The truth about ethanol in gasoline

If you drive, you use ethanol. All regular gasoline contains at least 10 percent ethanol and in some areas, 15 percent blends are also becoming more available. Ethanol blends are becoming more popular due to the numerous advantages they have and people can easily find ethanol in almost every major city across the United States.

In the midst of this movement, some are against blending ethanol with gasoline, as they believe ethanol will damage their engines. Fueled by misinformation, these voices help create more confusion. They also act as roadblocks for an economical and ecologically viable solution to problems caused by the transportation sector.

In hopes to spread the real truth about ethanol in gasoline, we searched out the most common myths about ethanol on the internet, and we’ll explore each of them and counter with reliable, research-driven data.

 

Myth # 1: Ethanol will damage my engine

You will often hear this argument whenever there’s a discussion on ethanol use in vehicles. They may not realize that they’re already using ethanol in their cars without any problems.  Research indicates mid-level ethanol blends are not only good for your engine but your vehicle can take advantage of the increased octane of ethanol without noticing a difference in the mileage.

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, states that all cars manufactured 2001 and after are approved to run E15.

 

Myth # 2: Ethanol damages seals and gaskets

Ethanol will help clean older engines when gasoline deposits build up over time. That stuff that builds up is from another fuel additive called aromatics. Aromatics are toxic and made up of chemicals like benzene and toluene. These aromatics are the compounds that damage seals and gaskets and gum up engines. Unlike ethanol, which makes up 10% of gasoline, aromatics currently make up an average of 25%.

 

Myth # 3: Ethanol blends significantly reduce mileage

The energy content of ethanol is indeed lower than gasoline and this is one of the main reasons why you notice a mileage loss when you use E85, which is only suitable for Flex Fuel vehicles. You must also remember that the cost of the E85 blend is on average lower, which covers the mileage loss.

With mid-level ethanol blends like E15, E20, and E30, the mileage difference is extremely negligible, and the pros far outweigh the cons. The closed-loop fuel monitoring system installed in most modern fuel-injected cars is adaptable and able to adjust to the increased octane. This improves the overall performance of the vehicle without negatively impacting the mileage.

 

Myth # 4: Using ethanol too much will cause food shortage

The food vs. fuel debate has been ongoing for a long time. However, the controversy is far from the truth and has been debunked. The corn used for ethanol is not the same as the corn that you eat. The corn that is used for ethanol is processed so that the starch and sugar in each kernel are used and the protein and fiber from each kernel are then turned into an animal feed known as distiller’s grain. It’s truly a food and fuel.

 

Final thoughts

In a nutshell, there are a lot of rumors on the internet about ethanol. The truth is different. Ethanol blends are a cleaner and sustainable alternative to the toxic aromatics we use in gasoline. Not only are they a lower cost to you, but their emissions are cleaner and less toxic.

Find out more about the pros and cons of adding ethanol to gasoline.