Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol Ignorance?
by Bobby Likis (Renewable Fuels Association) Jay Leno is a car guy … and someone I’ve respected for many years. But Jay’s AutoWeek article “Can’t We Just Get Rid Of Ethanol?” makes zero sense to me.
I’m a car guy too. Restored and own a classic 1980 Weisssach Porsche 911. Auto service shop owner for 44 years with over 200,000 vehicles (from classics to hybrids) rolling through the bays. Engine builder. Car-talk host answering more than 100,000 car questions live on radio, television, web and social media.
What I read in the “Rid” article does not sound like Jay Leno, the car guy. Oddly enough, not too long ago at SEMA, Mr. Leno was touting E85 and other ethanol-blends of gasoline with his Z06 ‘Vette. Now, for whatever unknown reason, he’s slamming ethanol. I cannot believe “what Jay said” is “what Jay really believes.” His words smack of otherwise invested horse-whisperers who use personal agendas to sway vulnerable-for-whatever-reason people towards their way.
So as a car guy, allow me to share a few ethanol facts with you.
1) Water absorption: No doubt that ethanol emulsifies and holds water. Yay!! That’s a good thing! In fact, “holding” / suspending /emulsifying water is an ethanol ASSET — not detriment — as gas tanks actually run dryer after the transition from E0 to E10. Mercury Marine — the boat engine manufacturer — states this fact. Specifically with regard to moisture, a gallon of ethanol suspends FOUR (4) TEASPOONS of water per gallon of fuel before phase separation. On the other hand, gasoline suspends only POINT ONE FIVE (.15) TEASPOON (that’s LESS than ONE teaspoon) of water per gallon before phase separation. So PHASE SEPARATION WILL OCCUR 26 TIMES MORE RAPIDLY WITH GASOLINE THAN WITH ETHANOL! …
2) Increased car fires over past three decades: Totally spoken out of context. GM recalled nearly 1.5 million cars as a result of rocker covers leaking oil. Maybe the next article should be “Why Can’t We Remove Oil From All Engines?” Leaking fuel lines allow fuel to hit hot engines and ka-blooooie … really? I’ve operated my own bumper-to-bumper full service automotive repair and service shop for 44 years and had more than 200,000 cars and small trucks come through our doors and not one has ever had an engine damaged by ethanol much less a fire.
3) “The worse can happen”: Not according to studies/research. Hagerty Insurance — you know, THE classic car insurance company — funded a study by Kettering University (known for its reputation in the field of automotive research) on the use of E10 in older cars. Wouldn’t you think if E10 caused damage in the collector cars that Hagerty insures that Hagerty would be the first to say, “Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol?” Instead, after 1,500 hours of testing with E0 (0 percent ethanol) and E10 (10 percent ethanol), general consensus was that “with minor updates and proper maintenance, E10 will not negatively affect your old car or truck.”
4) Renewable Fuel Standard: My head is still spinning with the totally out of context references to ethanol in classic cars, but Mr. Leno’s reflections on the Renewable Fuel Standard should be titled “Can’t We Simply Continue America’s 100+ Year Dependence On Foreign Oil?” Unthinkable. Tossing the Renewable Fuel Standard not only ensures we remain dependent on foreign oil, but also such actions literally cause would-be investors to pause and reconsider their potential investments in our nation’s renewable energy opportunities.
Thank goodness the early 1900s best seller “Why Can’t We Just Get Rid of Cars” — written by the horse breeders — didn’t catch on. READ MORE
Step Change for Screening Could Boost Biofuels
( Institute of Food Research/Biomass Magazine) Researchers at the Institute of Food Research have developed a new way of rapidly screening yeasts that could help produce more sustainable biofuels.
The new technique could also be a boon in the search for new ways of deriving valuable renewable chemicals from plant-based wastes, reducing our reliance on petrochemicals.
Yeasts are a key step in producing biofuels, fermenting sugars into ethanol. …
But a problem with these second-generation biofuels is that the sugars are less accessible to the yeasts.
Pretreatments are used to break open the cellular structure of the biomass, and enzymes convert the treated biomass into sugars for yeasts to ferment. But this saccharification process, along with the pretreatments, can reduce the economic viability of producing biofuels in this way. Pretreatments can also generate compounds that stop yeasts from fermenting as efficiently.
To try and boost the efficiency of generating second generation biofuels, The Biorefinery Centre at IFR has joined forces with the National Collection of Yeast Cultures , a BBSRC-supported National capability, also within IFR. NCYC has over 4,000 different yeast strains in its collection. Screening this collection could find yeasts that are naturally better at producing biofuels, especially if they are able to cope better with the compounds that reduce fermentation efficiency of conventional yeast strains. Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) is seen as a big step forward for biorefining, as it simplifies the overall process, reducing costs. READ MORE