Ethanol Content may double in gasoline

The ethanol supporters are looking to raise the content of ethanol in every day gasoline from 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent gasoline. This will double the nation’s use of ethanol to further reduce America’s oil consumption. E85 (85 percent ethanol 15 percent gasoline) is still seemingly hard to find in many states, e10 has been utilized greatly across the country.

The only threat that can get this shot down is can today’s cars use twice the ethanol that is currently available in e10? Some say, older vehicle engine’s may not be able to run on e20 because it will damage their engines.

The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University have conducted studies to help ethanol out. They found that e20 will not damage engine parts. The e20 blend is not enough ethanol for engine parts to break down.

Even though there may be skepticism regarding ethanol as the fuel of the future, numerous states in America have laws requiring a certain percent of ethanol must be used in fuel. In Minnesota, they are looking to change the requirement to 20 percent ethanol in the next few years.

Unfortunately for ethanol, there is still doubt for twenty percent ethanol fuel blends. The main issue facing e20 is will it be able to be consumed by America’s vehicles? The doubters say twenty percent ethanol will corrode normal engine parts unless flex-fuel kits are utilized.

In a USA Today article, USA Today blew the whistle on the move to e20 in Australia. Reportedly, e20 testing in Australia lead to the damage of 40 percent of all the car’s catalytic converters.

In order for e20 to be distributed country wide, the EPA must test the emissions and the effects on engine parts before it will become legal. If e20 is used before the EPA runs their tests, e20 may void the car’s warranty.

e85 Ethanol from Switchgrass

It seems that Switchgrass might be a much better idea then corn for the production of e85 ethanol. Right now, the technology is in its infancy since researchers are still hammering out the details.

In bio-refineries, switchgrass can be reduced into simple sugars including glucose and xylose. These sugars can then be fermented into ethanol in a similar fashion to corn. The primary sources for ethanol production in the United States are grain from corn and other annual cereal grains, such as sorghum. While switchgrass ethanol is chemically identical to ethanol made from corn, soybeans or sorghum, cellulose ethanol shows a net energy content three times greater than grain ethanol and emits a low net level of greenhouse gases.

switchgrass for e85 ethanol production

With growing concerns of national food prices, switchgrass may help curb the worrying. Switchgrass has an incredible benefit to be used in ethanol production since it is not used by the population for food. According to data received on farm studies, researches from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Switchgrass that was produced for biofuel production made 540 percent greater energy than it needed to grow, then harvest and finally produce ethanol.

Perhaps farmers can now begin to grow corn again strictly for food production instead of ethanol. If farmers decide that, it may be able to get the price of corn per bushel back to reasonable levels seen only a couple of years ago. This will also help many other markets that use similar grains for feeding livestock.

The only thing that holds switchgrass back is research in cellulosic ethanol. If Ethanol made from cellulose, it will emit 80 percent less global warming pollutions than gasoline. Currently cellulosic ethanol is still in research phase and it may take a few years before a major change is made in the Ethanol Industry.

Ethanol – the best alternative fuel according to GM

In November of 2007, General Motors updated a report on a benefit to cost analysis for E85 ethanol, saying the report did not take into account many positive factors.

GM said it issued the change in response to a report made earlier in USA Today that proclaims ethanol E85 fuel loses its cost-benefit to diesel.

According to Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s Chief Economist, explained in a statement, “We believe ethanol as a renewable fuel is the best near-term alternative to oil as a transportation fuel and replacing gasoline with ethanol positively contributes to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

As of now, less than 1% of gas stations in the United States of America offer E85, and prices can vary greatly. Some fueling stations charge the same price for E85 ethanol as they do for gasoline, so when gas prices go up or down, E85 follows as well. In other parts of the country, predominantly in regions such as the corn belt where ethanol fuels are more easily attainable, the cost for E85 is usually about a dollar cheaper then regular gas.

According to GM, they are currently producing around 400,000 E85 flex-fuel model cars per year and that number will double that to 800,000 by 2010. GM hopes to produce more than 2 million FlexFuel automobiles by the year 2012.

GM also went on to say that aside from building the fleet of cars, they are also committed to help build everything necessary for ethanol to catch on.