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Ethanol = Bad Transportation Fuel

Reader comment on item: Saudi Scholar Nixes Biofuels as Un-Islamic
in response to reader comment: Let's run for the strictly usage of Alcohol.

Submitted by Chevy Vortec 350 (United States), Feb 27, 2009 at 21:45

Ethanol makes for a lousy motor vehicle fuel.

Putting aside raw material supply issues (Saudi vs Iowa, etc...), let's take a look at what happens when my master pulls up to the gas station and fills my tank with the various Federally-mandated fluids being passed off as "motor fuel:"

Pure, unadulterated hi-octane gasoline: Mmmmm... I'm happy. My fuel pump inside my gas tank is happy, my lines stay clean, my fuel injectors evenly spray the ~14:1 fuel-air mixture nicely into my cylinders, my pistons match up nicely with my cylinder heads to uniformly squeeze the mix without prematurely detonating; and then my exhaust headers pass off the hot exhaust into my red-hot catalytic converter, scrubbing it clean of nitrous oxides.

Pure, unadulterated low-octane gasoline: OK, I'll swallow this stuff, but unlike the gourmet hi-octane blend, this is more like feeding me junk food: I'll run with it, but I'm gonna complain when my master stomps on the loud pedal with premature detonation. My Computer (ECM) Brain will figger it out real quick, with the knock detector in my head(s) telling my spark plugs to Whoa baby! When you feed me low-octane gasoline, i'll come a-knockin'

Pure anhydrous Methanol: First off, I need corrosion-resistant fuel system components, and the seals need to resist attack by an alcohol, not an aliphatic. Since this Go-Juice is made from wood, my exhaust will have a unique aroma, which you can smell at any USAC sprint car race. The problem, in addition to the fuel rail issues, is that my injectors need to be recalibrated to ~7:1 fuel-air ratio, and I need new heads & pistons to efficiently squeeze this mixture so that the flame pattern provides a nice, smooth stroke.

Pure anhydrous Ethanol: OK, the late Paul Dana made one hell of a sales pitch several years ago to Cargill and ADM to use joy-juice as a racing fuel in the Indy Racing League Ethanol joy-juice is such a pain-in-the-ass, that IRL sole engine supplier Honda had to beg Brian Barnhart to let them increase the displacement from 3.0 to 3.5 liters just to make up for the lost horsepower.

Gasoline adulterated with 10% ethanol: Oh, crap, now I'm confused -- Some jackass politicians from the Midwest demanded that I have to drink low-octane gasoline mixed with 10% ethanol. Ugh. My brain (ECM) goes crazy trying to figure out how to combust this gasoline-ethanol-air mixture without blowing my heads straight through the hood! If I would have left the engineer's drafting board set up for this rancid mix with proper seals, heads and pistons, then I'd be OK... But I have millions of cousins on the American roadways that act just like a drunk with this scheisswasser, failing to even get out of bed (crank) when it gets chilly outside, as well as fouling up my injectors, yada yada...

Let me put it this way: If my master pulls me up to two "motor fuel" pumps that dispense liquid at $2.00 per gallon and he gives the attendant two $20 bills, the pump with pure gasoline will dispense 20 gallons of what I like; while the other pump will dispense 18 gallons of gasoline (14:1 fuel-air mix) adulterated with 2 gallons of ethanol (7:1 fuel-air mix)... With all of the fuel system problems ethanol brings along.

Put another way, I'd rather my master buy 19 gallons of pure gasoline for $38, and toss two dollar bills to the wind, than fill my tank with 18 gallons of gas & 2 gallons of ethanol: It's the same amount of energy (BTU's); but I'll run better without hiccuping along the way.

Yours truly,

The engine in your car

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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