Monday, August 23, 2010

More Ethanol For Our Gasoline?

I recall as cars were becoming more computerized with fuel injection systems, the auto dealerships where I worked received a lot of complaints of drastically reduced fuel mileage as winter blend fuels became what was called “oxygenated.” If you are not familiar with that word, it is basically gasoline mixed with a minimum of 10% ethanol alcohol, made from corn.

It is widely known in the industry that alcohol boosts octane rating somewhat and creates less slightly less carbon monoxide emissions, or so claimed, but the trade comes in that more of it is burned to create the same level of energy as gasoline.

Not to mention the havoc created to internal combustion engines in corrosion and higher operating temperatures back then.

There is also a little item in the exhaust of your vehicle called an “oxygen sensor” that measures the amount of oxygen in your exhaust to help the computer (or engine controller) to regulate the mixture of fuel and air the fuel management system feeds to your engine. When it reads more oxygen than the computer was programmed to feed, it enriches the mixture, sending more gasoline to decrease the amount of air. Too little and it draws gasoline away.

The result was decreased fuel mileage, angering many owners who demanded the fuel mileage they had before be restored. Many also would not accept that there was nothing we could do since the fuel blend was government regulated, not the doings of the manufacturer.

A pretty good discussion of the pros and cons of alcohol blended fuels can be seen by clicking HERE.

By now you might be wondering why a blog focusing on political matters is discussing alcohol fuel blends since many of the “bugs” of an E10 fuel blend were pretty much worked out. The answer is that once again, government regulation is set to increase the amount of alcohol in our fuel despite scientific studies on such an increase have not been completed.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute explains the pending regulation at Don't Blend Politics and Science on E15.

Mr. Gerard tells us,

“Most of the gasoline we use includes up to 10 percent of ethanol, a renewable fuel that is playing an increasingly important role in meeting our energy needs. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a plan that could permit blends of up to 15 percent ethanol (E15), despite the fact that a number of detailed scientific reviews of such a plan have not been completed.”

“This would be a mistake that could threaten vehicle performance and safety, void manufacturers' warranties, confuse consumers - and create a public backlash against renewable fuels.”

National Petrochemical & Refiners Association sent there own concern saying,
“We write to express our concern that EPA may decide to allow the introduction into commerce of mid-level ethanol blends such as E15 based on new information that was not available for public comment when the docket was open last year. We respectfully but strongly request that EPA provide for a second period of public comment on any data, tests, or studies that EPA may take into consideration in making its determination if such information was not available for review and comment as of the close of the initial public comment period on July 20, 2009.

“We continue to urge EPA to base any decision to permit the introduction of mid-level ethanol blends – whether a general waiver or the ‘partial’ waiver concept on which EPA invited public comment previously – on a complete and sound scientific record and in accordance with the procedures of the Clean Air Act. … To the extent that there are additions to this scientific record subsequent to July 20, 2009 on which EPA will base its ultimate decision, the public must have an opportunity to review and comment on those additions prior to an EPA decision.”

You can also review a Breifing Paper issued by the API on this rush by government again.

Jane Van Ryan, also of the API wrote some pieces on the controversy at Corn in Your Tank, E15: Not Ready for Prime Time and The Ethanol Urban Myth. Ms van Ryan also posted a podcast discussing the issue with Al Jessel, co-chair of the Coordinating Research Council that is currently researching ethanol fuel blends at Energy Tomorrow Radio: Episode - 115 E15 and Your Car.

Bear in mind, in addition to being more expensive to produce, alcohol fuels takes away from our food supply. Not only ours, but the corn our farmers grow and ship worldwide. As late as 2008 we heard Our Energy Policy Helps Launch Worldwide Food Riots and Mexico's Poor Seek Relief From Tortilla Shortage, due to a shortage of corn used for food stocks and instead, going to burn as fuel.

All the while, we have literally billions of gallons of untapped petroleum sitting under ground in the United States alone that we are not allowed to access due to, once again, government regulation.

Early in our history as a nation, President Abraham Lincoln ended his Gettysburg Address telling us basically that we are a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Are we, when a small band of government employees are allowed to dictate to us instead of listening to us?

1 comment:

Canuckguy said...

" addition to being more expensive to produce, alcohol fuels takes away from our food supply......"

It's for that reason alone that I believe this fuel ethanol program is a big wastful boondoggle that sucks up federal support payments. Corn ethanol is not the way to go. In the big picture, the energy/resources used just to produce it make it an inefficient fuel substitute.