why are we not copying the Brazilians on this matter? Oh ya, I forgot BIG OIL. The scam is we use more so we pay more.One day we might have a government that represents us the people. Does anyone remember "WE THE PEOPLE"?
  14. Traal

    Traal Well-Known Member

    Good point.

    Also, ethanol engines are twice as efficient as gasoline engines (40% vs. 20%). Flex-fuel engines may not be the wisest way to use ethanol.

    But in the end, I think we're near the end of the internal combustion engine era, at least for most uses of personally-owned vehicles.
  15. Earthling

    Earthling Trying to be kind to Mother Earth

    I agree 100 percent. Now how the heck am I supposed to be positive about that? :mad:

  16. Kevin108

    Kevin108 Well-Known Member

  17. worthywads

    worthywads Don't Feel Like Satan, I am to AAA

    It's not big oil, but our climate that prevents us from growing sugar cane in quantity in the US.

    Sugar cane grows in the tropics which in the US includes Hawaii, and to some extent Louisiana and Florida, but there would be some serious protest if we turn the Everglades and southern Louisiana it into sugar cane plantations.

    Not everything is under Big Oil's or Big Government's control.:rolleyes:

    And ethanol is ethanol, sugar cane ethanol doesn't have 12% more energy.
    Last edited: May 31, 2008
  18. sailordave

    sailordave Well-Known Member

    First off, Bush didn't invent this. Ethanol has been around long before Bush ever became president. Secondly, if you go to chevrolet's website it list the mpg for their flex fuel vehicles for gasoline and ethanol separately. At least they inform their buyers that if you use ethanol you'll be using a lot more gas per mile. Thirdly, Louisiana is about to have a plant built to convert sugarcane to ethanol. This is the part of the cane that's used after the sugar is removed so it shouldn't impact the price of sugar. I'd rather car buyers be informed of the impact of ethanol on their fuel economy and then let them decide for themselves which fuel to use in their vehicle.
  19. psyshack

    psyshack He who posts articles

    Well put. And it is the truth. Heck lets drill for more oil. Its there. But that upsets the epa and some of the wack-o greenies. Lets all move to the citys and work from home and ride bikes and take mass transit. I would rather be dead than live like a dead sardine in a can.

    Ive been running the crap corn squeezin gas here. I won't run it anymore as long as I can buy reg gas. and yes my station sells both. Reg. unleaded is 10 cents more a gallon. But I can easly push the Mazda or Honda into the low 40 mpg area. With corn squeezin in the gas Im lucky to get 35 to 37 mpg area. While my hpermiling efforts are no longer on the wicked edge and I don't post tanks anymore. I still do strive for mpg.

    I was appalled as I watched the Indy 500 and all the E85 crap. What was wrong with them running meth like they have for generations? We tried this corn squeezin crap in the 70's. It didn't work then. And it won't work now. You have to design a ICE to run on high grade booze. Just like one has to for hydrogen or diesel. Compression, fuel mapping, timing curves and build materials from the types of metals to gaskets, hoses and such have to change.

    This seems to drive home the point that America is getting real good as doing things half a## now days. It would seem now days we can't seem to take a crap or get off the pot.
  20. fueltesters

    fueltesters New Member

    Ethanol may or may Not reduce mileage...

    Hi - I just came across this site/forum - Quickly scanned some posts and noticed some to be filled with misleading information.

    E10 may or may not reduce mileage.
    E85 certainly does reduce mileage, but the reduced cost is suppose to reflect the change.

    It's always misleading to say E10 reduces mileage by "x" percent, without listing and comparing the same exact engine model type/year.

    Due to the decrease in fuel efficiency (FV) E10 is expected to reduce mileage by about 2-3%...The price for E10 should also be lower, but (with rising gas prices since E10 became more widespread) this is difficult to prove.

    A newer car in excellent condition, designed to run on alcohol-blends of fuel (E10) will notice minimal decrease in mpg, maybe none.

    An older car or a car in poor condition may notice as much as 20% reduction in mpg for E10. Many older cars were not designed for ethanol-blends, and the fuel system (and parts) needs changes/modifications to accept E10 safely.

    Most important is to follow simple precautions with E10 to maintain quality of fuel, and maximize mpg.

    As for blaming E10 for rising food prices, that's ridiculous!
    High gas/fuel prices certainly affects manufacturing costs of food...
    but you can't blame it on "corn" fuel (yet).

    Several types of grains (not just corn) are used to make ethanol.

    We're far from being an "ethanol fuel" nation - If FFV's (E85) were more popular here we probably would not have enough domestic grains to meet our fuel consumption "someday", but the resistance of U.S. consumers to alternative fuels means that's not going to happen soon.

    Overall E10 gas in conventional vehicles causes more problems than benefits (mostly due to lack of consumers' knowledge on fuel system management with ethanol) and partly due to the many older engines (cars, marine, small equipment, motorcycles, classic cars, etc.) not designed to run on E10.

    E85 offers more benefits - but the lack of E85 pumps in many areas, and limited choice for American made FFV's has made the switchover to E85 a philosophical discussion, not a reality - (closest "public" E85 pump to my residence is 140 miles away and I can't find a FFV car I like, most sold in the U.S. are bland).

    Hybrid cars offer a possible good solution (short term) to decrease our dependence on foreign fuel - but again, far from being a current affordable or widely available option.

    Cellulose, biofuels...and more alternatives fuels have possibilities.
    I suspect our high investment in petroleum stocks, bonds, mutual funds etc. prevents "us" from really wanting to decrease our petroleum consumption, especially by the lawmakers, lobbyists and decision-making wealthy Americans.

    Fuel accounts for 8% of our GNP. getting rid of petroleum in the U.S. could cause major economic disruption.
    On the other hand, it amazes me how Brazil has been so successful over the past decade in switchover to E100 (sugar cane) fuels.

    The U.S. instead is just causing alot of distress, inconvenience and unnecessary costs to consumers (repairs, driveability problems, lower mpg, short shelf life of E10, contaminated fuel - and much more) to consumers with the mandated increased distribution of E10 over past 2 years, without educating consumers on proper use of E10.

    Ethanol alcohol readily absorbs water (non-alcohol fuel did not) - it's basic science that oil (petroleum) and water don't mix well together...

    E10 makes no sense whatsoever...
    Does not decrease our dependence on foreign fuels (esp. when you consider all the older engines now getting decreased mpg with E10) -
    Plus, the increased pollution (health hazards) from ethanol producing plants, now being documented, only adds more reasons to conclude E10 switchover is fuelish.

    Looking at fuel history you will realize it usually takes the U.S. government about 10 years to admit and correct mistakes on fuel composition standards/laws/mandates...
    Remember lead in the 70's (now banned), followed by MTBE in 80'-90's (now banned) sadly may be several more years before E10 disappears.

    Learn how to manage E10 gasoline and your problems and risks should be minimal +
    encourage the EPA and U.S. government to pass E10 consumer friendly laws -


    1. Labeling of gas pumps whenever ethanol is added in ALL states,
    2. Require gas stations to monitor E10 fuel daily to assure it meets legal limit (10% or less for most states),
    3. Availability of gas without ethanol at all stations for owners of vehicles/engines not designed to run on alcohol-blends of fuel
    4. Require public education (by the EPA and/or engine manufacturers) on how to properly manage E10 fuels...

    Post way too long - I'll add more later...
    - I'd like to add links to reports/studies by EPA auto manufacturers and scientific studies, but being new here, not sure links allowed (?)

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