No More Ethanol Fuel Please
Gas was just fine, thank you, up until 2011. Then that January 2011, I noticed something wrong with my fuel mileage. Since my Toyota Camry, made in Kentucky and bought new, was fourteen years old with 267,000 miles on it, I thought something was wrong with the car. I was getting about 10% lower mileage than expected.
As a numbers nerd, MBA CPA accountant, and engineer, I was compulsive about getting my fuel mileage with every fill up, at least since 1974 when I bought the first of several new cars, a Ford Pinto Wagon. When they lifted the 55 mile per hour limit on highways, the highway mileage went up, at higher speeds, not down. It went from 23.5 miles per gallon to 24.5 miles per gallon, when the car was allowed to run the way it was designed. The car was designed and sold for about six months before the speed limit was reduced nationally in the middle of that first model year. I bought that Pinto Wagon on June 10, 1974 and got 159,000 miles on it before the engine blew on April 20, 1990 after a friend worked on it the day before.
When I took the 1997 Camry in to my original dealer for service in 2011, someone told me about the fuel supply changing, with a new mandate for 10% ethanol fuels, so I checked out the story on the internet. I knew from my deep politics background that environmentalists were skeptical about ethanol fuels made with corn, because there are no environmental benefits, since corn takes so much fertilizer made from fossil fuels and then there are transportation costs, etc. I knew we did it wrong with corn and the sugar based alcohol fuels in Brazil did it right. Electrics, hybrids, natural gas, and hydrogen fuels would all be improvements. But I did not know half the story, nor did the experts on C-SPAN. I have been a C-SPAN junkie since the eighties. Then I saw a show on C-SPAN where an expert was saying ethanol may be only 70% efficient and engines may burn a little too hot. But that was nothing like the 10% mileage loss I was repeatedly averaging over the months, both city and highway, on each one of three different cars. Fortunately, one of the rare gas stations that sell no ethanol gas was just on the other side of town. Using that gas, I got my mileage back. So it was worth it to drive across town to get 10% better mileage for my gas, worth it to pay about 10 cents a gallon more. So I made a commentary on the local community radio station and gave a copy to Wayne, of Wayne’s gasoline on Madison’s far East side. He explained to me that not only was ethanol forced on the public, the regular gas was reduced from octane 87 down to octane 84. Not only was the ethanol inefficient, but the other 90% was 3 octane worse.
What Wayne did with his gas was add premium gas to bring the regular up to 87 octane. Since the premium was 91 octane without ethanol and 93 octane with ethanol, he gave me the hint that those gas stations that said they sold no ethanol in their premium would be lying if it were octane 93. He had to blend 43% no ethanol premium at 91 octane with 57% no ethanol regular at 84 octane to get 87 octane no ethanol gas. So these were the other reasons that explain how 10% ethanol gas gave me 10% lower mileage, it wasn’t that the ethanol was completely useless. It was a combination of 90% inferior regular in the new 10% ethanol regular blend and 43% premium gas in the non ethanol regular gas. In other words, raising the octane level with ethanol is a phony improvement.
So if it requires you to buy 10% more gas to drive the same distance, the ethanol gas gives zero net environmental benefit, it’s just an excuse to sell you rotten regular at mostly 84 octane. Not only that, but the federal government has not reduced the mileage posting on new cars to their ethanol reduced true value. So the federal government is engaged in fraudulent collusion with the car companies when it uses non ethanol gas to rate the new cars. Then they force consumers to buy 10% ethanol mixed with inferior regular gas to run these cars. We bought a new Chevy Cruz in 2011 and still could never achieve the posted miles per gallon with ethanol fuels. Then we used Wayne’s gas and got the mileage we were supposed to get all along. Mileage was 10% better with no ethanol. Same with the 2002 Toyota Highlander I replaced the Camry with.
Why isn’t this national news? Maybe there’s a Pulitzer for the journalist who looks into this story and does there own investigation with their own engineers and cars. I hope they are honest enough to then give me credit. You heard it here first.
Dr. Bob Reuschlein
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