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ETHANOL AND OTHER GASOLINE COMPONENTS

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Ethanol and Other Gasoline Components
 
 What is the difference between ethanol and methanol?
  • They are both alcohols.
  • Ethanol is fermented alcohol made primarily from corn.
  • Methanol is made from wood, natural gas or coal, and is also known as "wood alcohol."
  • Methanol is highly corrosive, more volatile than ethanol, and can be damaging to some plastic and rubber fuel system components.
  • Because of its abundance, methanol will probably be used as a fuel in the future, it is renewable.

What are MTBE and ETBE?

  • Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE) and
    • Ethanol based 
  • Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)
    • Methanol based
  • They are high octane, low volatility, oxygenated fuel components made by combining alcohol with isobutylene.
  • MTBE which is preferred by the major oil companies.

 

 Why don't we use pure ethanol, instead of a 10% blend?

Brazil is able to operate nearly half of its cars on pure ethanol, but it would be neither necessary nor practical to do it here at this time. All of the excess corn capacity in this country would be needed to produce enough ethanol for a 10% blend with all gasoline. In addition, most engines need some modification to run on pure ethanol. Fortunately, a 10% level requires no engine modification, yet still makes significant immediate contributions to carbon monoxide reduction.

51. Do we need the high-octane gasolines that the major oil companies are promoting?

An octane number is only a measure of gasoline's ability to resist pre-ignition, also known as "knocking" or "pinging." If your vehicle does not ping or "run on" after the ignition is turned off, then you are using a gasoline with a high enough octane number. Any extra money that you pay for higher octane is wasted, as it will not contribute to increased mileage. Since fewer gallons of high octane gasoline than low octane gasoline can be made from a barrel of crude, it is a poor national energy strategy to waste crude oil to produce unnecessary octane.

52. Does an ethanol blend require special handling?

Only in special circumstances. The gasoline marketer should pump any accumulated water from the storage tank, and add a final filter to the dispensing hose. Since seasonally used small engines such as chainsaws and outboard motors are susceptible to water contamination, it is also wise to check them for the presence of water and drain the tank if necessary. These precautions are nothing more than good housekeeping practices, but adhering to them will assure optimum performance of an ethanol blend.

2006 Gilles Desormeaux