Converting Chevrolet Volt To Run On E85 Is Easy

NOV 4 2015 BY MARK KANE 95

Doesn’t look so bad, really

Doesn’t look so bad, really

The first generation Chevrolet Volt engine runs on gasoline, but as it turns out it can run on ethanol blends up to E85, as well.

The switch to E85 is simpler than one might think because GM left ready-to-go software installed and all you need to do is to change some settings.

The report about turning a used 2013 Chevrolet Volt into an E85 drinker comes from an automotive engineer – John Brackett, who expects that 2016 (1.5 liters direct injection) could also be changed as well (to be confirmed in the future).

“It took me about 2 minutes to change the software program and about 3 minutes to write to the vehicle using a device called the HP Tuners. And those are very affordable. Basically, if you knew somebody with one, it’d be $100 to re-flash [re-program] your vehicle.”

The first generation 1.4-liter engine for the Volt is shared with the Cruze and originally was designed to be able to run on ethanol blends. GM didn’t make the Volt flex-fuel capable, but those who would like to burn ethanol, it’s possible.

“I’ve been working with the Cruze for several years now, and found that it was a piece of cake to go through it,”

“They just did not turn it on; they didn’t activate it. To make things even worse — easier for me, worse for GM — they have all the ethanol tables already pre-filled, and they actually looked like pretty good tunes for just the ethanol side of things. So they put effort into making this into a flex-fuel car.”

In some situations the check-engine light goes on with E85, but Brackett says that ain’t a big deal and you can switch to E60.

*Editor’s Note: Converting a Volt to run on E85 surely voids all engine-related warranties on the vehicle. Furthermore, this modification is done at your own risk. Neither Brackett, nor InsideEVs is suggesting that you convert you Volt to run on high ethanol blends, we’re simply pointing out that it’s possible to do so.

Source: Fuel Freedom Foundation

Categories: Chevrolet

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95 Comments on "Converting Chevrolet Volt To Run On E85 Is Easy"

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Heck, the range is bad enough with 10%, Who in their right mind would go to 85%??!?

The Volt would still have a range of around 300 miles on the start of a trip on a full battery and a full tank of E85. Around roughly around the same range as a Tesla with a big battery.

If you want more range on the next tank, just fill it up with Premium, and you have another 300-350 miles of range. No problem.

Considering how folks around here talk about 70 miles of range for pure EV’s being OK, I’m not sure what your complaint is. Especially since you can simply fill up with premium any time you start feeling “range anxiety” with hundreds of miles of range and fast tank refills at your disposal.

Maybe I’m missing something?

Range? I did four full tanks the last two weeks on a 1500 mile run. 42 mpg, refuel every 320 miles when gas got somewhat low.

Going from 0 to 10% ethanol is only a 3% difference in energy. That’s hardly a measurable fuel loss. With E85 in my Volt, I’ve gotten 38-44 MPG on 65-75 MPH roads.

Is the fuel system hardware (ie rubber seals and plastic parts) designed to handle E85?

All modern cars are designed to handle ethanol blends and have been for many years. Chage2e85.com sells e85 conversion kits for most modern cars.

If you understood the fuel system testing that goes on you’d not be running to convert a vehicle to e85.

The amount of testing and validation that goes on is massive, I’m not risking a fuel leak or fire to save a few dollars. After the labor it would be a very long time to recoup your investment regardless.

It depends upon the vehicle. For example, Chevy has a problem with rusting brake lines and fuel lines on their Silverado’s (regardless of what fuel they are running). Knowing that, I would never run E85, E50, or even E20 in a Silverado. BMW made some turbo engines that had high-pressure fuel pumps that suffered from a high rate of failure. (again, regardless of whether they were run on straight gas or E10). I would think twice about E85 converting that vehicle too. On the other hand, there are a number of other turbo vehicles that have suitably stout fuel systems, that already have lots of stainless steel fuel system parts and high quality fuel system seals that have proven to be robust enough to withstand E85. There are now enough examples of these conversions, and enough professionals doing the engine tuning and checking the components that there are perfectly safe ways to convert to E85. These proven conversions have even been run through emissions testing in states that require emissions testing and owners have seen emissions test numbers actually drop compared to straight gas. With that said, these conversions are with the intention of increasing power. E85 with an aggressive… Read more »

E85 cars require more expensive fuel pumps. E85 compatible fuel lines are a little more expensive as well. Automakers have claimed their cost is $40-80 more.

I doubt GM spent this extra money on the Volt, so fuel system durability could be an issue for anyone that does this mod without also changing the parts with E85 compatible ones.

The original Volt concept car did run on E85, and I wanted to have that capability. After owning a Volt for almost 5 years, and only using one tank of gas per year, I now realize it would be a waste of Monet to add E85 compatibility.

GSP

I can’t imagine any reason I’d want to do this. The primary fuel on my Volt is electricity. On the rare occasion I need to use another fuel, I’d rather that fuel be the most common fuel available – gasoline. And I’m sure the E85 is not good for the fuel system and I’m sure it would get worse fuel economy.

I guess it depends on you motivation, when I first saw the volt it completely changed my view of bio-fuels. Bio-fuels are great from an energy security and CO2 emissions perspective but they are more expensive to produce and if we were to just switch to 100% bio-fuels with regular cars then the 3rd world would just starve. With the volt you could run on 80% solar and wind with the rest coming from a renewable source such as ethanol. This makes more sense to me more than converting some hulking great SUV to run on E85.

btw if you have your engine converted to E85 it can run on any mixture of gasoline to ethanol up to 85% ethanol. So you could still put regular gasoline in the car.

I can buy E85 for $1.29 a gallon but regular gasoline runs about $1.90 at the same gas station. The price difference pretty much makes up for the loss of range. I might point that E85 is not less efficient than gasoline, it just has fewer BTUs per gallon. I also might point out that E85 has a much higher octane rating than gasoline so you could use E85 to replace the higher priced premium fuels.

If you’re wondering, I buy my E85 at Kroger. If I buy E85 at the local Vellero station I have to pay about $1.99 per gallon.

You might want to reduce your fossil carbon emissions and be free from imported oil.

…all while using a perfectly good food stock for humans and animals.

…not to mention all the diesel to plant and harvest the corn, natural-gas-sourced fertilizers, etc. Corn-based ethanol is the opposite of “green”.

Wthe way is going now they make ethanol with corn stash and left over from other sources. Also that need far more energy to distille petrol that ethanol. 100.f compare to 1,000 f. For petrol. The lobby of petrolium compagny is strong . Be carefull where your information come from. Ethanol is a good additive to gasoline specialy in the north to take care of the moisture in the tank.
As a food supply over population will starved the planet not ethanol production .
As using ethanol localy where is produce is noting wrong . May be they should stop make beers , whiskey, ect

If you are worried about wasting food, then stop eating meat

If you had a private location, some firewood, a still, and some grain or sugar beets then 85% green fuel?

You’re supposed to report it for tax purposes.

Shame it can’t run on 100% ethanol too.

Fuel grade ethanol has to be denatured and have mandated fuel additives. It isn’t just moonshine. So along with being illegal to fuel your car on your own moonshine, you would run into problems that folks running E85 would never experience. The first of which would be very poor cold weather startup.

If you want to make your own fuel, converting waste oil/grease to diesel is a much better idea.

E85 is primarily a biofuel which are a renewable energy source. There are many reasons to prefer E85 over gasoline. Running E85 in your PHEV makes your PHEV even more sustainable. Obama said he wanted all automobiles to be flex fuel capable, personally I’m disappointed that hasn’t happened already.

“There are many reasons to prefer E85 over gasoline. Running E85 in your PHEV makes your PHEV even more sustainable”

If every car is converted to Volt like vehicles, then we wouldn’t need so much gasoline already which pretty much makes the biofuel a moot point.

As long as we continue to refine oil for other oil products such as diesel, kerosene, gas will forever be a byproduct. With PHEV and BEV reduction in fuel usage, the gasoline would be perfect to be used occasionally. There are no need to uses precious farm land to grow something we already produces.

Standard oil used to dump gasoline into water streams and lakes as a byproduct before they figured out a way to use them in ICE.

The point you make about as long as we refine diesel, we might as well burn the gasoline by-product is well taken.

But you probably aren’t aware that the exact same relationship exists with corn, cattle, and ethanol. Because the production of ethanol has a by-product too, called “distiller’s grain” that is used as cattle feed.

In fact distiller’s grain as cattle feed pre-dates E85. It has long been a high-protein, high moisture content premium cattle feed.

If we stop producing E85, the distiller’s grain goes away too. Farmers that grew corn that they sold to ethanol makers, would now have to grow corn to sell directly as cattle feed.

Ending ethanol production in the United States simply wouldn’t cut down on the amount of corn we grow anywhere near as much as you might believe.

Nix said:

“If we stop producing E85, the distiller’s grain goes away too. Farmers that grew corn that they sold to ethanol makers, would now have to grow corn to sell directly as cattle feed.”

Hardly. Far too much corn previously used to supply humans with food, has been diverted to energy-wasting and polluting production of biofuel. Even diverting corn from cattle feed causes the price of beef to go up.

Eliminating that diversion would be good for everyone except those profiteering from the corn-to-biofuel scam.

We have a 2 billion bushel corn surplus. China has a massive corn surplus too. We aren’t lacking in corn. The liquid corn-syrup isle (soda isle) isn’t bare in the grocery stores. We didn’t have a candy shortage for Halloween. We have more corn in the global market than we know what to do with.

Corn prices are actually way DOWN, and the biggest fear for farmers right now is that it will go too low.

Yet beef prices have gone up. You’ve actually proven my point for me, by not actually knowing what is happening with either corn or beef prices. There is a negative correlation between beef and grocery store food prices and the price of corn. Corn prices have been on a stead slide, and yet prices in the grocery store have not gone down.

If you don’t believe me, go look up the numbers yourself. They are all publicly available. (no, I’m not your research assistant, you won’t believe me anyways, because reality doesn’t match your political viewpoints.(

The federal government has decided that bio derived ethanol is better for the environment and for energy security than gasoline. EISA07 mandates the production and distribution of ethanol based fuels. Diesel, kerosene, gas, expect them all to disappear because government mandates. People should have a choice to be able to burn whatever fuels are available. I would rather buy a car that’s already flex fuel capable than to have to worry about possibly having to convert the car in the future.

Texas FFE said:

“The federal government has decided that bio derived ethanol is better for the environment and for energy security than gasoline.”

You mean, the U.S. Congress has been lobbied into supporting the highly wasteful corn-to-biofuel scam, which in addition to wasting resources such as farmland, fertilizer, and the fuel used to run agricultural equipment, has raised the price of food — especially in third-world countries — by an astounding amount in a very short time.

Corn prices are actually down significantly globally. The major growers, the US, China, and the Ukraine all are at market lows half of what prices were at recent record highs. Ukrainian corn is below $3, and US Corn is likely headed that low by next summer if there are no massive natural disasters.

Have you seen food prices cut in half? Has your food bill dropped in half? No? Then where do you get this idea that the price of food is so closely tied to corn commodity prices?

They aren’t. Your box of Corn Flakes contains a few cents worth of corn. Corn commodity prices simply aren’t a major cost factor in the food you buy in the stores.

“E85 is primarily a biofuel which are a renewable energy source. ”

Except to renew it takes loads of diesel tractors, loads of polluting nitrate fertilizer, loads of water and loads of land. Ethanol is only bested by H2 as a losing energy proposition.

Switching a Volt to E85 would make it at least 15% less efficient and wouldn’t save enough gasoline to run a lawn mower.

You obviously have a bias against biofuels. The facts do not support your postulations. Discussing the facts with someone that has such a strong bias is pointless.

Reminds me of the famous Stephen Colbert quote: “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” It’s a fact, not a political statement, that diverting corn into biofuel is one of the worst government programs of modern times. Not only is it highly wasteful, it has caused the price of corn on the international market to shoot up so far that it has significantly increased the cost of food in third-world countries. And that has greatly contributed to social unrest and helped create a climate which breeds terrorism. Unfortunately, corn-into-biofuel is now a large enough industry to have its own strong lobby to support continuing this perverse and wasteful program; a lobby putting out propaganda on the subject, which is why (for example) Texas FFE thinks it’s not true. Here’s a quote from a Forbes article: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In 2007, the global price of corn doubled as a result of an explosion in ethanol production in the U.S. Because corn is the most common animal feed and has many other uses in the food industry, the price of milk, cheese, eggs, meat, corn-based sweeteners and cereals increased as well. World grain reserves dwindled to less than two months, the lowest level in over… Read more »

“[ethanol] has caused the price of corn on the international market to shoot up so far that it has significantly increased the cost of food in third-world countries.”

This is false. There is actually a NEGATIVE correlation between ethanol production and Corn prices! Corn prices track much, much more closely with gasoline and diesel prices, with the majority of the rest of the impact being weather-caused.

If you place a graph of ethanol production, gas and diesel prices, corn prices, and bad weather all on the same page, you will understand what I’m talking about.

You will see that corn prices rise in accordance with fuel prices and floods/droughts. It will fall when fuel prices fall and when weather is good.

The price falls under these conditions even in years where ethanol production increases. That is what the term “negative correlation” means.

“This is false. There is actually a NEGATIVE correlation between ethanol production and Corn prices!”

Looks like complete B.S. to me. I’d like to see you back up that assertion with some actual facts.

Or, in fact, point us to any real evidence than any of the facts I’ve posted here are not true.

Hint: Websites supporting the corn-to-biofuel scam are not authoritative sources.

All of the corn prices, gas prices, diesel prices, and bushels of corn production, and our corn surplus numbers are all public record that you can find yourself from neutral primary sources.

You won’t believe me even if I spoon feed you the numbers, because they won’t match your political beliefs. So go look them up yourself if you think I’m wrong.

Pushi – Eacho one of your sources are either opinion pieces, or in the “politics” section.

All you have proven is that there is a widespread political and opinion based set of attacks against renewable fuels.

Just like there is a growing political and opinion based set of attacks against solar and wind energy and electric vehicles, with all kinds of pseudo-scientific sounding attacks on solar and wind power and claims that EV’s are bad for the environment.

The existence of massive political opposition to green energy and renewable fuels and EV’s certainly doesn’t mean that the claims are true.

This is one of the best posts I’ve read here in a long while.

I am quite happy with someone putting forward a well reasoned argument to as why something is good or bad but so much of what a read here is now is more faith based than fact based. That in it self isn’t totally bad but when your faith is blindly given to someone with a clear vested interest all you do is muddy the water on a subject.

Nix said:

“Pushi – Eacho one of your sources are either opinion pieces, or in the ‘politics’ section.”

Let’s stick to the facts. You’re correct to say that many or perhaps all of the articles I linked to have political opinion content. The question is whether or not you can challenge the actual facts those opinions are based on.

I don’t think you’ll find anything in the following fact-checking article to support your claim, but it agrees fully with everything I’ve said:

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/may/29/wisconsin-corn-growers-association/wisconsin-corn-growers-association-says-without-et/

Ditto for this one:

http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/oct/19/matt-gaetz/rep-matt-gaetz-says-ethanol-study-shows-its-not-wo/

So, Nix, the next time you’re tempted to accuse me of posting B.S. …make sure you have your facts straight, first.

This is your “evidence”? A link to a story from 2011 that talks about a federal subsidy that ENDED years ago?

And another 2011 story that is based upon a Florida law that ALSO ENDED years ago? And relies entirely upon one single widely debunked 2005 study by Pimentel that failed peer review, and has been so widely debunked that it isn’t even funny.

Seriously, you need to spend some time actually learning about the stuff you are quoting.

Did you even know that Pimental based his 2005 study on 80’s/90’s data, and he actually didn’t do most of the research work himself, he left that to a Shell Oil Company consultant named Patzek?

The fact that you even went so low as to source a story that relies upon Pimental and Patzek completely destroys your credibility.

I don’t think you are going to bother responding again, but let’s put the final stake in the heart of the 2005 Pimental and Patzek study you referenced in your link just for fun. Have you seen the attacks on EV’s where pundits say that EV’s are dirtier than gas cars, because of coal power plants? Where they dig out US nationwide grid statistics that are out of date from when coal was a larger percent of electricity generation? Then they use a worse-case scenario, and ignore that the states with the most EV’s actually have cleaner grids, and EV owners actually charge with more solar and other green electricity than the grid average? And ignore that the grid can get greener, etc? If you know what I’m talking about, I bet you hate those dumb trolling “studies” that are full of holes and easily debunked. Well, if you want to use the Pimental and Patzek study against ethanol, you are stuck with defending the exact same attack. Because they do the exact same thing. They used out-of-date grid numbers from when coal was making the grid much dirtier than now as the input they used for electricity for producing… Read more »

I think that is a dramatic over simplification of a very complex issue. Bio-ethanol produced from sugar cane is pretty good, especially if the mills combust the bagasse for heat and electrical power. Ethanol made from corn or wheat is not so good.

If you compared a field of the same size with solar panels + electrolysis vs sugar cane to ethanol you’d find that the solar energy to fuel efficiency would be far higher for hydrogen.

Cellulose ethanol is made from stalks of crops already being grown for feed and food.

“If you compared a field of the same size with solar panels + electrolysis vs sugar cane to ethanol you’d find that the solar energy to fuel efficiency would be far higher for hydrogen.”

That field of solar panels going straight to the grid to EV batteries would have an even far higher efficiency than wasting energy through electrolysis and pumping, storing, transporting, pumping to 10,000 psi and then running it through a 40%-60% efficient fuel cell stack.

That’s very true but if the field is in Australia and the car is in Japan you need a bloodly long EVSE cable, you can’t e-mail electricity.

Just_Chris said:

“If you compared a field of the same size with solar panels + electrolysis vs sugar cane to ethanol you’d find that the solar energy to fuel efficiency would be far higher for hydrogen.”

Yeah, agriculture in general only has about 1.5-2% efficiency in converting sunlight to calories (or BTUs). That’s one reason why why corn-into-biofuel is such an extremely bad idea. Solar panels are far more efficient, per acre.

But that’s not to say that using sunlight to generate hydrogen is a good use of resources. It’s very wasteful compared to the much more direct use of sunlight to generate electricity to be stored in batteries.

Loboc said:

“Except to renew it takes loads of diesel tractors, loads of polluting nitrate fertilizer, loads of water and loads of land. Ethanol is only bested by H2 as a losing energy proposition.”

Indeed, in many cases, perhaps most cases when corn is used as the feedstock, it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than is contained in the ethanol.

Growing corn to be converted into ethanol fuel is, like renewable hydrogen, a case of foolishly (or stupidly) trying to produce a non-polluting fuel, but using an industrial process which produces far more pollution than you get by simply burning gasoline or diesel instead.

Economically, corn-into-biofuel is even worse than producing hydrogen, because diverting corn production to biofuel has driven up the international price of corn used for food, which has contributed to significantly increasing the price of food, especially in third world countries. The “Arab spring” was preceded by food prices in the region nearly doubling. (Don’t take my word for it; look it up yourself.) So you can “thank” gasohol for helping fuel terrorism and unrest in the Mideast and elsewhere.

Pushi — “Indeed, in many cases, perhaps most cases when corn is used as the feedstock, it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than is contained in the ethanol.” Actually, that is false, and the very few studies that claimed this have been widely debunked. In the United States, the energy ROI is between 1.3:1 and 1.6:1. And in the ethanol business, many of these energy inputs are now coming from green sources like wind power themselves. For example, the traditional energy inputs would be electricity (nat. gas/coal/nuke/etc), diesel, gasoline, and nat. gas derived fertilizers, and of course energy from the sun to grow the crops. For every 1 BTU of these inputs in total, 1.3 to 1.6 BTU’s worth of ethanol is produced, making the ROI positive, not negative. But ethanol producers are increasingly building windmills to power their production, displacing much of the other electricity inputs. In the end, they are putting solar power, wind power, diesel, gasoline, nat. gas, etc into your tank to power your car. And you get .3 to .6 more “gallons” worth of “free” solar power collected by the plants than if it were somehow possible to pour those fuels… Read more »

Well, I just debunked your claims here, with a couple of links to Politifact fact-checking articles, posted above.

So if you still won’t admit you’ve been show to be wrong, then back up your claims with some authoritative citations. And not the B.S. propaganda you’ve been copy-and-pasting.

I debunked your outdated source, with the facts that the the programs mentioned in your outdated sources have both ended years ago. By the way, did you even bother reading your own source? Here is what they say about the Pimental study: “What about the fact that Pimentel’s research flies in the face of government and industry studies? We would have preferred Gaetz note that in his op-ed” … “This fact-check doesn’t attempt to evaluate the science itself, but whether Gaetz accurately characterized a scientific study” … “We found the study and talked with the Cornell researcher, who said Gaetz accurately cited him” In other-words, your source wasn’t even fact checking the science or the study that you are trying to say is factual. They are JUST fact checking that the politician correctly quoted a particular study, regardless of whether the study was complete crap. That doesn’t actually mean you are even “mostly true” on the actual science. Your source didn’t even support your claim of your numbers being correct. You are back to below zero. You’ve mis-characterized your own source as proving your numbers correct, when the authors go to great efforts to make sure the readers understand they… Read more »

Oh, and by the way, since you used WIKI first in this blog, and relied upon it as your source material, I’ll be lazy and use it too. It is right in the graphic at the top of the page:

Energy balance
United States Corn ethanol 1.3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_energy_balance

Will you now accept your own source as valid? Or do I individually have to point you to another dozen or so studies that each come to the same conclusion?

Another commentor with a strong bias against biofuels. None of your logic is based in fact. Maybe when E85 first came out there was an energy penalty but the industry has come a long ways since then. I pay much less for E85 ($1.29/gal) than I do for gasoline ($1.90/gal). If your argument held any water at all that price difference would not be possible.

The lower price for E85 is supported by agricultural subsidies for the corn-to-biofuel scam; subsidies paid for by us U.S. taxpayers. Are you happy about that, hmmm?

Without that subsidy, the scam would collapse immediately.

“The lower price for E85 is supported by agricultural subsidies for the corn-to-biofuel scam; subsidies paid for by us U.S. taxpayers.”

I see the source of all of your confusion. You still think that there is an ethanol subsidy. That ended in December of 2011, nearly 4 years ago. There is no direct subsidy for ethanol anymore.

And ethanol actually REDUCES one of the largest ag. subsidies to farmers, where farmers are paid to not farm. Without ethanol production, we would actually pay billions more in ag subsidies. So if you actually have a goal of reducing ag subsidies overall, ethanol production actually helps achieve that goal now that the direct ethanol subsidy ended 4 years ago.

Touché! Game, set, match.

ayy-men

Corn is now about $3.80 a bushel. We are using just as much ethanol as we were 3 years ago when corn was $7 per bushel. What’s changed to cause such a dramatic drop in corn prices? Not ethanol production. Are the world’s poor now getting fat on corn? The relationship between corn prices and ethanol demand are more complicated than your simplistic view. You have been duped by the oil lobby (API) and their propaganda.

“What’s changed to cause such a dramatic drop in corn prices?”

I can answer that! *grin*

Corn prices have dropped with dropping diesel and gasoline prices, and a lack of natural disasters (flood or drought) in the US corn belt.

Globally, the biggest problem with corn is that both China and the US are at record levels of corn surpluses. So much they can’t find enough storage for the surplus. This is a repeat of the 1970’s and 1980’s where the US was drowning in surplus corn, literally rotting in piles in fields.

Having flex fuel vehicles that can burn this surplus corn in years of surplus as E85, and burn 100% gasoline in years of shortages actually helps stabilize food prices between natural disasters that affect corn production in bad years.

Nix said:

“Corn prices have dropped with dropping diesel and gasoline prices, and a lack of natural disasters (flood or drought) in the US corn belt.”

Or maybe, corn prices have dropped with the sudden and sharp increase in prices (from the diversion of corn for food to corn-to-biofuel) being followed by increased supply.

Sadly, although average world food prices have dropped from the 2011 peak, they’re still considerably above 2000-2006 levels; see graph linked below. This is exactly what we should expect with so much farmland diverted from productive growing of food and feedstock, to the non-productive growing of corn diverted to biofuel.

I can only conclude, Nix, that you’re getting your “facts” from right-wing think tank talking points.

Personally, I prefer actual facts to the B.S. which passes for “facts” in the echo chamber of the far-right-wing bubble world.

https://agenda.weforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/1510B18-food-prices-change-2000-2015.png

Actually, there is zero correlation between historic corn prices and ethanol production. Sadly you’ve bought into oil industry FUD.

It is very easy to compare historic corn prices straight from any primary source like NASDAQ

http://www.nasdaq.com/markets/corn.aspx?timeframe=10y

and compare it to the graph of ethanol production, straight from a primary source like the official EIA website:

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=21212

As ethanol production went up,
http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/images/2015.05.13/main.png

Corn more closely tracked gas prices:

http://www.nasdaq.com/markets/gas.aspx?timeframe=10y

Hey Nix,

I know you were having some trouble posting this message (I pulled on of them – above, out of moderation). Just wanted to let you know it wasn’t the “NASDAQ” links that crashed it…any comment with more than 2 links will be held in moderation.

If you keep links to 2, you won’t have a problem…or you can still go with 3, 4 or 12, but it can take up to an hour or so for someone online to moderate.

Jay, thank you very much. It is good to know about the 2 link limit. That’s very helpful.

Lobec — When you say ethanol takes “loads of water”, that brings up the question of how much fresh water modern well fracking is dirtying.

The extraction of oil, gas, and natural gas is consuming massive amounts of fresh water. Enough water that the amount of water we are talking about is causing earthquakes!

Furthermore, oil and gas refining consumes copious amounts of water. So much water that refiners refuse to publicly provide consumption statistics, and the oil industry lobbied to kill a bill that would require them to disclose this information.

I needed to rebuild the carburetor of my wife’s scooter after one winter where I left E10 on the tank without Stabil. It corroded the jets and I needed to unplug them.

The gasoline in my Volt stays in the tank and in the fuel system for months at a time without flowing. For the longevity of my car, I make an effort to only put non-ethanol gas in it.

Sometimes it’s not easy to find and it’s much more expensive but I rarely use it.

I do the same for my Jeep Wrangler as I rarely drive it.

My wife’s Fiat 500C uses blended fuel as it is constantly burning it.

Actually I doubt the gas stays in the tank of your Volt that long. The owners manual of my Fusion Energi says there is feature that that makes the engine run occasionally so that gas doesn’t stagnate. I would be surprised if your Volt doesn’t have a similar feature.

It does. If gas stays in your tank for a year (not 100% sure about the exact duration), it will burn it off.

I know it will burn after some time but it doesn’t burn the whole tank, just a few minutes. Either way, I’m not willing to risk corrosion on the fuel system of my 2014 car if I can avoid it…

goaterguy — Your gas tank in your Volt is unlike any gas tank in any small engine you’ve ever owned. The Volt has a sealed and pressurized tank that is specifically designed to preserve fuel longer than a typical open/vented system. Any comparison to a wet-carb open tank small engine is invalid from the beginning. I don’t know how old you are, but folks have been adding Stabil with 100% pure gasoline for decades before ethanol was ever put into fuel. 100% pure Gasoline has been clogging carbs forever without fuel stabilizer. Failing to put the appropriate fuel stabilizer for the fuel into an engine that is stored is user error. That’s why even with 100% gasoline small engine makers won’t warranty gummed up carbs if you didn’t use the appropriate fuel stabilizer. Because that is user error regardless of what fuel is used. With that said, if you don’t burn through a tank of fuel every 6 months or so, then E85 definitely is not the best fuel FOR YOU. That doesn’t mean that E85 is bad, or inherently damaging to a Volt. But it certainly wouldn’t make sense for your specific situation. With that said, if you are… Read more »

Not entirely true the Volt is designed to force you to burn off the gas until sufficient fuel is added to bring the average age of the fuel in the tank to less than 1 year so it could force you to burn an entire tank of fuel if you did not add any more the engine would start every time the car was driven until sufficient fuel was added to bring the average age of the fuel in the tank under one year

Has anyone tried to run their car on Everclear? Does it need diluting with E85 cars?

That would be the most expensive possible way to fuel a vehicle.

Let’s say you’re stranded in AZ without no gas station in sight, but you have several bottles of Everclear. What to do? Dilute with what? Urine? No, it did not happen to me, honest!

Call AAA and have them bring you gas.

750 mL of gas isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Had 6 bottle, if 4 was used, that’s 1 gallon for fuel and 2 bottles to make jello shot. Might be enough to get 20 miles. No AAA, no cell phone. But does it need diluting and would urine work?

There would be enough gasoline left in the bottom of the gas tank to dilute the fuel for an emergency short trip. Never dilute with water or urine.

In an emergency, as long as you never go past half throttle you probably won’t even get a Check Engine light, and you won’t go into limp mode. You just have to avoid maxing out your fuel injector ceiling, so keep the RPM’s low and don’t punch the gas and your O2 sensors will take care of keeping the fuel mixture correct.

When you reach a fuel station, buy a bottle of Heat and add it to your filled tank. Everclear isn’t the same as fuel-grade ethanol, and it has not been denatured. The Heat will take care of denaturing any remaining moisture.

Thanks. This will help should it ever happen

Alcohol has a significantly lower energy content than gasoline, so doesn’t have enough chemical energy to properly run an internal combustion engine which is designed to run on gasoline. In fact, in cold climates, you can’t even start a car with alcohol, because it needs more energy to start. Now, that’s not to say that you can’t modify a car to run on pure alcohol. But the first-generation Volt is supposed to use premium gasoline, which has higher octane than normal gasoline, so I seriously question that an unmodified Volt will run at all on pure alcohol. And if you could get it to run, it wouldn’t run properly. Could you modify a Volt 1.0 to run reliably on alcohol? That’s an interesting question; I have no idea. But my guess is that at best, it would be difficult. The label “E85” for gasohol indicates a blend of gasoline and alcohol, with up to a maximum of 85% alcohol. Now, that’s not to say that the blend typically has that high an alcohol fraction when you buy it at the gas station. Most notably, in U.S. States where it gets cold in the winter, they drop the percentage of alcohol… Read more »

Ethanol actually has higher octane than regular gasoline (octane, the rating, not octane the the hydrocarbon). Higher octane means that you can run higher compression, which is more efficient. However, flex-fuel engines run at the lower compression required by regular gasoline (to avoid knocking) and therefore don’t use ethanol efficiently.

From the same article that you linked (but didn’t read, lol): “E85 has an octane rating higher than that of regular gasoline’s typical rating of 87, or premium gasoline’s 91-93. This allows it to be used in higher-compression engines, which tend to produce more power per unit of displacement than their gasoline counterparts.”

Yup said:

“Ethanol actually has higher octane than regular gasoline…

“From the same article that you linked (but didn’t read, lol): …”

Actually, I did read it, or at least skim it. 🙂

You’re oversimplifying the subject. I didn’t say that ethanol won’t properly run a gasoline engine because it has a lower octane; it just has a lower energy content per gallon/liter, despite that higher octane rating.

My comment about octane was in the context of comparing “regular” gasoline to premium, and wasn’t meant to be taken outside that context. My point, and apparently I didn’t make it properly, was that if “regular” gas doesn’t have sufficient energy (per unit of volume) to make a Volt 1.0 run properly, then an even lower energy fuel, like ethanol, is gonna do even less well.

Properly?!? I have a E85 conversion and it always starts. It doesn’t start quite as easily in the winter but always starts. If I want the car to start a little easier I can just run a little higher blend. The first generation Volt I believe has a higher compression ratio because it requires premium gas. Higher compression ratio means the fuel/gas mixture temperature is higher before ignition so the Volt should start easily. With direct injection and an oxygen monitor in the exhaust the Volt should run exactly the same on E85. Horsepower is primarily a function of air flow. Since the Volt is direct injection the air flow and horsepower should be the same. Remember ethanol is used as a racing fuel because ethanol has a lower knock potential. The car I converted to E85 is very powerful on E85.

Texas FFE said:

“I have a E85 conversion and it always starts. It doesn’t start quite as easily in the winter but always starts”

Did you actually read what I posted, or did you just skim it? I pointed out that the fuel blend called “E85” has a lower content of ethanol, and hence a higher fraction of gasoline, when it’s sold in winter.

Now, I don’t know that it ever gets really cold in Texas, because it rarely snows there. But if it doesn’t get cold then it’s no surprise you have no problem starting it in the winter. And if it does get cold, then presumably the refinery mixes more gasoline into the E85 before it’s sold to the gas station where you buy your fuel.

“The first generation Volt I believe has a higher compression ratio because it requires premium gas. Higher compression ratio means the fuel/gas mixture temperature is higher before ignition so the Volt should start easily. With direct injection and an oxygen monitor in the exhaust the Volt should run exactly the same on E85.”

Okay, I could certainly be wrong on that point. I’m no automobile engineer, and I was just guessing. Thanks for the input.

Pushi — your mistake then is in believing that the energy content has anything to do with why the Volt 1.0 can’t run regular fuel.

It doesn’t have anything to do with energy content of the fuel. There is little difference in energy content of regular versus premium gasoline. They both contain about 111,400 British Thermal Units of energy per gallon.

Yes, I see after looking up the meaning of “octane” that I was exposing my ignorance on the subject. So, Nix, thank you for helping me learn something today.

Here’s a quote from Wikipedia’s “Octane rating” article:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In broad terms, fuels with a higher octane rating are used in high performance gasoline engines that require higher compression ratios.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating

You are welcome. I’m glad to share my decades of automotive knowledge, including engine fueling computer programming, along with other automotive software programming.

Maybe you should also give the other guys some slack, who were simply trying to make sense out of your erroneous posts.

“But the first-generation Volt is supposed to use premium gasoline, which has higher octane than normal gasoline, so I seriously question that an unmodified Volt will run at all on pure alcohol. And if you could get it to run, it wouldn’t run properly.”

Here’s what you said, in case you forgot. You clearly implied that the Volt couldn’t run on ethanol because it was low octane, which is false. Sorry, you can’t always be right, even if you really really want to, and it looks very juvenile if you can’t just acknowledge a mistake.

Nope. You’re making the classic mistake of equating what you inferred into someone’s comment with what they implied.

Yes, I see (after reading Nix’s comments) that I misunderstood what an octane rating actually means. But I don’t appreciate you, or anyone else, claiming that you somehow know better than I do what was going on in my mind when I wrote a comment. Nor do I appreciate your accusation that that I’m engaging in dishonest debate tactics.

Honest discussion and debate, useful discussion and debate, involves people willing to acknowledge their mistakes, and being willing to learn from them. If nobody is willing to acknowledge errors, then all we get is people trying to shout louder than the other guy — which is what American political “discussion” has, in far too many cases, devolved into.

Let’s not do that here, hmmm?

Pupu, I’m glad you can admit wrong to Nix.

“But I don’t appreciate you, or anyone else, claiming that you somehow know better than I do what was going on in my mind when I wrote a comment.”

Is this why you tell people they don’t know what they’re talking about when in fact you don’t? In various posts I’ve seen from you, you’re just so quick to jump on “I know more than you” attacks that you can’t see what the poster was writing.

“Let’s not do that here, hmmm?”

Yeah, let’s not do that here, starting with you.

The politicians did it to us. They put into law that our ethanol had to be be made from corn. Too bad that corn is not a good raw material for producing ethanol. Then they stuck it to us again by putting into law that a certain amount- I have forgotten what the number is- of ethanol had to be put in gasoline each year. This means that if gasoline usage declines, the ethanol percentage will increase.

pete — you are referring to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. It actually doesn’t mandate that a single drop of ethanol comes from corn itself. It just happens to be that corn is the least expensive fuel that meets this RFS requirement:

“Conventional Biofuel: Any fuel derived from starch feedstocks (e.g., corn and grain sorghum). Conventional biofuels produced in plants built after 2007 must demonstrate a 20% reduction in life cycle GHG emissions.”

Yes, the mandate is measured in gallons, so if we cut the total number of gallons of gas we burn in a year, more E85 fuel will have to be sold once we hit the E10 blend-wall. This can easily be achieved by selling E85 at a more price-competitive price. Currently E85 prices are obnoxiously overpriced by the blenders. In Iowa they publish the actual prices of wholesale ethanol, so you can see the massive markup that the oil industry blenders put on E85 when then mix it with 15-30% of their gasoline, screwing consumers. That would have to end.

It’s a good thing Nelson Rockefeller put a stop to all this nonsense by bankrolling the temperance movement ending in Prohibition, so we’d have to buy his gas instead.

Before I bought my Nissan Leaf, I considered a chevy volt. One of the main reasons I did not buy a Volt was because I did not want to be forced to run regular gasoline when the battery got low. Knowing that I can convert a volt to FlexFuel gives me reason to consider getting a used one for when my son starts driving next year. BTW, my wife drives a 2010 Buick Lucerne FlexFuel and averages 21 mpg on E85. I just filled her car up at HEB in Schertz TX this past weekend at $1.40 gal. I’m sold on E85 as long as it is priced reasonably. We have the same problem with Valero that TEXAS FFE mentioned, they are charging $2.05 gal.

Absolutely possible. In fact a series hybrid like Volt which uses engine only as a generator should be able to run on any gas (Regular, Midlevel, Premium) and also any blend of Ethanol.

I tried running my Prius Gen-2 using E15 first and then bumped it to E30 and then E50 and its running just fine. Only difference is that the mileage will drop, but the fuel is also cheaper.
Where E50 is not available, I buy E85 and E10 in 1:1 ratio which works out to nearly E50.

Just try once and then decide. If the check engine light in your vehicle goes on, then don’t try E85 anymore.

Simply making modifications to the car won’t void the warranty. The only way a warranty can be voided in this scenario is if the modification itself RESULTED in damage to the vehicle (such as bricking the ECM due to a failed flash), which you are then trying to get the manufacturer to repair under the warranty, or if the modification hinders repairs.

If I upgrade my intake, airbox, and air filter on my gas car, and then the engine blows up, it’s unreasonable for the dealer to simply say “the vehicle was modified- warranty void”. Now if I forget to put the air filter in, and then go rally racing on a dirt road, and the car ingests all kinds of dirt and debris and the engine blows up, I’m out of luck.

This should be common knowledge by now, but I still see people that are expected to be an authority on the matter making this claim.

Bla, bla, bla. Are we losing sight of the major reason for driving electric? In case you’ve forgotten it’s to wean all transportation away from fossil fuels.The quicker, we develop electric transportation, the closer we are to undoing the oil companies lies, about the existence on fossil fuel as a major factor in climate change.

Yes, EV’s beat cars burning ethanol every day of the week. But even if every single brand new car and truck sold in the US starting in 2016 were magically all pure EV’s, it would be until the year 2037 until the current fleet of gas cars are off the road.

In reality, pure EV’s likely won’t even break 50% of new car sales for decades, and we’re going to be burning liquid fuels for decades after that too.

No matter how much we love our EV’s, we can’t simply ignore the realities of the cold harsh numbers being that we still have to deal with liquid fuels.

Ethanol is the only fuel that currently can be burned in ICE engines in large volume at reasonable prices.

Simply saying that EV’s are a great solution (they are) doesn’t change the reality on the ground.

While we wean off of liquid fuels for transportation, biofuels like biodiesel and ethanol, and bio-methane, etc provide a two-front attack on getting away from fossil fuels.