You’ve heard of the terms E10 and E15 at gas stations, but what is ethanol-free gas? Is it better than what you currently use and what are the implications on your budget and the environment? This article will cover the pros and cons of this gas, what it is, how long it lasts, can you mix it with regular, and more. Keep reading to kill the curious cat.
What is it?
To understand what it gas is, you must understand what role ethanol plays in your fuel. Ethanol is usually in the 10% or 15% parts of your gas to oxidize the fuel and help it burn faster. It also makes the burning cleaner so fewer emissions are released into the environment. It’s also non-toxic and biodegradable since it’s made from substances like corn or soybeans.
Now to the tricky part – ethanol-free gas boasts of fuel that comes without that 10-15% being added and provides several upsides many aren’t aware of. This includes better mileage, less dependence on the production crops, and an even longer shelf life. The production also leads to high greenhouse gas emissions which makes it even more controversial. That’s why people are getting serious about the shift that is happening.
Can you put it in your car?
Of course! Not only is non-ethanol gas compatible with cars but it also leads to better fuel economy and mileage. This is because the mixture of ethanol leads to less energy being derived from the fuel. If you have a flex-fuel engine, you can pretty much enjoy the benefit of any blend of gas. Gas without ethanol won’t harm your car engine, but fuel with too much of it certainly will!
Can you mix ethanol and non-ethanol gas in a car?
Yes! There’s no problem in adding the pure stuff to your regular fuel with ethanol because ethanol-mixed blends already contain real gasoline. However, there might be a problem if you’re shifting from the pure to the regular stuff because then your car is likely to be interrupted while enjoying the benefits of the real pure stuff.
Where do you buy this type of gas?
Since some states are pushing to make E10 and E15 blends mandatory, it is going to be a challenge to find non-ethanol gas stations in the US. However, there are several resources you can use to find out the nearest station. This map will let you find your nearest pure gas stations anywhere in the USA or Canada. Just enter your state and you’ll find the pins all over the state map that will lead you to the right place.
Pros and cons: is it better?
Let’s take a look at all the downsides and upsides of using ethanol-free gas.
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Why do some petrol stations proudly display their possession of ethanol-free or pure gasoline? Here are some reasons why:
1. Improved mileage
Even though ethanol burns more cleanly into the air, it’s known to reduce the energy content of pure gasoline. By having a purer product you get the advantage of producing more kinetic energy and thus providing more mileage.
2. No dependency on production
If you depend on gasoline mixed with ethanol, naturally you’re relying on the products that are used in the production process. That means plants like corn and soybean will be required in excess to meet the requirements of fuel all over the US. But with non-ethanol, states will not have to rely as much on the production of crops. Moreover, any bad years or droughts will not affect the prices or availability.
3. Cutting down on harmful environmental impact
Even though it’s true that ethanol-gasoline burns cleaner than pure gas, the production of ethanol involves harmful effects on the environment. Since corn production involves high amounts of fertilizer and herbicides, the production is responsible for a lot of the nutrient and sediment pollution in the US. It turns out producing ethanol from corn uses up 29% more energy than it is capable of producing. So, in the long run, it’s probably pure gas that is greener.
4. Saving on land
Cornfields for production automatically translate to the need for more land. If E10 and E15 mixtures are made mandatory, it could mean the clearing of forests lands to make up more room for cornfields. This would not only mean cutting down on flora and fauna, but also the dispersal of important wildlife which would be rendered homeless.
5. Takes better care of your engine
Since ethanol is prone to moisture, it could end up rusting your engine earlier than you expected. It could also mean other kinds of harmful effects that you didn’t anticipate, especially if you’ve got an older model of car. Older models weren’t designed to accommodate ethanol mixed gasoline and that’s why it’s probably better for you to replace your engine with flex-fuel engines that can accommodate any kind, biofuel, or the pure type.
Although it’s rising in popularity, there are still some drawbacks that hold back users from making the switch to ethanol-free fuel. Here are the top cons:
1. Greenhouse gases
Although it is less polluting to create ethanol-free gas, it burns in harmful ways. The emissions of things like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide are seriously damaging to the air and even become entrapped in the atmosphere to create a poisonous greenhouse effect on Earth. That’s why many are sticking to E10 and E15 blends.
2. Dependency on oil from other nations
There’s no denying that pure oil means even more import from other nations in the Middle East. Not just this, but also the limited resources we have left on earth will be quickly depleted if we are not careful. Ethanol-free, therefore, has a disadvantage in this area.
3. Can’t be used in new higher compression engines
Newer engines are focused on reducing stress on engines which requires high octane levels. Mixed blends have a higher octane rating than pure fuel. This is why blends are more ideal for newer car engines.
Is it good for your car?
We’ve seen if non-ethanol gas is better for the environment, the economy, and your pocket, but is it good for your car?
The short answer is yes. It is compatible with your car’s engine and may even give better mileage. It can even take better care of your engine since it doesn’t have ethanol which is prone to moisture which may end up rusting parts of your car with its use.
First up, why does one need a stabilizer? A stabilizer protects the fuel sitting in your engine for up to 24 months and keeps it as powerful as it was originally. It even helps in preventing the gumming of your engine from the inside while it sits in the tank for months at end. This is especially useful in cases like seasonal vehicles, boats, yachts, and classic cars that won’t be used except in the holiday season.
Now to the question of does it need stabilizer? If you’re planning on storing it for up to six months, you won’t be needing any stabilizers as, without the ethanol, there’s little risk of moisture being attracted. However, you must store it correctly in an air-tight container and keep it well away from the grip of sudden temperature changes and heat sources. There should be no spark sources within at least 15 meters of the container. You should also remember to mix the oil and gas only two weeks before you plan to use it so that the fuel is at optimum capacity.
But if you do plan to use your fuel after more than six months, you’re better off adding a stabilizer to keep it at par with new strength.
No, but many users in the US fill their small engines with Premium thinking it’s ethanol-free. 95% of all gas sold in the country contains ethanol in some amount. So what is the difference with Premium? It contains additives that help detain detonation better than other fuels. For the best experience, you should check out the manufacturer’s recommendation for your car.
Pure ethanol is difficult to attain but it is possible to run your car on it. Users have obtained 90% ethanol and E85 is also commonly available. However, 100% is usually only available in laboratories and even when available, can be quite expensive.
Another major advantage of this pure product is that you can buy it in advance and it lasts much longer than E10 and E15 blends. While E10 will only last a maximum of 3 months or 90 days, ethanol-free gas will last up to six months, sometimes a year. But keep in mind that this only goes if it that is properly stored and sealed to preserve it. If stored incorrectly or left open, it can easily oxidize or evaporate.
Are there any brands that are better or worse?
It was easy to identify the bigger names in the fuel industry about two decades ago, but today there are innumerable names in the business.
Because gasoline is a blend of so many different components and substances, each brand will have its mixture of ingredients and signatures. The fuel system cleaning additives will also differ with each brand. Some brands may perform great in your engine while others may perform poorly. Thus, there’s no way one can claim that any brand is better or worse than the next.
What are flex-fuel vehicles?
These are vehicles that have an internal combustion engine and can adapt to more than one type of fuel. They can operate on ethanol-free as well as blends of fuels up to 83%.
The engine control module is the star player of these vehicles and adapts to the high content of ethanol in the various fuel blends. As of 2018, there are more than 21 million flex-fuel vehicles in the United States. You’d be surprised to know that most cars already have a flex-fuel engine factory installed but car users often don’t realize they have a choice between options to choose from. Check your manual to find out which engine you’re using so you can take advantage of several fuels if it’s FFV!
Time needed: 2 minutes.
How to find out if your vehicle is flex-fuel?
- Look at the gas cap
A simple way to identify if your vehicle is flex-fuel is to take a look at the cap. If the cap is yellow and has the stickers of fuels that can be used.
- Check the car manual
You can also take a look at the car manual and check the engine type. Also, remember to read which fuel is recommended by the manufacturer for your car.
What are the different blends?
Currently, there are three types of blends available: E10, E15, and E85. E10 contains 10% while E15 contains 15%. E85 contains up to 85% of, but most fuel in the US contains no more than 10%.
As per US laws, all gasoline vehicles may use E10, but only flex-fuel vehicles and other certain vehicles manufactured in or after 2001 may use E15.
E85 will generally contain about 27% less energy than E10 blends. That translates to about 27 fewer miles per gallon. It’s up to you to decide whether you prefer mileage or clean content.
What is non-oxy?
Non-oxy or non-oxygenated gas is without ethanol and thus has minimal oxygen content. The benefit of this type is that you don’t have to worry about its storage in your engine for long periods.
The lack of ethanol automatically means nominal oxygen which translates to no corrosion or rusting issues. It’s perfect for that yacht you’re done sailing on until the next holidays. But remember, even though there’s no ethanol, there’s still some oxygen and hence chances of gumming the insides of the engine.
That’s it, folks!
We hope you’ve learned a lot about the various types of fuel. After weighing all the pros and cons of each type, we hope you make the right choice for your pocket, your car, and the environment.
With flex-fuel vehicles, you can also switch between fuels whenever you like according to the prices of each type. In this manner, you’ll save money and dodge fluctuating market prices. It’s also important to maintain the balance between caring for your car and caring for the environment. Non-renewable resources are being depleted fast for our immediate needs and it’s up to us to correct human behavior so that future generations can also live a life of ease and comfort.
It’s up to you to choose the right type for your car that helps in doing this. Or better yet, take your cycle or catch up on those steps! Every little step counts!