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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is E10?

E10 is a common motor fuel with 10% ethanol and 90% unleaded gasoline.  Ethanol is used in this mixture to eliminate the need for toxic MTBE compounds and to reduce ozone emissions from automobile exhaust.  E10 is used in many areas of our country and will be noted at the gas pump.  E10 will generally increase fuel consumption by 2% to 3% since ethanol has about 2/3 the energy content of gasoline.

2. What is E85?

E85 is a motor fuel with 85% ethanol and 15% unleaded gasoline.  This mixture is available at selected gas stations and must be used in automobiles designed specifically for that purpose (often called "flex fuel" or "hybrid" automobiles).  Flex fuel vehicles have special design modifications to allow use of E85, such as a modified computer that can recognize when E85 is used instead of unleaded gasoline so that fuel delivery rate adjustments can be made. 

3. Is E85 Ethanol corrosive?

Yes ethanol is corrosive, but not very much.  Gasoline is corrosive too.  Ethanol is biodegradable in water, so it has a tendency to contain and attract water. It is not the corrosive properties of ethanol that can cause damage to your vehicle; it is the water which can rust a vehicle’s fuel system from the inside out. Today’s vehicles (since mid 1980s) have fuel systems which are made to withstand corrosive motor fuels and rust from water since gasoline often contains varying amounts of water.  Modern distillation and filtering techniques remove 99.9% of the water content from ethanol.

4. If I put E85 in my gas tank, will it rust the tank?

If your car was built in the before 1980, it may have a lead coated, steel tank. The water in ethanol could cause these tanks to rust on the inside. The government mandated that all gas in the USA contain 10% ethanol to help reduce tail pipe emissions. In the 1980s, automakers made vehicles with fuel systems to be ethanol and rust tolerant. Gas tanks began to contain polymers and Teflon which are extremely durable.

5. If I put E85 ethanol in my non-Flex Fuel vehicle, will it ruin my car?

One tank won’t hurt, but it may cause misfiring and a rough ride. Your check engine light will probably come on. If you should accidentally or on purpose put E85 in your vehicle, drain the tank, put in regular gasoline and all will be well. If you use E85 without a conversion kit or non-Flex Fuel capable vehicle for an extended period, you can damage your engine.

6. Will ethanol burn up my engine?

Ethanol has a lower ignition point than gasoline, so it actually burns cooler.  Pure ethanol has an octane rating of about 115, so E85 has an octane rating of about 105 which will reduce pre-ignition or detonation (pinging).  E85 will extend engine life by preventing the burning of engine valves and the build-up of olefins in fuel injectors, keeping the fuel system cleaner.

7. Will Ethanol ruin gaskets, seals, rings and other things?

Running 100% ethanol or alcohol in an engine can cause damage to cork products.

The rubber neoprene used in the last 20 years or so is resistant to the drying effect that ethanol may have.

Today's vehicles are built to withstand the corrosive effects of water in ethanol and gasoline.  Any vehicle built after 1980 should have no ethanol related issues. Older vehicles that used more steel in the fuel systems or cork gaskets may have issues from long term exposure to water in the ethanol and gasoline.

Vehicles in Brazil have been using ethanol for 30 years and they are now completely independent from using foreign oil.

8. Will E85 will eat my rubber fuel lines?

No.  Rubber technology has significantly advanced so the concerns for cars made after 1980 having issues like this are extremely rare.  Plus the 15% gasoline content will help keep lines lubricated.

9. Will E85 will destroy my fuel pump?

E85 won’t destroy your fuel pump. If you convert a high mileage vehicle to Flex Fuel, the E85 may cause the sediment in the gas tank to dissolve and then get picked up by the fuel pump.  This sediment may shorten the life of the pump of your higher mileage vehicle (100,000+). 

10. Does it take more than a gallon of energy to make a gallon of E85?

This may have been true at one point in time. Today’s advanced technology and distilling processes actually create considerably more units of ethanol than units of energy used. The processes continue to advance and the ratio will continue to increase.  Powers Energy facilities which use MSW to produce ethanol require no energy input after the gasifiers are started; all energy is derived from the MSW materials.

11. Is E85 ethanol is worse for the environment than gasoline?

Because E85 is cleaner than conventional gasoline, it emits fewer hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. E85 reduces carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 70 percent — and less carbon monoxide helps reduce ozone formation and greenhouse gas levels. According to EPA, gasoline is the largest source of manmade carcinogens. Ethanol reduces overall toxic pollution by diluting harmful compounds found in gasoline such as benzene and other aromatics.

12. Does a car running on E85 ethanol produce less horsepower?

It is true that a vehicle does require more E85 than regular gasoline since the amount of energy per unit of ethanol is less than that of gasoline.  Flex fuel vehicle onboard computers compensate by supplying the engine with more fuel thus maintaining approximately the same horsepower rating as gasoline.  Ethanol has a lower ignition temperature so the engine overall will run cooler which tends to increase power.  It also burns slower so instead of just burning out in one violent explosion forcing the piston down, it continues to burn the entire length of the piston stroke expanding gases more evenly and smoothly. The 105 octane rating of E85 will help to eliminate knocks and pings.  All of these benefits will make an engine run smoother and quieter.

13. Does E85 production deplete human and animal food supplies?

No, actually the production of ethanol from corn uses only the starch of the corn kernel, all of the valuable protein, minerals and nutrients remain. One bushel of corn produces about 2.7 gallons of ethanol AND 11.4 pounds of gluten feed (20% protein) AND 3 pounds of gluten meal (60% protein) AND 1.6 pounds of corn oil.  Our country continues to have large corn surpluses even as ethanol production from corn continues to rise.  Powers Energy facilities do not use food to make ethanol, so our facilities have no impact on food supplies.

14. Does ethanol benefit farmers?

The ethanol industry opens a new market for corn growers, allowing them to enjoy greater profitability. Studies have shown that corn prices in areas near ethanol plants tend to be higher than in other areas. This additional income helps cut the costs of farm programs and add vitality to rural economies. The additional profit potential for farmers created by ethanol production allows more farmers to stay in business — helping ensure adequate food supplies in the future. Ethanol production also creates jobs, many of which are in rural communities where good jobs are hard to come by. A 2005 study by LECG found the ethanol industry powered the U.S. economy by creating more than 147,000 jobs, boosting U.S. household income by $4.4 billion and reducing the U.S. trade deficit by $5.1 billion by eliminating the need to import 143.3 million barrels of oil. Those kinds of numbers help farmers and all Americans.  More recently it has been shown that using corn as ethanol feedstock has negligible impact on food prices.