E85 is an
alcohol fuelmixture that typically contains a mixture of up to 85% denatured fuel ethanol and gasolineor other hydrocarbon (HC) by volume. On an undenatured basis, the ethanol component ranges from 70% to 83%.E85 as a fuelis widely used in Sweden and is becoming increasingly common in the United States, mainly in the Midwestwhere corn is a major crop and is the primary source material for ethanol fuel production; however as yet, there are about 1500 [" [http://www.e85fuel.com/news/031008fyi.htm New E85 Stations] ", NEVC FYI Newsletter March 10, 2008] filling stations selling E85 to the public in the US, and, until recently, only three in Canada. [" [http://www.e85fuel.com/news/011403fyi.htm Canada Advancing E85] ", " National Ethanol Vehicle CoalitionNewsletter", January 15, 2003] [" [http://autos.canada.com/autoshow2007/story.html?id=e4bb7234-ca7e-4379-a614-151f7a8950f2 Canada helps GM clean its fleet] ", Paul Brent, " National Post", 2007] . It is also available across most of the Maxolchain in Ireland.
Use in flexible-fuel vehicles
E-85 ethanol is used in engines modified to accept higher concentrations of ethanol. Such
flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV) are designed to run on any mixture of gasoline or ethanol with up to 85% ethanol by volume. There are a few major differences between FFVs and non-FFVs. One is the elimination of bare magnesium, aluminum, and rubberparts in the fuel system. Another is that fuel pumps must be capable of operating with electrically conductive ethanol instead of non-conducting dielectric gasoline fuel. Fuel injection control systems have a wider range of pulse widths to inject approximately 40% more fuel. Stainless steelfuel lines, sometimes lined with plastic, and stainless steel fuel tanks in place of ternefuel tanks are used. In some cases, FFVs use acid-neutralizing motor oil. For vehicles with fuel-tank mounted fuel pumps, additional differences to prevent arcing, as well as flame arrestors positioned in the tank's fill pipe, are also sometimes used.Facts|date=February 2007
Comparisons to regular gasoline
Depending on composition and source, E85 has an octane rating of 100 - 105 [ [http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/e85q&a.html E85 Questions and Answers ] ] compared to regular gasoline's typical rating of 87 - 93. This allows it to be used in higher compression engines which tend to produce more power per unit of displacement than their gasoline counterparts. Since the reciprocating mass of the engine increases in proportion to the displacement of the engine E85 has a higher potential efficiency for an engine of equal power.
One complication is that use of gasoline in an engine with a high enough compression ratio to use E85 efficiently would likely result in catastrophic failure due to engine detonation, as the octane rating of gasoline is not high enough to withstand the greater compression ratios in use in an engine specifically designed to run on E85. Use of E85 in an engine designed specifically for gasoline would result in a loss of the potential efficiency that it is possible to gain with this fuel. Using E85 in a gasoline engine has the drawback of achieving lower fuel economy as more fuel is needed per unit air (stoichiometric fuel ratio) to run the engine in comparison with gasoline. E85 also has a lower heating value (units of energy per unit mass) than gasoline leading to a reduction in power output in a gasoline engine.
E85 consumes more fuel in flex fuel type vehicles when the vehicle uses the same fuel/air mixture and compression for both E85 and gasoline because of its lower stoichiometric fuel ratio and lower heating value. European car maker Saab currently produces a flex fuel version of their 9-5 sedan which consumes the same amount of fuel whether running e85 or gasoline [ [http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2005-06/liquor-does-it-quicker Liquor Does It Quicker] , Matthew Phenix, Popular Science, accessed April 29, 2008] , though it is not available in the United States. So in order to save money at the pump with current flex fuel vehicles available in the United States the price of E85 must be much lower than gasoline. Currently E85 is about 5-10% less expensive in most areas. [ [http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=fuel&subject=fuelAlt&story=e85 Cars.com: Fuel Economy | Gas Alternatives ] ] More than 20 fueling stations across the Midwest are selling E85 25%-40% cheaper than gasoline. [ [http://e85prices.com/ E85 Prices ] ] E85 also gets less MPG, at least in flex fuel vehicles. In one test, a Chevy Tahoe flex-fuel vehicle averaged 18 MPG [U.S. gallons] for gasoline, and 13 MPG for E85, or 28% fewer MPG than gasoline. In that test, the cost of gas averaged $3.42, while the cost for E85 averaged $3.09, or 90% the cost of gasoline. [ [http://www.edmunds.com/advice/alternativefuels/articles/120863/article.html Edmunds.com: E85 vs Gasoline Comparison test] [http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060827/OPINION03/608250397/1035/OPINION] In another test, however, a fleet of
Ford Tauruses averaged only about 6% fewer miles per gallon in the ethanol-based vehicles as compared to traditional, gas-powered Tauruses. [ [http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/fleettest/pdfs/ohio6.pdf] ]
In the United States
There are about 1500 public E85 fueling stations available in the
United States(out of 176,000 worldwide), at prices over 30% less than regular gasoline (when discounting the reduced fuel economy of E85), primarily in the corn-growing Midwest, where corn is grown and the homegrown fuel is produced. The number of gas stations offering E85 is expected to double over the next year as service stations are being offered incentives from government and ethanol industry grants up to $30,000 for the costs of retro-fitting pumps and tanks for E85 fuel. Unfortunately, this does little to offset the cost to install pumps and tanks for E85—a hefty $200,000 per station. ["Consumer Reports". Special Report: The Ethanol Myth, October 2006, p.16.] Although ethanol contains about 65% by volume of the energy that gasoline does, the per gallon cost of E85 is 75% the price of regular unleaded gasoline. The overall consumer cost of E85 is close to E10, and any short term price advantage is usually lost because vehicles usually burn E85 quicker than regular fuel.
A recent development in the expansion of E85 filling stations is
Wal-Mart's announcement that it will possibly sell E85 at its 385 gas stations countrywide. Wal-Mart along with its popular division, Sam's Club has a partnership with Murphy Oil Corp. which operates more than 900 gas stations in Wal-Mart parking lots. Should they decide to follow through with plans, Wal-mart has the potential to be the single largest retailer of E85 in the nation. [http://e85.whipnet.net/locator/wal-mart.html E85 at Club Rate] , accessed September 17, 2007.] Grocery retailers in Texas are also beginning to sell E85 at some fuel stations. [http://e85.whipnet.net/locator/kroger.e85.html Kroger stores are selling E85] at fuel stations nationwide expanding outward from Houston, and Dallas, Texas, accessed September 17, 2007.] [http://e85.whipnet.net/locator/heb.e85.html HEB stores are also offering E85] at some fuel stations in the Texas Hill Country, accessed September 17, 2007.]
Business leaders like
Richard Branson, Paul Allen, Steve Case, Vinod Khosla, John Doerr, and Bill Gateshave become ethanol advocates and are investing heavily in ethanol. Fact|date=September 2007 Microsoftco-founder Paul Allenis investing in a Seattlefirm that wants to use canolaoil, to create biodiesel, a biofuel associated with ethanol. And Vinod Khosla, the Kleiner Perkinspartner and Sun Microsystemsco-founder, has investments in two cellulosic ethanol companies. Microsoft's Bill Gates, has bought 25% of Pacific Ethanol, a Fresno, Californiacompany that is planning to build dozens of ethanol refineries in the U.S. In July 2006 Goldman Sachsinvested $27 million into a Canadian company called Iogen, which wants to produce ethanol from switchgrass, a perennial grass that is inexpensive to grow. Iogen, a non-publicly traded company, is building the world's first full-scale commercial cellulose-to-ethanol plant by 2010. Another reason for ethanol's popularity is its contribution toward providing economic revitalization in rural communities across the country.
When made from corn, E85 reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, which include the energy required to grow and process corn into ethanol, by 15-20% as compared to gasoline. E85 made from cellulose can reduce emissions by around 70 percent as compared to gasoline.
EPA's stringent Tier II vehicle emission standards require that FFVs achieve the same low emissions level regardless of whether E85 or gasoline is used. However, E85 can further reduce emissions of certain pollutants as compared to conventional gasoline or lower volume ethanol blends. For example, E85 is less volatile than gasoline or low volume ethanol blends, which results in fewer evaporative emissions. Using E85 also reduces carbon monoxide emissions and provides significant reductions in emissions of many harmful toxics, including benzene, a known human carcinogen. However, E85 also increases emissions of
acetaldehyde--a toxic pollutant. EPA is conducting additional analysis to expand our understanding of the emissions impacts of E85.
Common ethanol fuel mixtures– common ratios other than 85%/15%.
E85 in the United States
E85 in standard engines
lambda sensor– also known as an oxygen sensor, used to measure lean versus rich combustion conditions
Methanol– wood alcohol, not to be confused with ethanol (grain alcohol)
Switchgrass- a hardy perennial grass that is being considered as a biofuel
Stoichiometry– thermodynamics issues for obtaining the proper air fuel mixture for complete combustion
Timeline of alcohol fuel
*US Department of Energy [http://e85fuel.com/pdf/e85_technical_booklet.pdf Handbook for Handling Storing and Dispensing E85] National Rewnewable Energy Laboratory, April 2006
*Center for American Progress [http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/06/flexfuel.html Flex-Fuel Bait and Switch] - See how many flex-fuel cars are on the road and how many stations offer E85.
*Eric Kvaalen, Philip C. Wankat, Bruce A. McKenzie. [http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/AE/AE-117.html ethanol Distillation: Basic Principles, Equipment, Performance Relationships, and Safety] Purdue University, April 1984.
*Matthew Phenix. [http://www.popsci.com/popsci/automotivetech/564c1196aeb84010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html Liquor Does It Quicker.] "
Popular Science", June 2005.
* [http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/fleettest/pdfs/ohio6.pdf Ohio E85 Fleet Test Results]
* [http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/ert/new-fuel/files/afrw/afrw-all.pdf Properties of ethanol Transportation Fuels] - USDOE Report, Alcohol Fuels Reference Work #1, July 1991 (Especially Chapter 7 [http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/ert/afrw/afrw-07.pdf] for corrosion and increased engine wear risks associated with water-contaminated E85)
* [http://www.engin.umd.umich.edu/research/undergraduate/reports/REUReport5-EmissionsE0-E85-2004.doc.pdf University of Michigan E85 Emissions Report]
* [http://www.michigan.gov/documents/CIS_EO_Control_of_Emissions-E85-Final_AF-E-_87915_7.pdf University of Michigan E85 Control of Emissions Report]
* [http://www.engr.unl.edu/~ethanol/unl-sae2.pdf University of Nebraska-Lincoln Report on E85 Conversion of Silverado Pickup]
* [http://www.livegreengoyellow.com LiveGreen GoYellow]
* [http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/349.pdf Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Fuel Ethanol Argonne National Laborator]
* [http://www.e85conversionkits.net E85 Conversion Kits Flexfuel]
* [http://www.sekab.com SEKAB BioFuels & Chemicals]
* [http://www.ethanol.org/documents/ACEFuelEconomyStudy.pdf American Coalition of Ethanol E10 - E30 Fuel Economy Study]
* [http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/altfuel/ethanol.html U.S. DOE's Alternative Fuels Data Center - Ethanol]
* [http://www.epa.gov/otaq/presentations/gni-mjb-051303.pdf EPA Presentation] and [http://www.epa.gov/otaq/presentations/sae-2002-01-2743.pdf Technical paper] it is based upon.
* [http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/apr02/corn0402.htm USDA Ethanol Production Cost Reduction Announcement] - US Government Tax Subsidy to End in 2007
*Iowa State University - ISU Formula SAE E85 Run Racecar
* [http://www.oilendgame.com/ Winning The Oil Endgame] Rocky Mountain Institute's fuel strategy
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-570288889128950913&q=engEDU Think Outside The Barrel] - Video of a talk by Vinod Khosla at Google TechTalks
* [http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/06/flexfuel.html Flex-fuel Bait and Switch] - See how many flex-fuel cars are on the road and how many fuel stations offer E85.
* [http://www.e85.es Toda la información sobre el combustible E85 bioetanol en España.] WWW.E85.ES
* [http://www.e85safety.com/ E85 Blog Articles] e85safety.com
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