Archive for Friday, February 8, 2008

New gas station touts its biofuels as ‘earth-friendly’

February 8, 2008


Lawrence drivers go green

Lawrence car owners can now do their part to help the environment at the gas pump. Enlarge video

Brian Conrad, of Eudora, uses the new Zarco 66 gas station at Ninth and Iowa streets Thursday to fill up his Bobcat tractor. The station offers several biofuels. "I&squot;m liking it; I saved 40 cents a gallon," he said. "That makes it worth driving across town."

Brian Conrad, of Eudora, uses the new Zarco 66 gas station at Ninth and Iowa streets Thursday to fill up his Bobcat tractor. The station offers several biofuels. "I'm liking it; I saved 40 cents a gallon," he said. "That makes it worth driving across town."

Thursday saw the grand opening of Zarco 66, an "eco-friendly" gas station that specializes in biofuels.

"We've got our earth-friendly fuels location up and running," said Scott Zaremba, president of the Zarco 66 at Ninth and Iowa streets.

The station sells E10 ethanol, E85 ethanol, biodiesel and off-road biodiesel. Each type of biofuel is supposed to lower emissions of greenhouse gases harmful to the environment and the air we breathe. Zaremba said the company is "trying to come up with an alternative to the usual fossil fuels we have today."

Emissions from fossil fuels that are used to produce gasoline have an insulating effect on the planet, environmentalists say.

"The more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases you have, the more of a greenhouse effect you get," said Ilya Tabakh, a Kansas University graduate student who co-founded the KU biodiesel initiative, a program devoted to finding alternative fuel sources.

Tabakh said the greenhouse effect is dangerous because "it doesn't let heat leave the planet."

But biofuel does have its detractors. "Yes, biofuel lowers emissions, but unleaded fuel will not eat through rubber 'O'-rings for fuel injectors or gaskets," said Jim Vojtech, a mechanic at Automotive Analysts Inc. in Lawrence. There is also a debate as to the amount of emissions used to make it, he said.

But that didn't stop customers from rolling in to the Zarco station Thursday.

"I'm pretty excited about the new fuel," said Beth Anstaett, of Lawrence. "I wish I could do more, but all I can do is E10."

A majority of the gasoline produced today contains E10 ethanol, or grain alcohol. E85 is made up of 85 percent ethanol - made largely with Midwest corn - and just 15 percent gasoline.

Any car manufactured after 1980 can run on this type of gasoline, but to run on E85, a car's engine must be converted.

Anstaett says every bit counts. "We should try to find a more sustainable fuel source instead of looking abroad," she said.

It's that type of person Zaremba hopes to draw. "We think the community can embrace trying to help us move forward with other energy sources," he said.

On Thursday, a gallon of E10 cost $2.85. A gallon of E85 cost $2.45.

- 6News reporter Cory Smith can be reached at 832-6335.


deadanimals 10 years, 4 months ago

Anyone see the price of their B20 biodiesel?

BigPrune 10 years, 4 months ago

I read the gas mileage for ethanol (E85) based automobiles is horrible compared to regular or 10% alcohol based fuels.

I saw some wild haired customers filling up. This place definitely draws customers going to the Merc.

nut_case 10 years, 4 months ago

Yay - finally, a place to get E85 in Lawrence.

Drew_Carey 10 years, 4 months ago

I've only read through this one referenced below, but 1000 pts for PAnnex for making me laugh out loud!

posessionannex (Anonymous) says:

I'm reminded of the bumper sticker I saw in Oregon:

"I don't give a s**t how they do things in California."

overthemoon 10 years, 4 months ago

Another fact filled ljw article. One gar guy says ethanol eats rubber gaskets...does it??? Are there greater emissions from making ethanol than from fossil fuel?? What about the political and economic advantages of getting away from reliance on fossil fuels??

I'm guessing Mr Tabakh said much more than "The more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases you have, the more of a greenhouse effect you get,"

Maybe one of these days the Journal World will realize that environmental and climate change issues are THE issue of our times. Until then we'll get in depth reporting on basketball and football and token drivel on anything of real importance.

BigPrune 10 years, 4 months ago

Dolly, feed a baby or save mother earth. It's depends on your priorities. It's well known that Eco people prefer mother earth over anything else, and it helps when things are heavily subsidized by the government. That makes life better if you're self-centered.

LogicMan 10 years, 4 months ago

"I read the gas mileage for ethanol (E85) based automobiles is horrible compared to regular or 10% alcohol based fuels."

Less, yes. But it also costs less, so overall it's roughly a wash. But you will need to fill up a bit more often, unless you have a bigger tank (e.g., pickup with reserve tank).

Remember that your vehicle must be built to use E85. The higher alcohol concentration will eat your gaskets, etc. if not. Also, the fuel system needs to flow more fuel due to the lower heat content of E85.

Really old cars, with carbs, can be converted over fairly easily -- e.g., bigger jets, new tank/hoses/sender/pump, ...

guesswho 10 years, 4 months ago

Not a very in-depth article (not that I am surprised). Having huge corn fields is increasing the price of everything else (hay, hops, etc) and the amount of water and fertilizer and fuel needed to produce this corn probably more then offsets any 'savings' on emissions.

timetospeakup 10 years, 4 months ago

No, ethanol does not eat rubber in modern cars. It's been federally mandated since 1986 (within a year or two anyway) that all cars sold in the US be able to run on E10 without having their rubber eaten. In fact in most states you don't even have to label E10 as such - got minnesota, everything is E10 or better, but it's not labeled that way

Yes, older cars can have rubber damaged by E10, but most of these already have rotted out anyway.

imastinker 10 years, 4 months ago

That's funny, I filled up there Wednesday (grand opening Thurs.).

Anyway - I bought some Biodiesel for my diesel truck. I have been waiting a while for biodiesel to be available around here. I found it to be affordable and my truck runs well on it. The lubicity is higher and it's actually better for the engine than that EPA mandated junk ULSD. One thing worth mentioning is that my GMC's warranty is voided if I run anything more than B5 in it. I bet the other manufacturers do as well.

I was concerned about it gelling, so I left my other diesel with Dino fuel in it in case that happened. I found it idles a little bit louder, but not much. My mileage is about equal to ULSD with no drop in power. I will next take my powerstroke up there after they start selling B99 and run that in it (ince the warranty is already up) and see how it runs.

This is great!!

Paul R Getto 10 years, 4 months ago

The big picture numbers on ethanol are not encouraging. The program is more corporate welfare for some big producers and it distorts the market. We should be making alcohol from plants, but corn is the wrong one.

jafs 10 years, 4 months ago

It is very unfortunate that ethanol is so popular right now, and being advertised as more ecologically friendly than regular gasoline.

Corn is one of the most resource-heavy crops to grow, and transporting it in order to make ethanol will also use gasoline and produce pollution.

In addition, ethanol is said to be less efficient than gasoline, meaning that we'll have to use more of it. That will probably offset the small difference in emissions.

The best thing we can do right now is to drive less.

mr_economy 10 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps Zarco owners and those buying blindly into the "we say it's green so it must be" biofuels movement should read this gem from the NYT:

I'm not a climate change doubter or a Green movement hater, but some of the moves made by the movement have been stupidly blind. Take grocery stores moving to re-usable cloth bags instead of plastic; sounds eco-friendly on the surface, until you calculate the extra truckloads required to ship these much larger bags to the stores - by the time you add in the fuel usage of those trucks, the carbon footprint is a wash at best.

Acting blindly is rarely a successful endeavor, and as the NYT article shows can be quite detrimental. We need GOOD science as a basis for action, not populist Green pandering.

down_the_river 10 years, 4 months ago

Well said, mr economy. The article in Science (referenced in the NY Times) should prove to be an eye opener for anyone believing biofuels are good for the environment. Sometimes it hurts, when things we want to believe turn out to be a mistake.

princetonmom 10 years, 4 months ago

I drive an E85 Chevy Impala that has the on-board gas mileage readout. I am seeing very little difference in fuel economy between E85 and E10 and regular unleaded. Plus the E85 is less expensive and it runs great--high octane, you know. I have driven other flex fuel vehicles where the difference in fuel economy was about 10 percent, which usually is offset by the price. Hey, it's flex fuel--that means you have a choice. What can be wrong with that? If you want to keep on using fossil fuels imported from the middle east, that's your perogative--I'd rather keep my fuel money here in the U.S.

coolmarv 10 years, 4 months ago

Mr. E

Maybe I missed something. How is reusing a cloth bag a wash, ecologically, with using plastic bags? Seriously. I have used the same bags for years. I kick myself everytime I forget my bags and end up with plastic.

Easy 10 years, 4 months ago

One gar guy says ethanol eats rubber gaskets:does it???

I have run alcohol/ethanol in race cars for a while, It is very maintenance intensive. Carburetor/fuel injection seals, fuel lines and anything else this fuel touches gets ate up rather quickly. It also does not produce as much power gallon for gallon as gas. You burn almost twice as much for the same MPG

sfjayhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Do we need to make ethanol from corn? My understanding is that corn based ethanol is not the most efficient, and may even yield a negative energy supply (when the cost of production etc is considered). Are there other, more efficient crops that we can use instead of Corn?

Anything we can do to reduce our dependence on Oil is a good thing - wouldnt it be great to live in a world where we have no interest in Middle east oil and are not sending them Billions$$ a day?

newsreader 10 years, 4 months ago

Okay so if Ethanol isn't bad for cars explain this to me (not trying to be sarcastic, just very curious)

Last time I put a fuel with Ethanol in my car, Mercedes ML430, the dumb check engine light came on and I had to go to the dealer and have it cleared. The dealer said that at no time should I EVER put an ethanol fuel in this car or my other car (a foreign sports car). He said if the sports car the ethanol burns hotter then regular gas and is bad for the gaskets or something.

Is he full of hot air or what? Someone with more car knowledge explain please! Thanks!

Calliope877 10 years, 4 months ago

Too bad nobody wants to try making hemp into biofuel. Hemp can be grown almost anywhere, doesn't need pesticides, and won't interfere with other cash crops. Unfortunately, the oil in hemp burns faster compared to other biofuels, and the seeds cost more -- but I think with some genetic tinkering this could be resolved.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 4 months ago

After several long-distance trips, I've concluded that ethanol gas does indeed reduce gas mileage. It would get me about 375 miles for every tank, whereas regular gas got me at least 400.

Also, way up at the top someone was talking about the eco folks not caring about people. Yes, I think sometimes this happens, but the earth is the substrate from which we originated and if we don't take care if it in addition to taking care of ourselves, then we might as well just forget about both. I get sick of this argument.

Finally, with regard to the hemp comment: hemp grows wild in Kansas. It is perfectly suited to the climate. Too bad people are afraid of it.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 4 months ago

When I lived in northern California, a lot of people were running older model Mercedes on biodiesel. Biodiesel is huge out there. It just smells like fast food when you get in behind one of them.

compmd 10 years, 4 months ago

Stain, thanks for making me laugh.

Anyway, back to reality. Lightning_grrl, you're right that E85 will do some kooky things to older engines, people should not forget that.

However, lots of European engines for the last 25 years can be coaxed into working with E40-E85. These engines typically burn fuels with higher octane numbers than American engines due to higher compression and turbo boost. Most of America tops out at 91 octane, while 95 or 98 octane can be found around Europe. The effective octane number of E85 is about 104. In America, we love large displacement normally aspirated engines. In Europe, they love small displacement turbocharged engines. Using E85 with its higher octane in a turbocharged, intercooled engine with higher volumetric flow rate injectors would probably give you a fun driving car, especially if you turned up the boost...

compmd looks thoughtfully at his turbocharged, intercooled Volvo...

newsreader 10 years, 4 months ago

I have a feeling most people posting to this board will find this funny; but the dealer that told me Ethanol was bad for my Mercedes was Custom Highline...

Tristan Moody 10 years, 4 months ago

Ethanol releases less CO2 when burned, but there is a substantial amount of CO2 produced when ethanol is produced. Ethanol is generally produced through yeast fermentation of sugar. Considering just this process, the yeast produces approximately 12 pounds of CO2 for every 10 pounds of ethanol produced. This does not take into account the following:

Substantial energy must be used to convert the starches in a corn mash into fermentable sugars--amylase requires a mash temperature near 150F for best activity efficiency, requiring substantial energy expenditure to maintain this temperature.

The ethanol produced by yeast maxes out at about 18-20% by volume dissolved in water. For this to be useful in automotive fuels, this ethanol has to be extensively distilled, requiring high energy use and the use of toxic solvents, as distillation will only get you to a 95-5 mixture of alcohol-water at the best.

Additionally, farm subsidies for ethanol-destined corn is diverting farmland from production of other grains, driving the cost of food up. This has already had a profound effect on the price of beer production (not that important to some, but I happen to like good beer) as more farmers are switching from barley to corn.

People are missing the point of using ethanol as an environmentally friendly fuel. Ethanol has no advantages in either efficiency or greenhouse gas production, when the entire production and use cycle is considered. The selling point of ethanol is that it is a renewable resource unlike petrofuels. Ethanol can be produced indefinitely, as the biological processes that generate it happen in a short amount of time. If anything, the motivation to switch to ethanol should not be environmental but rather economic and political, as this is something that we can produce here, without being dependent on a depleting resource largely controlled by external political forces.

Drew_Carey 10 years, 4 months ago

That would be a good first name for a baby..

I don't give a $%^# how they do things in California McCain

monkeyspunk 10 years, 4 months ago

The government should immediately end subsidies for corn grown for the purpose of ethanol. Corn uses way too much water, is not drought resistant, and is a base food source that affects the cost of other food items.

If we want to get serious about ethanol, switchgrass is the only thing that can be grown in the Midwest that is suited to our climate, takes less water than corn, doesn't require constant replanting, and is not connected to the feeding of livestock.

If we are going to subsidize ethanol production, we need to do it right. If not, our leaders only serve to feed the ethanol opponents and to keep us firmly attached to the tit of the Middle East.

imastinker 10 years, 4 months ago

The real rating is in BTU content. This is the amount of heat that a gallon of fuel produces.

Ethanol makes 90k BTU per gallon, and gasoline is about 120k. I would expect to see a 30% drop, although is is a very common fact that people's driving behavior changes when testing devices this. I think that what many people are reporting is a placebo.

Tristan Moody 10 years, 4 months ago

That's the thing. Ethanol isn't an environmental solution. It's an economic and political solution. It's fine to use, but we need to use it for the right reasons. Ethanol still produces just as much greenhouse gas as gasoline--and SOx and NOx production isn't significantly reduced either, as sulfates and nitrates are still used in fuel ethanol production. Ethanol would be good for getting us less dependent on the Middle-East, but that's about it.

Drew_Carey 10 years, 4 months ago

Thoughts...What about Kudzu? Or...maybe they could make local refineries to use cane. Nothing like the stench of sorghum being made to make people stay home and not drive any more than they have to.

Tristan Moody 10 years, 4 months ago

Increasing the purity of alcohol beyond 95% traditionally involves the addition of benzene (a carcinogen) to drive the water out, as this mixture is an azeotrope at standard atmospheric pressure. Lime and rock salt can be used, but they are not as effective, as these materials must be dry to begin with, which typically requires the application of heat, since these materials are hygroscopic.

Also consider that solar power is not reliable enough for industrial use in locations where ethanol crops grow--solar power collection has a theoretical limit of 1400 W/m^2, assuming perfect efficiency. For viable industrial-level production of ethanol, the amount of energy required for these methods would require acres upon acres of solar arrays, which themselves are expensive and require toxic materials (selenium, cadmium) to produce. Additionally, an energy storage system must be used for nighttime use and cloudy days. For such large-scale energy requirements, using current technology, the only place where solar power is a remotely viable option is in the Southwest United States.

Brazil has been using alcohol because their primary fermentation source is sugar cane, which thrives in their environment and produces sucrose, which, as a disaccharide, can be fermented natively by the yeast, without the need for amylase mashing. Unfortunately, vegetation rich in mono- and disaccharides do not grow well except in the extreme southern portion of the US--and those that do are used for sugar production, meaning that, for operations that do not require extensive imports from other countries, starch or cellulose driven mashes must be used. Cellulose-based mashes are not yet cost effective, as cellulase is still prohibitively expensive for use in mass production.

Compression ratios can be altered to improve mechanical efficiency, but the fact of the matter is, pound for pound, gallon for gallon, ethanol provides LESS energy than gasoline, and when all of the production factors and current levels of technology are considered, ethanol poses no significant environmental benefit as a substitute for gasoline in the US.

Tristan Moody 10 years, 4 months ago

I just realized I didn't address the vacuum oven option--this is fine for small scale production, but for industrial level production, it becomes cost-prohibitive.

Laura Watkins 10 years, 4 months ago

if i want to start using the E10, do I need to wait until the unleaded fuel I have in my car now is basically running on fumes? Or can you mix the two together?

monkeyspunk 10 years, 4 months ago


I understand your reservations based on the current level of technology associated with ethanol they are well based and accurate. In my opinion, if you shift wealth leaving our country for the Middle East, Venezuela, etc. to the Midwest the economic impact and benefit is massive to the people living in what are now some of the poorer regions of the country. Sure it "only" relieves dependence on foreign oil, but COME ON, isn't that a big deal? Isn't our activity in and dependence on the Middle East some of the central issues in American policy?

Sure it isn't the green dream everybody wishes it was, but man, the day we can give the Middle East the finger will be a fine day indeed.

imagold 10 years, 4 months ago

posessionannex (Anonymous) says:

I'm reminded of the bumper sticker I saw in Oregon:

"I don't give a s**t how they do things in California."

I want one that says: "I don't give a s**t how they do things in Europe."

monkeyspunk 10 years, 4 months ago

Also SWGlassPit:

I would also like to comment on your seemingly gloomy opinion of American innovation. Isn't it feasible, that as soon as Ethanol is taken seriously, and has larger, more 'deep-pocketed' benefactors, that the technology associated with it will improve?

Yes, with the "current levels of technology" ethanol lags behind. But how far did the first airplane fly?

Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.

KRITIKOS 10 years, 4 months ago

Do you fools realize what a killing the owner is making off your foolish decision to by something that just makes you feel good? Your hubris has caught up with you!!! Go to and see that you paid for 70% of the cost to build this station and that the owner gets tax credits of over .40 cents per gallon for every one that you are sticking in your tank!!! Those are tax CREDITS not deductions. The margins they are making are unbelievable. You have been so caught up in your environmental frenzy that you have not realized how bad you are getting screwd.Every time I drive by the station this week I will laugh at all the Oedipus Rex's paying double for a commodity just so they can feel good about themselves!!!! As P.T. Barnum said "there is one (fool) born every minute".....with the exception of the owner.

Tristan Moody 10 years, 4 months ago

monkeyspunk --

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't use ethanol--I'm for it 100%. It's just that the reasons touted for using it here are not really valid. We should be using ethanol for economic and political reasons, not environmental reasons--it is a reinvestment in the american economy and allows us to become less dependent on traditionally unstable foreign governments for our energy needs. You are absolutely right--with further investment, technology will improve, but in the short run, we will be operating at a loss.

imastinker 10 years, 4 months ago

Ihatejohntravolta -

E10 is already mixed. If you put it in a gas tank half full, you have a full tank of E5. I won't hurt anything. Also, you can run it in just about any car, although we've had issues in my wife's Lincoln with this. I get a ping at heavy throttle, so I quit using it. I never noticed that in another vehicle.

LesterBurnham 10 years, 4 months ago

e10 ethanol means they mix in 10% ethanol w/ the standard 87 gas, usually the mixing occurs in the truck or at the station. ethanol has a lower volatility so it raises the octane rating of the mix. ethanol is often cheaper (at least for now) and that's why e10 89 or 90 rated gas is as cheap or cheaper than standard 87.

ethanol is a government subsidized scam, no advantages... it's extracted/purified from crops such as corn (corn is subsized by U.S. income taxes) it's also a waste of foreign crude oil cause all these crops are fertilized w/ crude oil based fertilizers in large quantity) the large scale acceptance of ethanol means corn and other foods are much more expensive

older cars (80s) were not designed for ethanol and so it causes engine damage.. most newer cars are compatible but it has no benefits..

ethanol usage raises carbon emmisions compared to production of standard gas. ethanol production also requires more crude oil since it takes more to produce raw fertilizer for the crops than it does to just refine into gasoline. every way you look at it, ethanol usage is more harmful to the environment than standard gasoline.

compmd 10 years, 4 months ago


Marion is pretty much right, you can run E10 in a MB engine without any trouble. Another problem is that Kansas does not mandate that pumps be labeled with their ethanol content. So if it isn't labeled, you can't be guaranteed the actual ethanol content. If there is too much ethanol in the fuel, you might run into a situation where the engine timing deviates too far out of spec, and the computer throws an error code lighting up your check engine light. Mercedes builds precision engines and they will take a beating, but they will complain if they don't have their way. If it happens again, find a friend with an OBDII reader to tell you what the car is complaining about. I have run a 67 280SEL, 73 450SL, 78 450SL, and 86 300E all on E10 gas, although the 117 engine on that 73 really liked 100LL gas. :)

I'm curious what fuel mixes the Volvo B5244T engine can handle.

Calliope877 10 years, 4 months ago

RedwoodCoast (Anonymous) says: "Finally, with regard to the hemp comment: hemp grows wild in Kansas. It is perfectly suited to the climate. Too bad people are afraid of it."

I agree, and I think one of the reasons why hemp is frowned upon (besides the stupid drugwar b.s.) is that people automatically envision a lot of stoners hanging out at the biofuel station trying to sniff up the fumes -- industrial hemp has a much lower THC level than the kind of hemp people use as a recreational drug -- the THC level in industrial hemp isn't even enough to give you a buzz, so there's no need for any public concern about people getting high off the exhaust fumes coming from their cars.

lightning_grrl 10 years, 4 months ago

Whoever quoted this was exactly right:

Here's the bad news: Ethanol acts as a solvent that can loosen the sludge, varnish and dirt that accumulate in a fuel tank. Ethanol also absorbs water, and the ethanol-water mixture may separate from blended gasoline and sink to the bottom of a fuel tank, where the fuel pickup is located."

The only real problem (besides worse gas mileage) with ethanol is that the sale & containment of it is not as strictly regulated yet by the state as it should be. The amount of water in the fuel storage tanks isn't regulated, the use of water separating filters on the dispensers isn't mandated, and lots of station owners (all unleaded sold in MO is E10 by law as of Jan. 1) aren't using those filters because they are more expensive. So the water passes through the regular filters into your gas tank. The water will separate from the fuel in your gas tank. And if your engine sucks up that water it will cause problems. Like major, engine-replacing problems. It's really a gamble, but especially dangerous if you're only putting a few gallons of E10 into a nearly empty tank. Demand state regulation of the water content in E10 & all ethanol blends!!!

I also wanted to say to the guy who put biodiesel in his diesel engine: not a good idea. Your fuel injectors will likely get clogged & it could prevent your car from even starting. It is really prone to it in this weather. There's a reason why they convert engines. It's not just for the FUN of it. Good luck to you. And please be careful!

To whoever asked, you can alternate regular gas with any blend of ethanol (assuming your car can run on it - check to be sure if you're interested in using E85 - but you can alternate and combine E10 with regular gas). You can also alternate & combine diesel and B5 or B10 in a regular diesel engine. Any higher blend of biodiesel should be run in ONLY AN ENGINE CONVERTED TO WORK WITH BIODIESEL. But even those will work with regular diesel when combined or interchanged with biodiesel.

Be careful, and do your research! Happy motoring!!!

lightning_grrl 10 years, 4 months ago

Ethanol does have a different combustion point than regular gasoline, and the difference is greater with a higher blend. E10 should operate the same as regular gasoline in any gasoline engine. E85 run in a car not designed for it (a car that doesn't include a computer chip to tells it the combustion point is different) will idle funky & change gears a lot harder.

lightning_grrl 10 years, 4 months ago

LesterBurnham, When you read that: "older cars (80s) were not designed for ethanol and so it causes engine damage.." they were referring to higher blends than E10, like E85 which does cause issues (see my comment above). E10 works in your car, no matter how old and on any make & model.

allateup 10 years, 4 months ago you have any idea how much it cost to grow that corn??? Now, YOU try to keep up!

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm sticking with the advice that E10 on cars after 1980 is ok, but forget the higher content. It will eat your rubber. I've had other people tell me this who should know what they're talking about.

compmd 10 years, 4 months ago

Hey now, what's wrong with metric? :) 331 cid is 5.4L actually...the LS1 408 cid engine is over 6L.

"You have been so caught up in your environmental frenzy that you have not realized how bad you are getting screwd."

No, screwed is paying $3.20 for questionable 91 octane unleaded gas to oil companies making record profits off of inflated gas prices when I could inexpensively or freely modify a car to run on $2.40 104 octane E85. I'm not a huge fan of ethanol fuel, frankly I much prefer diesel, but I'll take my savings where I can get it.

imastinker 10 years, 4 months ago

Lightning girl-

The gel point of B20 is 0 degrees F. I don't expect it to get that cold here again this year. Also, you should research what ULSD is doing to trucks's fuel systems now. Biodiesel can release sludge on the side of the tank, and I put an extra filter in both of my trucks in case that happens. Other than that I expect it to be good.

Do you care to back any of what you said up with proof?

compmd 10 years, 4 months ago

ULSD is bad news for anyone using fuel lubricated injector pumps. It will destroy your injector pump, which could cost over $1000 to replace. And the whole urea cartridge thing is stupid if you ask me. If you have a fuel lubricated injector pump (any Bosch linear pump for example) add a few tbsp of vegetable oil to the ULSD fuel to maintain lubricity.

imastinker, the only thing I question about lightning_grrl's statements about diesel engines is the injector clogging. There are two sets of [cheap] fuel filters for a reason, those will clog up to save the [expensive] injectors. I think perhaps there is confusion over the chemistry of biodiesel.

Tristan Moody 10 years, 4 months ago

Marion Lynn

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:


What oil company do you work for?

Cute. Nowhere did I say we shouldn't use ethanol. I simply stated that the benefits for use are political and economical, rather than environmental, as is commonly claimed.

imastinker 10 years, 4 months ago

Compmd -

I agree with you. That was the part that I questioned as well. It just turned me off because I feel there is a lot of potential to biodiesel that is being wasted on ethanol.

The thing is that there is no conversion for biodiesel. It's true that older diesel engines had hoses that are not too good for bio, but pretty much everything in the last ten years or so has better hoses. If you have an older truck it's worth looking into. Biodiesel has a higher gel point than diesel, but it can be mixed with a light distillate such as kerosene or even Unleaded in small quantities to help this. This station only had B20 until March 15, and the gel point listed was 0 degrees F.

Biodiesel can help much more than just injection pumps though. Injectors are more prone to wear with this EPA mandated junk fuel out there now. My duramax does not have an injection pump, but it has a high pressure lift pump that is lubricated by the fuel. My powerstroke has injectors with large moving parts that will benefit from it. Many folks are running just a bit of biodiesel just to replace the lubricity from theis new fuel. It's much better for the engine, and emissions are lower.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

This weekend, wheat is going for $20 a bushel in North Dakota. Last spring it was $5 to $7 a bushel.

$3 gas, $10 loaves of bread, coming to a Merc near you.

Sigmund 10 years, 4 months ago

Seattle Times has an account of two studies published last Thursday in the prestigious journal 'Science' which come to the conclusion that almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse-gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these "green" fuels are taken into account.

Now add the increased cost of food to the poor and the tax subsidies to farmers for wasting production on fuels for cars instead of fuel for humans and we now will have increased starvation with our greenhouse gas.

What is worse all three likely Presidential candidates, the mental geniuses that they are, will most likely continue this disastrous populist course regardless of the facts It is a shame that the American people will soon get the President they deserve.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

Ted Turner's plan is paying off....

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

There are some really, really anguished farmers in ND who sold their wheat last fall.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 4 months ago

posessionannex (Anonymous) says:

I'm reminded of the bumper sticker I saw in Oregon:

"I don't give a s**t how they do things in California."

Well, I guess I shouldn't talk about California anymore. Since biofuels are probably bigger there than anywhere else, I guess anything I say that somehow involves California is inherently invalid and of no bearing on this discussion about biofuels. Everyone hear that? Don't talk about California. At least one out of 3,700,758 Oregonians agrees. Find another analog for biofuel use, as possessionannex has thoroughly demonstrated California's irrelevance.

Logan5 10 years, 4 months ago

Has anyone check the price on soybeans lately?

Corn requires more fertilizer.

Each year a swath of the Gulf of Mexico becomes so devoid of shrimp, fish, and other marine life that it is known as the dead zone.

Scientists have identified agricultural fertilizers as a primary culprit behind the phenomenon. Researchers are now focusing on shrinking the zone.

Dave Whitall is a coastal ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment in Silver Spring, Maryland. He said the dead zone forms each April and lasts through the summer, adding that the zone "generally grows throughout the summer, reaching a peak in late July."

At its peak, the nearly lifeless water can span 5,000 to 8,000-plus square miles (13,000 to 21,000 square kilometers), an area almost the size of New Jersey.

No ethanol from corn!

Logan5 10 years, 4 months ago

There goes the price of tofu!

The alternative-fuel revolution is driving prices of another energy-producing crop to near-record levels. Soybean prices are expected to hit their second-highest average mark ever this year - and highest since 1983, says the Agriculture Department. Soybeans are used to make biodiesel fuel.

Production of biodiesel, a renewable alternative to diesel fuel, has increased more than 1,200% in the past three years, showing how the nation's truckers are being drawn into the alternative-fuels frenzy along with the auto industry. Last week, Imperium Renewables in Grays Harbor, Wash., opened what may become the nation's largest biodiesel plant. Production target: 100 million gallons a year. By locating the plant on the coast, the company hopes to be able to use plant oils from around the world, not just U.S. soybeans, says CEO Martin Tobias.

Logan5 10 years, 4 months ago

If ethanol is such a good source of energy, why don't they use ethanol to power the ethanol plants instead of natural gas and, oh my god, coal. Ethanol is just an expensive way to move pollution from where people drive to the midwest where the ethanol plants are.

David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell University who has been studying grain alcohol for 20 years, and Tad Patzek, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, co-wrote a recent report that estimates that making ethanol from corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel itself actually contains.

Logan5 10 years, 4 months ago

Corn ethanol subsidies totaled $7.0 billion in 2006 for 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol. That's $1.45 per gallon of ethanol (and $2.21 per gal of gas replaced). Even with high gas prices in 2006, producing a gallon of ethanol cost 38¢ more than making gasoline with the same energy, so ethanol did need part of that subsidy. But what about the other $1.12. Not needed! So all of that became, $5.4 billion windfall of profits paid to real farmers, corporate farmers, and ethanol makers like multinational ADM. Why is it the farm states put up with this?!

Where did those subsidies come from: 1. 51¢ per gallon federal blenders credit for $2.5 billion = your tax dollars. 2. $0.9 billion in corn subsidies for ethanol corn = your tax dollars. 3. $3.6 billion extra paid at the pump.

That's quite a bit when you figure it only made us 1.1% more energy independent.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

Apparently Logan5 knows much more than I do; he/she appears to see the cause; all I see is the effect.

SirLena 10 years, 4 months ago

There are a LOT of ethanol myths out there. The first thing you should do is read your Owner Guide (the least read book in the US). Most auto manufactures have a warning about METHANOL, not ethanol. It's Methanol that eats metal and damages plastic & rubber. E10 is authorized for use in all makes and models. E85 use is discouraged in non-FFV vehicles because the auto manufacture did not EPA certify a non-FFV to run on E85, so they cannot tell you it's OK. Also, without changes to the amount of fuel you need to inject, you run the risk of drievability issues and a check engine light, but no damage. Brazillians have been using conversion kits to support thier 100% ethanol program for the last 20 odd years. You think they would keep doing that if it were harmful? And as far as classic cars, as long as you update the fuel system to be alcohol compatible, classic cars will LOVE E85 because of the high octane. It also runs cooler in the engine which helps to prolong engine life. Gasoline performance standards are established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The standard specification for gasoline includes requirements and guidelines for such important fuel properties as octane, volatility, corrosivity, and stability. Whether a gasoline is reformulated, oxygenated, or conventional it should still meet the ASTM performance guidelines. In addition some oil & ethanol companies have requirements that exceed those of ASTM. In my opinion, if it were that damaging, then the fuel nozzle would be different just like leaded vs. unleaded. My background: I am an Auto Tech Teacher at a Community College. Here's a video of my class doing a conversion.

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