There’s been a few E85 news stories out and about in the last few days. Whilst the Swedes are taking it up with gusto, there’s still a fair bit of argy-bargy in the US about its viability.
CBS News are running a story that sums up the main reason why ethanol is virtually a non-factor here in Australia.
Automakers warn consumers that they shouldn’t use E85 ethanol blend in conventional vehicles…..
…..Automakers said Monday they are trying to get more ethanol-capable vehicles on the road quickly, but warned that consumers in the meantime should not use an E85 ethanol blend in conventional vehicles or try to convert their vehicles to use E85.
“Your vehicle was built a certain way for a certain reason. You really shouldn’t tamper with that,” Mary Beth Stanek, who manages General Motors Corp.’s partnerships with ethanol producers, told members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.
We can be slightly dumb here in Oz, or at least the government think so. Hence, we’re not going anywhere with ethanol as the government and the car companies are scared witless by the thought of a whole bunch of consumers getting antsy because their 1978 Holden Kingswood popped its thongs after they didn’t pay attention to the fuel they were using.
There should be a lot of promise here for ethanol as we have a huge sugar cane industry in the north (that got rather screwed over during negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement) that would be capable of producing heaps of the stuff. Once the cellulosic technology gets sorted they could be pumping heaps of it out. We could also do with the friendlier environmental image too, given that we’re one of the few non-Kyoto countries out there and consume coal like Paris Hilton consumes men.
Anyway, the message is: don’t run your car on e85 if it isn’t made for e85. I don’t think that’ll be a problem for your average, intelligent Saabisti.
The second article is a summary of the whole e85 catch-22 in the US. It’s from MSNBC and it reads like it was written by an anti-e85 lobbyist. It’s called Myths and Realities, but I fear it’s going to promote more of the former than the latter. It’s supposed to be 10 essential questions and answers about e85, but when there’s no questions about emissions and the environment and no questions about reducing dependance on fossil fuels, then you start to wonder.
Instead, their essential questions are negatively worded setups, the sort you’d hear in question time at the Australian Parliament (if you listen to that sort of thing):
Are there any problems with ethanol?
Doesn’t producing ethanol on a large scale use a great deal of energy?
Is ethanol cheaper than gas?
So ethanol production and distribution are also controlled by market forces, right?
All are relevant questions, but at least two of them are hardly ‘essential’ if you’re setting yourself up as writing a definitive Q&A on the essentials of the subject. The article also partially blames ethanol for rising fuel prices in the US, which I thought were attributed to worldwide demand and the prices set by the OPEC countries, but what do I know.