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Ethanol costs more than gas

February 16, 2006
BY JAMES R. HEALE
USA TODAY



The heavily promoted alcohol fuel called E85 might cut America's oil use and help support U.S. agriculture, but it's not reducing motorists' fuel bills. It's boosting them significantly.

The price of E85, a fuel that's 85% ethanol made from grain and 15% conventional gasoline, is higher than that of gasoline, even though E85 has only 72% as much energy. The U.S. Department of Energy says a vehicle has to use 1.4 times as much E85 as gasoline to go the same distance.

At some Nebraska stations, E85 was $2.19 a gallon Tuesday, while gasoline with 10% ethanol -- a common substitute for regular in the Midwest -- was $2.06. "This doesn't make sense," says Wayne Davis, a division manager at fuel company Bosselman, based in Grand Island, Neb. "Our customers are saying, 'I'm not going to buy E85, which is better for the environment and the economy, unless it's cheaper.' We're seeing E85 just sit."


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ElmerMCR said:
Ethanol costs more than gas

February 16, 2006
BY JAMES R. HEALE
USA TODAY



The heavily promoted alcohol fuel called E85 might cut America's oil use and help support U.S. agriculture, but it's not reducing motorists' fuel bills. It's boosting them significantly.

The price of E85, a fuel that's 85% ethanol made from grain and 15% conventional gasoline, is higher than that of gasoline, even though E85 has only 72% as much energy. The U.S. Department of Energy says a vehicle has to use 1.4 times as much E85 as gasoline to go the same distance.

At some Nebraska stations, E85 was $2.19 a gallon Tuesday, while gasoline with 10% ethanol -- a common substitute for regular in the Midwest -- was $2.06. "This doesn't make sense," says Wayne Davis, a division manager at fuel company Bosselman, based in Grand Island, Neb. "Our customers are saying, 'I'm not going to buy E85, which is better for the environment and the economy, unless it's cheaper.' We're seeing E85 just sit."


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the main reason of that is theres a little gas price war going on here. a local grocery company built its own station and offer it cheaper than any of the other stations. Soon Walmarts will build their own too.

about 2 months ago it heated up and 89 octane dropped to 1.89 for a couple days

and along with that its the part of the season farmers are hauling their grain and seed corn to alcohol plants, so the price is high. This guy is just trying to make E85 look bad
 

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I like to think in Ethanol in the same terms as hybrids: I'm not getting a Hybrid..and I'm not getting a vehicle that I will fill with an ethanol fuel.....but I'm glad other people are.

I am all for people using this technology. I will not bash or criticize anyone for buying a hyrbid or a car that uses ethanol. We need early adopters of technology like this in order for it's cost to eventualy come down.

Many of the 'early adopters' of new things like ethanol based fuels and hybrids....the very same people that often are criticized and made fun of on forums like this....are the very people that determine whether a new technology lasts and eventually becomes practical for the rest of us.
 

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E85 + Hybrid Tech is the only way I can see it being a winner for GM, since it would introduce a greener green vehicle that the most passionate Hybrid fans could rally around like they did the EV1 in its final days and give free press to.

Imagine Hollywood lining up for a GM Flex Fuel Ethanol-Hybrid wagon (no friggin' 20mpg SUV or cramped sedan) that gets 40mpg and uses a "green" fuel source to boot. It could trump the Prius if GM invested enough in it.

Yes, I realize I'm dreaming, and that if it did come to pass it would be 5 years from now, and the competition would have moved the goal posts further away.
 

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Ethanol is like any other openly traded comodity, supply and demand. Right now the demand for ethanol far exceeds the supply. It will come down in time as more plants are built (many in the works right now) At the molment it only costs $1.10 to produce a gallon of ethanol.
 

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I believe that the unmentioned plan was to raise the taxes on regular gasoline and subsidize ethanol with that tax hike. One question though. If ethanol only make 72% of the energy, why has everything I heard say it gives you more power than regular gasoline?
 

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its economics of scale. As ethanol production increases, the price will drop. This doesnt take a genius to figure out.
 

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Duramaximum said:
I believe that the unmentioned plan was to raise the taxes on regular gasoline and subsidize ethanol with that tax hike. One question though. If ethanol only make 72% of the energy, why has everything I heard say it gives you more power than regular gasoline?
It gives you more power in a motor tuned to run on it. And by that I don't just mean the computer has adjusted ignition timing and fuel mixture. In order to get more power you need to dramatically raise the compression ratio. Alcohol is much less likely to preignite, or detonate, plus it runs much cooler, so you can get more power without the motor destroying itself. In order to get a flex-fuel vehicle to make more power on Ethanol, you would need a turbo, or supercharger, and an adjustable wastegate that could add boost when you are running E85, and turn it down for gasoline. I believe SAAB has a concept car with this feature.

E85 will get cheaper. How can it not? You can make it from just about any organic matter. Though personally I have always thought that corn alcohol was for drinking and wood alcohol is for burning. Remember the article a while back about Coors brewing up E85 from the waste product left int eh brewery? Can't we use wood pulp too? My chemistry is a bit rusty.
 

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um last time i checked e85 was cheaper by nearly 50 cents around me and im only 75 miles away from the guy who wrote that article i think someone is being paid off by the oil companies i also believe e85 is running near a 100 to 105 octane compared to 94 octane from super premium so i know which i will be putting in my old boat as soon as i can convert the old fuel lines and a few other parts to run on e 85
 

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The problem with E85 is that it's more expensive than regular gasoline and doesn't return near the economy gasoline does.

Here is an example using the EPA's website:

National average price of 87 octane gasoline - $2.28/gal.
National average price of E85 - $2.41/gal.

2006 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD 5.3L Flex-Fuel
Gasoline fuel economy - 14/18
E85 fuel economy - 11/14
Cost to drive 25 miles on gasoline - $3.56
Cost to drive 25 miles on E85 - $5.02
Annual gasoline fuel cost - $2,138
Annual E85 fuel cost - $3,011
Annual GHG emissions on gasoline - 11.9 tons
Annual GHG emissions on E85 - 8.7 tons

I don't think E85 will be popular among average Americans unless the cost comes down enough to displace the lower economy.

To me, biodiesel is a better answer, but due to US regulations and buying habits there are almost no diesel cars (save for VW), and there will be even fewer come the next round of regulations in '07.
 

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ElmerMCR said:
Ethanol costs more than gas

February 16, 2006
BY JAMES R. HEALE
USA TODAY



The heavily promoted alcohol fuel called E85 might cut America's oil use and help support U.S. agriculture, but it's not reducing motorists' fuel bills. It's boosting them significantly.

The price of E85, a fuel that's 85% ethanol made from grain and 15% conventional gasoline, is higher than that of gasoline, even though E85 has only 72% as much energy. The U.S. Department of Energy says a vehicle has to use 1.4 times as much E85 as gasoline to go the same distance.

At some Nebraska stations, E85 was $2.19 a gallon Tuesday, while gasoline with 10% ethanol -- a common substitute for regular in the Midwest -- was $2.06. "This doesn't make sense," says Wayne Davis, a division manager at fuel company Bosselman, based in Grand Island, Neb. "Our customers are saying, 'I'm not going to buy E85, which is better for the environment and the economy, unless it's cheaper.' We're seeing E85 just sit."


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So which way do we want this? Do you want to depend on foreign oil or pay ever so slightly more for a home-based fuel? Where are all of the people who argue that you should buy a GM (or Ford) product over anything foreign-based because "the profits stay here?" Wouldn't this fall into the same category? AND you're polluting less?

The one argument I haven't seen is octane ratings. What's the octane rating of that $2.06 gasoline compared to that $2.19 E85? Isn't E85 a higher octate? Shouldn't E85 be compared to mid-grade or premium gas and not regular?
 

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AndrewGS said:
The problem with E85 is that it's more expensive than regular gasoline and doesn't return near the economy gasoline does.

Here is an example using the EPA's website:

National average price of 87 octane gasoline - $2.28/gal.
National average price of E85 - $2.41/gal.

2006 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD 5.3L Flex-Fuel
Gasoline fuel economy - 14/18
E85 fuel economy - 11/14
Cost to drive 25 miles on gasoline - $3.56
Cost to drive 25 miles on E85 - $5.02
Annual gasoline fuel cost - $2,138
Annual E85 fuel cost - $3,011
Annual GHG emissions on gasoline - 11.9 tons
Annual GHG emissions on E85 - 8.7 tons

I don't think E85 will be popular among average Americans unless the cost comes down enough to displace the lower economy.

To me, biodiesel is a better answer, but due to US regulations and buying habits there are almost no diesel cars (save for VW), and there will be even fewer come the next round of regulations in '07.
Those are FlexFuel vehicles, so they can't get the full efficiency from E85. Like previously said, a high compression motor is needed to use it to its full potential, considering E85 has a 105 octane rating. So in a motor that has a regular(10:1) compression ratio, it will lose efficiency while using E85 compared to regular gas. An E85 motor would work well with a 12.5-12.8:1 compression ratio. Good luck getting regular gas to run on that.

Direct Injection AND E85 would be freaking awesome for fuel efficiency, power output and compression. Anybody else think that too?
 

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I am just happy to see that with this kind of development, we do have other options rather than keep buying the oil from other countries. I am all for this fuel, if they can make enough of it and keep it's price low. I think right now it is too expensive and is irritating to see the price fluxuate according to regular unleaded here. If it is 2.00 for regular, then E85 comes to 1.97. As soon as regular goes up, so does E85. Why? That is just bull IMO!
 

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Hudson said:
So which way do we want this? Do you want to depend on foreign oil or pay ever so slightly more for a home-based fuel? Where are all of the people who argue that you should buy a GM (or Ford) product over anything foreign-based because "the profits stay here?" Wouldn't this fall into the same category? AND you're polluting less?

The one argument I haven't seen is octane ratings. What's the octane rating of that $2.06 gasoline compared to that $2.19 E85? Isn't E85 a higher octate? Shouldn't E85 be compared to mid-grade or premium gas and not regular?
E85 is about 115 octane. it should be more compared to 91 octane, and at the time the guy wrote this artice 91 was around 2.24.
And the other posters are right, if the engine is at say 10.5 or 12.1 compression it makes up for the lost 1.5% fuel efficiency!
 

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likearock00 said:
I am just happy to see that with this kind of development, we do have other options rather than keep buying the oil from other countries. I am all for this fuel, if they can make enough of it and keep it's price low. I think right now it is too expensive and is irritating to see the price fluxuate according to regular unleaded here. If it is 2.00 for regular, then E85 comes to 1.97. As soon as regular goes up, so does E85. Why? That is just bull IMO!
Two reasons.

First, there's the 15% of E85 that is gasoline. It would be directly effected by a change in gas prices.

Second, supply and demand. There's only a limited supply of E85 currently. When the price of 100% gasoline goes up, and there's no "extra" E85 to substitute for the more expensive gas, the price of E85 will go up as well.

It's not bull. It's how economics works.
 

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My problem on the Ethanol is I see supply increasing but also DEMAND, which will counter act the process. I do feel the Ethanol comparison is biased because unless an oil company is producing it they don't want competition, however just as the oil companies IF ethanol would get the same infastructure as gas and we would rely on it like oil the same thing is going to happen "OHHHHH too much demand we have to galuge you and make 500 billion dollars in profits this year!" Or the government "well we are loosing money on the gas tax so now we have to pass a bill to put 50 cents per gallon on ethanol to pay for road repair.

Financially the only way I could see Ethanol being any better in the long run would be if it was made privately and stop the BE stations (big Ethanol) from monoplizing AND the government keeping there taxing hands out of it but I don't see either.
 

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As has been said this is basic economics. The reason gas is as cheap as it is right now (yes it is cheap) is because so much of it is made. If E85 was made at the same levels it would probably be in the 1.50 range.

There really is no good arguement about not switching to it. It may require more of it to propel you the same distance as 100% gas but like I said once more of it is produced it will come down offsetting that difference.
 
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