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Old 09-10-2006, 11:18 AM   #1
TurboTuna
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Default E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

I have been researching the Saturn Relay as an option for my family's next vehicle. I began to look towards the Relay because, according to this source, because it was stated to be E85 capable. I just recieved my sales literature in the mail and there is no mention of E85 compatability. Same with the website, nothing. As much as GM has been pushing "Live Green, Go Yellow" I am just surprised that no mention is made of it. If it were a capability in the Relay, one would think it would be a selling point that would be mentioned. So what is the final word? Is the Relay E85 compatible? Anyone? Anyone?

Thanks,

Paul

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Old 09-10-2006, 07:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTuna
I have been researching the Saturn Relay as an option for my family's next vehicle. I began to look towards the Relay because, according to this source, because it was stated to be E85 capable. I just recieved my sales literature in the mail and there is no mention of E85 compatability. Same with the website, nothing. As much as GM has been pushing "Live Green, Go Yellow" I am just surprised that no mention is made of it. If it were a capability in the Relay, one would think it would be a selling point that would be mentioned. So what is the final word? Is the Relay E85 compatible? Anyone? Anyone?

Thanks,

Paul
Here's why you do NOT want an E85 vehicle (from BusinessWeek):

http://www.businessweek.com/print/au...427_493909.htm

Cheers,

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Old 09-10-2006, 07:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Thanks for the link to that article Ritz. Interesting information. Thank you for your concern.

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Old 09-12-2006, 12:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Wow, thanks for the link Ritz. That article confirms a lot of things I've suspected for a while now. I noticed that my mileage dropped noticeably and considerably as soon as all the pumps started having those "10% ethanol" stickers on them. What a joke. Ya more smog, less MPG, and more $$ per gallon! Hooray for tax subsidies for farmers that come out of the pockets of the working class! Hooray tax breaks for huge corporations for building cars that get 15 MPG! grrrrr

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Old 09-12-2006, 08:07 AM   #5
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dante
Wow, thanks for the link Ritz. That article confirms a lot of things I've suspected for a while now. I noticed that my mileage dropped noticeably and considerably as soon as all the pumps started having those "10% ethanol" stickers on them. What a joke. Ya more smog, less MPG, and more $$ per gallon! Hooray for tax subsidies for farmers that come out of the pockets of the working class! Hooray tax breaks for huge corporations for building cars that get 15 MPG! grrrrr
Yep, it's really nothing more than a thinly veiled money grab by the farm lobby and a feel-good measure for the "environmentalists." The auto manufacturers know the scoop and initially fought tooth and nail against it, but they understand the political realities and are starting to "play ball."

If the government wants to pay off farmers to grow corn that nobody wants, they should just pay them directly instead of having a whole inefficient supply chain full of middlemen and industries to create a market that makes no economic or environmental sense.

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Old 09-12-2006, 08:08 AM   #6
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Ritz,

I took some time to research on my own and I found this article in Popular Mechanics

It not only covers E85 but many of the other alternative fuels.

I feel, now more than ever, that if every vehicle was designed to work specifically, solely, only on E85 the benefits of it could truly be recognized. Smaller, higher compression or variable compression (i.e. supercharged/turbocharged) engines could be the norm. However, nothing comes without it's price. Re-vamping of our nation's energy supply infrastructure would be in order but it is not an insurmountable task. It certainly won't happen overnight. That fact alone is hard pill for many to swalllow.

What do you think after having read all of this article?

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Old 09-12-2006, 10:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTuna
Ritz,

I took some time to research on my own and I found this article in Popular Mechanics

It not only covers E85 but many of the other alternative fuels.

I feel, now more than ever, that if every vehicle was designed to work specifically, solely, only on E85 the benefits of it could truly be recognized. Smaller, higher compression or variable compression (i.e. supercharged/turbocharged) engines could be the norm. However, nothing comes without it's price. Re-vamping of our nation's energy supply infrastructure would be in order but it is not an insurmountable task. It certainly won't happen overnight. That fact alone is hard pill for many to swalllow.

What do you think after having read all of this article?
I think the math doesn't work. Using this data from the article:

"The plant processes about 13 million bushels of corn to produce approximately 36 million gal. of ethanol a year. "That's enough high-quality motor fuel to replace 55,000 barrels of imported petroleum," the plant's manager, Derek Peine, says."

...and some data I pulled off the web about total corn production in the US (70 million acres x approximately 160 bushels/acre), and the amount of OPEC oil imported daily (5.5 million barrels A DAY just from OPEC and a total of over 10 million barrels A DAY) I came up with the following.

Total yield of corn in the USA per year: 11.2 billion bushels

Total ethanol production: 31 billion gallons
(assuming 100% conversion to ethanol)

Barrels of oil that could be replaced: 47.4 million

Total OPEC imported oil per year: a bit over 2 BILLION barrels

Total imported oil per year: almost 4 BILLION barrels

Percentage of annual OPEC imported oil replaced: 2.36%

That's assuming that every ear of corn grown in the USA was converted into ethanol and that cultivated land and yields remain about the same. What percentage of the USA's land area would have to be converted to corn cultivation to replace our current amount of OPEC imported oil? Almost 80%. I don't think 80% of our country is even suitable for corn growth. In order to replace ALL imported oil, we'd need to double the size of our country and start planting lots of corn. Anyway, you get the picture.

I don't think I even need to talk about the negatives...it's a non-starter from the get go.

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Old 09-12-2006, 11:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Also, those figures are a bit generous since in addition to crude we also import another 2 million barrels/day of refined petroleum products.

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Old 09-13-2006, 12:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Ritz,

How much of that oil that we use goes to gasoline burning vehicles? Alot of it goes to diesels too. Then you have all of the oil that goes to machinery, not just to burn but to lubricate. You can't argue that ethanol production has to equal every single barrel of oil we currently use because not all of it goes to the vehicles that would be using ethanol. Unless you are planning on converting the many semis, tractors, construction equipment, earthmovers, ships, trains and building generators across the nation to run on ethanol as well.

The last paragraph of the article states it best. "...we believe that many households might have an electric or plug-in hybrid for short trips, an E85/electric hybrid sedan, SUV or minivan to squire around the whole team, and a diesel pickup fueled by B30 or B50...". I realize, as I am sure you do too, that there are many answers to the problem but none are cheap, easy or quick. We both know that our nation will not be able to just switch from one fuel source to another instantaneously. I realize E85 is not the answer from "on high" to our future fuel needs. Diversity among fuel sources will most likely be our future.

I am curious, what is your main opposition to ethanol? The article you linked to made ethanol out to be a political smoke and mirror show and an environmental tragedy in disguise. It wouldn't be an illusion, if made, distributed and used effectively. Right now, it isn't produced enough en mass, it isn't made available enough, and it isn't being used effectively by a long shot.

I am also still fuzzy as to why it is so bad for the environment. When the Department of Energy says, according to the PM article, the blending of ethanol with gasoline lowers CO and CO2 emissions I fail to see where the "bad" is in that. According to your BW article, it increases VOCs released but by how much? Over what time frame? Would the increased VOCs be a moot point if the CO and CO2 levels were extremely reduced? Hell, what are VOCs beyond the definiton of the acronym?! Your article didn't give any hard tech. I am not an environmental scientist by any stretch so a little more exposition in this area would have been helpful to me. I also don't live in a smog clogged major city so it really has never been on the forefront of my mind. In other words, I don't have to look into the sky each day and see smog to be reminded of it. However, I am not saying I am better than those that do have to deal with smog. I am just not familiar with all the culprits and processes, both man-made and natural, that go into producing smog.

Another point I disagree with and was made quite a bit of in the BW article is the lower fuel mileage from ethanol use. Yes, ethanol has lowered the gas mileage of our current vehicles but not all of them were designed to take advantage of it. Thermodynamic efficiency is what is needed and what is lacking in the current role that ethanol is playing as fuel source. Being slaved to the limitations of gasoline is what is holding ethanol back from it full potential. Why do you think that dirt track and drag racers use alchohol in their cars? It allows more power through higher compression. Thus increasing the thermodynamic efficiency. This brings us back around to my earlier point, the changes necessary to use ethanol or any other alternative fuel are not going to be cheap, easy or quick. Nor is ethanol the answer to it all. Here is great article with more facts about E85 from wikipedia

The more research I do, the more I feel the our nation is just spinning it's wheels trying to find a direct replacement for fossil fuels. There just isn't one. Every fuel source is a trade off. Fossil fuels just had a smaller amount of trade-offs. Now we will eventually have to accept less efficient fuel sources. But, in a nation so unaccustomed to accepting inconvenience or less performance, those options aren't very appealing. So the debates continue. Like this one.

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Old 09-13-2006, 02:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

The only version of the Relay that is flexfuel capable is the 3.9L version. The 3.5L isnt flex fuel capable at this time. If you investigate the 3.9L version, they do mention the fact that they can use E85, but they dont advertise it hard yet, because E85 is so scarce...

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Old 09-13-2006, 06:30 AM   #11
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTuna
Ritz,

How much of that oil that we use goes to gasoline burning vehicles?
According to USA Today, 45% of our oil consumption goes towards auto and light truck use. As I pointed out above, all the warm and fuzzies aside, it simply isn't possible to produce enough ethanol to replace a meaningful amount of imported oil...even if we earmarked (I know...I know) ALL of the corn produced for fuel production (let the cows eat cake). It's just a farm subsidy in disguise that will do virtually nothing to improve our dependency on foreign oil.

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Old 09-13-2006, 07:50 AM   #12
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Default Re: E85 compatibility-(the final word?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigdaddy94sc2
The only version of the Relay that is flexfuel capable is the 3.9L version. The 3.5L isnt flex fuel capable at this time. If you investigate the 3.9L version, they do mention the fact that they can use E85, but they dont advertise it hard yet, because E85 is so scarce...
Thank you for answering my original question.

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