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pwd72s 05-22-2008 09:04 AM

More on Ethanol Scam
 
Oregon's ethanol requirement lowers vehicles' miles per gallon
Because the biofuel has less energy, the state's 10 percent requirement means drivers are buying more gas
Thursday, May 22, 2008
GAIL KINSEY HILL
The Oregonian
When ethanol began flowing into Oregon fuel tanks early this year, its costly little secret was scarcely mentioned: It packs one-third less explosive energy than gasoline and so reduces vehicle mileage on the road.

Good news: The Oregon requirement calls for just a 10 percent blend with gasoline, known as E10, and cuts into mileage an estimated 3 percent, according to official estimates. But that costs you an additional $73 a year at the fuel pump, based on today's prices for regular gasoline.

Bad news: Many Oregonians don't believe the 3 percent figure and maintain the drop is 10 percent or more, raising out-of-pocket costs much higher. It's enough to throw into question the real cost of cleaner air from ethanol use and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

When Oregon lawmakers enthusiastically passed the alternative fuels bill in 2007, they barely mentioned ethanol's lower energy content. Instead, they emphasized E10's benefits: cleaner air and a healthier economy.

Now, record-high gas prices have thrown the mileage gap into sharp relief. Tapped-out consumers are scrutinizing every penny they have to shell out at the pump and track any discernable upticks. Drivers are finding that their mileage has dropped far more than 3 percent.

"It's just not fair to anyone who drives a car," said Ron Spuhler, a retiree who lives in Gresham and now gets 21.5 miles per gallon in his 1999 Buick, instead of prior, ethanol-free readings of 24 miles per gallon.

That's a drop of 10 percent and an extra $7 every time he fills the tank.

Plenty of factors influence gas mileage, so it's hard to carve out the effects of ethanol alone. Government, academic and industry experts point to a scientific principal to back up claims of slight reductions: ethanol contains about two-thirds the energy content of gasoline, gallon for gallon.

That means a gallon of pure, corn-based ethanol would reduce mileage by 30 percent and a 10 percent blend -- as Oregon now requires -- by about 3 percent. Gasoline can vary a bit, batch to batch, so a drop of 2 percent to 4 percent is a safe estimate, these experts say.

"Energy content is the critical issue," said Don Stevens, a senior program manager with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a regional research arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Comprehensive studies that rely on actual road tests for mileage comparisons are few, but they generally support the science-based data. A study by the American Coalition for Ethanol, a trade group promoting ethanol's development, tested three vehicles and came up with an average reduction of 1.5 percent.

How's your driving?

If ethanol isn't to blame for the larger mileage gap, then, what is? Stop-and-go driving, speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour, underinflated tires, faulty oxygen sensors and clogged fuel filters can affect gas mileage, sometimes significantly, government energy analysts said.

"Some individuals may well believe their mileage is dropping by 10, 20 percent," Stevens said. "But the difference is from some other factor, not ethanol."

Mark Kendall, a senior energy analyst with the Oregon Department of Energy, agreed, saying painfully high gas prices may be pushing consumers toward faulty conclusions.

"They're looking for the devil," he said.

But E85, which contains 85 percent ethanol and is used in flexible-fuel vehicles, is a different story. It can pull down mileage by more than 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Spuhler, like so many Oregonians, is unimpressed with the government's account.

He insists the truth comes out when the rubber meets the road. Decades as a truck driver taught him the ups and downs of gas mileage, he said.

Besides, he said, his Buick has a computerized mileage read-out and "it doesn't lie."

For years, gas stations in the greater Portland have pumped E10 in the winter months to meet federal clean air requirements. "I noticed it every time," Spuhler said.

Spuhler said he has complained to state and federal officials but "it's like talking to a brick wall."

James Bong, who lives in Milwaukie and drives a 1994 Ford pickup to and from work in Oregon City, has channeled his frustration into trips to Vancouver, Wash. There, at a 76 station off Mill Plain Boulevard, he fills up on ethanol-free gasoline.

That station, owned by Sherman Harris, is one of the few without ethanol. Harris said an "amazing number" of Oregon drivers seek him out.

"They say they're noticing a huge difference," Harris said of his Oregon customers. "If they're driving from Oregon, across the bridge, they should know what they're talking about."

Washington stations must pump at least E2 -- a blending with 2 percent ethanol -- by Dec. 1 of this year, with increases to E10 if certain conditions are met. Many already have made the switch.

Bong said his truck gets 13.9 miles per gallon with the Washington gas but just 10 miles per gallon with E10. That's a wallet-pounding difference of 28 percent.

"I'll do anything to shave a cost," he said.

Bong said he takes good care of both his vehicles -- he also owns a four-wheel-drive pickup -- and has compared mileage over like terrain. He rejects officials' arguments that poor maintenance or inconsistent driving behavior is to blame.

"They can say what they want, but those of us who use cars and observe what's going on, we notice a big difference," Bong said.

The big picture

State officials say motorists shouldn't lose sight of the big picture: that ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline -- fewer smog-causing pollutants -- and reduces the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Another plus, they say, is that ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. In the Northwest, ethanol was selling for $2.09 a gallon, compared with gasoline at $3.25 a gallon, a difference $1.16. That's pure ethanol. E10 blends, then, would dampen prices by almost 12 cents.

If ethanol's contribution to the country's overall fuel supply is taken into account, the savings are larger -- between 29 and 40 cents a gallon -- say researchers at Iowa State University. Ethanol currently accounts for about 6 percent of U.S. fuel supplies. If it were pulled from the mix, demand for gasoline would spike and so would prices, these researchers concluded.

That's of little comfort to consumers watching pump prices as they climb toward $4 a gallon. When a customer from Oregon drove into Harris' station one day last week to ask for a fill-up, he pointed to a big barrel in the back of his pickup. He wanted that filled too.


Gail Kinsey Hill: 503-221-8590, gailhill@news.oregonian.com For environment news, go to http://www.oregonlive.com/environment

Jim Richards 05-22-2008 09:07 AM

The lower energy content of ethanol has been widely discussed here on PPOT ever since it has been en vogue.

pwd72s 05-22-2008 09:09 AM

Yeah...but think about it...state goes "green"...drivers get lower mileage, yet the gas tax doesn't drop. Who's the real winner here? BOHICA!

widgeon13 05-22-2008 09:12 AM

US Postal Service switched all their vehicles to ethanol in 1996 and are finding mileage is substantially less and in many cases ethanol is not available.

Not only that but farmers are growing corn for ethanol, not food and so food prices have skyrocketed.

It's going to take a revolution to bring this to and end!

Jim Richards 05-22-2008 09:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pwd72s (Post 3957800)
Yeah...but think about it...state goes "green"...drivers get lower mileage, yet the gas tax doesn't drop. Who's the real winner here? BOHICA!

Got it now. Looks like the tax collections go up as Orygun goes green. :eek:

onewhippedpuppy 05-22-2008 09:39 AM

BS all around. Horray, ethanol is cheaper! But wait......ethanol blended gas costs exactly the same as regular gas. Where do you suppose that savings goes?

I'm glad that people are up in arms about this, ethanol is finally being revealed for the farce that it is. Like ethanol PRODUCTION pollutes significantly, including carcinogens. Food costs go up because farmers plant more corn in place of other crops, then the corn gets converted to fuel. Dependence on foreign oil does not change, because there's not enough farmland in the entire country to meet even a fraction of our needs. But hey, it sure made the farm lobby happy, and isn't that all that matters?:rolleyes:

I'm glad I still have a choice in KS. When I see the label showing an ethanol blend at the pump, I just keep on driving.

pwd72s 05-22-2008 09:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Richards (Post 3957819)
Got it now. Looks like the tax collections go up as Orygun goes green. :eek:


And that's not the whole story...state tax money, "economic development tax money" is involved in the financing of Oregon's ethanol plant. Ka-ching! Follow the money.

(edit) The corn used in this plant is shipped in by rail from the midwest...I grind my teeth watching an Indy Car race, the announcers touting the "green" ethanol fuel used...

Rot 911 05-22-2008 10:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by widgeon13 (Post 3957807)
Not only that but farmers are growing corn for ethanol, not food and so food prices have skyrocketed.

Ethanol is a scam, but hasn't raised food prices. Transportation costs have driven up food prices.

legion 05-22-2008 10:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kurt V (Post 3957915)
Ethanol is a scam, but hasn't raised food prices. Transportation costs have driven up food prices.

The first statement is wrong, the second statement is partially true.

I can see corn and soybeans from my office window right now. Every single arable acre is being planted right now. Because less farmland is available to grow food (it is being used for ethanol) it has decreased the supply of food and driven up the price. And yes, that more expensive food is also more expensive to transport.

sammyg2 05-22-2008 10:30 AM

In truth, ethanol is not cheaper than gas. It might clost a little less because of the government subsidies to the farmers and ethanol refiners, but we still have to pay.

widgeon13 05-22-2008 10:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kurt V (Post 3957915)
Ethanol is a scam, but hasn't raised food prices. Transportation costs have driven up food prices.


Wrong, it's not only raised food prices but raised the cost of growing and harvesting anything from the ground. Farm implement business is through the roof and fertilizer sales is as well. Just look at Potash stock price (POT), it is based on sig increased demand and price.

The Gaijin 05-22-2008 11:29 AM

"James Bong, who lives in Milwaukie and drives a 1994 Ford pickup to and from work in Oregon City, has channeled his frustration into trips to Vancouver, Wash."

A great name. Should live in the Pacific NW and smoke much bud..

pwd72s 05-22-2008 01:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Gaijin (Post 3958098)
"James Bong, who lives in Milwaukie and drives a 1994 Ford pickup to and from work in Oregon City, has channeled his frustration into trips to Vancouver, Wash."

A great name. Should live in the Pacific NW and smoke much bud..

There is a Milwaukie, Oregon...:rolleyes:

MichiganMat 05-22-2008 01:51 PM

I blame the Corn lobby.

Bill Douglas 05-22-2008 03:34 PM

The farmers will love it. Driving around all day in their diesil (sp) tractors looking after the subsidised corn fields.

scottmandue 05-22-2008 03:54 PM

I read an article in Scientific American about some guys who are developing microbes to turn ethanol into gasoline.

No I am not kidding.

What food prices are going up exactly ? My McDonald's happy meal is the same. ;)

Red Baron 05-22-2008 04:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MichiganMat (Post 3958522)
I blame the Corn lobby.

Nothing new..Corn filler, corn starch, corn syrup, corn meal etc, etc. It's always been their thing. The worse thing to ever happen to our food sources was the use of corn for animal feed. However that's a whole different topic so I digress.

From what I have I read, it takes about 20% more Ethanol to run the same mpg as gasoline.

pwd72s 05-22-2008 04:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Baron (Post 3958811)
Nothing new..Corn filler, corn starch, corn syrup, corn meal etc, etc. It's always been their thing. The worse thing to ever happen to our food sources was the use of corn for animal feed. However that's a whole different topic so I digress.

From what I have I read, it takes about 20% more Ethanol to run the same mpg as gasoline.

\\

Ethanol = 75,670 BTU's per gallon

Gasoline = 115,400 BTU's per gallon

These figures from a sidebar in the original article. I'll let the math whizzes here figure the % age...the sidebar says that a gallon of pure ethanol will take you 66% of the distance a gallon of gas will.

I gotta wonder how much Archer-Daniel-Midlands donates to political campaigns...?

M.D. Holloway 05-22-2008 04:24 PM

Wait till you see how well ethanol ethanol dissolves the oil film between the compression ring and the cylinder liner - synthetics or mineral based, no matter.

pwd72s 05-22-2008 04:31 PM

You Lubmaster!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by LubeMaster77 (Post 3958848)
Wait till you see how well ethanol ethanol dissolves the oil film between the compression ring and the cylinder liner - synthetics or mineral based, no matter.

Mike? You know of any additive that could help? Go back to Marvel Mystery oil or something? Add 2 stroke oil with every fill up? Bozo Orygun politicians are trying to kill off the auto, put everybody into mass transit. Fine for Portland, but that dog won't hunt in rural areas, like where I live.

(edit) I guess they expect Cindy & I to walk or bicycle 12 miles round trip (minimum) to the closest mini-mart...do ALL our shopping there.

Red Baron 05-22-2008 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pwd72s (Post 3958843)
\\

Ethanol = 75,670 BTU's per gallon

Gasoline = 115,400 BTU's per gallon

These figures from a sidebar in the original article. I'll let the math whizzes here figure the % age...the sidebar says that a gallon of pure ethanol will take you 66% of the distance a gallon of gas will.

I gotta wonder how much Archer-Daniel-Midlands donates to political campaigns...?

Damn! That would appear even higher than 20% less. However much it is, IMO it's a bad idea and far from the solution.

jyl 05-22-2008 08:06 PM

The car we drive the most is fine to run on E10, per the owners' manual. If we get 3% lower MPG, that'll be an additional $16/yr. So, I guess I don't care.

Hmm, but will we get only 3% less? Or worse? I guess I will start paying close attention. Thanks for mentioning this, pwd.

pwd72s 05-23-2008 09:02 AM

update
 
Today's lead editorial in the Portland Yellow Pages. You need to know that this paper's slant is left...

Ted's great adventure
Oregon's governor bets his legacy -- and your tax money -- on producing a homegrown supply of energy
Friday, May 23, 2008
The Oregonian
T ed Kulongoski can occasionally seem, well, distracted. But make no mistake, when it comes to his legacy, Oregon's governor is totally focused. Convinced he can pioneer a path to an America less dependent on foreign oil, Kulongoski has hitched his place-in-history wagon to going domestic green.

We're hard pressed to think of a more historic -- or more timely -- gubernatorial bequest. It's increasingly clear that this nation's economic future hinges on making smarter use of its share of global energy.

Kulongoski anointed one key ingredient to fuel this first phase of his journey: ethanol. Turns out he could hardly have made a more controversial choice.

Renewable energy advocates once hailed American ethanol -- distilled mostly from Midwest corn -- as the Holy Grail. It is homegrown. It burns cleanly. Best of all, it reappears each harvest. That's why, as recently as last year, when he signed the legislative bill mandating all gasoline pumped in Oregon to contain 10 percent ethanol, Kulongoski's green legacy seemed assured.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the service station. Overnight, this biofuel became the whipping boy for a host of social ills. The charge: Ethanol hurts more than it helps.

Some studies suggest that planting corn, fertilizing it, harvesting and processing it actually consumes more energy than it yields. Others insist the global rush to grow fuel is gobbling up forests, releasing into the air far more carbon than is spared by burning biofuels rather than gasoline.

Translation: Ethanol may be destroying the planet in order to save it.

Adding political insult to environmental injury, activists insist soaring ethanol demand is causing a spike in corn prices, sending through commodity markets the global ripple that has sparked food riots from Pakistan to Mexico, Indonesia to Egypt.

Then there's the still-raging debate over the extent to which ethanol reduces a vehicle's miles-per-gallon efficiency, an extent drivers experience every time they fill the tank.

All this surely is enough to give a governor sleepless nights. Especially because Kulongoski is more than an early adopter of ethanol. He's a major investor. What he's been investing is your money.

Millions of taxpayer dollars jump-started plans to manufacture ethanol in Boardman and Clatskanie. And the governor insists he's not done yet.

This likely explains why in Salem all sorts of hope -- even before Oregon's second ethanol plant comes fully on line -- now is being pinned on something called cellulosic technologies. Goodbye, corn. Hello, sawdust and switchgrass. Welcome, wood chips and wheat straw. You, too, cheese whey.

Pacific Ethanol just received $24 million from the federal Department of Energy for a demonstration cellulosic fuel project at its Boardman plant. The company hopes to cook a cocktail of wood chips from a nearby poplar plantation and straw from Columbia River basin wheat fields. It needs to do so quickly. And profitably. And in bulk.

The bottom line: What Kulongoski has going here is one enormous gamble. If fresh technologies fail to come on line fast enough, he -- and his legacy -- risk getting lost in the maize.



©2008 The Oregonian

onewhippedpuppy 05-23-2008 09:56 AM

Had the politicians consulted an engineer and an economist, they could have discovered all of this in about 5 minutes for a few hundred dollars. Several years and millions later.........

Mule 05-23-2008 09:57 AM

Quit talking nonsense!http://www.914club.com/bbs2/style_em...t/boldblue.gif

jyl 06-08-2008 07:50 PM

OK, my best estimate so far is that the new E10 gasoline is not doing much to my MPG around town, but is lowering my MPG materially on extended freeway runs.

Around town, we are getting 43-45 MPG, same as last year this time. Maybe a touch lower, at most 1 MPG change anyway. So, that suggests a 1% to 2% hit.

But I just drove from Portland to Olympia and back, averaged 53 MPG, I should have been more like 55-56 MPG. So that suggests a 4% hit.

Makes sense, in town the gasoline engine is running less of the time, while on the freeway it is running almost all the time.

red-beard 06-09-2008 03:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pwd72s (Post 3958843)
\\

Ethanol = 75,670 BTU's per gallon

Gasoline = 115,400 BTU's per gallon

These figures from a sidebar in the original article. I'll let the math whizzes here figure the % age...the sidebar says that a gallon of pure ethanol will take you 66% of the distance a gallon of gas will.

I gotta wonder how much Archer-Daniel-Midlands donates to political campaigns...?

Actually, the reason that the E10 and E85 may not deliver the expected mileage is that Ethanol loves water. The above numbers are for anhydrous ethanol. If it contains 50% water, then the BTU numbers for the ethanol portion are 1/2.

I noticed the Mileage difference between Gasoline purchased in California (E10) and Arizona (5% MTBE), back when I lived there. And it was more than 3%.

RoninLB 06-09-2008 04:18 AM

maybe that once you develop a driving routine you maintain it?

if so then wouldn't you have to lean on the gas pedal a little more with E10?

Mule 06-09-2008 05:07 AM

The corn lobby has screwed the sugar cane farmers so now it's on to the rest of America!

jyl 06-09-2008 05:17 AM

I think that's right. You maintain the same speed that you're used to, regardless of fuel. I guess watching the MPG display tends to slow me down a bit, but realistically you have to drive a certain speed to keep up with traffic.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RoninLB (Post 3991885)
maybe that once you develop a driving routine you maintain it?

if so then wouldn't you have to lean on the gas pedal a little more with E10?


Rot 911 06-09-2008 05:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mule (Post 3991941)
The corn lobby has screwed the sugar cane farmers so now it's on to the rest of America!


Not to worry. Corn prices will probably come down by the end of summer. Missouri has an E10 mandate for the entire states. Ethanol plants are in abundance here. Only problem is that they are already creating more ethanol than can be used. There will be an enormous glut of ethanol, with no buyers, by the end of the summer.

RoninLB 06-09-2008 06:53 AM

great news on E production.

now we can have E-15 or E-20

pwd72s 06-09-2008 08:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RoninLB (Post 3992131)
great news on E production.

now we can have E-15 or E-20

Oh, the joy...guess carb cars can always run bigger jets. But the CIS guys? The MFI guys? I wish them luck as the alcohol content climbs. Me? Think I'll just be buying the new computer controlled machines in the hope they'll run on whatever the government mandates.

Still wavering between something semi-hot like the new Challenger...or perhaps just give up, buy any ol' caca box as "who cares" transportation? Off the list...anything Porsche makes new.

(edit) I'm in mourning. The era of the automobile as a pleasure machine seem to be nearing it's death rattle.
It was great while it lasted.

Tim L 06-09-2008 12:36 PM

There is a point where ethanol is not soluble in gasoline so I donít think we will se E-15 or E-20. Thatís why the jump to E-85 now the gasoline is soluble in the ethanol.

The Gaijin 06-09-2008 12:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim L (Post 3992792)
There is a point where ethanol is not soluble in gasoline so I donít think we will se E-15 or E-20. Thatís why the jump to E-85 now the gasoline is soluble in the ethanol.

I thought that was vermouth.:confused:

tabs 06-09-2008 12:42 PM

Does anybody wana guess which Political candidate running for Prez is FOR Ethanol? One Guess 50 % chance of getting it right.... hint which one is from the midwest?

RWebb 06-09-2008 10:02 PM

Paul - new Challenger is in this month's R&T.

Cellulosic EtOH is being worked on from many angles. IT has the potential to greatly reduce our need for foreign oil. It will take years if not decades to do this however. Guv. K. is on the right track I think. But the results will happen long after he is out of office.

A side benefit is that EtOH offers lower pollution than gas.

I love burning gas in my old 911. But we have too many people on this planet. That's the bottom line.

1fastredsc 06-09-2008 11:18 PM

I actually posted an article on it about 5 months ago here but no one bothered to read it. Cellulosic uses wastes such as wood, corn stalk, and switch grass and is leagues more efficient in processing then making ethanol the good ol fashion way (fermentation). Also MIT has done some testing with ethanol and found that if engines with increased compression that take advantage of the large octane rating are used instead of gasoline converted engines, then the drop in energy content of the fuel is balanced with the increase in thermodynamic efficiency of the higher compression.
One more thing, the ethanol being used in the C6R's e85, as well as the e10 for everyone else racing in the ALMS is cellulosic ethanol.

EDIT: Forgot to add though, there still would never be enough to feed the nations powering needs, in my opinion. However it could make one hell of a race fuel for the older cars :). Also Lubemaster, i have a friend with a drag rail that runs on alcohol. He says that he uses brad penn oil as it's the only one that takes well to running alcohol in his BBC. If you could find some information maybe you can share why that is?


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