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Old 09-08-2010, 04:57 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Ethanol in gas

I have been in several discussions with other RVers about getting worse gas mileage when using ethanol gas. After doing some internet research you can find many other people with this same concern. The consensus is; with pure gas (no ethanol) you will get 10-15 % better MPG and power. Ethanol is also known to cause damage on some engines over a period of time. I found 2 websites that will help you find non-ethanol gasoline. The first is Ethanol-free gas stations in the U.S. and Canada This site can be added to by any of us RVers as we find more
"good" stations. The second site is Ethanol Labeling Laws - State by State Guide. This site will help you understand the rules that each station must comply with in posting percentage of ethanol on the gas pump label.It differs from state to state. Usually the station attendant can't tell you anymore than what is posted on pump.

Now the good part! You can easily do your own simple test to check for ethanol in gas. Get a clear glass or plastic container approximately the size of a baby bottle. The glass bottle I used was clear and unmarked so I put 13 equally spaced marks from bottom to top and covered with tape to make them permanent. Now put water up to the third mark up from the bottom, then fill the next 10 marks up to mark #13 with the gas you are testing. Put cap on and shake bottle a few seconds, set it down and you will see line of seperation form within 10 seconds. The ethanol (if any) will combine with the water and raise the water level above #3 . If there was 10% ethanol, it will raise it to mark #4. The picture below has red food coloring added to make the water and ethanol more visible. The red food coloring will combine with water and ethanol, but not gas. Depending on your gas mileage, the extra 20-30 cents per gallon for pure gasoline may make it worthwhile to use in your RV........... Lloyd
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:58 PM   #2
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Very interesting reading. For many years prior to our RV'ing days, we made a yearly trip to Ca from TX in a passenger car. We always filled up in Yuma in order to delay the mandatory ethanol mixture CA has. Our mileage dropped consistently by the 10 0r 15% you mentioned after we began to use the ethanol mixture. I've always wondered where is the emission savings if you are using 10-15% more gas. Seems like the same amount of emissions are being produced.

Let's see, at $2.75 per gallon, a 25 cent increase in price for pure gas would be about 10% of the price. If that would yield a 10% increase in gas mileage, seems like it would be a wash and be easier on your engine using the pure gas instead of the ethanol mix.

Oh well, such things are way above my pay grade. I'll check out the mentioned websites.
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:23 PM   #3
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Isn't the original purpose of adding ethanol to gasoline to help reduce our dependance on foreign oil? In South America some countries have U.S. built cars running on 100% ethanol- with modifications of course.
To add to this, there is now a proposal to add ethanol to diesel fuel, according to a thread on escapees forums.
2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG 11B5MX,Infantry retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA." My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:15 PM   #4
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The 10% ethanol is going to be pushed in every state to help deter the dependance,and their talking about moving it to 15%.
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Old 09-09-2010, 07:34 AM   #5
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Ethanol (or any alcohol) has 34% less energy than an equivalent amount of pure gasoline, so there is no way that a mere 10% ethanol mix could have 10-15% less energy than pure gas. I would expect less than 5% impact on fuel mileage.

Now that the politicians have discovered that it takes as much petroleum to produce ethanol as it saves at the fuel pump, there is decidedly less push to use it everywhere. Especially since it costs as much or more than gasoline.

I'd like to see engines designed/tuned to run on a high ethanol mix only - maybe 25%. They can run at higher compression than a regular gas and thus gain back the lost power. That would mean separate "E25" pumps at fuel stations, something the industry seems reluctant to do, even though they cling to the separate mid & high test special pumps that few people use.. Eventually it may have to happen, as we run out of oil.
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:28 AM   #6
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I have kept track of mileage in both the toad and the gas powered motorhome since I bought them. My mileage in both declines by 17% with ethanol. It seems to me that the idea of saving gasoline by adding ethanol is purely political and not based in fact. I am actually using about 7% more gasoline.
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:37 AM   #7
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Gary, here in the Corn Belt at least, you can buy "flexfuel" cars, which are designed to run on up to E-85.

E 85, which is not all that available even here, is SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than conventional (E10) gas, thanks to taxpayer's generous subsidies.

Ethanol fuel is great for corn farmers, since about 25% of the crop is now going to ethanol production, which keeps the per-bushel price up nicely. Sadly (for folks interested in using common sense), corn is a poor crop to convert, since it requires such high inputs of fuel, herbicides, pesticides and water to grow it in the first place.

There are better crops out there, which produce more ethanol per ton and use less energy and other inputs, but there are NO better interest groups than the Corn Lobby.
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:58 AM   #8
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I have used ethanol in my E85 Yukon.

Although it is cheaper, mileage drops substantially.
Adios, Dirk - '84 Real Lite Truck Camper, '86 Wilderness Cimarron TT, previously 4 years as a fulltimer in a '07 DSDP

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Old 09-09-2010, 12:11 PM   #9
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Ethanol fuel is great for corn farmers, since about 25% of the crop is now going to ethanol production,
Isn't the original purpose of adding ethanol to gasoline to help reduce our dependance on foreign oil?
The bottom line here gentlemen is that it's all about the $MONEY! It wasn't done to or for our benefit, it was all about who was going to get the Payola!
We Americans have to wake up and put a stop to this crap!
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:18 PM   #10
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Those of us who live in EPA non-attainment areas such as Harris County, TX (Houston) and surrounding counties have no choice. 10% ethanol is mandated by the EPA as an oxygenate in all of our gasoline.

By the way, although ethanol has fewer BTUs per gallon than gasoline, it does have a higher octane rating (~113 R+M/2 method), so if your engine's ECU is able to advance the ignition timing enough to take advantage of it, an engine can make more power with ethanol-"enhanced" gasoline, all else being equal.

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Old 09-10-2010, 09:00 AM   #11
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Filled up yesterday, $1.84 (E85) and unleaded $2.57. Humm do the math. I lose about 2.2 mpg by using E85. All my trucks since 2005 have done this since we started using E85. We run about 3 tanks to 1 and that's how it just works out. Now we all know that Henry Ford Produced the first. His cars were made to burn Alcohol, He kept doing that for many years until Rockefeller (Of which owned a New company named Standard Oil) And yes it was all about the money. Rockefeller was very instrumental in getting proabition Passed (even for car fuel) Ford kept making flex fuel for a few more years and as soon as he stopped, They appelled proabition. Amagine that. And as for cost to produce ethanol it was about equal, but they have broken the barrier, NOT BY MUCH though. But in there research they have learned how to make it and better using other than corn,(corn cobbs). Dependance on import oil has dropped Government subsidies were paid at the tune of about .50 a gal (Paid to Oil companys for blenders fee's) Now the mith about taking corn flakes off the table of little children, just not true. Corn used for cow food and Ethonal production is NOT the same for People food. Differant type corn. Ethonal Plants just want the Ethonal.... The corn is actually made better for feed stuffs and sold back to the consumer at a fair price. They are now exporting there by-products to china also. December of last year the USA was still exporting a portion of 2008's corn harvest. So I guess we had enough. Big Oil buy's corn Futures so it can drive up the cost of ethonal production, just a crazy money thing I guess. And when it boils down to my level, I'll give $1.84 or so to my farming neighbor's, and resist every penny that goes to SHAKE ABDUL or who ever. Bottom Line from me is, We Love our Flex fuel Fords and wish we could get bio-diesel here, we would use that also. There is NOT, a substantual mpg drop by using it, AT LEAST IN MY TRUCKS. Happy camping.
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Old 09-10-2010, 09:32 AM   #12
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While cattledog is correct in saying that the corn used for tortillas and the corn used for ethanol are different strains, and one strain can't be used for the other, corn ACREAGE is totally interchangeable.

Only so many acres can be planted to corn, and one acre used for ethanol is one NOT used for feed or food grade corn. And if the subsidized prices for ethanol corn beat the prices for tortilla corn, guess which one the farmer is going to plant???

I have no objection to paying American farmers through my tax dollars for American-made fuel; I only object to the POLITICS which dictate corn for fuel, rather than a dozen other crops which will convert to more BTUs/acre and with fewer costly inputs.
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Old 09-10-2010, 09:41 AM   #13
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Llyod, Thanks for the info....
John, Deb; & our dog, Benji, Forever in our hearts.
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Old 09-10-2010, 12:36 PM   #14
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Ethanol has a BTU content of 76000 BTU/gal. and gasoline has a BTU content of 114,000 BTU/gal. So gasoline's BTU content is 50% greater than ethanol which means that ethanol will not get better gas mileage than gasoline. The reason most people don't see this much difference in their mileage is because there is only 10 or 20% ethanol in the gasoline per gallon, and results in a reduction in gas mileage by about 4 or 7%. If you were to fill up an empty tank with 100% ethanol you would only get about 67% the gas mileage that you got with gasoline.
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