Eli5 Ethanol added to gasoline


Almost every station I go to has ethanol (up to 10%) added to gas. For a long time I had the option in my area to buy non ethanol gas but now it’s harder to find.

If a gallon of ethanol gets less mileage per volume than gasoline, then how is it better for the environment if I have to fill that much sooner on gas because the ethanol component lowers my tank range?

In: 101

Bio-ethanol is supposed to be carbon-neutral because it’s generated from plants which recover carbon from the atmosphere. So when you burn it you basically return to the air the carbon that you took from it a bit earlier, and therefore overall you don’t change the composition of the atmosphere. Unlike with regular gasoline made from fossil fuels where you release carbon that has been buried for millions of years.

At least in terms of climate change, ethanol is better for the environment even if you do need more of it. The carbon in ethanol was recently pulled out of the atmosphere by plants so when you burn that ethanol and release that carbon back, you aren’t raising the amount of carbon already in circulation. The problem with gasoline is that when you’re burning it, you are releasing carbon that has been out of the atmosphere for millions of years so you are raising the levels beyond the normal carbon cycle.

The 10% ethanol fuel content is negligible on gas mileage but does slightly cut back on emissions, plus slightly reduces reliance on foreign oil doing so.

I think marathon’s do still offer a 4th option which is 100% gas but at the middle grade level from what I’ve seen. So 91 octane (we typically have 87, 89, and 92 or 93 depending on which company). We don’t have any close to us but I see them in Indiana or Michigan when driving through.

Because you can make ethanol anywhere, while oil only comes from a few places.

The ethanol is less efficient than gasoline, but it’s still a pretty good biofuel. E85 is 85% ethanol and only loses 25% distance/tank. (E85 is new and quite rare, but it’s the only one I know the % of)

While it’s true you may need to fill your tank a bit more often, the ethanol is far, far cheaper to make. It doesn’t have to be shipped from Russia or the Middle East (for example), which means it has less impact on the environment. And you aren’t as dependent on foreign policy for your gasoline.

Ethanol can also be made from some waste materials, cleaning up the planet slightly.

Everything said here is baloney. Ethanol is the most wasteful boondoggle in American history. It is terrible for the environment. When you factor in the energy expended to create ethanol it actually creates more carbon emissions. There is also the wasted resources on growing the crop, from water to fertilizer. The American consumer pays more money for an inferior product that hurts gas mileage. It exists soley as a handout to farmers in politically important states. Also, are people really trying to claim that the emissions are carbon neutral because it started as a plant? That makes no sense at all.