February 15, 2009

Why can't I buy gas without ethanol in it?

After getting 26 mpg for years with my Audi TT, I'm now stuck with 15 mpg or even less. Ugh!

123 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

Effing hate that gas. Down to one station nearby with regular, non-eth-ed gas.

Brian said...

And to think that the ethanol lobby claims that you get better mileage!

chickenlittle said...

You should go diesel--you can be green, dirty and thrifty at the same time.

1jpb said...

You can!

You can get C16. It's about 118 Octane. And, it even comes with lead (make sure to remove your catalytic converters.)

I love the stuff for my race car.

Triangle Man said...

I see a market opportunity for vintage service stations selling artisan gasoline.

feleron said...

If you want to know why you can't get gas without ethanol in it, look at the number of corn state Senators in DC.

Ethanol will lower your mpg, but only by 10 to 20 percent. If it is dropping that much, you might want to have your car checked out.

Alex said...

Althouse voted in the politicians who gave us this boondoggle. Eat it!

Freeman Hunt said...

Only 10-20%? ONLY?!

However much it lowers it, it's really noticeable. I started buying gas at Sam's and Wal-Mart for a while, and my fuel tank indicator was dropping like a rock. I thought something was wrong with my car until I filled up at a regular gas station sans the eth, and the mileage was fine again.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

All the pumps in Georgia have a new decal saying, "may contain up to 10% ethanol". No one is able to tell what is in their tanks, so no one can shop to find real gas. The MPG has gone down about 8% in my vehicles, with no price reductions and government subsidies and rising food costs. Follow the money. No ANWAR oil is allowed, so why does corn ethanol do anything that ANWAR oil will not do better? We need an Andrew Jackson type President who will protect the American people from the systematic, bi-partisan looting of their hard earned money.

Ann Althouse said...

It's as though the govt has required us to buy gas guzzler cars.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm sick of the corn lobby. They already ruined sweetener, so now everything is corn and not sugar. Now they have to ruin gas.

How many people grow corn? Most of us don't grow corn. We want our regular sugarcane sugar and our regular dead dinosaur gasoline.

Jason (the commenter) said...

In Florida they passed a law outlawing gasoline that doesn't contain ethanol. Governor Crist loves signing laws he thinks will save people money. Problem is the ethanol eats the engines of boats. And this is Florida. So you can guess what's been happening.

Allison said...

I lost 15% of my gas mileage when I moved from CA to MN for that reason. It's garbage.

Freeman Hunt said...

All the nannying little tyrannies add up and are heavy... oppressive even.

1jpb said...

Don't forget the impact of driving style. Maybe Althouse has added lead to her foot.

I've managed to get single digit mileage from my SUV (which is a relatively small SUV--Infiniti FX.) The key was an empty/straight highway where it was possible to keep the speedometer well into triple digits (xr7 and laser shifters help too.)

Jason (the commenter) said...

All the nannying little tyrannies add up and are heavy... oppressive even.

No need to hesitate. Governments are horrible monsters that have destroyed plenty of civilizations. They grow until taxpayers can't support them anymore. Then they fall apart. The best any of the old civilizations were able to do was stagnate for awhile after they reached their peak size.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blake said...

Because your betters have decided the best course of action.

lumiere said...

The Shell station on University was selling non-ethanol a while back. Haven't been there in a few months so don't know if that's still the case.

Freeman Hunt said...

Governments are horrible monsters that have destroyed plenty of civilizations.

At least in the past there were whole other continents you could go to to get away from them and start something else. But we're on that last continent! Now what?

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally said...

Be happy that you are contributing to the financial well-being of your fellow citizens, the ethanol producers. Obama said he wanted to spread the wealth around. And now you're doing your part.

chickenlittle said...

And if push comes to shove, you can use biodiesel, which you can make from all that excess trans fat squeezed out of your fries.

@Theo. I have a 2003 VW Golf diesel-love it. I add a quart of biodiesel to every tank (I keep a 10 gal container in my garage). Biodiesel has motor lubricity properties that compensate for the sulfur which was recently removed.

Skyler said...

Why? Because you and too many others vote for the Democrat party, which is little more than a barely disguised communist movement today. Abetted, of course, by the bulk of the politicians in the Republican party.

We fought long and hard against the communists. Now, ethanol in our gasoline is the least of our problems from the government.

Jason (the commenter) said...

But we're on that last continent! Now what?

Keep up the target practice and never get too civil, especially with politicians.

Randy said...

Unfortunately, few of those European diesels meet California standards, Theo, so they don't bother importing them. As you probably know, California just received permission to enact even stricter standards.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickenlittle said...

As you probably know, California just received permission to enact even stricter standards.

That's why I love my 2003 Golf--grandfathered in, and never smogged, ever.

pj said...

You can't buy gas w/o ethanol despite the environmental and engineering superiority of other methods because Iowa is so politically important, that's why.

It's not even a Dem thing, it's a straight Iowa corn thing.

chickenlittle said...

My '63 T-bird, which I sold last year, was never smogged either--do not roll over and die when threatened by Sacramento!

David said...

Have you checked the price on diesel fuel? That alone is enough to keep me away. And of course I don't want to sell a perfectly good car before its time.

I tended to disbelieve those who were saying that ethanol laced fuel got lower mileage. But I always believe Althouse.

blake said...

At least in the past there were whole other continents you could go to to get away from them and start something else. But we're on that last continent! Now what?

Antarctica or bust!

theobromophile said...

Ethanol will lower your mpg, but only by 10 to 20 percent. If it is dropping that much, you might want to have your car checked out.

To add another data point: my Volvo's mileage goes down 20-30%; the same thing happens with Jaguars. (One has to wonder when the EPA estimated highway miles per gallon will come with data for ethanol and non-ethanol gasoline.) Non-European cars may be different, but huge reductions in mpg is normal for European vehicles.

As a policy matter, if people's mileage is going down by 20%, then it's going to take 25% more gasoline to go the same distance. 10% of that new product is ethanol, which means that we're using 12% more petroleum-based gasoline than we would without ethanol additives. Yay for environmentalism!

As an idea for reducing petroleum-based gasoline useage, ethanol is right up there with trying to curb obesity by mandating that Americans be required to consume a dozen Krispy Kremes a day.

reader_iam said...

I'm long on record as calling it what it is: a boondoggle and a scam. The story of corn ethanol is great--in terms of being a case study for all sorts o' things(!). As a fuel or an intelligent public investment (much less infliction), not so much.

Ron said...

Discussing gas this way is like talking about vintage years of RC Cola!

What is the terroir of my gas?

Lawgiver said...

Wow, I've never heard Freeman say "effing" before, not even to Michael.

Lawgiver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

It's the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving miracle of the ethanol lamp that burned for seven days.

Michael H said...

Althouse - Your mpg should not have dropped that much by switching from non-ethanol gas to 10% ethanol, which is what most of the pumps in Madison dispense.

Your mileage would take a big hit if you filled up with E85, which is 85% ethanol. The engine in your Audi is not designed to tolerate E85 for long periods, so don't use E87 again, ever. Costly damage will result.

If your mileage dropped as much as you posted that it did and you aren't using E85, you car needs to be checked by an Audi mechanic in order to determine the cause, pronto.

10% ethanol should result in a loss of about 5 mpg or so compared with non-ethanol gasoline.

As to the question at the top of you post: Blame the Democrats.

Michael H said...

/E85 not E87/

Michael H said...

BTW, One of my cars is a 2006 VW Jetta TDI (diesel engine). Fast, quiet and fun to drive, it is one of the best cars I've ever owned. I average 45 mpg is all types of driving, and I am generally not an observer of posted speed limits.

True, diesel fuel costs more than gasoline, but the way the numbers work, if the price spread is <$1 per gallon, the diesel costs less per mile to drive than the identical VW with a gasoline engine.

rhhardin said...

You might consider aviation gas.

A reduction in power is not good for airplanes, so they sell the real stuff.

And it's only $0.50 a gallon, at least it was in 1971.

Pogo said...

I used to think the evidence of repeated economic failures, state corruption, nationalized Ponzi schemes, government coercion, and unintended consequences was so obvious and compelling that people would vote out the socialists.

But I was wrong.
People absolutely adore socialism, at least until it destroys their nation. Then they try it all over again.

Why can't you buy gas without ethanol in it?
Because you get what you ask for. This is what socialism looks like.
Ain't it pretty?

The time for talk is over.

The Drill SGT said...

feleron said...
If you want to know why you can't get gas without ethanol in it, look at the number of corn state Senators in DC.


Actually Corn state Senators and Green state senators. The only thing worse for screwing up the gasoline market place than a Corn State Senator, is a Green Democratic Corn State Senator like Harkin or Obama.

(a reminder, Althouse. Obama is for ethanol, McCain was against subsidizing it. Who'd you vote for again?)

quick class:

ethanol produces less energy per volume than gasoline. In theory it should cost less per gallon, but there isn't a free market. Your Congress has mandated ethanol use, subsidizes it, and there isn't enugh to meet the new artifical demand, therefore folks can charge a premium for it. With maybe 10% ethanol blended in, you should only lose 1% in mileage, not 25%.

Diesel contains more energy per volume and appropriately costs more though the cost of production is lower than gas.

The stimulus package had no pork but did have a billion dollars for ethanol guys (to save jobs) and another 50 billion in loan support, so they can inflict more Illinios ethanol on you

If you loved Ethanol, you are going to love bio-ethanol (not biodiesel) even more. The stimulus package is spending serious money on this renewable fuel :(

Note: no talk of nukes in the stimulus, and Obama signed a new ban on offshore drilling. apparently since gas prices are low, its not needed again, and when they go up, the claim will be that they aren't needed cause it will take 10 years to drill. go figure...

Fred4Pres said...

George Will on Environmental Chicken Littles

And you can thank Iowa for forcing you to take your vehicle out for a drink!

Fred4Pres said...

"Comment deleted
This post has been removed by the author.

10:45 PM"

Are these removed by Althouse or the actual poster? Using the term "author" is ambigous. IF Althouse is removing them let me suggest saying "This post is removed by the Supreme Blog Mistress."

LarsPorsena said...

You will all be cheered by the news that part of the porkulus bill will be an effort to increase the ethanol content to 30%..which will mean higer food prices (as more acreage is devoted to corn for ethanol) and higher energy prices.

The Drill SGT said...

Are these removed by Althouse or the actual poster?

that is the message I see when I delete my post.

I think theone you refer to says something like.

"Comment deleted
This post has been removed by the Blog Administrator
.

rdkraus said...

Any problem you have with ethanol? Blame the gov't. Without their various subsidies, incentives, mandates, etc., there would be no ethonol. The whole ethanol scenario is a major clusterf*** in every way.

The same people who brought you ethanol are "solving" the economic problem, and working on nationalizing your health care.

fcai said...

Hey, you voted for those clueless assclown democrats, no whining.

Once they are elected they know more than mere mortals. Suck it up, pay the freight, and wait for them to raise taxes.

Darcy said...

rdkraus said...The same people who brought you ethanol are "solving" the economic problem, and working on nationalizing your health care.

Yes. Aren't we hopeful? :)

Pat said...

Something is horribly worng if you're seeing that big a drop in fuel economy.

You're not uning E85 are you? Sorry, had to ask.

Assuming not, the only thing I can think of is that the engine control computer is assuming a very lean mixture due to the extra oxygen in the fuel and is adding horrendous amounts of fuel to make up for it. Ask your dealer.

I see about a 1 MPG decrease with 10% ethanol in all my vehicles -- which is about what one might expect given the lower energy content of the fuel (maybe 3% decrease).

EnigmatiCore said...

I don't know the answer, but I suspect if you elect more Democrats things will definitely get better!

jeff said...

You just noticing this? Welcome to my world the last several years. I always try to fill with real gas, some stations don't carry it. Like others have said, your mileage should have dropped to 22-23 mpg not 15. Your either burning all ethanol or your car is broke.
I think I remember reading somewhere that ethanol will give you better mileage, but only when pressurized, which doesn't happen in any vehicle I am aware of.

Leland said...

As others have said, your gas mileage will suffer with Ethanol, but not that much. If you do regular maintenance with fuel and oil filter changes, and you note no other problem, then I suggest you try a different station. Gas stations have some control over other additives they could put in their gasoline. I've found that those additives negatively affect my gas mileage (despite claims otherwise).

commenter said...

because you live just north of the freaking cornbelt and without all that money pouring into Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, etc., to the farmconglomerates the midwest would collapse and people wouldn't send their kids to college. You wouldn't have a job unless you are tenured.

Well, okay the people with old money or stacks of money would still send their kids to college probably to be lawyers. It look likes you are safe.

Long live the university professor class who are least affected by the economy but ever so armchair quarterbacks in it.

Really, I thought you were in west lafayette. How many corn fields and corporate silos did you miss on the road?

Lem said...

Why can't I buy gas without ethanol in it?

Because we are slouching towards everything we thought we had successfully resisted since the founding of this nation.

Tarp and the "stimulus" are nothing but the manifestation of that fact.

While Chaves has taking it upon himself to do it, we name commissions, czars and grow the government.

It’s interesting that for individuals, we tightly control so called “stimulus” intake.
But government is so removed that it gets to write its own prescriptions.

Nuts.

LarryTheOlder said...

"Blogger rhhardin said...

You might consider aviation gas.

A reduction in power is not good for airplanes, so they sell the real stuff.

And it's only $0.50 a gallon, at least it was in 1971."

Might want to check today's prices--Avgas (100LL)is selling for $4.00 a gallon. Gas is $1.92 here. The LL stands for low lead. You don't want to use lead in a car with a catalytic converter, which almost all modern cars have.

commenter said...

We have come a long way away from being a nation of religious idealists, hooligans, screaming banchees, and expansionists (wait, we are still expansionists) who just want their promised land and manna falling from the skies. You can't become rich without bekommening all the problems.

We aren't and won't be in your lifetime the underdogs we were in the 1700s, and we won't be returning to such for quite a while. So you may as well forget that dream and start a new one so that we don't turn into the Bossy Pants Empire.

Anyway who cares if we give that BPE title to China? Really it's not that bad having to be #1. No one takes photographs of the #2 guys smoking pot.

Original Mike said...

IIRC, McCain does not support ethanol subsidies (and if I'm wrong, I'm sure the angry left here will abusively correct me).

Not that one vote would have mattered.

Greg Toombs said...

Antarctica or bust!

Bring on gorebbels warming!

Richard Fagin said...

The real reason you have to buy gasoline with ethanol in it is that the EPA mandated that gasoline manufacturers put oxygenates in gasoline for clean air purposes. The favorite oxygenate until relatively recently was MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) for a variety of reasons, mostly that it was very effective and low cost. Unfortunately, MTBE manufaturers and gasoline manufacturers were getting hammered in lawsuits alleging contamination of groundwater, etc. by MTBE. Just as with vaccines causing autism, there never was any real proof of causation, but you know the drill with tort suits. The MTBE manufacturers/gasoline manufacturers lobbied the federal government for immunity from such suits, arguing that if the government mandated use of the damn stuff, at least the users shouldn't be liable for harm allegedly arising out of its use. Of course, the government refused. Wouldn't want to piss off the trial bar, you understand So we're now stuck with alcohol as the preferred oxygenate.

It is not even clear that the air quality benefits of oxygenates justify the costs. It appears to be more chest thumping by the EPA, who are very very good at that.

Are you beginning to understand that President Reagan was right; government IS the problem? The people writing our laws have lost any connection with reality.

TMink said...

Please do not forget that the current president signed a presidential order allowing for more state variability in cafe standards.

This will increase the cost of gas and require more ethanol.

Got voter's remorse?

Trey

Dadgum said...

As an Iowan I have to plead guilty to all charges related to ethanol. Iowa politicians could probably get elected to office these days without believing in Jesus but not without convincing voters that they are true disciples of ethanol and wind energy.

Dennis said...

It's fine; hasn't President Obama mandated greater fuel efficiency?

There then. Soon we'll all get 50 to the gallon.

On an unrelated note, why can't I get food made with transfats in New York? What gives?

Original Mike said...

One of the more offensive things I've seen, recently, was the sight of Chuck Grassley (R-Ethanol) yuccing it up at Bush's (last?) state of the union when Bush called for more ethanol. The memory still pisses me off.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Someone earlier mentioned corn syrup. Don't get me started. There is an absolutely toxic synergy between the sugar and corn lobbies. Sugar--real sugar--could be imported in mass quantities, simultaneously dropping the price of sugar and raising living standards for sugar farmers from poor regions to our south. But no; the sugar lobby must have its subsidy and its cushy lack of competition! And so, corn--also subsidized--fills in as a less-expensive sweetener because of the altered market. And it's not the same taste, and it's fructose content may be helping us all get fatter, if the not-all-sugars-are-equal-nutritionally people are right.

Barney Frank is a jerk, but he was absolutely correct when he was on the floor of the House and asked why huge sections of the agriculture sector are protected from market forces that we all have to deal with. I have no problem with an Agriculture Department that helps with crop insurance, helps farmers change from one crop to another, helps farmers use water, fertilizer, etc. more efficiently, and so on. I have a HUGE problem with an Agriculture Department that spends billions upon billions of dollars annually so farmers and agriculture companies can just keep doing the same thing for decades on end.

chickenlittle said...

@Theo:

Sorry I missed the the end of your post at me last night.
I've had no problems with biodiesel as an additive. I've never burned the straight stuff in my engine.
I've toyed with the idea of making my own in the garage--it's easy and straightforward chemistry--a transesterification (chuck B. will appreciate). But lots of waste vegetable oil is spoken for out here already.

chickenlittle said...

On an unrelated note, why can't I get food made with transfats in New York? What gives?

I'm sympathetic to the notion of "why can't we eat what we used to eat", you really don't want to go there with trans fat.

Trans fats, which are found in quantities in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, have only been around in quantity since the second world war as a substitute for lard. The problem is that we lack an enzyme to metabolize them.
Instead of pining for trans fats, you should go whole hog and insist on lard.

Original Mike said...

Barney Frank was correct, but he deserves not one drop of credit for it. There are no farmers in his district. No way in hell that selfish, preening piece of shit says that if there were.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Stopped clock and all that, Orig. Mike.

PatCA said...

"you should go whole hog and insist on lard."

Sadly, I think that's been outlawed too. McDonald's fries were its prime victim. But it's for our own good!

You mean in some states all your gas contains ethanol?! I didn't know that.

nina said...

If you do the BTU math, you'll see that your fuel efficiency with ethanol added should go down roughly 3%. (Source on BTU/gallon, for winter use: Wiki; or, do your commenters see this as commie propaganda?) Sounds like you have engine problem (cylinder malfunction?).

(BTW, I'm not an ethanol fan, I just don't like it when readers here blame the wrong things or people for every problem that befalls them.)

Headless Blogger said...

This is one of my favorite topics, thanks for blogging it Ann.

The law of unintended consequences has struck ethanol producers brutally. The market has arbitraged the commodity prices of corn, light crude oil and ethanol such that there is no longer a profit in making the stuff. However, corn farmers are getting rich.

Besides that, what is wrong with ethanol? Thanks for asking, filling the tank of a large SUV just one time with E85 consumes enough corn to feed a person for a year. I sense a bumper sticker coming on.

Corn Farmers Thrived, Poor People Died

commenter said...

dadgum from Iowa,

I buy my milk from Iowa from an Amish company. (should i be suspicious that i saw Amish wives shopping in Walmart, though?) The milk costs me $4.00 for one half gallon which is cheaper than the stuff which I buy every now and then from Indiana which costs me $4.00 for the quart, but has lots more CLAs and is all grass fed. I just drink much less milk and enjoy the one glass a day instead of sipping out of the plastic jug all day. Anyway, there are some saving grazes in Iowa, I've tasted them, and politicians may not be supporting them, but that doesn't matter if the people do instead.

Original Mike said...

filling the tank of a large SUV just one time with E85 consumes enough corn to feed a person for a year.

That's a useful factoid. Is it really that much?

MadisonMan said...

I think the amount of money I spend on extra gas for my car is offset by the extra $$$$ I get from the family farm in IL that grows lots and lots of corn.

However, I don't think ethanol is sustainable. Eventually the market will prevail.

Headless Blogger said...

Original Mike - That is what I blogged last year. No one has disputed my conclusion yet. I have seen similar conclusions by others with better credentials than mine.

http://headlessblogger.blogspot.com/2008/04/ready-for-snopes-does-ethanol-starve.html

Original Mike said...

Follow up questions. 560 lbs of corn provides the calorie requirement for 1 person for 1 year, assuming they eat only corn?

Headless Blogger said...

I read it somewhere ... I don't currently have a reference.

But those 560 pounds would certainly make the difference between life or death for a person who has only the bare minimum of calories with that corn included.

Original Mike said...

Looks like its in the ball park. My first (and only) stop on line gave me 77 kcal/90 grams sweet corn. Assuming 2000 kcal/day, you get 108 days.

Big Mike said...

Getting back to diesel, I know a former EPA scientist, who claims that the limited studies that have been done on diesel exhaust emissions have found a boat load of carcinogens. No way to know whether biodiesel emissions have more carcinogens or fewer, but I can't imagine that the EPA or NSF, politicized as they are, have anyparticular interest in funding an honest study.

Headless Blogger said...

"Four hundred and fifty pounds of corn supplies enough calories to feed a person for one year."

Ref.:
http://www.reason.com/news/show/120995.html

Harold said...

You're also driving now with winter blend gasoline- to reduce ozone emissions in the cold. Winter blend gets noticeably less mileage then summer blends. Again, your government out to help you.

Steven said...

Nina, by pure BTUs measured by a calorimeter, sure, that sort of drop-off in efficiency shouldn't be happening. But car engines don't run on fuel-indifferent BTUs. They have extensive engineering for efficiency based on fuel/air/compression/temperature factors, which determine how many of the BTUs in the fuel can be converted into work.

A high-efficiency auto engine will have a thermodynamic efficiency of around 20%; only about 20% of the BTUs in the fuel will be converted into motion of the car. It is perfectly possible, however, that an engine designed to get 20% work out of gasoline will get significantly less work out of a different fuel mixture. So more of the BTUs would be dissipated as heat, or lost in partial combustion out the tailpipe, or the like. In fact, the more optimized the engine is for efficiency on pure gasoline, the bigger the drop you'll see on an ethanol blend.

It's possible that Audi has updated programming for the engine's microprocessors that will let it run more effectively on 10% ethanol than it currently is. On the other hand, not knowing the year of Ann's car, Audi may not. Even if new timings and such are available, it's still likely that the engine will have worse fuel efficiency than the BTU differential would suggest; there's metal that has to be engineered differently for efficiency with ethanol blends, too.

comatus said...

How many pounds of boost do you run on that Audi? Ethanol really puts out at very high compression ratios--much higher than gasoline fuel can tolerate without detonation. Boosting compression is the only way to use this fuel to advantage. On an injected or carbureted engine, you'd have to remove the head, plane it, and install a solid copper head gasket. But with a supercharger or turbo, just dial it up! Adjust the wastegate valve, or change the drive pulleys, and you're golden. Any good engine tuner can do this for you. It isn't free.

With more power, you will be able to drive with less throttle (you will, won't you?) so the engine efficiency will pay off.

Tim said...

So, can anybody tell me how to find any station in my area that sells 'de-cornified' gasoline? I figured out my gas-mileage problem a while ago -- that it related to ethanol. But, to date, I've yet to find where I can buy any without it!

Pippy said...

Wow, and I thought I had it bad.

Our '01 Honda Civic HX (not a hybrid, a CVT) gets 40 mpg highway burning gasoline. Give it 10% ethanol and it gets 36 mpg. Yep, it burns the same amount of gasoline per mile, it just also burns ethanol in the process.

Remember, corn based ethanol is excellent at its intended purpose... putting tax dollars into the hands of agribusiness donors.

Why buy a congressman, when they are so easy to rent?

Ava said...

I get constantly 10% less using ethanol on our newer vehicles.

On those higher milage and big block big block engines the drop is more like 15 - 30% depending on the age or size of the engine.

I am not talking about E85. I can run a couple of tanks of real gas through them and the mpg jumps back up.

I have a friend whose father had a 20% drop in his diesel Rabbit when he tried bio-diesel.

Brother J said...

rhhardin@4:42
"You might consider aviation gas.

A reduction in power is not good for airplanes, so they sell the real stuff.

And it's only $0.50 a gallon, at least it was in 1971.

You'll want to remove the catalytic converter if you go that route because the 100LL (100 octane low-lead) fuel you put in your piston-engined airplane has 4 times the metallic lead content of the 80-87 octane fuel it replaced. I.e., it's low lead for 100 octane but not truly low lead or unleaded.

And ethanonl sucks.

comatus said...

The thermodynamics of approximate 20 per cent alcohol mixtures were thoroughly worked out in the early 1920's by Charles "Boss" Kettering of the General Motors Corp., for use as an anti-knock additive. Mr. Kettering's math was very accurate. There are several interesting case histories having to do with the "Ethyl scandal" that followed on that research, when simple alcohols were set aside industry-wide in favor of lead. It is of interest that popular opinion was largely with the Ethyl lobby, since there was widespread distrust of the alcohol producers. Plus la change.

The valve-in-head engine blocks designed to use alcohol fuels, called "Offies," were cast in Berkeley, California. Just so Nina's down with that. It's cool.

Paula said...

And not even to mention that I have moral concerns about using food for fuel.

jr565 said...

How dare you demand gas without ethanol, Anne?
Dont you know that gas is evil and we need to move on to the alternatives. None of this "I get better gas mileage on gas than on ethanol" crap. We have an environment to save (even though ethanol is not the savior previously suggested, its still better than gas).
Stop being so selfish.

And don't worry, as very soon you will get infinite gas mileage as your car will be running on hope and change.

I hear the car czar is working with GM as we speak to outfit the 2011 models with hope/change engines as we speak.
So no more worries.

katie said...

For me; this is personally ironic & it makes me feel a bit silly. I was for ethanol and take very good care of my Volvo C-70 Conv. I now get, at most, 16MPG. The octane level of the engine is just not suited to 10% etn. My Volvo's MPG was much better on the MBTE additive, and I sent less dollars overseas.

Nichevo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nichevo said...

Blogger PatCA said...

"you should go whole hog and insist on lard."

Sadly, I think that's been outlawed too. McDonald's fries were its prime victim. But it's for our own good!

-------

I believe it was beef tallow, not hog's lard. Yum!

And yes, your engine may have a firmware update available.

fboness said...

I can get premium gas in Wisconsin without ethanol from some stations. Every pump has the "ethanol inside" sticker on it if there is ethanol in the gas. Places like Fleet Farm have ethanol in every grade. Qwik Trip has ethanol free premium and that's what I use in my ancient Pathfinder.

The improvement in mileage with the ethanol free premium more than offsets the difference in price per gallon.

chickenlittle said...

And not even to mention that I have moral concerns about using food for fuel.

Before cars, a significant portion of arable land was devoted to feeding horses (I've read up to third). That was food for fuel. Why no moral dilemma then?

AlphaLiberal said...

Mathematically speaking, the mileage drop you attribute to ethanol is not realistic. Unless some laws have been broken -- like the laws of thermodynamics.

Ethanol has 2/3 the energy content of petro. And, the ethanol you buy at the pump is, at most, 10% by volume.

So there would be about 3.3% less energy content by volume. Yet you report a mileage drop of 42%, a 13-fold difference.

So maybe you should get a tune up or inflate your tires properly, or both.

Michael said...

The ethanol dilemma (something that the gov't says is good for us and forces upon us but actually bad for us) is only a symptom of a larger problem faced by the U.S. federal system today. That is that several states in the mid-west and west (& New England too) have become nothing more than "rotten boroughs". At what point do states cease to be states, when they are 1/100th of the total U.S population? 1/200th? 1/300th?, 1/400th. Yet each "rotten borough" is still a U.S. state with equal representation in the U.S. Senate. My county in New Jersey has a larger population than a half dozen states. And how do we reward or buy off those senators and the dwindling few residents of those rotten boroughs, ethanol is one way and its costs the population of the rest of the U.S., those states where people still live.

AlphaLiberal said...

And, as you're anti-alternative fuel, then let us know how long you think the world can continue to increase our consumption and combustion of petroleum. With the world adopting US standards while big oil fields the world are in decline, where will it all come from?

And, then, all those billions of barrels will go up in smoke, polluting our atmosphere and thickening the greenhouse gases.

We know you want to consume, Ann. But do you give any thought about where all the oil comes from and where it goes?

Remember, the first step is to admit you have a problem.

Michael H said...

It is of interest that popular opinion was largely with the Ethyl lobby...

There were reasons for adding lead tetraethyl to gasoline. Lead in gasoline is a lubricant that saves valves and valve seats from premature failure, an important element in engine longevity.

Remember, back in the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s, engine longevity meant lasting 30,000 to 50,000 miles before requiring a valve job, and perhaps a major overhaul. Cars were totally spent at 100,000 miles.

Lead was not used as an octane booster; it was used to lengthen the life of the engine.

Michael H said...

It takes approximately 1,000 gallons of water to make one gallon of corn-based ethanol. That's 15,000 gallons of water for a 15 gallon fill-up of a typical automobile gas tank. A very nice size suburban swimming pool holds 15,000 gallons of water, about two tanker trucks full.

Water demands for drinking, industry, and such uses as hydropower, fish habitat, and recreation could compete with, and in some cases, constrain the use of water for biofuel crops. Consequently, growing biofuel crops requiring additional irrigation in areas with limited water supplies is a major concern, as is the taking of water from lakes, rivers and underground strata.

Global warming is supposed to lead to drought conditions - and ethanol will make it worse.

Richard said...

it is now an aviation hazard. Aircraft, mostly old ones or home-bujilds/experimental that can use mogas (as it is known, a contraction of motor gas) as opposed to avgas (aviation gas) cannot use ethanol. It could lead to fatal accidents.

chickenlittle said...

Lead was not used as an octane booster; it was used to lengthen the life of the engine.

@Michael_H: tetraethyllead (TEL) was primarily used to as an anti-knock additive. Under higher compression, higher octane (i.e. branched) hydrocarbons tend to fragment more easily than straight chain, leading to premature combustion before the spark ignition. Small amounts of TEL scavenged the unwanted free radicals.
The effect on valve seats was an important but secondary benefit. I had my '63 T-bird motor fitted with harden valve seats to be able burn unleaded.

Ralph said...

So maybe you should get a tune up or inflate your tires properly, or both.
Newer cars don't have tuneups. Sensors and wires can go bad, spark plugs go bad after 100,000 miles, throttle bodies get dirty. Your tires would have to be nearly flat to cause that kind of drop.

Short trips in cold weather will also drop your mileage a lot, because each trip, the engine must run very rich at first to heat up the catalytic converter to reduce emissions for the rest of your trip. Another false economy and false environmentalism.

katie said...

Alf. Lib. - Since you have posted so many times. My husband and I would love to debate. Please, let us know.

An Eng. from Georgia Tech + a wife w/a masters in Economics. We look forward to any debate.

randian said...

It is not even clear that the air quality benefits of oxygenates justify the costs.

It doesn't. Oxygenates are 100% useless on a car with closed-loop fuel injection plus oxygen sensor. Only a car with carburetors or mechanical injection can benefit from oxygenates, and those haven't been produced for more than 20 years.

You might ask the same question about improving emissions standards in general. Cars are so clean now that the next round of scheduled emissions reductions for new cars is basically meaningless, it will cost billions of dollars and have no measurable effect on air quality.

randian said...

You're also driving now with winter blend gasoline- to reduce ozone emissions in the cold.

Just one problem: it doesn't. Just as with oxygenates, the injection computer compensates for the fuel blend, so that changing blends doesn't improve emissions (they were optimal to begin with).

Stephanie said...

What's the Good Word?


That debate would be game set and match to the Katie family...

AlphaLiberal said...

Katie:

You want to debate? Well, then debate. What is wrong with my analysis that says Ann's blame against ethanol is misplaced?

AlphaLiberal said...

Cars don't need to be tuned anymore? Really? Filters don't clog, plugs don't foul, wires don't go bad, belts and chains don't wear, etc, etc.

Well then, 10% ethanol must be the only explanation for a 40+% drop in fuel economy.

Suggest you call Click and Clack, Ann.

Ann Althouse said...

I think I got shit gasoline at one particular place where I will never go again. But what pisses me off is that the government is not just accepting tainted gasoline, but encouraging it.

AlphaLiberal said...

Ethanol in gasoline is not "tainted." It's an accepted fuel additive covered in vehicle warranties.

If you got some crappy gas, that's an issue for the service station. Yet, you whack ethanol... Um, do you see any integrity issues to your argument? (Put that as delicately as I could).

Ann Althouse said...

I want the right to choose straight gasoline. I want govt policy to be based on serious science. I think there is something truly evil about this ethanol business, including hurting the poor people of the world.

Original Mike said...

I want the right to choose straight gasoline.

I am beginning to understand why the liberals have disowned you.

emdfl said...

The fact is that that the first time I accidentally put a tank of this crap-gas in my 2000 Isuzu, my milage dropped from 20mpg to 18 mpg. My math skills make that out to be a 10% drop. Going back to straight gasoline milage went back up to 20mpg

You can site all the studies (paid for by who again?) you want, but the fact remains that once alcohol is added to a large underground tank of gasoline, nobody has any idea how much H2O will be picked up by that mix as it sits in the tank - not to mention what's in the vehicle tank. You folks all do understand that the alcohol as carried in the tankers is extremely hydroscopic just by its chemical makeup,yes?

And oh yeah, crap-gas flat destroys marine engines - see hydroscopic tendencies again. So go try to peddle your "alcohol doesn't affect gas-milage" crap elsewhere cause that dog don't hunt for anyone stuck using that crap.

blake said...

I want the right to choose straight gasoline. I want govt policy to be based on serious science.

There's your contradiction and probably th essence of why you're the liberal-who-isn't: You want the right to choose, on the one hand, but you want the government to have policy on the topic (with the condition that it be based on "serious science").

Once you give the government the power to set the policy, you've given up the freedom to choose. And it's just a matter of time before the most sober gov't principle is politicized.

RR Ryan said...

There was an artisinal gas station in Santa Monica canyon for years. I believe they catered to the motorcycle crowd. It closed a few years back, I believe as the result of a development dispute(very valuable property). I'd be curious if they could sell the stuff now legally.

Matthew Brown said...

It's also possible that a gas station Ann frequents is illegally mixing E85 with its regular gasoline & thus increasing the alcohol proportion. It's happened before; E85 is cheaper because of subsidies.

Nerys said...

10% ethanol should result in a loss of about 5 mpg or so compared with non-ethanol gasoline.

YOU DO REALIZE that on American Cars 5mpg is on average a 25% fuel economy loss right? 20% if you average 25mpg preciously.

that means your buying MORE FRAKING OIL THAN YOU DID BEFORE.!

eze33 said...

We need a boycott of corn and tell stations to sell pure gas. screw the laws.