Use More Ethanol, Burn More Gas


As if we need yet another reason to shun corn-based ethanol, Harry Wertheimer writes in Energy Tribune that more ethanol actually means higher gasoline consumption: 

Using my background and my own experience, I will show that a given trip, say, one that would require 100 gallons of unadulterated gasoline would require more fossil fuel if the trip were made with a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10).

Consider: Based on data from the EPA, a gallon of ethanol contains about 76,100 Btu, while a typical gallon of gasoline has 114,000 Btu. Crunching the numbers shows that E10 has about 3.3 percent less energy than 100 percent gasoline and thus could be expected to decrease fuel mileage by that percentage. If the only degradation in gas mileage with E10 were 3.3 percent, you would not be reading this article. However, I have been fortunate to find a local source of 100 percent gasoline near my home. I have made a careful comparison of mileage with E10 vs. that with pure gasoline. It is well known that gas mileage varies depending on whether the driving is highway or local. So in order to make a valid comparison, I have taken advantage of the trip computer in my 2008 Nissan Rogue and recorded the average speed (mph) for every tank full of fuel. . . . For the (tank average) speed range of 27 to 53 MPH, using pure gasoline gave me an average of 7.8 percent better mileage than E10. I know this is anecdotal, but others who fill up at the same station report similar savings with the ethanol-free fuel.

Return now to that hypothetical trip that took 100 gallons of pure gasoline (E0). Based on my experience, the same trip would require 107.8 gallons of E10. Agreed? Ten percent of this E10 usage would be 10.78 gallons of ethanol. Well, from that we note that the energy equivalent of the ethanol would be 7.2 gallons of gasoline. (10.78 x 76,100 / 114,00 = 7.2) But not even ethanol protagonists allege that a gallon of ethanol requires less than 75 percent of its energy content to produce. So that 7.2 gallons would need the equivalent of 5.4 gallons of gasoline to produce. (7.2 x 0.75 = 5.4) Thus the trip with E10 would need 102.4 gallons of gasoline or its equivalent. (107.8 – 10.78 + 5.4 = 102.4) Which is to say that by using 10 percent ethanol in my fuel, I am using 2.4 percent more fossil fuel than if our misguided government had not modified our motor fuel in the first place.

It is patently obvious that the government’s ethanol mandates and subsidies have but one indisputable effect: They enrich the corn growers and the ethanol producers at the expense of the rest of us taxpayers. When, oh when will courageous people in government stand up to the farm and ethanol producer (think ADM) lobbies and declare that there should be an end to this blatant scam on the American public? Think of what those billions in wasted subsidies could do for our troubled economy.


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