The Pros and Cons of Ethanol Gas

When you fill up your car, choosing which kind of gas is probably an easy choice for you; however, what gas options are available to consumers is a hotly debated topic.

Since a 2007 law was passed in Congress known as the Renewable Fuels Standard, all gasoline has been required to contain a 10% ethanol blend, but in recent years, more gas stations are offering gasoline with a 15% ethanol blend. While you as the customer ultimately get to decide if that’s a good thing, Popular Mechanics compiled the strongest points from both sides.

Pros
- Ethanol helps the fuel meet federal air-pollution regulations. It reduces tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, benzene, and fine particulates.

- Ethanol contributes to fulfilling the national energy independence goals presented in the 2005 Energy Policy Act and extended under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

- Ethanol is a powerful octane booster—a fuel additive that prevents the fuel charge from preigniting in the cylinder, which leads to engine knocking and poor performance.

Cons
- With 33 percent less energy content than gasoline, ethanol actually lowers your gas mileage.

- Ethanol is known to ruin small engines, especially two-stroke, because of its tendency to separate from the gasoline.

- By growing corn for ethanol, farmers reduce the land being used to grow corn for food, raising the consumer price of corn.

- Ethanol is corrosive, forcing auto manufacturers to use more expensive stainless-steel components.

According to Environmental Leader, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waiver “approves the use of E15 in all vehicles built since 2001” and acknowledges “that most automakers are explicitly okaying its use in newer vehicles. That includes 80% of all 2017 cars, it adds, including Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Kia.”

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