a Someone should care, maybe not you....: More of my thoughts on e85 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

17 May 2006

More of my thoughts on e85

I looked a bit more at how Brazil implemented it's conversion ethanol. They started off by mandating that all gas stations have an ethanol pump.
I am opposed to the government telling people that they have to sell something. I think the market should drive the issue. It would be an interesting ride but I think it could be done if one (or more) of the auto makers would make flexfuel engines standard in all of their cars. Or even in all of one or two classes of cars. (all minivans maybe, or all SUVs (that should drive the econuts crazy))If people have cars that can burn e85 easily then they will look to buy it as soon as they see that it is cheaper than the unleaded they have been using. Most places selling e85 do so at a substantially lower cost than the unleaded. Not all but most. See for yourself.e85 Costs As soon as other stations start seeing people lining up to buy the e85 because it is cheaper they will want to have a pump too. Now I know someone out there will say, "people aren't going to drive out of their way and sit in line to get e85." Maybe not if it is only a penny or two difference, but if for example the cost is 2.499 for e85 and 2.949 for unleaded as it was on May 16 at the Marathon food mart in Urbana IL, they yes, people will go out of their way for that kind of savings. Heck, people go into Wal-Mart and put money on their cash card before they go to the Gas pumps just to save 3 cents on their gas. A .50 difference will get a lot of folks. So e85 pumps will spread. Now of course the downside to this is that as demand goes up for e85 so sill the price because at this time there is a very limited supply. If I were the guys at GM I would sell the flexfuel vehicles and start investing in some ethanol plants. Actually, a lot of ethanol plants.
It could work, it will take some people making some pretty bold decisions but it could be done.
WILL it work? Who knows? Frankly the guys at the big three automakers haven't impressed me as being very forward thinking. But maybe Honda or Toyota will do it. VW is already making flexfuel vehicle in Brazil, they could do it here too.
We shall see.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

E85 has about 70% of the energy content of gas, so you need to burn more of it to do the same work. Thus, the break-even price has to not just cheaper than gas, but less than 70% of the gasoline price. (The retail price will normally take into account the increased cost of hauling and pumping a third more fuel. Bigger gas tanks and cost due to hauling more weight around would be your own problem, though.)

Both federal and state governments currently subsidize ethanol, including waiving taxes applied to gasoline, so price-at-the-pump doesn't really reflect cost.

Engines designed to run on ethanol only would get better mileage than typical flexfuel design. But they're not nearly as practical as flexfuel. High-compression turbocharged cars are reported to get good mileage on E85, perhaps up to 90% of that on gasoline.

There's a lot of difference between growing sugar cane in the tropics and growing corn in mid-latitudes. And trading a oil dependency on the Middle East for an ethanol dependency on Brazil wouldn't really be that much of an improvement. South America doesn't like the US much these days, and seem to be liking them less and less.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Ed Abbey said...

I agree with anonymous on why E85 is not necessarily "cheaper" than gasoline. Most reports that I have read suggest ethanol is more expensive. That is why I feel it will take government intervention in order to break into big oil lobbyists.

"I am opposed to the government telling people that they have to sell something."

I agree with that statement on the surface but in the case of mandating gas stations to put in pumps, I don't. The purpose of the government is to provide national defense and security to the citizens. Mandating ethanol pumps would help with both aspects of the governments role. Reducing our dependence on oil would mean we don't have to fight in the middle east to keep our oil flowing and it would shelter our citizens from the crisis that will arrive when the "peak oil" (i.e. oil that is easily pumped) has been taken and prices sky rocket.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Mental Meanderings said...

Ethanol has a number of problems when considering large scale penetration of the market place. First, it can not be transported by pipeline because it is to volatile. Second it is produced in the midwest almost exclusively. So, getting it to the coasts where a majority of the population is will be extremely difficult and expensive.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous phred said...

I have heard that there are several vehicles that are currently sold that are flexfuel and are not marketed as such becuase carmakers believe they won't sell as well. There is a website that lists the cars but I can't think of what it is at the moment. But I'm sure google would help anyone interested.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Ed Abbey said...

You can tell if a vehicle is flex fuel compatible by looking at the 2,3 and 8th characters of the VIN number. Here is a website that contains the character codes for flex fuel vehicles for the Big 3.

5:24 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

Well, the production thing would be pretty easily taken care of if it became profitable. Sugar is better than corn for ethanol and there are alot of cane fields in florida and it can be grown all along the southeat and gulf coast areas. In fact, despite it's use now corn is far from the best plant. Switchgrass, a native grass of north america is said to be better.
As for the technical problems anonymous had, I can understand those but we can produce out own ethanol which is better than continually buying oil from others. Besides which, petrolium can be sued for so many different things, whay should we burn it?

7:08 AM  

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