Ethanol In The United States

Ethanol is derived from plant starch turned into sugar, a process that involves fermentation and distillation. And in the United States, it is referred as grain alcohol because it is derived from corn. Other sources of this type of ethanol are sugar beets, sugar cane, barley, wheat, and vegetable compost. Producing ethanol is an old technology and in Henry Ford’s time, he advocated the use of alternative fuels and that his Model T can be transformed to run on pure alcohol. But the cost of producing traditional ethanol can not be reduced drastically since there is little that can be done to modify the process. And producers of feedstock and vegetables have to double production because corn, or barley and wheat are mainly used for food production and beverages for adults. Another type of ethanol is called Cellulosic, and it is produced using wood chips, natural feedstock and switchgrass.

US President George W. Bush stated in his State of the Union address in 2007 the importance of producing this alternative fuel and promised that he will replace 75% imported oil from the Middle East and support research for the country to reduce the oil dependence by 2025. Additionally on research, he wants state-of-the-art technology to be created to produce not just traditional grain ethanol but cellulosic ethanol as well. And it may as well be the case to push for massive production since majority of the cars produced in America since the late 1990s can use E10 or Gasoline with 10 % ethanol up to E85 or 85% ethanol mixed with gasoline. Automobile companies such as GM, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford have been producing Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) before the turn of the millennium and their automobiles are manufactured to use a combination of fuels like unleaded gasoline, Gasohol (E10), and E85. As of 2007 alone, there are thirty vehicles that can run on E85.

Consumers should be reminded not to confuse E10 with E85 since Gasohol (E10) may be a cleaner-burning fuel but it is not considered as an alternative fuel compared to E85. E85 is great for cold starts and it has 15 percent gasoline for safety measure since E100 or pure ethyl alcohol burns with a colorless flame that may present a danger when used as fuel. So the best way to save up is to convert vehicles to use E85. Installing fuel sensors helps see the percentage of ethanol to gasoline. Then you change fuel components not compatible to ethanol because it has corrosive properties that can harm your engine. Reprogram the engine management computer to report the consumption of both ethanol and gasoline. It should handle a mixture of 100 percent gasoline up to E85 or anything between the ranges provided. Lastly, an oxygen sensor can help compute the mixture of gasoline and ethanol since oxygen is mostly present in ethanol. The transformation of the engine may not be complex but it is mainly for the use of ethanol mixed gasoline. Other engines that are not converted or not adapted to E85 may suffer from corrosive fuel and engine components.

See: Gas card

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