Is it Better to Use E85 or Gasoline?

If there is one thing that is constantly increasing in our world today, it is the cars. There are cars everywhere trying to catch up with the gazillion errands that seem to have been unleashed suddenly. With this the planet has been disadvantaged with all the toxic emissions choking up all the oxygen.

Many researchers have made it their job to figure out all the different fuel options being offered. This is commendable because it’s not often that you will trust a manufacturer trying to sell off their product. They’ll tell you want you want to hear and not necessarily what is.

Case in point, CBC News covered a story as they tried to uncover the difference between regular gas (87 octane) and premium gas (91 octane), which was actually more expensive than the regular. They found out there was no difference in horsepower when running on either and that the premium gas actually had worse emissions that regular. All the while Shell was advising individuals to go with the premium.

Stay curious people; ask the questions.

E85 vs Gasoline

We’ve all probably heard about E85 by now since it continues to show up at our gas pumps and we don’t think this growth will stop anytime soon.

E85 is a fuel blend of 85% ethanol and 15 % gasoline. Ethanol is used as a renewable source of energy to try and reduce the amount of emissions going into the ozone layer. In the U.S. corn is the main source of ethanol whereas in Brazil they get their corn from sugarcane.

Gasoline on the other hand is a non-renewable source of energy that comes from crude oil and some other petroleum liquids. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Majority of this gasoline produced is unfinished. This unfinished gasoline is known as gasoline blendstockswhich requires mixing with other liquids so that it can become finished motor gasoline. The finished gasoline meets the requirements needed for fuels that are suitable for spark-ignition engines.

In the U.S., a lot of the finished motor gasoline is produced at terminals for blending where the blendstocks, the finished gasoline and ethanol fuel are combined to give the finished motor gasoline which comes in different grades. Hence why you’ll have regular gas at 87 octane, medium gas at 89 octane and premium gas at 91 octane. Cleaning detergents and other additives are added to the octane fuels before being dispatched to different retail outlets.

EPA for one requires that all octane grades of gasoline contain engine cleaning detergent additives.

E85 Benefits

Job creation

Since ethanol is produced from corn, it will see more job opportunities and many people will move towards ethanol manufacture to try and better their livelihoods.

Bye winter freeze

The use of ethanol in gas pipes during cold temperatures is a relief because alcohol has a low freezing point which makes it very ideal for such conditions.

Environmental friendly

E85 releases lesser emissions into the atmosphere as it’s derived from corn. Should the move towards renewable energy get a permanent solution, lesser emissions into the atmosphere could help relief the ozone layer the choking pressures we’ve placed on it.

Better knock resistance

E85 prides itself with an octane rating of 105 which makes it a very sort -after commodity by racers. Octane rating is the fuels ability to withstand knock. More boost means less knock and this is what the E85 does for you; it offers more boost compare to gasoline.

It also has amazing cooling properties that improve the power output as the cooling property helps lower the rate at which the engine detonates. The octane rating and cooling property are what improve engine knock resistance.

Gasoline Benefits

Improves mileage

Gasoline has a higher energy content than E85 which creates an advantage in that when burned, it gives more power. More power means that the engine is not working harder to try and compensate and therefore it uses less fuel. This is great for longer travels as you can cover about 400 miles on a 20-gallon gasoline tank before need to refuel.

Cost effective

Many will argue that E85 is more cost efficient at the pump which we don’t disagree; E85 has a cheap price per gallon. However, since ethanol has lower energy need to burn more fuel for power, it loses marks because eventual you will need to buy more e85 to get the same power you would otherwise get on the same amount of gasoline. So, overall you save more using gasoline.

Cars that run on gasoline will also tend to be cheaper than the modern cars being manufactured these days. Modern cars require complex components for the manufacture of the engine so as to accommodate ethanol fuel blends whereas the cars running on gas don’t have all these complications.

This is good because it makes buying a gas vehicle affordable and maintaining it ever cheaper. If have knowledge on all matters cars, you could just as easily fix the car yourself.

Minimal damage to engine

With the U.S. Department of Protection Agency mandating that the gas used should contain 10% ethanol, some cars have taken a beating to their engines. This has been seen with older car models whose engines were manufactured to run efficiently on gas and not anything else.

The natural nature of ethanol is that it absorbs water moisture which has seen rubber seals and engines in old model cars rust or break down. Gasoline does not have that property and is therefore safer for the engine. Those using Flex Fuel Vehicles are advised to occasionally run their engines on gasoline to clean the engine.

Saves cropland space

Ethanol production is dependent on crops and therefore requires huge pieces of land set aside precisely for the growth of say, corn. This is land space that could be used to grow domestic food that could in turn feed so many families who could see themselves growing more dependent on handouts should an increase in ethanol production take place.

The use of gasoline could see the space designated to corn growing remain as is or decrease, leaving it to domestic food growing. It’s been considered by many unreasonable to give up land for fuel and not land for feeding the hungry. The price of corn or other fuel crops could see a decrease as well.

Availability

It’s rare to see someone getting stuck because their car ran out fuel because at every corner or every few miles there’s a fuel station with gas. This is not the case with E85 users. Not unless they live in the Midwest where corn is grown, one could easily run out of fuel as there are fewer fuel stations serving corn fuel.

E85 Drawbacks

Limited fuel stations

Since E85 is still growing in terms of production even as demand increases, there are fewer fuel stations that have E85 in them. This can be an inconvenience if you’re travelling over long distances since you aren’t sure if you’ll be stranded or not. There are more Flex Fuel vehicles being manufactured and so demand will continue to rise and we can only hope that ethanol production does the same.

Cropland

Ethanol used in the U.S. comes from corn and as such a lot of acreage is required. While this doesn’t sound so bad with the job opportunities and all, it can actually impact the economy if there’s nothing left to it other than expensive corn. As more and more acreage is designated to corn production, less acreage is dedicated to growing domestic foods. This is where your grocery store produce comes from and therefore jeopardizing food is jeopardizing humanity as is.

Concerns have also been raised over the overall greenhouse emissions being produced with some stating that it could be more hazardous than gasoline emissions. We are yet to see confirmation of that.

According to Mechanic Base,one acre of land is estimated to produce 328 gallons of ethanol which can only sustain cars using it for 70 days total. Quite absurd.

Engine damage

Due to the corrosive nature of ethanol, engines not adapted to accepting ethanol can rusk and or break compression rings, valves, seals and other engine components. For your safety, you want to check to make sure that your engine is an FFV, if not you need to stick to using gasoline or contact your mechanic about possible modifications.

Second, maintain your engine by not leaving the tank halfway full or almost empty as this creates room for water moisture which will eventually damage your engine. Lastly if your car is a FFV, occasionally run it on gasoline to clean the engine.

Gasoline Drawbacks

Harmful emissions

This is the main reason we have so many researchers exploring other alternative renewable energy sources. The toxic emissions being released into the air are growing every second as the number of cars running on gasoline on the roads is still high. Gasoline releases Carbon Monoxide which cannot be used by plants and therefore it just sits in the ozone layer as it eats at this layer bit by bit hence the global warming crisis.

Political temperatures

Gasoline, inasmuch as it is available in nearly every fuel station, still remains a limited resource with most of its producers located in the Middle East. Whenever there is political instability, gasoline has been known to be the most affected and when this happens, prices skyrocket due to shortage. This affects the country’s economically and could set back the country millions of dollars should the political crisis take long to die down.

Health hazard

Gasoline is not biodegradable and this has proven to cause extensive damages should it get into large water bodies. Whenever spillages happen in the sea we get to see the ugly side that can come from trying to acquire this type of fuel.

Animals die in large numbers and should this happen in water bodies being used for human consumption, it really could cause severe complications such as cancer as has been reported by the Department of Public Health.

Other complications such as confusion, headaches, dizziness and breathing difficulties could come about as a result of inhalation of the fumes.

Dependence on other countries

There is the fear that when U.S. fuel reserves run low, then we’ll have to again be reliant on other countries for all fuel production. This could increase the burden on consumers because the prices of gasoline would increase impacting the country. And two, other foreign could strengthen the power hold they have on the U.S. Most of the wars ongoing in the world are because of fighting for power rights to own the reserves that have been discovered and the ones being discovered.

The benefits and drawbacks of both the ethanol and gasoline raise important arguments that cannot be ignored. However, to answer the question of whether it is better to use E85 or regular gas, we need to see which is the most beneficial.

Going green is not just a movement but it is a necessity and a real one at that. For that reason and the fact that you don’t lose out on much performance wise while enjoying your drive, we come to the conclusion that E85 is definitely a smarter choice. What about you? What have your experiences been and which would you prefer between the two? Do let us know. For information on E85 and gasoline and which one is better, follow this link:

 

Leave a Comment