Dependence on foreign oil is a hot topic, but it isn’t a new one. Each president since Jimmy Carter has said something about yet. Over time, different fuels such as methane and ethanol have been proposed. Over the last few years, gas suppliers have been mixing gasoline and ethanol, in a solution called E10, or 10 percent ethanol. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency is thinking about whether to approve use of E15 for late or older models. There is not a good deal of science out on it yet. That is why auto makers are urging the EPA to wait on deciding.
The EPA weighs in on E15
The Environmental Protection Agency has the oversight on approving new fuels. Right now, it is weighing the merits of E15. E15 is the next step up from the already widely sold E10. It has a mixture of 15 percent ethanol to 85 percent gasoline. The Department of Energy is testing the effects of E15 on automobiles that are no older than 10 years, according to Popular Mechanics. That is not an incredibly realistic testing range. About 88 percent of all cars in use in the United States of America are over 10 years of age. The Auto Alliance, a consortium of car manufacturers, has urged the EPA not for making any ruling on E15 until Auto Alliance studies have been completed. At least one study, by engineering group Ricardo, Inc., found that E15 has no harmful effects on cars older than 10 years.
Ethanol as gasoline
Ethanol also goes by another name, which is moonshine. The energy potential of a chemical is determined by its combustibility, and ethanol is certainly combustible. According to Wikipedia, the drawback to using ethanol is that it has about 34 percent less energy per unit of volume than gasoline. Resulting from that is 50 percent greater use of fuel in an ethanol only vehicle. However, parity with gas power could be achieved by increasing the compression, and making the engine more powerful. Even with a larger engine at higher compression, ethanol fueled cars cannot get better mileage than gas engines.
The consequences of ethanol
A great deal of grain is already getting used for a fuel crop. However, the danger with supplanting gas with ethanol is that crops, especially grains, increase in scarcity and therefore cost. Having a cheap abundance of grain crops is what makes civilization itself possible.