Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Beware the new 15%-ethanol blended gasoline


Many people appear unaware that last week, the Biden administration raised the "summer blend" ethanol-in-gasoline blend requirement from 10% to 15%.  This may have serious consequences, including physical damage, for the engines of older vehicles, and also for small engines (e.g. outboard motors, lawnmowers, tillers, generators, and so on).

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) is "the leading trade association representing the makers of the fuels that keep Americans moving and the petrochemicals that are the essential building blocks for modern life".  On their Web site, they talk about the "Blend Wall" as follows:

The blend wall is the maximum amount of ethanol that can be safely absorbed into the U.S. gasoline pool. Today, the blend wall sits at roughly 10 percent of total gasoline consumed. That 10 percent is a reflection of compatible retail infrastructure and consumer demand.

Ethanol is a valuable source of octane in finished gasoline, but it is chemically different than petroleum gasoline and cannot be used in concentrations above 10 percent in small engines — like outboard boat motors, motorcycles, lawnmowers, generators or chain saws — or in any cars made before 2001. Complicating matters further, most cars on the road today still aren’t warrantied to run on gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol. Retail stations also must have compatible infrastructure in order to sell gasoline with higher ethanol blends. Until those factors change, and change significantly, the blend wall is likely to remain set at or around 10 percent.

Based on the volume targets set in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the 2007 Energy Information Administration outlook available to policymakers at the time, it is clear Congress never intended for the RFS conventional mandate to exceed the E10 blend wall. Corn ethanol’s share of the mandate was supposed to remain just below 10 percent of the gasoline pool, at most.

If your vehicle was made before 2001, or is not certified by its manufacturer to run on a fuel blend of more than 10% ethanol, the new fuel blend mandate may signal serious problems for you.  You may be forced to part-fill your vehicle's tank with ethanol-free gasoline, then the rest with 15% ethanol mix, in order to bring the total ethanol content down below 10%.  (That's what I'm going to do in my 2014 vehicle, for sure.  My wife's vehicle, being much newer, is - according to the local dealer - able to run safely on the 15% blend.)

Furthermore, something like 40% of US corn production goes into ethanol for fuel.  Now that ethanol production will have to increase by 50% (the difference between 10% and 15% fuel mixtures), even more corn will be absorbed by the fuel industry - at a time when there's a worldwide food shortageI don't think there could possibly be a more damaging bureaucratic decision than this, not just for vehicles, but for the food market as a whole.  People are already starving.  This is going to make it worse.

As for fuel reserves (if you keep a few cans of fuel handy for your lawnmower or generator, or to refill your vehicle in case of emergency), I've long argued that it's best to store non-ethanol gasoline, because the latter lasts longer without deterioration than mixed fuel, and is also better for small engines.  That goes double now that the ethanol level will go to 15%.  Non-ethanol fuel is more expensive than mixed fuel, but delivers greater energy per gallon when used.  I think it's now become mandatory for our emergency fuel supply.  If you've stored ethanol-mix fuel, I highly recommend that you use it at once in your vehicle, and refill your fuel containers with non-ethanol gasoline.  Add some stabilizer to lengthen the fuel's storage life (I use PRI-G, but there are many others such as Sta-Bil, Seafoam, etc. - take your pick) and you're good to go.

I think the only people who will benefit from this astoundingly dunderheaded bureaucratic decision will be those who want to outlaw fossil fuels altogether (not to mention restrict private motoring), and of course Big Ag - the massive agriculture conglomerates who will now be able to sell more and more corn to the "captive market" of the fuel refineries, whether the latter like it or not.  The rest of us are going to be lumbered with the consequences.  Right now, I can't see any good ones.



Michael said...

Malice or ignorance?

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

Destroying food for poor grade fuel during a developing food emergency? Damaging destroying valued equipment's like automobiles (mobility) generators (rolling blackout defense) chainsaws (storm damage equipment, firewood for heating fuel issues-shortages) economic damage forcing the prepared (as most "normal folks" don't have generators or such) to buy very expensive Pure Ethanol gasoline?

Anybody want to bet that pure ethanol gasoline will be scarce and priced like unicorn farts before mid-summer?

They don't have to outlaw, that's too much in your face, just scarce and/or expensive does the trick in the long run. 1000% tax on evil black rifles spring to mind?

Maybe we are fighting more than flesh and blood in America?

Ephesians 6:12 says For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places

Praying for wisdom

Aesop said...

^That, right there.

This is a feature-not-a-bug two-fer: Destroying food, and blowing up combustion engines. This is a Greenie wet dream.

When the sheep refuse to be sheared, they're taken to make lamb chops.

This is the loading ramp dropping on the truck.

McChuck said...

The Left's hero Roosevelt bragged about burning food during the hungry years of the Dust Bowl.

Everything old is new again. They have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.

Ratus said...

I personally don't have to worry about gasoline blends, since all of the vehicles I have are diesel.

My problem is that diesel is way more expensive than it should be.

Also, I've been using non ethanol gas for over 12 years now for any small engine.

A good thing to get is hydrophobic funnel to separate any water that makes it into your stored fuel when you fill the tank of your small engine.

STxAR said...

I would imagine Big-Ag is hurting too. Lack of fertilizer, diesel prices through the roof. Last I saw, we are well behind the planting schedule for some crops.

Thanks for the heads up.

Mind your own business said...

I eagerly await the Administration's requirement that all motor vehicles run on Unobtainium.

They won't be happy until all of us peasants are barefoot and have to walk to our meaningless paper-pushing jobs in order to get our digital currency paycheck that they can control how it is spent. Step out of line, and your family is homeless and starving.

Brother PIlot said...

Check out

E15 is not widely available. Biden is not suddenly replacing E10 with E15 (though I think he'd like to do so. His move is utterly stupid for all the reasons Peter and other commenters have listed, and the fact that allowing E15 sales through the summer will do nothing for gas prices, so it won't even do what he claims it will do).

John in Indy said...

Note also the timing of this attack. Such planting as the US has is done. The corn which will be used for this fuel ethanol will be taken from last years' stored crop, competinh directly with usees as food and feed here, and tighteninng the export pipeline. Higher prices for food here, starvation abroad.
Also note that natural gas and diesel EXPORTS are much higher than they were last year.
Thus is the deliberate action of PEOPLE within and in control of the .gov.
John in Indy

Arthur Sido said...

It is all intentional, and being evil is far worse than being incompetent.

MNW said...

Also be aware that the the higher the ethanol content. The greater damage it can do to metal gas cans - especally ones that are not coated on the inside.

Jonathan H said...

How much biodiesel is in pump fuel? It gets less attention than ethanol gas, but it is out there also.
It is VERY bad for seals and gaskets.

tsquared said...

The 10% ethanol has destroyed the fuel system in my Stingray ($3000), riding lawnmower ($110), 2 chainsaws ($160), tiller ($150 - total loss on engine), and pressure washer ($150 - total loss on engine). I have been buying real gas for all of these and my motorcycle. The motorcycle has a dyno tune on 90 octane real gas. It drops from 50 mpg to 44 mpg with any grade od ethanol fuel. I guess I will be filling my truck with half and half over the summer.

kamas716 said...

The corn you buy at the store for your weekend grilling (sweet) isn't the type of corn used to make fuel (field). Field corn can also be processed into things we eat/drink.

Will said...

Here in CA, Chevron appears to still have non corn fuel, according to the data plate the government requires on all fuel pumps at stations. I ran my old turbo car for many years on it, as ALL other brands made it run really badly. Mower and weed whacker also use that fuel exclusively, and they are still running since 2007 on multiple properties. Mower repair shop was amazed it was still in use.
One of the things to look for, is "flex fuel" vehicles, as they are certified to run at least to E85 mixes, since they have a sensor that measures the amount of alcohol in the fuel, and adjusts the fuel quantity that the engine needs to run properly. Just running the current 10% lowers the fuel mileage it gets, though, but it will work well for future idiocy such as this.

Will said...

The u-tube channel "project Farm" has a video on how to separate out the alcohol from gasoline. Fairly simple, but awkward for large amounts, unless you build a standing system to facilitate it. Just need to figure out what you can do with that industrial alcohol, as you have paid for it.

The Lab Manager said...

And think how many 'Republican' farmers supported this asinine mandate. Ethanol should have never been encouraged as a fuel unless there was some genuine market demand. Even then, using tons of petroleum to grow a food crop and make into a fuel that only has four carbon atoms as opposed a couple dozen or so (like gasoline) is stupidity. But the taxpayers subsidize it.