ethanol vs gas

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Nov 25, 2004
are oci's for flex fuel vehicles the same as those for similar engines using regular gas? specifically, the 3.0L vulcan ford engine using ethanol less than half the time.
i have a sneaky suspicion that ethanol would be a cleaner burning fuel, leading to less contaminants in the oil. i know for sure propane is alot cleaner burning than gas.

it would be interesting to see of the auto makers suggest a different oci in the owner manuals for vehicles which are rated for dual fuels depending on which fuel you primarily use.
Ethanol is a BIG SCAM! Due to parasitic losses it costs 70 percent more to make it than it is worth.
Gasoline's inherent lube properties? Yeah, right... Like it or not, alternative fuels including ethanol have to be the motor fuels of the future in the West. In the case of ethanol, fuel useage will necessarily be higher due to its lower energy content per unit volume. The deciding factor of alternative fuels are their availability from multiple renewable sources. (Whatever possessed previous Administrations and Congress to consistently introduce and pass legislation that pay farmers to NOT grow crops that might reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Hint - who really benefitted by this policy?) Petroleum is non-renewable and increasingly controlled by sources not historically known for any fundemental allegiances to Western sensibilities. By contrast, Brazil, now 95% ethanol-oriented, has been "growing" its own motor fuel for the past two decades and has one of the most stable economies and highest standards of living in the Americas.
Brazil is not doing that with corn like we are trying too. They have better resources for making it than we do so just because it works for them does not make it right for us. Little of the our country is as suitable for all season growing as theirs is which is just one of the problems ethanol proponents like to ignore.
So where in your optimistic dreamscape do you propose the West look for the petroleum sources that'll carry it past the next ten years? In case you hadn't noticed, Russia and China are very eagerly courting Iran for its petroleum reserves. The Saudi's reserves are now politely considered overly optomistic. "Suitable" in my lexicon has less to do with what's "right" than it does with what's "possble".
Ray: Saw an interesting story on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago about the "oil sands" found in Alberta Canada. Full story here.


There are 175 billion barrels of proven oil reserves here. That’s second to Saudi Arabia’s 260 billion but it’s only what companies can get with today’s technology. The estimate of how many more barrels of oil are buried deeper underground is staggering.

"We know there’s much, much more there. The total estimates could be two trillion or even higher," says Clive Mather, Shell's Canada chief. "This is a very, very big resource."

Very big? That’s eight times the amount of reserves in Saudi Arabia. The oil sands are buried under forests in Alberta that are the size of Florida. The oil here doesn’t come gushing out of the sand the way it does in the Middle East. The oil is in the sand. It has to be dug up and processed.

I was told that Ethanol burns hotter. I use a Ethanol blend (think somewhere between 10% and 20%) in my 600cc bike during summer of course, and didn't notice any problems (I don't push it too hard). Anyway if Ethanol causes hotter burn then oil may be exposed to higher temps which can .... (experts can jump in and explain)

The point is you may need to use a higher viscosity to compensate for higher temps. So maybe Ethanol would shorten OCI (just a guess).
Ethanol burns cooler. E85 has a octane rating of 105. Most 10% blends in my area the Octane is 89 or 90.
Lower octanes will burn hotter. That is why in some case's car ping and need a higher octane.
Your correct. The Octane number represents the volatility of the fuel. A low octane gasoline say 87 is more volatile than 105 Octane. There are not a lot of power advantages of higher Octane gas other than it burns slower and during more of the power stroke. BUT (and there is always a 'but') it takes a hotter spark to ignite. Low Octane in a high-perf / high-compression engine is volatile enough to ignite simply from the heat of the piston or cylinder head and thus the pinging and pre-ignition run on after the ignition has been turned off. 105 Octane on the other hand being less volatile won't ignite so easily just from the heat of the combustion chamber and requires a hot spark for ignition.
"But" I don't know if this the case for a FFV. I know the timing changes from when I use E85 to Reg unleaded. But a hotter spark?
I do know that my oil temp with reg unleaded and 5w30 oil is 25 deg higher than when I am running E85. 185F(E85) to 210F (RegUnled)
I am trying to learn all I can about these FFV engine. I have a long way to go yet.
I am sorry this went way beyond the orginal question.
LC, I am not trying to be a ******** but:

Octane only refers to a fuel's (gasoline) ability to resist detonation, nothing else.
Burn rates are the same, specific energy output is the same. Volatility is a function of the vapor pressure, volatility is independant of octane.

Does higher octane gasoline make more power? Yes, assuming you take advantage of it. Increased compression and advanced spark timing increase overall cylinder pressures during the power stoke thus extracting more work from the same amount of fuel. The amount of energy (114,000 BTU/gallon) remains the same, but due to the construction of the Otto cycle engine you can extract more work from the same amount of energy.
Ray, we have plenty of our own oil we just will not yet tap into it.
Alcohol burns much cooler than gas hence you need to burn signifigantly more to do the same work, Thing is it carries with it some oxygen so in the case of say race cars they can burn more to get more power, someting like 2.5times as much fuel as a similar angine would burn gas.

I think we do need to look ar renewable BUT we need something that takes less processing which is all energy that needs to be subtracted from the final total. Someone here mentioned burning the corn directly with coal in power plants, there may be some issues there but that is the kind of LOGIC we NEED, take all the energy and vast quantities of water used to make ethanol right out of the equasion. Doesn't fix the gasoline problem directly but does replace some fossil dependancy.
While we're on the topic of ethanol, I have a quick question...

The Shell stations that I fill-up recently posted stickers saying that the gas at their pumps may now contain up to 10% ethanol.

I've heard in the past that if this is the case, you should use the next higher octane in your car. Example: I use 87 in both my cars. If it were true about the octane thing, I should now be using 89.

Anybody have any input on that?
Punisher: The specific energy output is
NOT the same that is why your mileage goes
down when using it. If the government wants
us to burn E85 they will have to make it cheaper
than gasoline to make up for the mileage loss
and cars will have to be designed to run on it.

Lets hope they don't just try and shove this
down are throats.

I've heard in the past that if this is the case, you should use the next higher octane in your car. Example: I use 87 in both my cars. If it were true about the octane thing, I should now be using 89.

Go ahead and use the standard octane you'd normally use. Only go up in rating if your car is pinging, or if you get it cheaper, ect
The effect the alcohol has on octane is already 'worked into' the rating on the sticker. 87 will perform just like 87, 'cept for 2-3% less fuel milage.

Although, my Saturn seems to get about the same milage on 87 (no alchy) vs 89 (10% eth).
BUBBA0420, I did not mention ethanol in my post, just gasoline.

Ethanol has ~ 75K BTU gal, gasoline has ~115K. There will always be some slight variation.
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