The Ethanol Fuel Boondoggle, Part III: Corn Can't Fix Our Oil Dependency

Published by Slick at 4:00 am under Uncategorized

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. -- H. L. Mencken.

Ethanol-based automotive fuels are not, and never will be, a solution to our oil dependence. Besides the simple fact that ethanol has less energy per unit volume, there's simply no way to get enough ethanol into the system to provide meaningful relief. Attempting to make it so is a recipe for disaster.

The reasons for this difficulty come in two broad categories: Ethanol can't come fast enough, and ethanol uses too many resources.

You see, there's a dirty little secret the ethanol proponents don't tell you. (Several, actually.) To really convert to an ethanol fuel system, we have a lot of pre-work to do. New engine designs, for one. We also need to refresh the infrastructure to get the product from the fomulator to your vehicle; the supply chain.

Why? Water. Ethanol plus water is BAD for engines, storage systems and pipelines. Corrosive to metal systems, for example. And a teensy bit of water in ethanol fuel robs power. Meaning bad performance.

Water makes ethanol-containing gasoline blends unstable over time; you shouldn't store E-10 or E-85 for more than a few weeks. This includes inside your car. And how will you know how "fresh" that E85 is by the time you get it? Now you need a test kit every time you fill up with ethanol fuels.

(By the way, did you know that over 50% of the fuel available in the U.S. contains ethanol? Providers aren't required to tell you in all instances. Just thought you ought to know.)

Read the rest of this piece at Slick and Slack

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