In just the last week one of the local gas stations, where I live, started selling E85 fuel.
My old car is not flex-fuel capable so I cannot try it out myself. I did do a price check to satisfy my curiosity.
Like most engineers, I pulled out my slide rule and ran some numbers. Yes, I still use a slide rule. I use the slide rule when I want an excuse for not doing the math out to the last decimal point.
So is it a deal or not?
They priced E85 at $2.59 a gallon. Unleaded regular gasoline was $2.79 a gallon at the same station. So E85 is 7% less money per gallon! Sounds good so far.
But, E85 is 85% ethanol and ethanol has less energy per gallon than gasoline has.
Pure Ethanol has 84,000 BTU’s per gallon Regular gas has 115,000 BTU’s per gallon The E85 blend has 88,000 BTU’s per gallon
Buying E85 a $2.59 a gallon is like buying gas at $3.39 a gallon.
An equal energy value price for E85 would be about $2.14 when gas is $2.79.
The folks, who bought E85, are paying about 45 cents a gallon extra for being green. ($2.59 - $2.14)
Maybe tomorrow it will be a deal when the price of gas goes up, as it eventually will.
As the technology improves, the price of E85 could go down.
I am looking forward to when Bio-Butanol is available at the fuel pump. It has 110,000 BTU’s per gallon and no blending issues. I can use it without modifying my car.
Boomers like me remember when regular leaded gas was 32 cents a gallon. Yep, 3 gallons for a buck, with change back.
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