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Ethanol E85 Gas Powered Vehicles - Both 60 Minutes and Dateline Cover Story - E-85 Mixture Flex Car List - Corn and Sugar Cane Hybrids?

May 8th 2006

Ethanol E85 Gas Powered Vehicles - Both 60 Minutes and Dateline Cover Story - E-85 Mixture Flex Car List - Corn and Sugar Cane Hybrids?

Corn source

Now that gas prices are passing $3 per gallon, drivers are considering alternatives to save money.  Some people are considering moving closer to work, while others are looking into the purchase of a hybrid car.  Since the Federal government is offering tax credits, this might be the best year to buy a hybrid car.  Not all hybrids qualify for a tax credit, so make sure you buy a car that has the credit available. 

The CBS News program 60 Minutes and NBC Dateline both ran stories about an alternative to regular gasoline.  Dan Rather mentioned that Brazil has been able to curtail much of their gas imports by adding ethanol to their gas.  Brazilian gas stations still offer straight gasoline, but the new blend E85 (85% ethanol) is now much cheaper. 

 

Brazil derives their ethanol from sugar cane.  Similar early-stage projects in the US are using corn to create the ethanol.  Now researchers are looking into alternative sources of ethanol by developing a new process using cellulose rather than corn. Cellulose will be cheaper because the sources include everything from prairie grass to agricultural waste to wood chips.

Dateline anchor Stone Phillips interviewed Vinod Khosla who said the conversion to ethanol could be “brain dead simple”.  Everyone would be spending less at the pump while reducing our dependence and foreign oil.  Vinod says that everyone will be paying a dollar a gallon less for gasoline. 

Most experts agree that ethanol will be better for the environment as well. The ethanol creation process produces byproducts that can be sold as animal feed and CO2 that can be sold to beverage companies.  The plants are relatively clean, releasing only steam into the air.  Comment on this Article at our Forum

 

The conversion will require the purchase of flex-fuel cars that are capable of running the high ethanol mixture.  In some states, ethanol has already been added to the fuel, but only in a small ratio (an additive).  According to CBS News “only 5 million of the country’s 133 million cars can use E85.”  The beauty of the flex-fuel cars is that they can run either on regular gas or an ethanol mixture up to 85%. 

Some states have already begun to move towards the new mixture.  California is investigating the process and Professor Kammen from Berkeley says the process would be less expensive than the estimates given by the petroleum industry.  The oil companies have estimated that each gas station would need to invest $200,000 for new fuel tanks and pumps.  Kammen says "The transition is pretty easy. It looks like its $30,000 to $40,000 per gas station to change over and have ethanol-dedicated pumps."

CBS hinted that the cost of the conversion may not be the only stumbling block.  Oil companies may not be that interested as well.  Rather said the oil industry considers an "appropriate" mixture to be “limiting ethanol to an additive and not moving quickly to something like E-85.”

 

Some mechanics can convert some vehicles to flex-fuel vehicles.  If you convert your car, you will not be limited to E-85, but will be able to fill up at any gas station using all the blends up to 85% ethanol. It is possible that the next generation of vehicles will be E85 hybrids, marrying the best of both worlds for fuel economy.  

NBC says that some newer vehicles are already capable of the E85 ethanol mix.  Here is a list of the cars: 

Chrysler

2006 4.7L Dodge Durango and 3.3L Caravan & Grand Caravan SE

2005-06

4.7L Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Series

2.7L Dodge Stratus Sedan

2.7L Chrysler Sebring Sedan

Ford

2006

3.0L Taurus sedan and wagon

4.6L Crown Victoria (Excluding taxi & police units)

5.4L F-150 (Available in December 2005)

4.6L Lincoln Town Car

2005

4.0L Explorer Sport Trac

4.0L Explorer

3.0L Taurus sedan and wagon

2004

4.0L Explorer Sport Trac

2002-04

4.0L Explorer (4-door)

1999-2004

3.0L Taurus LX, SE & SES sedan

2001-03

3.0L Supercab Ranger pickup 2WD

1999-2000

3.0L Ranger pickup 4WD & 2WD

3.0L Taurus LX, SE & SES sedan

1995-98

Many Taurus 3.0L Sedans

2005-06

5.3L Chevrolet Silverado & GMC Sierra half-ton pickups 2WD & 4WD

5.3L Vortec-engine Chevrolet Avalance, Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Yukon & Yukon XL

2002-04

5.3L Chevrolet Silverado & GMC Sierra half-ton pickups 2WD & 4WD

5.3L Vortec-engine Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon & Yukon XLs

2000-02

2.2L Chevrolet S-10 pickup 2WD

2.2L Sonoma GMC pickup 2WD

Mercedes-Benz

2005

3.2L C320 luxury & sport sedan & sport coupe

2.6L C240 luxury sedan & wagon

2004

3.2L C320 sport sedan, wagon & sport coupe

2003

3.2L C320 sport sedan

Mercury

2006

4.6L Mercury Grand Marquis (2-valve)

2002-05

4.0L Selected Mountaineers

2001-05

3.0L Selected Sables  (look for “Road & Leaf”)

Nissan

2005-06

5.6L Titan King Cab & Crew Cab

 
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