Archive for December, 2008


The Unintended Consequences Of EISA 2007

December 7, 2008

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 6-29) is 310 pages long, but only Sections 201 – 251, about 30 pages deal with the Renewable Fuel Standard and most of that has to do with bio-diesel.  Very little is said about ethanol and nothing is said about E10 (10% ethanol / 90% gasoline).

Why is E10 gasoline appearing everywhere?

It has to do with Section 202 (2) Applicable Volumes of Renewable Fuel.  The act defines how much ethanol must be blended into all of the gasoline in the U.S. each year, and it increases each year until 2022.  It turns out that the EPA will define how much each major gasoline distributor in the U.S. will blend each year, and if the distributor can’t blend his quota, there are economic penalties, some quite severe, i.e. $32,500 fine per day.  All of the economic incentives later in the act target E85 production and Flex-Fuel vehicles.  However, since there are comparatively few Flex-Fuel vehicles today and even fewer service stations that pump E85, all of the ethanol is going into E10 today.

To really understand what EISA 2007 is going to do in the next few years, click here.

Unintended Consequences Spreading

Is Ethanol Damaging Your Property?

Ethanol started out as an oxygenate for gasoline to improve the air quality, mainly in the winter, back in the 1990s, especially after it was discovered that MTBE caused serious groundwater pollution problems.  It was also known that ethanol could replace gasoline as a fuel, but that it had less energy content, therefor your car would get less mileage.

While ethanol may be a viable fuel for cars, it is not a panacea to replace gasoline.  It has been known for years that ethanol will dissolve the fiberglass resin in the fuel tanks of many boats and that ethanol attracts water and has a peculiar reaction if the water absorption level reaches a certain point, called phase separation.  Once ethanol and water phase separate, it cannot be reversed and the muck created is very corrosive.  Ethanol blended gasoline should never be used in a marine environment.

Ethanol is a solvent.  As such ethanol blended gasoline should not be used in antique and classic cars and motorcycles that may have deposits or “gunk” built up in their gas tanks from decades of using gasolines that aren’t as clean and stable as our modern blends.  There are also a number of rubber and cork gasket components in the fuel systems of old cars that can turn into unrecognizable matter when attacked by ethanol.

Ethanol produces less power than gasoline and changes the mixture ratio since it is an oxygenate.  While modern computerized fuel injection systems in your car will try to compensate for the changes, carbureted engines cannot adjust automatically, especially those engines in portable tools and garden equipment.  The 2 cycle engines in a variety of recreational vehicles are especially susceptible.

Unleaded gasoline is an approved aviation fuel, but the technical specifications prohibit ethanol as an additive.

All of these problems and limitations to ethanol blended unleaded gasoline have been known for years.  There are only six states in the country that have mandatory E10 laws.  All of them have a blending exemption for unleaded gasoline used in airplanes.  Five of them have additional exemptions for watercraft, antique and classic cars and motorcycles, all small engine applications, including snowmobiles and jet skis, and racing cars.

The numerous problems and damage in the marine industry have led to class action lawsuits.

If all of these problems have been known for years by the ethanol and oil industry, why is E10 spreading to every gas station in the country, and it will in the next few years.  It has to or the gasoline distributors will never meet the ethanol quotas in Section 202 (2) of EISA 2007.

I hope you will take a look at and help us change this insanity by prohibiting the blending of ethanol in premium unleaded gasoline, like Missouri does.  Maybe it will save some of your property from damage.