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Economic stimulus via destruction.
December 22, 2010 5:51 PM   Subscribe

If you own a car built before 2007 or any small gas engines, you may be replacing them soon.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere (67 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh... The post looks like hell, but I thought the message needed to get out. Sorry to non-USA folks for not marking it USA specific.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 5:52 PM on December 22, 2010


The link isn't loading properly, had to pull page source.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 6:01 PM on December 22, 2010


I have a hard time seeing where the statement made in your post is supported by anything in the article.

The EPA is allowing the sale of E15 for engines manufactured after 2007, not mandating it or forcing it. They're going to do a study on whether to allow it for engines manufactured from 2001-2007. All that's happening is a bunch of engine manufacturers are worried people might put the wrong kind of gas in their engine. If E15 becomes the standard then yes, people might have to get new engines, but we've done this before when we switched from regular gas to unleaded. What's the big deal?
posted by LionIndex at 6:01 PM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


InsertNiftyNameHere, the page won't load for me past the header.
posted by msali at 6:01 PM on December 22, 2010


Those of us with boats have been aware of the problem for a while. Go to any boating forum and you'll find thread after thread about systems destroyed by the use of ethanol. Good to see someone is doing something about it...
posted by HuronBob at 6:01 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So... I'll have to make sure I press the right button when I'm filling up my '97 Toyota? Like I already do?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:02 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you own a car built before 2007 or any small gas engines, you may be replacing them soon.

...if you're dumb enough to put fuel into your tank without actually knowing what kind of fuel it is or what kind of fuel your engine can use.

I don't see from the article where this potential lawsuit would mandate the replacement of anyone's engine.
posted by xbonesgt at 6:02 PM on December 22, 2010


I can't actually get the page to load. That's one of the several downsides to these teaser FPPs that everyone posts lately - if the actual material is not easily accessible, the whole thing turns into one big non-sequitur.
posted by newdaddy at 6:02 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


ChickenLittleFilter
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:03 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


also, the article actually loads if you don't request anything from www.goboating.com or www.goboatingclassifieds.com .

127.0.0.1 www.goboating.com
127.0.0.1 www.goboatingclassifieds.com
posted by xbonesgt at 6:03 PM on December 22, 2010


Yes, this DOES need to get out. Because...


LionIndex : The EPA is allowing the sale of E15 for engines manufactured after 2007, not mandating it or forcing it.

As with E10, you can expect it to take about a year before you can't get anything else, at any price. And even E10 already causes progressive damage to older engines (particularly smaller ones), giving them a lifetime of a few years rather than a few decades even if well-maintained.


I absolutely support cleaner air, cleaner water, renewable fuels, and domestic-sourced energy. But robbing us all to pay the corn farmers, while destroying our existing engines, kinda misses the point. Reduce, RE-USE, Recycle.
posted by pla at 6:04 PM on December 22, 2010 [23 favorites]


Hmm, the oil industry fighting against successful lobbying by the ethanol industry. Can both sides lose this?
posted by BeerFilter at 6:05 PM on December 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


People using adlblockplus are probably not going to have a problem with the page; the standard EasyPrivacy filter ruleset blocks the goboating URLs thanks to them using a known script name.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:08 PM on December 22, 2010


LionIndex: "What's the big deal?"

If they mandate that E10 must still be available for a number of years, then it's not as big a deal (except for those too lazy to pay attention), but I fear a quick replacement of E10 with E15.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:09 PM on December 22, 2010


And even E10 already causes progressive damage to older engines (particularly smaller ones), giving them a lifetime of a few years rather than a few decades even if well-maintained.

Cite? Because here in corn country, we've had E10 for a really long time now. And cars are lasting longer than ever. I swear I remember seeing a video where they ran a BMW on E85 or E100 for like 500,000 miles and it came out clean as a whistle. Sadly, I cannot remember the context.
posted by gjc at 6:09 PM on December 22, 2010


No idea why the link is broken... Loads for me. How do I notify the mods? Thx.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:10 PM on December 22, 2010


I don't get the problem. There's like 10 million E85 cars on the road in the US and E10 is already common. How much damage can E15 possibly do? As long as your hoses and gaskets and whatnot are resistant to ethanol, problem solved.

As for the ethanol-is-causing-starvation "problem": Pfff. There is no shortage of food in the world, although there is definitely a distribution problem. Driving up corn prices in the US can only help everyone, from the farmers to the people currently growing obese on corn syrup. But even if corn isn't the answer, ethanol can be extracted from many non-food sources.
posted by DU at 6:14 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


newdaddy: "I can't actually get the page to load. That's one of the several downsides to these teaser FPPs that everyone posts lately - if the actual material is not easily accessible, the whole thing turns into one big non-sequitur."

Yeah, I'm sure it was my fault. It was my first attempt at putting text before the hyperlink.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:15 PM on December 22, 2010


Popular Mechanics has an article out about this, dated yesterday.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:15 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


George_Spiggott: "Popular Mechanics has an article out about this, dated yesterday."

Even better! Thanks. Now I hope enough people spot your comment to read that article.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:20 PM on December 22, 2010


I'd be all in favor of ethanol made from corn stalks and other agricultural waste, but making it from corn itself is fantastically stupid. Our arable land is already horribly degraded and requires constant infusions of fertilizer to keep it productive. The energy and materials required to grow corn for fuel, as well as the theft from our shrinking soil bank, makes it an unbelievably shitty deal. If you're going to grow a primary crop for fuel, at least choose something nitrogen-fixing for christ's sake.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:20 PM on December 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


George_Spiggott: "People using adlblockplus are probably not going to have a problem with the page; the standard EasyPrivacy filter ruleset blocks the goboating URLs thanks to them using a known script name."

Bing! I think we have a winner. I'm using that addon right now. I'll have to remember to turn it off before I compose any future posts. Thanks.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:22 PM on December 22, 2010


[replaced the main link with the Popular Mechanics one for now, OP feel free to reinsert the link -- with caveats that it's maybe broken for some folks -- into the thread as a comment]
posted by jessamyn at 6:30 PM on December 22, 2010


The wisdom of using energy-intensive agriculture to produce fuel alcohol aside, I'm pretty dubious about why this is OMG ETHANOPOCALYPSE. Sure, if you have a 40-year-old engine with all its original hoses and gaskets, it might not work with E15, but wouldn't it already be gummed up by E10? Why is that extra 5% a big deal?
posted by hattifattener at 6:30 PM on December 22, 2010


Oh gee, now I retroactively look like Captain Clueless Reposts the Top Link Inside the Thread. Thanks an imperial pantload, Jess.

(No, I kid, truly.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:34 PM on December 22, 2010


me and my 87 corolla are fucked anyway...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:37 PM on December 22, 2010


I suspect that ethanol is why my 2002 high compression small engine (Mini Cooper) has had recurrent problems, primarily with probes that ironically cause the emissions control system to fail and the whole thing to run rich.

I just don't get the theory behind adding a new gas type. We barely have the infrastructure to support the blends we have now. They know that ethanol damages engines, which is why aviation still uses leaded fuel. 75% of the small plane engines could use an unleaded ethanol free gas, but you just can't get it anymore because of how the distribution pipeline works.

This is the sort of policy that gives environmentalism a black eye, because it mandates harm, extra cost and little to no net benefit to the environment.
posted by meinvt at 6:39 PM on December 22, 2010


'87? Ooh, is that one of those NUMMI ones? That's a nice Corolla.
posted by box at 6:44 PM on December 22, 2010


I was recently talking to a cousin from who I got a '97 Cavalier for school and etc. Telling her how I was still getting 25-30mpg out of the sucker. I hope I did not speak too soon.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:01 PM on December 22, 2010


The quit reading point was unfortunately in the last paragraph; You don't want to add yet more alcohol, lest the increased concentration turns your ­carburetor float to Jell-O. Really? I'm 40 and I barely know what the hell a carburetor is, this won't be a problem for any car made in say the last 20 years. Carburetors have gone out of style like years that start with 19XX and ironically worn Memebers Only jackets.
posted by Keith Talent at 7:02 PM on December 22, 2010


DU: "I don't get the problem. There's like 10 million E85 cars on the road in the US and E10 is already common. How much damage can E15 possibly do? As long as your hoses and gaskets and whatnot are resistant to ethanol, problem solved."

The last part is the problem. Older cars and boats weren't made with resistant materials, and important gaskets, hoses and fuel tanks get eaten away by ethanol.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:05 PM on December 22, 2010


I'm pretty dubious about why this is OMG ETHANOPOCALYPSE. Sure, if you have a 40-year-old engine with all its original hoses and gaskets, it might not work with E15, but wouldn't it already be gummed up by E10? Why is that extra 5% a big deal?

***

Half of the engines tested so far have had some problems, said C. Coleman Jones, the biofuel implementation manager at General Motors, who spoke on behalf of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

More ethanol will confuse exhaust control systems and make engines run too hot, destroying catalytic converters, automakers say. It can also damage engine cylinders, they say ....

One major reason for concern is that modern cars sense the amount of oxygen in the exhaust and use that measurement to modify the fuel/air mixture going into the cylinders. This works fine for straight gasoline. But the ethanol molecule contains an oxygen atom, and that may confuse the sensor into making the mixture too lean; lean engines produce exhaust hot enough to damage catalytic converters, industry experts say, and may also produce more nitrogen oxides, an ingredient of smog. (NYTimes)
***

Approving E15 would have a huge impact on consumers, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, and could cause problems including the voiding of car warranties. “There’s a lot to worry about,” he said. “All a consumer has to do is look at the fuels section of the owner’s manual, which says that the use of fuel above 10 percent ethanol may result in denial of warranty claims.” ...

Mr. Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety said: “What the ethanol people are asking the consumer to do is bear the risk. If only 1 percent of the vehicles on the road today had E15-related problems, that would be about 2.5 million vehicles.” ...

At Honda, which makes a wide range of engines for products from minivans to power generators, the concern is that the effects of a big increase in an additive like ethanol are unknown, said Edward B. Cohen, vice president for government and industry relations at American Honda. “The impact can be on the emissions system, like the catalytic converter,” he said. “It can be on the various tubes or couplings that are part of the fuel system, and it could affect the performance of the vehicle, particularly cold starting.” ... (NY Times)

***

The station owners say they fear lawsuits from customers claiming their cars were damaged by the E15 fuel. But they also note that existing pumps are not certified by Underwriters Laboratories as safe for use with E15 — and U.L., which certifies the safety of a wide range of products, says it will not provide that certification.

John Drengenberg, U.L.’s consumer safety director, said previous testing showed that the existing pumps were safe for up to 15 percent ethanol. But U.L. will not guarantee them for 1 percent more, he said.

That means E15 certification cannot be given because there can be slight variations in the mixture of gas and ethanol, Mr. Drengenberg said — E15 might actually include 16 percent ethanol. “It cannot ever be said that this is exactly 15 percent.”

Furthermore, while U.L. says 15 percent ethanol would be acceptable, it cannot retroactively and officially certify the existing pumps for dispensing E15, a spokesman, Joseph Hirschmugl, said.

That is a problem because state and local fire codes usually require stations to use equipment that a third party — typically U.L. — has certified as compatible with the fuel being sold. A fuel with much higher ethanol content, E85 — which can be used only in flexible-fuel vehicles — is dispensed through a different type of pump, which the U.L. has approved. (NYTimes)

***

Destroyed engines and catalytic converters. Chances of increased smog. Financial risk to consumers. Financial risk to gas stations. Potential safety risks to users of small engine equipment. Plus the energy risks you admit, and concerns about increased ethanol production actually harming the environment. I'd say that qualifies for ETHANOPOCALYPSE.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:11 PM on December 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


So I understand that there are problems with making a big switch to ethanol, or really just about any other type of biofuel (such as biodiesel). Lots of industries would have to retool, we would have to look at how we produce the biomass that we use for fuel production so that we aren't using more oil than we're replacing (which is madness), and so on.

On the other hand, Peak Oil. Arguing that we really can't replace gas-burning engines with alcohol-burning engines because we're already using all this petroleum-burning technology is a non-starter. Like global warming, this is a problem that we really don't have a long time to solve, and it's getting shorter by the day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2010


On the plus side the worlds solar panel producers reached 15gw of capacity this year up from 200mw in 2000. Production costs are dropping and look to hit the magical $1/watt by 2015. Algea and Microbial biofuels are making their ways through the labs of Exxon Mobil, Craig Venture's startup and others.
posted by humanfont at 7:56 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I knew all about this problem back when Gasohol was first tried in the early 1980s, in its land of origin, Iowa. I accidentally got a tank of gasohol from a poorly marked gas pump, I always tried to avoid it, since my 65 Mustang GT convertible required high octane fuel (which was hard to get sometimes) for optimum performance. So I'm driving cross country in winter, a little water must have condensed in either the gas station's fuel tank, or my Mustang's fuel tank, the gas and alcohol separated. As I'm driving down the Interstate, suddenly BOOM I blew a gasket and the engine block cracked. End of car.

I will never ever buy gasohol.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:56 PM on December 22, 2010


OK. I've owned, in rough order, a 1979 Mustang 2.8, a 1972 Mustang Landau (yes they existed, yes they could be ordered with a straight six), a 1973 VW Super Beetle with the Automatic Stick, a 1986 Ford Tempo, a 1988 Ford Festiva, a 1972 Cadillac El Dorado convertible, a 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT (with T-Tops), a 1988 Chevy Monte Carlo (With T-Tops), a 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood droptop hotrodded to hell and gone, another 1988 Festiva, a 2004 Dodge Neon, and now a Real Car I won't disclose.

There is nothing, NOTHING, that E15 can do to an engine that shoddy engineering and quality control didn't do already. The good engines are so ridiculously over-engineered, nothing short of a tac-nuke could cause them to stall, and the other engines so overmatched by reality, they could be run on unicorn piss and decanted rainbows, and still leave you on the side of the road.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:59 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Keith Talent: "Carburetors have gone out of style like years that start with 19XX and ironically worn Memebers Only jackets."

I agree that the mention of carbs was silly when writing in an article about autos, but there are still zillions of carbs on small engines of every kind.

I can't speak to the specifics of ethanol in a fuel injected system are, but I've no doubt that the jell-o analogy the author uses still holds in the case of fuel injection systems.

I think one of the most important things to take away from this issue is that even the auto MANUFACTURERS are suing to prevent E15's approval. If this were just an issue of killing the last few clunkers on the roads, the manufacturers would be demanding the release of E15.

And I won't even mention the fact that no one will know how well "Flex Fuel" vehicles will perform using E85 in the long run for quite a few years yet.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:13 PM on December 22, 2010


Well, of the three vehicles we have, one will run on E10.

We have a 2000 Neon, which seems to do just fine.

A 1995 Ford Contour which just plain doesn't run on any ethanol, period.

and a 1979 El Camino, which despite being my daily driver while the Contour is out for repairs, we try to drive as little as possible, no idea if it'll run on alcohol or not, not keen to find out.


There are few enough stations that sell non-ethanol fuels now, despite there being no mandate, I can't see this situation getting any better as gas stations try to bump up the amount of ethanol that gets blended.

So, um, yeah, we'd be screwed. And since I don't see anyone coming forward to make car payments for us, we'd be *really* screwed.
posted by Sportbilly at 8:18 PM on December 22, 2010


I recently had a shitty problem that's happened only a couple times so far (thank god), but it caused me to miss xmas with the folks due to fears of it happening again. '94 Cavalier. Just up and stopped going gaswise. Electrics fine. Mechanic, when I described it, thought it was a fuel system issue. But he had it for a couple days, and did a couple things he thought might help, but couldn't track it down. I wonder if this is the culprit. I'm in Wisconsin. I'm pretty sure I've seen E85 in my pump, but the site that wikipedia linked to shows my station as not having E85, so I dunno.

Still sucks.
posted by symbioid at 9:23 PM on December 22, 2010


symbioid, you just described the problems with the Contour I have. Replacing the canister fuel filter under the car fixed it.

My relatively naive inner-mechanic thinks that possibly the filter slowly accumulated water. I know that when I took it apart I found no crud, looked clean, but then water is sneaky like that.
posted by Sportbilly at 9:33 PM on December 22, 2010


Well, that and never again running it on E10 :)
posted by Sportbilly at 9:35 PM on December 22, 2010


My 12-year old car specifically says in its manual that it can run well on up to 8% "Gasohol," and can tolerate upwards of 15%.

I wonder what actual scientific analysis has been done on the subject. I see a lot of comments from obviously-biased parties, he-said she-said, and useless anecdotal hunches.

This sort of thing seems to happen all the time in the automotive world. Remember the Toyota gas pedal hoax/scandal earlier this year?
posted by schmod at 10:10 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most motorcyclists are aware of this. We have carburetors, and here in B.C. we fuel up with Chevron 94 octane. It a no alcohol added gasoline, and is affectionately referred to as "High Test".
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:13 PM on December 22, 2010


E15 destroyed my net neutralities!
posted by dirigibleman at 10:14 PM on December 22, 2010


Well, i feel its unlikely that my '67 Camaro is gonna run on that crap, so I guess it's gonna be time to switch to racing fuel. Much cheaper to re-tweak the engine for that than to replace the entire fuel system. I really don't imagine there will be too many cops checking the contents of my gas tank for fuel that's not technically street legal as long as I don't drive like a maniac.

And before any Peakers get mad at me for driving a big ol' V8, I only put about 300 miles a year on the car. Mostly I'm on a fuel injected motorcycle. Will have to find out if E15 will mess that up, for sure.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:35 PM on December 22, 2010


Maybe this is the little push I need to convert everything to run on natural gas. My 21 year old car is chugging along just fine, and I'd like it to stay that way.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:18 PM on December 22, 2010


I agree that the mention of carbs was silly when writing in an article about autos, but there are still zillions of carbs on small engines of every kind.

Something something motorcycles.

Clearly, I need to do more research into this. Although my bike (a KLR 650) will run on just about anything.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:48 AM on December 23, 2010


My daily car is a 1980 import with a V8 and a four-barrel carb. It seems to run fine on the 87 octane E10 I run through it (not by choice, it's all that's available). My 50's motorcycle doesn't complain, and my mid-sixties British cars seem to run fine on it. Come to think of it, my early 2000s high-performance motorcycle isn't running too well at the moment, but that may be (probably is) another issue entirely.

I've heard this type of panic before. You should have seen the freak-out in the British classic car world (ie, old car enthusiasts actually in Britain) when lead was finally removed from petrol there in the 90s. No older car would make it through the summer! You MUST do this expensive rebuild! Will classic cars all die???

(It was more ridiculous than Y2K, and proved to be a non-issue. I have yet to own an older car where valve recession due to unleaded took it off the road.)

Water is always in a gas tank. In ye olde days it would build up at the bottom of the tank (gas floats on water, so to speak) and either rust out the tank or finally get up to the level of the inlet and then you'd stall. "Heat" or other gas-drying additives are essentially nothing but alcohol, meant to pull that water into suspension and then safely go through your engine and out the back. You can't run on water, but a little isn't harmful and can actually clean cylinder deposits. Hot rodders used to use water injection to cool the inlet charge and gain power.

Mind, this is all on the kind of dirt-simple engines found in the crap I own. Maybe my wife's modern Japanese machine would die if anything remotely off-kilter came through the injectors, but I have no idea. It seems to run ok on the fuel we put into it.
posted by maxwelton at 2:32 AM on December 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


But robbing us all to pay the corn farmers...

—not just the corn farmers. Don't forget the automakers.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:57 AM on December 23, 2010


As far as I know, many (most?) states allow gas stations to dispense E10 without disclosure. At least that is the word from some aircraft pilots... sudden engine stoppage in that situation is a big deal.
posted by exogenous at 4:36 AM on December 23, 2010


Ah, pfft. I'm over 40 years old and have been running on alcohol for decades.
posted by spitbull at 4:48 AM on December 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I see a lot of comments from obviously-biased parties, he-said she-said, and useless anecdotal hunches

Nuts to that. The boating industry has been bitching about this for years. My dad started complaining about seeing dried out hoses in lawn mowers a decade ago. Regardless of whether you believe ethanol damages engines, hell, regardless of whether it's true, why are we paying corn farmers to make ethanol? There's no upside to anyone but them.
posted by yerfatma at 6:18 AM on December 23, 2010


So glad I live somewhere where the gas is still plain old gas and all service stations are full-service.
posted by TravellingDen at 6:36 AM on December 23, 2010


Just for clarification:

- ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline. High compression engines LIKE it. If we went to e85 and actually had engines tuned to take advantage of it, the world would be a much more fun place.

- because of the higher octane, they can mix worse gasoline with the ethanol so that it comes out to 87 octane. That is the cause of some complaints.

- Dried out hoses happen all the time. Manufacturers go cheap. It is more likely that they dry out from the gasoline than the alcohol, as it is much more harmful. Further, it is very hard to get really good hoses in the aftermarket. I just replaced some hoses on my 1993 Dodge Spirit with 223 000 miles on it. Not because they were leaking, but because the steel they were connected to was leaking. Those were the factory hoses, and they were still soft and supple. Except for one, that I had to replace a few years ago, because I cut it. The replacement hose was the best I could find. It was hard as a rock and just as brittle.

- The boating and aircraft industry will have more issues with newer fuels, because they use on average older engines. Aircraft especially, because AFAIK, nobody has done testing on what happens to ethanol fuels in the air. They will, I'm sure, figure that out, adjust mixture settings and whatnot to make it work.

- When switching over to an ethanol mix for the first time, all engines *can* have issues. This isn't because ethanol is bad, but because it cleans up deposits and crap in the fuel system SO WELL that it all comes out at once and clogs things.
posted by gjc at 6:43 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


pmurray63- There are always going to be issues, but some of the linked "experts" are wrong, or simply full of it.
One major reason for concern is that modern cars sense the amount of oxygen in the exhaust and use that measurement to modify the fuel/air mixture going into the cylinders. This works fine for straight gasoline. But the ethanol molecule contains an oxygen atom, and that may confuse the sensor into making the mixture too lean; lean engines produce exhaust hot enough to damage catalytic converters, industry experts say, and may also produce more nitrogen oxides, an ingredient of smog.
That is just wrong. If the oxygen sensor sees too much oxygen, it will make the mixture more RICH. Because oxygen in the exhaust means the engine is running lean.
“There’s a lot to worry about,” he said. “All a consumer has to do is look at the fuels section of the owner’s manual, which says that the use of fuel above 10 percent ethanol may result in denial of warranty claims.” ...

“What the ethanol people are asking the consumer to do is bear the risk. If only 1 percent of the vehicles on the road today had E15-related problems, that would be about 2.5 million vehicles.” ...
BS- There are not 250 million vehicles on the road that are under warranty. We don't know why they put that in the manual, or if it really is in ALL manuals. I know it is in SOME manuals. It also says *MAY*. They would have to prove that the e15 caused the problem.
existing pumps are not certified by Underwriters Laboratories as safe for use with E15 — and U.L., which certifies the safety of a wide range of products, says it will not provide that certification.

John Drengenberg, U.L.’s consumer safety director, said previous testing showed that the existing pumps were safe for up to 15 percent ethanol. But U.L. will not guarantee them for 1 percent more, he said.

That means E15 certification cannot be given because there can be slight variations in the mixture of gas and ethanol, Mr. Drengenberg said — E15 might actually include 16 percent ethanol. “It cannot ever be said that this is exactly 15 percent.”

Furthermore, while U.L. says 15 percent ethanol would be acceptable, it cannot retroactively and officially certify the existing pumps for dispensing E15, a spokesman, Joseph Hirschmugl, said.
What do you expect them to say? They tested the pumps to see if they were safe when used with E10. They found that they were. They did not test them with E15, so they aren't certified for that.

"Not certified" doesn't mean "won't work". What really will happen is that the manufacturer of the pumps will just submit their old pumps for re-testing at the E15 level, and they will pass certification, and everyone will be happy.
posted by gjc at 7:01 AM on December 23, 2010




So glad I live somewhere where the gas is still plain old gas and all service stations are full-service.

New Jersey?
posted by gjc at 7:01 AM on December 23, 2010


I am not a mechanic/chemist/auto manufacturer.... but GJC is making the exact same case that my old organic chemistry instructor (who was not only held a doctorate in chemistry, but also happened to both work in the petroleum industry *and* race cars in his spare time) made.

He always said that the ethanol wasn't the issue. It was the already-existing deposits and the lobbying.
posted by kaseijin at 7:19 AM on December 23, 2010


...but I generally stay mum about all this stuff... on account of I really don't know one way or the other, save what various people have told me.

But I tend to think Dr. B knew his stuff. Or I hope he did.
posted by kaseijin at 7:20 AM on December 23, 2010


Just to toss a little more coal on the fire...
Another concern many have with the increasing production of ethanol is the depletion of local water tables. Ethanol plants tend to be plopped-down out in the country, near corn-producing areas. The residents in these areas, generally, rely on wells for their water supply. An ethanol plant sucks an enormous amount of water from the local aquifer, resulting in dried-up (or failing) residential wells in the areas surrounding the plant.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:17 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


From NPR this morning: NASCAR Gives Ethanol Green Flag; Who Will Follow?
When it comes to ethanol, price, fuel economy and engine performance matter to lots of American drivers. The ethanol industry fights hard to shape public opinion of the fuel, and it has now found a new way to get its message across in a partnership with NASCAR.
Part of a series of reports on ethanol that also includes: Fuel Vs. Food: Ethanol Helps Boost Meat Prices and Ethanol Gets A Boost; Will It Return The Favor?
posted by peeedro at 8:24 AM on December 23, 2010


I recently stopped at my local John Deere dealer to pick up parts for my perfectly fine 40-year-old snowblower. A mechanic there, who gave me tips on replacing belts, also warned me in no uncertain terms of the perils of using ethanol gas in any small engines. He advocated extreme measures--running the tank dry with every outing, using additives, and generally bracing for the worst. He also indicated that gas-powered chainsaws, lawn mowers, etc., all essential in our area, will have very short lifespans when used with ethanol. It was an alarming conversation and he was most unhappy about the situation. I take good care of my power tools and have no money lying around to replace them. I love the planet, but after a major snowfall or windstorm have no choice but to rely on these old workhorses, and know a lot of people in the same situation, like pretty much everyone who lives in the snow belt. Upping the ethanol will certainly accelerate things.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:09 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


NASCAR Gives Ethanol Green Flag; Who Will Follow?
Indycar has been racing on 100% ethanol since 2006. Before that, the series had been racing 100% methanol since the 70's.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:44 AM on December 23, 2010


The portion of the article about water and phase separation is not credible. The EPA has some stuff to say about it. Skip to paragraphs just above the conclusion for a discussion of tank condensation and phase separation.

And about the fact that automakers are suing the government: the automobile industry fought the requirement of seat belts, emission controls, 5 mph bumpers, airbags, and just about every other good thing you can think of except for horsepower.

It's their standard response to change of any sort.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:51 PM on December 23, 2010


What you said Real Dan is true, except that none of those stopped any vehicles from running.
posted by Sportbilly at 9:17 PM on December 23, 2010


Never mind Dan, I read what you posted wrong, That's what I get for late-nite MetaFiltering
posted by Sportbilly at 9:19 PM on December 23, 2010


The portion of the article about water and phase separation is not credible. The EPA has some stuff to say about it. Skip to paragraphs just above the conclusion for a discussion of tank condensation and phase separation.

EPA regs from 15 years ago are weak sauce and have very little to say about the issue of increasing gasoline/ethanol percentage up to 15%. You are injecting nonsense into this discussion.

From your citation:
For example, at a constant temperature of 100 degrees F and relative humidity of 100%, it would take well over 200 days to saturate one gallon of gasoline in an open gasoline can (assuming the only source of water is water vapor from the air).
Please show us the vehicle with a gasoline tank that maintains a constant 100F temperature. In the real world vehicles are subject to dramatic changes in temperature and humidity. Water vapor might condense under these conditions and cause fuel stability issues; it's not addressed in your citation so don't pretend it doesn't matter.
posted by peeedro at 9:58 PM on January 5, 2011


The citation doesn't contain EPA regulations. It's a memorandum.
Start reading it at the top.

The paragraph you quote is a worst case scenario, showing how long it would
take oxygenated gasoline to absorb moisture directly from the air, without condensation. Read the whole paragraph, not just the part on page 5.

Your concerns about condensation are addressed exactly two paragraphs above
the paragraph you quoted. If your vent lines are cracked or if you have a rag
in your filler neck instead of a gas cap, then condensation will indeed be a problem,
and you will have a continuous source of liquid water being added to your tank.

If you fix your leaking vent lines, or your leaking gas cap, or the hole in your fuel
tank, all of which allow a continuous supply of moist air, then condensation
won't be a problem for the blended gasoline, like it says in the memo.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:17 AM on January 8, 2011


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