Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Future Of Transportation - Fuel

In the face of drought, rising food prices, lower fuel economy and easily recovered domestic oul, the EPA will be requiring gas stations to begin vending E15 soon. In addition to all the above reasons not to burn ethanol as a fuel in the first place, there is the potential for damage to older engines, and the added feature of the ethanol suddenly falling out of solution when condensate water gets mixed into the fuel.

That last bit doesn't happen around here where 30% humidity is considered oppressively muggy, but I'm told it regularly reaches higher levels in other parts of the country.

The EPA's clever solution is to set a minimum sale of 4 gallons of E10 from pumps where the hose is common to multiple grades of fuel.

Most people I know fill a 15 gallon tank when it gets down to 1/4 full, so this shouldn't be much of a problem. I already deal with this when I fill my motorcycle, which prefers premium. I wait until the 6-gallon tank is down to 1-2 gallons, then top off. Figuring the fuel line at the pump runs from the bottom of the pump, where the grade is switched, to the top, then back down the hose, this is about 5 yards of 1" ID hose containing about .6 gallons of whatever the fellow before me used, probably sub-grade rotgut regular. I figure my 4-gallons of premium is 85% good stuff and 15% swill.

Happy motoring tip: Fill up in the better neighborhoods. Check out the clientele at the pumps when you pull up. Get in behind the fellow filling his 7xx BMW and wait for him to finish. You get better gas that way.

Of course if you don't have an upscale neighborhood handy, just remember, the hose only holds .6 gallon. You can pump this out on the pavement first then top off your tank with 100% good stuff. If the station owner or the other customers object, tell them the EPA made you do it.

1 comment:

Brad K. said...

We have stations here in rural Oklahoma that advertise no ethanol. That means they don't get newer vehicles. But my weedeater and lawm mower continue to run, without the ethanol-specific additives.

I find that, just as urban legend predicted, I get 10% worse mileage at a station that substitutes 10% of the gasoline in each gallon for ethanol. Just at a glance, then, I pay for a full gallon, but get 9/10ths of a gallon of gas and 1/10th gallon of filler. The gasoline moves my car down the road 9/10ths as far, which matches up with the 9/10ths of my fuel is gasoline. So, all the federal subsidies, the regulations, and inspections, and factory changes and additives to keep that 10% ethanol or filler from gumming up my motor, or rotting anything important -- all go to reduce the gasoline in my fuel without any benefit to me.

I think the stations advertising "No Ethanol" are on the right track. I wonder how long it will take, before the "No Ethanol" stations will start starving the new car market? But then, I never understood how mining the metals, transporting the pieces and masses, building a new vehicle and all the repair and maintenance parts for a new product, will save any energy. It seems beefing up the efficiency of existing vehicles, and assuring longer usable lifetime, would pay off in energy saved for the nation.