Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cars of the near future? Your car on E20.

There was an Society of Automotive Engineers symposium on how cars will be fuelled in the future.

Interesting tidbit:

Even non-flexible fuel vehicles can run on up to 10 percent ethanol, or E10, but the Department of Energy, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and others have begun studying the idea of introducing "intermediate" gasoline blends that contain 15 or even 20 percent ethanol.

Novacek and Maher urged caution. They said higher blends could damage vehicles not optimized to handle high concentrations of ethanol. Also, they said, many non-vehicle engines, such as those found on lawnmowers, may not be able to handle more ethanol.

The EPA is pushing to get E15 and E20 in pumps? That's news to me.


BigReub said...

Buzz, do you truly beleive that ethanol is the way of the future? Maybe if South America can produce A LOT more sugar and we can use it. But for us to use corn - it's going to be a disaster. Hell, it already is.
I'm interested Honda's new release with the hydrogen fuel cell. Granted, the infrastructure's a problem, but I think the prospects are more promising - and not nearly as damaging to the economy.

buzzcut said...

Don't read too much into my headline. It's not that I believe that E15 or E20 is a good idea, a smart reaction to our energy problems, or a great way to address global warming.

I do think that ethanol has a very strong constituency in corn farmers, ADM, and certain environmentalists, especially at the EPA (ethanol is a hell of a lot cleaner than gasoline, after all). That's a pretty potent combination.

If they're looking into E15 or E20, you can damn well be sure that these blends are in our future.

I'd love to be able to find E20 at a pump near me. I'd fill up my Saab AND my wife's minivan.

buzzcut said...

Also, I think the reality of ethanol today is not the potential of tomorrow.

Ethanol production is being revolutionized as we speak. It is being distilled from different feadstocks (how about processed garbage?) and the distillation is being done with semi-permeable membranes, not stills.

The future's so bright I gotta wear shades.

Anonymous said...

I think the disaster is the damage to the economy that importing oil has done. The sinking dollar, rising Asian economies which can outbid us for oil and even our own grain is a huge factor- especially when the traders see oil and grain as safehavens to put their money in. This drives the oil and grain prices higher. I do not see ethanol to be a problem at all- only the starch is removed, leaving all the protein, vitamin, mineral, and fiber content for feed. It is about time corn moved off the 1970 era price that required govt intervention just to maintain production. We destroyed other countries grain production with the old policy as they could not compete with us. At least now when grain is exported the USA gets a far better price for trade balance and exports of all farm commodities are stronger than historical thanks to the strength of those same Asian economies. While we all hear about the "ethanol" subsidies we do not hear how the USDA has saved even more on the farm programs.

I too am very interested in hydrogen, mixed alcohols, wind, solar, etc. We will likely need many sources in the future as oil becomes a tougher game. My concern with hydrogen is that the oil patch will likely still want to control it and create it from the same fossil fuel base that is already stressed rather than use it as a carrier for power generated from thermal or other sources.