Oh this is just great…
Federal restrictions on ethanol blending in fuel have been lifted, ushering in E15 gas. That means 15 percent of the gas you put in your tank is ethanol. For most enthusiasts, this is horrible news, although your average person will probably just shrug and only focus on the way it will cut the cost of gas, although only by a thin margin.
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Ethanol is a corn-based alcohol that only contains around two-thirds the chemical energy as gasoline in the same quantity. In other words, you’re literally getting less bang for your buck with a higher ethanol blend, which translates into worse performance and fuel economy. Kind of seems to defeat the whole supposed purpose of putting ethanol in the gas, right? In the long run, its cost savings are definitely questionable.
If you own a classic car, know that ethanol can be absolutely destructive. The corrosive nature of the stuff can eat through gas tanks, fuel pumps, fuel lines, gaskets, etc. It can also allow condensation in your fuel, because ethanol is hygroscopic or it can absorb water from the air around it, causing the gas tank or other components to corrode from the inside out. Of course, if not detected, that could lead to a fire.
That separation of water from the ethanol in gas which can make gas tanks rot can also cause engines to stall out or lead to serious engine damage. Some engines, particularly smaller ones like you find on motorcycles, can run lean thanks to ethanol. In fact, certain manufacturers will void the factory warranty if you use E15.
Ethanol isn’t just harmful to cars, there are serious concerns about what it does environmentally. Some groups claim ethanol reduces vehicle emissions, but some studies have found they actually produce more carbon. This is a huge area of controversy with both sides claiming the other is twisting data. Let’s just say the science on ethanol blends in fuel is far from settled.
What isn’t up for debate is that ethanol use in gas promotes growing more corn. That means more water, more emissions from cultivating and harvesting the crop, etc.
In other words, be very much aware of what you’re putting in your fuel tank. Read up on your car/motorcycle owner’s manual to see if there are warnings against using E15 or E10 fuel. And decide what you use wisely.
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