Automakers urge EPA to wait for additional investigation prior to making ethanol decision

There has been bluster and rhetoric for over 30 years about dependence on foreign oil, though there is good reason. Ethanol is one of the many substitute fuels that have been suggested. Over the last few years, gas suppliers have been mixing gasoline and ethanol, in a solution called E10, or 10 percent ethanol. The new mixture contained 15 percent ethanol, or E15, is about to be released as well as the Environmental Protection Agency has choose whether to approve it for use in older vehicles. Auto firms are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to wait until enough evidence has been compiled.Resource for this article - EPA urged to mull over ethanol by automakers by Car Deal Expert.

The Environmental Protection Agency weighs in on E15

The merits of E15 are currently being weighed on by the EPA. E15 means a 15 percent ethanol gas mixture. The Department of Energy is testing the effects of E15 on vehicles that are no older than 10 years, according to Popular Mechanics. However, with 88 percent of all vehicles on the road being 10 years old or older, this is not probably the most realistic testing group. 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. There is at least one study out so far. The Ricardo Inc. engineering firm has determined cars older than 10 years aren't harmed by E15.

Ethanol as gas

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or more colorfully as moonshine, is a distillation of alcohol from grain. It is a flammable and combustible chemical. According to Wikipedia, the drawback to using ethanol is that it has about 34 percent less energy per unit of volume than gasoline. As result, an ethanol-only engine uses 50 percent more fuel than a gasoline engine. However, this can be countered with a little tinkering. Adjusting the compression can make ethanol vehicles more powerful, and thus achieve parity with gas. That said, ethanol still doesn't have quite the very same power as gas does. An increase of mileage can't be achieved, even with a larger ethanol engine.

Unintentional consequences

Grain is already being used as a gas crop. However, ethanol will never be able to supplant gasoline as a fuel. Grain will become more scarce, and therefore increase in price should much more of the grain harvest be converted to fuel. Cheap and abundant grain cannot be discounted, as that is the very thing which made, and nevertheless makes, civilization itself possible.

Further reading

Popular Mechanics