There's been a lot of concern expressed over the potentially damaging impact on engines that E15 – gasoline with 15 percent ethanol – could have on vehicle engines. AAA most recently sounded an alarm on the issue – the organization says that sale of E15 gasoline should be postponed until consumers can be educated on the fuel – and using the fuel can void the warranty in some vehicles.

Right now, drivers have access to E15 only in certain areas of the country, like Kansas and Iowa. To educate Eastern Iowan readers on what it costs to use E15 in their gas tanks, a local newspaper took a field trip to find out how the biofuel compares to fueling up on gasoline with E10. They accessed the Linn Co-op Oil Co. in Marion, IA, three times in the last month and found that on the first day, the E15 price was two cents per gallon more than E10 at nearby stations, and that it was approximately the same price for E10 at nearby stations on the two December dates.

The fuel economy experience was similar to typical gasoline with E10, even though higher ethanol concentrations in gasoline can be associated with a loss in fuel economy. The team tested E15 in a 2003 Volkswagen Golf with a 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine with a typical mileage range of 28 to 32 miles per gallon, depending on driving conditions. Their experience was very similar with E15 – 31.5 mpg on the first fill-up and 28.6 mpg on the second.

Engine performance didn't appear to be impaired during the non-scientific test, and the risk of motorists accidentally filling the gas tank with E15 didn't seem to be a real problem. Pricing did seem to slightly favor E10 over E15, and having very limited access to E15 at gas pumps gives E10 the edge for now.

Granted, this is a very limited test run for E15, fitting since we're a long way away from the fuel being available at most gas stations across the country. For that to happen, it will take lots of user experiences similar to that experienced by the reporters – positive real world driving conditions and beneficial cent-to-cent comparisons. The numbers could be huge: the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has calculated that drivers in Iowa could have saved $69 million this year had E15 been widely available. IRFA executive director Monte Shaw told Domestic Fuel, "Until E15 is widely available, Iowans will continue paying more at the pump than they should."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      The savings come from where? The article stated that the price was the SAME as E10 or HIGHER. That and there is slightly LESS energy in E15 than E10. Those things combined indicate that E15 would cost drivers MORE, not less. But I guess this is what a puff piece looks like from a Corn-Agri state newspaper.
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        The savings is based upon the numbers collected by Iowa's tax authority. They collect comprehensive data on the price that every single gallon of gasoline was sold for, so they can collect taxes on every gallon of gas sold. These comprehensive numbers showed that E15 sold for 5 cents a gallon less. That's where the savings come from. The newspaper article was based upon a total of 3 tanks of gas. The report showing a potential savings of $69 million was based upon the full data of every single tank of E15 sold in the entire state in 2012.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          No propaganda, just the actual numbers as reported by every single gas stations who sold the actual gas. Are you claiming that the gas stations are soviet communists for reporting their actual sales numbers? Not that an accusation like that would be surprising considering all the times I've heard folks here call our Christian American Democratic President a Muslim Kenyan Communist. There seems to be some massive confusion around here about what Soviet Communism really means.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          All very wishfull thinking and at the same time they didn't factor in more trips to refuel or that 1/3 to 2/3 of the car fleet would not have access or be able to run on the stuff. The Soviet Union had more believable propaganda.
      raktmn
      • 2 Years Ago
      The mistake folks are making reading this story is they are conflating two different sets of data from two different sources. One source is a single newspaper reporter who filled up a single car a total of 3 times, and reported the price for E15 was the same as E10 for 2 fill-ups, and 2 cents higher for one tank. The other source is www.iowarfa.org/IowansSavewithE15.php who took the actual "gasoline sales data released ... by the Iowa Department of Revenue" and found that overall "Where E15 has been sold, it has averaged 5 cents per gallon lower than E10." So you can either choose to base your statistics upon a total of 3 fillups by one single reporter, and conclude that E15 is more expensive than E10 because of one single tank of gas. Or you can look at the actual sales data for every single drop of gasoline sold in all of Iowa that is used to determine what taxes gas stations owe. And you could conclude (correctly) that people buying E15 overall paid 5 cents a gallon less, because that's what the total accounting of every single drop of fuel sold shows to be fact.
        PeterScott
        • 2 Years Ago
        @raktmn
        People are making that mistake, because that is the info in the story above. Then there is 1.5% less energy content. So mileage will also drop 1.5%, making the fuel worth 1.5% less. So even if it is 5 cents cheaper, you end up saving nothing. Why would I want a fuel with less energy, lower gas mileage, creating potentially more problems with the fuel system in my older car? Who actually wants E15 except big Agri and their lobbyists?
          PeterScott
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PeterScott
          No blanket statement about all biofuels, but Corn Ethanol is a massive boondoggle of corporate welfare/quotas and protectionism. I wouldn't say it has zero benefits. I would say it has negative benefits. It only achieves positive EROI if you include non energy byproducts so at best it is simply shuffling deck chairs, it doesn't add real usable energy to the system. It has huge negative impacts in increased fertilizer/pesticide runoff creating larger ocean dead zones. It diminishes and pollute local water supplies. It is just a bad idea from every angle. A negative for the environment, a waste of taxpayer money, and a degraded fuel for drivers.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PeterScott
          I understand now. You are like the Ford fanboi who posts the exact same anti-GM BS that only fanbois would say on every single Chevy story. Not to contribute to the conversation, but to be inflammatory, intentionally getting in the way of the real conversation. Thanks for the clarification.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PeterScott
          The story lists both sets of data, it just isn't very clear about it. So yes, part of the mistake is the story itself trying to fit too much into the shortened blog format. Are you seriously implying that biofuels have zero benefits? You aren't being serious, are you? Even hardcore anti-ethanol trolls know enough about ethanol to list off half a dozen benefits of biofuels replacing imported oil. Go ahead, give it a try yourself. It's easy.
      • 2 Years Ago
      a newspaper from the highest producing corn state finds no issues with adding corn derivatives to fuel. color me shocked.
        Aaron
        • 2 Years Ago
        Agreed. This is a completely biased, unscientific study. Did they truly expect the 2003 VW to just go up in flames as soon as the E15 was used? That's not how it works. The fuel system will break down over time faster with the higher alcohol content than fuel with lower alcohol content. The press should be held to a higher standard for its reporting than it does in the US. (Fox News, I'm looking at you specifically.)
        onyerleft
        • 2 Years Ago
        Actually the newspaper found out it cost more and didn't make a difference in mileage. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the author are providing the spin here. A more accurate title would be: "Iowa Newspaper Finds No Advantages to Fuel That Costs More">
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @onyerleft
          No, that would not be a good title. Because the only data point where E15 cost more was one single tank purchased by one single reporter. The full data for the entire state that includes data on every single gallon of E15 that was sold in Iowa in 2012 showed the the actual price was 5 cents a gallon LESS, not more. Unfortunately sloppy reporting has managed to leave that very important fact out, and you have to dig back to the original press release to understand the details: http://www.iowarfa.org/IowansSavewithE15.php
      bluepongo1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Record heat & drought last year.... anyone? Bueller? Bueller? ;)
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      An Iowa newspaper.... Why take an interest in this? From Iowa....what do they grow? Who reads the newspapers? Who pays for advertising? I wonder I'd a Texas or North Dakota newspaper would get the same result, or even conduct the same study?
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        You mean like the Pimentel study that has been widely debunked? We already know what happens when anti-ethanol folks do studies on ethanol. They lie heavily, and are widely debunked afterwards. You don't buy into the Pimentel study, do you? That would say a whole lot about you if you did. I'm pretty sure every single person who did the same thing the reporter did would get the exact same results, because as someone else already pointed out, cars don't instantly explode when going from E10 to E15.
      Thunder
      • 2 Years Ago
      What get's me is that in Brazil they have been selling 25% ethanol gasoline for years and guess what all those high end Euro models like the Porsche Cayenne or the Japanese turbo charged Subaru's had absolutely no problems driving with that stuff. All the fuss is coming from the US petroleum industry. And everyone believes this nonsense.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Thunder
        Up to 25% ethanol and their cars do not function in cold weather. The average Brazilian is aware of the mileage loss on different blends so they do the math when they fill up at the pump. Ethanol has to be priced according to its BTU power down there to compete with gasoline. They laugh when I tell them that Americans don't figure in mileage loss when they fill up. Brazil has had to dial back their blends to maximum 18% recently because of weather problems causing a surgar cane shortage yet in the states our government can't do the same.
        Denver
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Thunder
        Try burning it in a carbureted engine. This crap theyve got out is already killing things. Its ridiculous, theres no need to put ethanol in the gas.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Denver
          E10 is an oxygenator that replaces MTBE to reduce pollution. Denver and other large cities need ethanol to meet EPA air standards. Without ethanol, these cities would have go to after "gross polluters" and remove them from the road in order to meet mandates. These "gross polluters" would include all those old cars running carbs. So ethanol is actually saving the old carb'ed cars you are talking about, and allowing them to stay on the roads.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Denver
          All cars in the US have all been certified with ethanol since 1985. If you have a pre-1985 car with a carburetor that is 3 or more decades old, do yourself a favor and replace those fuel lines and rebuild that carb once every 30 years. They were never designed to last 30-plus years between replacement/rebuild. You can't buy a fuel line or set of carb gaskets in the US anymore that aren't ethanol safe. Just keeping up on the regular expected maintenance of your pre-1985 car is enough to keep your car as reliable as anyone could expect for a 30+ year old car. Frankly, you sound sort of silly driving around with 30, 40, maybe 50 year old cracked rubber fuel lines in some old carbureted car.
        occultist1521
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Thunder
        True the petroleum is propagating the dangers of E15 to make themselves grow rich. Same **** different salesman E15 is propagated by the farm bureau's and farm subsidies to help their poor little hillbilly farm folk get rich at everyone's expense. .
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah and we can hold our breaths for 1 minute without brain damage. Most car manufacturers do not stand behind E15 because there is more to the problem than the limited tests by the EPA and Newspapers. Just like diesels using biodiesels, the exhaust system can be imperiled by biofuels. Yeah my F250 ran fine on B20 until I was left on the side of the road. 700 dollars on top of the tons of warranty work and I was back on the road again. That system was a B5 system and nothing more than that. I will take the engineer's word on what my vehicle can handle over what some fruit at the EPA says any day.
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        There is nothing in a gas car that compares to an F250's diesel exhaust particulate filter. That's like claiming you shouldn't play baseball because you hurt your knee playing football and haven't been able to walk the same again. Sure, baseball and football are both sports, like E15 and B20 are both biofuels. But trying to equate a failure on a gas car based upon a part on your F250 that only exists on diesel vehicles is a huge leap.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          Not a single one of those companies has documented a single case of any of these failures.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          Oxygen sensors and Catalytic Converter problems. False readouts cause the engine to overcompensate by running hotter. The higher blends can also trigger the engine to give a readout to replace oxygen sensors. Many car companies talk about emission control failure in their coments on E15. http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=249952
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ford's Model T used alcohol as fuel. Majority of Brazil's passenger cars have been using alcohol as auto fuel for more than 10 years. Is the anti-E15 just another Big Oil propaganda?
        dreadcthulhu01
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Pure ethanol and ethanol-gas blends work just fine as a fuel in vehicles that have been designed to use it. You need different gaskets, hoses, and fuel pumps to handle higher amounts of ethanol. The problem is that there are tens of millions of cars in the US that simply haven't been designed to handle more than 10% ethanol - the manufactures didn't take higher ethanol blends into account when they made these cars, so of course they are not going to warranty these cars for E15. If you want to run E15 or higher, buy a flex-fuel vehicle, since they are designed to handle higher ethanol blends.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dreadcthulhu01
          E15 won't max out any fuel pump in any 2001 and later vehicle that was built to run on E10. That is absolutely absurd. It is almost like you think cars still run on carburetors with needle valves instead of on high pressure fuel systems with pressure regulators and return lines. There isn't a single fuel hose supplier or gasket supplier anywhere in the world that sells fuel lines or gaskets that can withstand a 10% concentration of ethanol, but magically fail with a 15% concentration.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ethanol has 40% less energy per volume than gas. So going from E10 to E15 at the same price is no bargain at all. I'm getting 2% less energy at the same price. Even at $0.05 less, that's 1.5% less price, 2% less energy. Stop trying to pretend you are doing me a favor, ethanol pushers. And just because my car didn't blow up doesn't mean it works great.
        carney373
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        You carefully ignore the reality that ethanol is recommended by the American Lung Association because it emits no smog-causing soot. Smog kills 40,000 Americans a year according to the EPA, when it was under George W. Bush, that well-known eco-zealot. So the life you save from premature death may be your own, or a loved one's. Ethanol also re-directs our fuel dollars away from terror-tyrants in the Mideast to farmers in the Midwest. Helping not only our national security but also our economy. Stop being penny-wise, pound foolish. You may more in the long run for your "cheap" gasoline, Einstein.
          raktmn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carney373
          Oil is fungible. As long as there is enough global demand for our enemies to make massive profits on selling oil, we are helping fund our enemies. We as Americans consume the most oil in the world. The demand from the US market is a significant driver of global prices. Our demand, no matter who we actually buy from, pushes up the price of oil globally. This means that no matter who our enemies are selling their oil to, our high demand makes their profits higher and higher. Ethanol cannot cut our demand alone, just like no alternative fuel can do everything alone. It is only together with multiple alternative fuels that we can change anything. Drill-baby-drilling will never lower global prices and global demand, because we just don't have enough cheap places to drill more and more oil. North Dakota can't fuel the world. Shale oil and deep water drilling can't lower the price of oil because the minute oil prices drop they are no longer cost effective and will instantly stop. All we can do with increased drilling in the US is to slightly slow the trade deficit for buying oil from Canada, Mexico, etc
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carney373
          Most of our fuel/oil imports come from Canada and Mexico so how is that supporting terror tyrants unless Sven and Jose have converted to islam? The American Lung Association would also like us to live in bubbles where dust and pollen doesn't bother us either. Ethanol has its own emission problems. We are using 10% ethanol in the gasoline yet we haven't decreased the need for security round the world by 10%. That security argument in a nonstarter that needs addressed every time it comes up. Here is another mind bender... Ethanol has not explanded the fuel supply, it has displaced domestic gasoline refining barrel for barrel while forcing its use in a shrinking gasoline demand market. While the CAFE standards keep rising our mpg ability is handicapped by increasing ethanol usage... if that isn't a backward way of thinking.
      raktmn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here is the full text of the press release for anyone who is confused about where the $69 million in savings math came from: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Press Contact: Monte Shaw December 27, 2012 515-252-6249 Iowa Motorists Could Have Saved $69 Million with E15 in 2012 $69 Million in Potential Savings Highlights Real Need for E15 JOHNSTON, IA – Based on gasoline sales data released today by the Iowa Department of Revenue, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) announced that Iowa motorists could have saved $69 million in 2012 if E15 would have been widely available to Iowans who drive 2001 and newer vehicles. “$69 million buys a lot of Christmas presents,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With E15, Iowans can spend less while boosting the Iowa economy. That’s a pretty good deal. IRFA is working with retailers across the state to make E15 access a reality. Until E15 is widely available, Iowans will continue paying more at the pump than they should.” The potential savings with E15, a fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol, were calculated using 1,630 million gallons of Iowa gasoline use (extrapolated from Iowa Department of Revenue figures). Roughly 85 percent of the fuel sold goes into vehicles that can legally use E15, including all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles. Where E15 has been sold, it has averaged 5 cents per gallon lower than E10. Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing nearly 3.7 billion gallons annually, with one traditional ethanol plant and two cellulosic ethanol facilities currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 300 million gallons annually. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development. ### For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website at: www.IowaRFA.org http://www.iowarfa.org/IowansSavewithE15.php
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