Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

No More Alcohol in Gasoline?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, March 17, 2014

Recently, I received an email message from a friend, one who is highly intelligent, and who has a phenomenal diversity of life experiences. The item had a video to a Faux News video segment, which is included in this post, at the conclusion.

My response to the half-truthed item follows.

Here’s hoping you and others find it informative, and helpful.

While I have neither been the type to proclaim THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING! nor believe there is conspiracy against me, nor the paranoid type that imagines “the government” is out to get me (and therefore neither view nor read Fox News), I do think there is some credence to the item. (Of course, a “Snopes check” shows a mix of half-truths. But, if it ain’t all true, it ain’t true – kinda’ like the gas, you know.) More details on that follow.

In a story published published Saturday, February 1st, 2014, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press wrote how some motorists in that area are preferring 100% pure gasoline over the 10% Ethanol blend. (I happened to read that story at the time it was published.)

While residing there, I also noticed the same, and noticed that the price for 100% pure gasoline is higher than for the 10% ethanol blend. One day, while pumping the 100% gasoline at a Chattanooga gas station, I happened to speak with a gent at the adjacent pump about the difference. He shared an observation with me which I thought quite interesting, and one which certainly seemed reasonable.

He said that in an “accidental” experiment, he purchased some 10% ethanol blended gasoline for use in his lawn mower. He then poured some of the 10% ethanol blended gas into a glass jar, and let it set out at least overnight (or a bit longer). He observed that it had become cloudy from the accumulation of humidity.

While I’ve never tried such an experiment, I do note that many years ago, on occasion, I would run my little carbureted Toyota’s gas tank empty, and would then fill it up with 1 gallon each of Methanol, 100LL, Toluene, Xylene and Methyl Ethyl Ketone. I did so for at least two reasons: 1.) to get any water in the fuel tank & system out, and; 2.) to “clean out” any deposits that may have formed in the fuel system.

Of course, Gasoline and Water are different for several reasons, not the least of which is that gasoline is a hydrocarbon fuel, while ethanol alcohol is not. As we know, water will not mix with gasoline (or any other oily hydrocarbon fuel), while water does mix with alcohol. That property is known as polar and non-polar solvency.

Here’s where remembering a little high school chemistry becomes important.

Water, a polar solvent, contains a bond between atoms with very different electronegativities, (oxygen and hydrogen), while hydrocarbons do not.

Gasoline, a non-polar solvent, contain bonds between atoms with similar electronegativities, such as carbon and hydrogen, e.g., hydrocarbons. Bonds between atoms with similar electronegativities will lack partial charges; it’s that absence of charge which makes those molecules “non-polar.”

Polar and non-polar solvents can be protic or aprotic. Protic solvents have O-H or N-H bonds and can bond with hydrogen, while aprotic solvents do not have O-H or N-H bonds, and therefore cannot bond with hydrogen.

Simply put, while water will not combine with gasoline, water will combine with ethanol alcohol, and ethanol alcohol will combine with gasoline. So, to cause water to come into solution (mix) with gasoline, alcohol must be added.

Here’s some food for thought:

• When 100LL (100 octane Low Lead) AvGas (Aviation Gasoline) is sold, it CANNOT contain ethanol.
• Ethanol is not as powerful a fuel as gasoline, and takes more fuel to do the same amount of work, i.e., the fuel economy (miles per gallon) is lower.

Recently, I have been purchasing 100% pure gasoline for my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 HO V8, and have been very satisfied with the performance, and  the fuel economy.

Gas stations that DO sell 100% pure gasoline are fewer in number than those that sell the 10% ethanol blended gasoline. And, the 100% pure gasoline is more expensive than the 10% ethanol blended gasoline.
On 3 March tank refill at Super Saver, 17373 AL Hwy 75, Remlap, AL, I paid $3.699/gal.
On a 24 February refill at Logan’s General Store, 171 AL Hwy 160, Warrior, AL, I paid $3.679/gal.

Similarly to the Gas Buddy app & website, there is a “crowd-sourced” app & website for refueling stations that sell 100% pure gasoline. The linked URL below shows locations in Alabama, and there are numerous stations throughout North & Central Alabama (defined as from Birmingham, NORTH). In addition to numerical street addressing, the list feature also incorporates geolocation data (lat/long), Google Maps, and Google Earth, with a KML file for the location.

The Pure Gas iPhone app may be downloaded via iTunes, and there is an Android app as well.

It may be interesting to note the “related” article below, a Bloomberg News item stating: “Ethanol futures pared the largest quarterly gain since 2010 as distillers slowed production because of difficulty moving the biofuel to markets. Ethanol has risen 28% in the first quarter, ranking behind only coffee and lean hogs among commodities, as the frigid winter and competition for rail space made it harder to move the fuel, prompting some plants to curtail output. Last week’s 7% advance was the sixth in a row. Ethanol production in the U.S. fell to 869,000 barrels a day in the week ended March 7, the lowest level since Jan. 10, the Energy Information Administration said. Inventories of 15.9 million barrels are down 15 percent from a year earlier.”

The Snopes folks – who last updated the item January 2014 – stated this in their discovery:

“At the end of 2013, the EPA announced it was reducing the amount of ethanol that must be blended into gasoline in 2014 (in part because the overall demand for gasoline in the U.S. has dropped), requiring transportation fuel companies to blend 15.21 billion gallons of ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply in 2014, down from 16.55 billion gallons in 2013. Critics of the EPA’s blending requirements pointed out that the announcement came just four days after the Associated Press published a lengthy investigative article documenting substantial environmental harms caused by ethanol which concluded that “The ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than government admits today”:

Ethanol mandates have spurred farmers to grow corn on relatively unproductive land that remained undeveloped prior to the mandate, the Associated Press observed.

“Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch. Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil. Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive,” the Associated Press reported.

“The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.”

Concluding, it may be more reasonable to imagine that CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) would be more useful as a motor fuel. Not only does it run EXTREMELY CLEAN, and automobiles can use it – and do so effectively and efficiently – it is s it exceedingly less expensive than gasoline (often $0.50/gal, or less), but conversion of gasoline engines & fuel systems to operate using CNG is relatively inexpensive, and can be done, in many cases, under $1000 by most anyone with perfunctory knowledge of automotive mechanics.

As promised, here is Faux News’ THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING! alarmist video “news” segment.

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