Tag Archives: E85

The E85 Lifestyle

I discovered that our new used car is a flex-fuel vehicle that runs on E-85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline). I’ve decided I now need to be smarmy. All those Prius hybrid drivers have been feeling good about themselves by halving their use of foreign hydrocarbons. But I’m walloping them!

Of course, E85 still requires energy to refine from corn. Still, I’m very happy to substitute American coal, American hydroelectricity, etc. instead of importing foreign hydrocarbons from the Gap.

Ethanol has come a long say since E10 first came on the market, and it’s still a growth industry. It’s important that our vehicle fleet get off foreign hydrocarbons, so we stop propping up dangerous regimes such as Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. Plugins like the Chevy Volt, hyrbids like the Toyota Prius, and E85 cars like mine are all part of the solution.

Indeed, if there is going to be any Detroit bailout, the government should use its bargaining power to maximize the number of E-85 plugin hybrids produced.

Mandate Flex-Fuel Vehicles

Flex fuel vehicles are capable of runnign a blend of 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline. Flex fuel / E85 technology allows us to substitute gasoline (which is a foreign hydrocarbon) with ethanol (which comes from a variety of courses).

A recent comment by Purpleslog made me aware of Robert Zubrin, and his plan to make all new vehicles sold in America flex-fuel vehicles.

Changing the game: Breaking OPEC’s grip on oil (OneNewsNow.com)
Energy expert Robert Zubrin says in this worsening economic crisis, Congress must take an essential step to get the United States off its dependency on foreign oil from countries that want to do America harm.

Dr. Robert Zubrin is the author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. He believes the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, is deliberately restricting the production of oil in the face of growing world demand in order to drive the world into a recession. He adds while opening up areas like the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling is a good idea, it will not break OPEC’s stranglehold.

“Drilling is certainly a good idea, but it’s not sufficient to beat them. OPEC’s got a 40-percent share of the world oil market; we’ve got eight [percent]. If we opened up some additional areas for drilling, we could have nine, maybe ten [percent],” he contends. “They still have the winning position as long oil is the game. What we have to do is change the game.”

And according to Zubrin, that requires Congress to pass flex-fuel legislation, mandating that all cars sold in the United States be able to operate on gasoline, ethanol, and methanol. “This feature only adds a hundred dollars to the cost of a car,” he explains. “If we made this the American standard, it would effectively become the international standard because the foreign car makers would have to switch over to comply.”

Barack Obama supports this plan. John McCain is more skeptical towards ethanol.

Oil Prices (and why Peak Oil is irrelevent)

As of this writing, a barrel of Texas Light Sweet crude would cost you $123.64, according to Bloomberg. This is down from the oil bull market price of $140 or so per barrel. Interestingly, this also the price that makes switchgrass ethanol (gasoline from tall prairie grass, corn husks, and so on) economical.

Prices go up, prices go down.

The only real concern regarding energy prices is that they support crummy states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and Russia. The less market-oriented countries need to import oil, the less oil-rich countries can avoid market discipline by selling what they fond under their feet.

As the auto production market adjusts to high prices, the long-term shift away from oil begins. Concepts like Ethanol Hybrid Electrics and other mindbending combinations approach the market, making peak oil a mute, meaningless and irrelevent concept.