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Ethanol—A Renewable Energy Source

Advantages and drawbacks

The advantages of E85

  • Ethanol can be a renewable and sustainable energy resource. Use of E85 can extend the supplies of fossil fuels that rely on carbon-based compounds.
  • E85 can be produced in the US. This will improve energy security by reducing the reliance on imported oil.
  • There are positive environmental benefits associated with the use of E85.
  • Ethanol is a high-octane fuel (96 octane rating compared to gasoline at 86-94). When blended with gasoline, it can help a vehicle run smoother. Power, acceleration and cruising speed are comparable to gasoline.
  • FFV’s have the ability to run on either 100% gasoline up to 85% ethanol.

The drawbacks Of E85

  • Because E85 is a corrosive solvent, fuel storage tanks and dispensing equipment must be corrosion and damage resistant. Fuel pumps and hoses must also be made of non-corroding materials, and stainless steel is used for fuel tanks. Extra care is required in keeping storage tanks and delivery hoses clean and free of sediment that could be washed into a vehicle's fuel tank and cause problems.
  • The lower energy content of E85 results in slightly lower fuel economy and vehicle driving range.
  • It is presently more difficult to locate refueling stations. For example, if you were traveling from the mid-west (where most of the stations are located) to California, it might be difficult to find a refueling station that sells E85. There are a limited number of retail E85 refueling stations in the US; about 150-180, mostly located in the mid-west. There is no danger of running out of fuel, however, since FFV’s will accept 100% gasoline.