Pros And Cons Of Alternative Ethanol Fuel.

Is ethanol fuel the answer to environmental problems and America ‘s oil addiction? Depends on who you ask.

Ethanol is a clean-burning, high-octane fuel made of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon obtained by fermenting sugar cane, grains like corn and wheat, or agricultural waste.

When combined with ordinary unleaded gasoline, ethanol increases the oxygen content helping it reduce emissions and burn cooler and cleaner.

There are several types of ethanol fuel but they all consist of a blend of unleaded gasoline and ethanol. E10, which blends 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, can be used in any car. E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) requires an adapted engine or flexible fuel vehicle, which are offered by major manufacturers.

Even though ethanol is a step in the right direction, it may not be the miracle solution we were waiting for.

Pros:

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It’s domestically produced.
  • It’s biodegradable and doesn’t contaminate water sources.
  • Sells for about the same price as unleaded gasoline.
  • Supports farmers and increases the value of grains.
  • When produced from agricultural waste, it helps reduce environmental pollution.
  • E10 can be used in any car.
  • Unlike gas/electric hybrids, E85 capable cars don’t cost more to buy.

Cons:

  • Initially ethanol was quite affordable, but as demand rises, so do prices.
  • Ethanol is less efficient – 25% – 30% drop in mileage.
  • You have to fill up more often, actually using more gasoline.
  • Only about 1,000 gas stations offer ethanol fuel.
  • It’s been tried and failed – During the 70s, 80s and 90s, yet benefits didn’t stand the test of time and practicality.
  • Because it needs to be blended with gasoline, it will not eliminate oil dependency.
  • Ethanol can’t be blended at refineries and pumped through the nation’s pipelines.

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