It's amazing how much mythology persists around alcohol fuel.
When I first started researching alcohol fuel I too believed that it would eat away at my fuel lines, spark plugs and that I was going to need a carburated engine with some extensive modifications. Now, I know that FI is the way to go.
Yes, some vehicles you can use E85 without modifications because the ECU will automatically adjust for the conditions without caring whether it's alcohol or gas.
No, pouring staight E85 into an unmodified engine will not hurt it. If you are concerned that it will perform poorly on it, then only do half a tank so you can add more gasoline.
Yes, alcohol nets a lower milage but only because the engine is not properly tuned for it.
Alcohol will not eat away at your fuel line unless you have real rubber hose which is highly unlikely since most manufacturers only make synthetic rubber lines.
Ethanol is not corrosive but methanol is.
Alcohol burns cleaner and the engines runs cooler which extends the life of the engine. If you are concerned about alcohol washing away your engine lubricant then switch to a synthetic oil.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head and I am sure I didn't address all the concerns. Those that are interested in converting to alcohol should read David Blume's book, "Alcohol can be a Gas" and those that say negative things about alcohol fuel should read it twice.
P.S. journeytoforever.org rocks!
Well all I can say is that it is amazing what false RESEARCH can make you believe is true. As an Engineer and a Chemist I must say that you are incorrect about ethanol and E85. Ethanol AND E85 are VERY corrosive, and it's not just to natural rubber. Ethanol and E85 are very corrosive to numerous natural and artificial fibers that are contained in various products. (Including gaskets, seals, and hose lines
) Just because something is labeled a synthetic material, does NOT mean it was not derived from various natural fibers. Nor does it mean that it is resistant to alcohol.
The big issue with Ethanol and E85 is that it can and will dissolve and strip the natural/artificial oils from your gaskets, seals, and hose lines, causing them to become brittle and crack. This is a fact with all Ethanol based fuels, and is normally what is addressed in a good kit. Secondly, Ethanol based fuels are corrosive in nature to numerous alloys and can cause an oxidized buildup in the engine over time. There are only two ways to counter this. Either you coat all of your wet parts with a protective coating that is resistant to alcohol corrosion, or (and most feasible
) you run some engine cleaner through it every 3-5 thousand miles to flush the crap out. And remember to replace that fuel filter and your oil more often while running Ethanol or E85.
Otherwise, I have seen a smoother drive in my 2000 FFV, when running ethanol, and it has better pick up than when I switch back to gas. But this is because my truck is tuned to run on both by Ford. I still see a 3-4 mile decrease in mileage when switching from 87 octane to E85, but it runs better.
But this increase in performance is NOT totally due to the ethanol, it's primarily due to the fact that the fuel system in the FFV's is designed for E85, and then adapted to Gasoline (namely, it has a $800 Ethanol to Gas ratio sensor
). Plus, everything is over-sized in the FFV's. For example, the injector's are much larger. On the order of 40% larger than the non-FFV version of the Ranger 3.0. This is needed, because it takes more E85 to get the same energy output of Gasoline. But it also causes the FFV's to run a little rich on Gasoline. Hence, the perceived better performance on E85. It's really all just in the tune.
NOTE: This means running E85 in a vehicle not designed for it, will cause it to run lean, and burn your engine up! A proper conversion should include new injectors, and a new tune to fix this.
Energy is Energy, and what goes in must come out. If you put in a higher quantity of the lower energy yield ethanol, you can get the same energy output as gas (of a lesser quantity
Per US Gallon:
No. 2 Diesel: 128,000 - 130,000 Btu
Bio Diesel (B20): 125,000 - 127,000 Btu
Biodiesel (B100): 117,000 - 120,000 Btu
Gasoline (87-93 oct): 109,000 - 125,000 Btu
Gasohol (E10): 113,000 - 121,000 Btu
E85 (85% Ethanol/ 15% Gasoline): 82,200 - 83,500 Btu
Ethanol (E100): 76,100 Btu (this is very nearly exact)
M85 (85% Methanol/ 15% Gasoline): 64,600 - 67,100 Btu
Methanol (M100): 56,800 Btu (this is very nearly exact)
Crude oil based fuels vary greatly in potential energy, which is why they have ranges above.
So at worse you can expect it to take 1.4 times as much E85 to equal the energy output of Gasoline. But with the additives in most gas now (ie. MTBE, ETBE, Ethanol, ***Water***) the actual energy potential of that gas you buy might be quite lower. Case in point, I normally see around a 1 to 1.2 ratio of gas to ethanol where I live. So our gas here is loaded with all sorts of crap!!! The math doesn't lie.
But in engines this is not the only driving factor that determines whether an engine will run well off of it. It's also partly due to the Octane content too. Which in ethanol is far higher. It's 116 for E100 and around 105 +/- 2 for E85. This is why some people will substitute E85 or higher for 110 racing fuel. Same octane rating, but cheaper.
I know this is allot to read and take in and I'm tired just writing it, so I'm sure you are in reading it.
But the only point to make is, you can run E85 in your vehicle you just need to get it tuned (hotter spark plugs will help in cold climates but are unnecessary
). The other stuff dealing with corrosion will keep your engine from dying later on.
Hope this helps someone.