Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ed Wallace strikes back

So I e-mailed the author of the BusinessWeek ethanol hit piece:


Interesting article you had in BW. Can't say that I agreed with any of it.

I've got a '07 Saab 9-3 that I run an ethanol mix in. I usually run as much ethanol as I can without setting off the check engine light, right up to about 40%. I've been doing it for almost 20k miles now, with no negative consequences, other than losing a couple mpg. I document what I'm running on my blog at www.drunkenswede.blogspot.com

Saab actually makes a flex fuel 9-3 that they sell in Sweeden and the UK. The only difference is the engine tune and the fuel injector flow rates. They use the same fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel lines, fuel rail, and fuel injector model.

You know, fuel pumps fail. They actually fail pretty frequently. That's why whenever there is a change to the fuel supply (reformulated gasoline, ethanol, MTBE, whatever) you get a rash of stories about how the change to the fuel ruined the fuel system. But what's the truth?

I'd rather see some documented sources from automotive engineers working in the field than some anecdotes from mechanics. No offense to mechanics, but they're not engineers trained in failure analysis. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a licensed professional engineer who has worked in the automotive field and who currently works for "Big Oil".

I do appreciate the news of the Lexus recall. I'm going to look into that one.

Whalen responded:

Well, to start off with, I notice at your post that you’ve completely lied about my sources for my article.

Nice. And yet you want me to read your email and believe everything you are saying.

That’s no way to get your point across.

City Garage is a well respected chain of repair shops in Dallas Fort Worth.
Likewise, so is Moritz BMW.

It is not Bernie’s Garage and discussion boards.

I replied:

Woo. A little sensitive?

On my blog, I link to articles I find about ethanol. If I had a dollar for every article written with local mechanics as sourcing, I would be a rich man.

I don't care if they're respected or not. Mechanics are not qualified to say if ethanol was the source of fuel pump failure or not. And neither are commenters on a discussion board.

I did like the comment to the article from the Ford engineer. Now that was good information, that the electrical conductivity of ethanol can cause the commutator windings in the fuel pump motor to corrode. I'll be on the lookout for that in my Saab. Ditto for acid corrosion in my lawnmower (I NEVER drain the gas over the winter).

BTW, I've got every receipt for gas and E85 I've ever put into my Saab. Should I ever get to a failure, or should I hit 100k or more, I'll be able to properly document every tank of ethanol/ gas mixture I've run. THAT is the kind of sourcing I'd like to see in an ethanol article!

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