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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 28, 2006 3:01 AM. The previous post in this blog was New PDC commish. The next post in this blog is Neighbor. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rotten little problem

The freeway ride to biofuels has hit a speed bump -- E85, gasoline that's 85 percent ethanol, turns out to be pretty darn corrosive. Pumps that dispense it are corroding so swiftly that it's a safety issue. Even plastic parts are affected, apparently.

Makes you wonder how many miles you'll be able to get out of that American-made E85 car you'll be buying in a few years.

Comments (33)

I laughed so hard at that picture, Jack, I woke my wife up. Nice job!

I think Commisioner Leonard's trying hard to do the right thing. It's hard figuring out what that is with this stuff though.

I had used that one before. But hey, it was worth a re-run.

Why is this man smiling?

Is it because you Couric'ed his head?

E85 is not corrosive.

Is Wild Turkey corosive? Thats all ethanol is is Wild Turkey with a more rigorous water content specification and some denatured gasoline added to make the alcohol poisonous and therefore no longer regulated by ATF.

This new UL requirement is suspect in a big way. There has been a long battle between NTEP (the fuel dispensing certification people) and those who sell petroleum and biofuels. Essentially there is a push for a new standard which would require every gas station that wants to dispense E85 or Biodiesel to buy new fuel pumps.

For years (decades in the midwest) standard gasoline and diesel pumps have been selling ethanol and biodiesel without note. Every person I've ever spoken to in the industry (not in the business of selling fuel pumps) sees no problem with the current specification.

This decision about fuel pump UL requirements is controversial and no doubt done to line the pockets of equipment manufactuerer who happen to write these rules.

Three little known facts. The Model T was designed to run either gasoline or pure ethanol (gasoline was hard to get in some rural parts of the US).

Many other nations in the world use E100 through standard refueling infrastructure and have for decades without problems at all.

There are tens of thousands of ethanol vehicles in Portland whose owners don't even relize that their vehicles are factory equipped to run ethanol.

I'm also doubtful about the corrisveness claims. How does Brazil pull it off? A majority of their automobile fuel use is of E85 made from sugar cane. I have not read of any reports of pumps or cars corroding away down in Brazil.

E85 is not corrosive.

Is Wild Turkey corosive?

I don't know, let me check my liver.

Sorry Dare, ethanol can and will attack certain metals, seals and gaskets that are not affected by gasoline. One problem is the facility with which ethanol can absorb water from the atmosphere or pipelines/storage tanks. This dissolved water attacks metals. Ethanol's electrical conductivity exacerbates the problem. Further, ethanol itself, even absent impurities will swell and stiffen some seals gaskets and resins used in pumps, etc.

Al these problems are surmountable with newer materials and careful handling, however, the corrosive/degradational characteristics of E85 are well documented.

As are those of Wild Turkey.

E85 is a lot different than biodiesel... the latter is more viable anyway, but the big fuel companies think they can buy into E85 easier with like minded corporate farms... conagra, ADM, etc.

Randy's heart is in the right place, who cares if we all see our fuel mileage decline and we have to replace our engines.

What's important is the biofuels ordinance helps to secure his reelection.

Ethanol is a crappy fuel, period. It can't be carried via the massive existing gasoline infrastructure, it decreases gas mileage by 20%, it can very well hurt vehicles and it won't be any cheaper than gasoline.

Plus converting vegetal matter into ethanol takes prodigous energy (frequently of the dirty coal variety), producing ethanol on a significant level would mean converting major amounts of food fields and therefore increase food prices, and ethanol gets a helluva lot more subsidies than oil does and would require even more.

Ethanol on a large scale is an economic disaster chasing dubious benefits. But, hey, at least ADM, Monsanto and midwest states get to enjoy prime pork.


I think the problem may be in the term Corrosion. Most people associate it with oxidation, like rust. However as shown in the medical definition this is the term used when the body also dissovlves plastic parts used for medical purposes.

If I my poor old brain remembers back to Chemistry Class, there is some type of universal law about organic and inorganic reactions, ie corrosion.

I think it is that organic and organic and inorganic and inorganic are compatable but mix them up and they will cannibalize eachother. Which is why Wild Turkey doesn't corrode a human but might corrode other inorganic elements.

If you read the Tri-Met article in the paper,

"TriMet is sticking with B5 for now because the agency's engine manufacturers will only warranty their engines for use with the 5 percent blend, Fetsch said. "The industry is moving toward that. We hope to see an increased level of allowable biodiesel in the next year," she said."

"Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary - Cite This Source

Main Entry: cor·ro·sion
Pronunciation: k&-'rO-zh&n
Function: noun
1 : the action, process, or effect of corroding
2 : a study specimen of an organ or other structure prepared by injection of hollow parts (as blood vessels) with a plastic and subsequent removal of the surrounding tissue by corrosion
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
WordNet - Cite This Source

Corrosion

n 1: a state of deterioration in metals caused by oxidation or chemical action 2: erosion by chemical action [syn: corroding, erosion]
WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University
On-line Medical Dictionary - Cite This Source"

Corrosion

Since it is 85% alcohol probably the 3 things it affects are:

1) Long-standing gunk in the fuel line that is petro-based. It will break it free and clog up fuel lines. Usually that is why they tell you on the first fuel tank fulls to slowly introduce E85 like maybe a quarter-tank then half, etc. It will also drive out moisture in the fuel line which may be a rough-running issue.
2) Alcohol eats at rubber seals in the fuel line, even the latest teflon-based stuff. This may mean leaks and lower efficiencies.
3) More minor, alcohol is not much of a lubricant compared to petro-products.
Bio-diesel is a better quick-fix solution, only problem is the EPA isn't allowing new diesels in the country until next year and low-sulfur diesel is available..

To be fair, I don't think most manufacturers, especially American, thought this thing thru or had the user miles. However, politicians embracing this as the next great hope is kind of dumb also without some history. But then again, we all know what great engineers, scientists and financial people get elected.

E-85 is for gasoline engines.

Biodiesel is for diesel engines.

The mpg for gasoline engines that use ethanol is significantly reduced.

The mpg for diesel engines that use biodiesel is the same.

It takes nearly as much energy to create a gallon of ethanol as it provides.

Biodiesel creates 2.5 times more energy than it takes to produce one gallon of biodiesel.

These facts is why more than half of the vehicles sold in Europe are diesel powered and a significant amount of the fuel used in those vehicles is biodiesel.

Confusing biodiesel with ethanol would earn a law school student an F in that students environmental law class.

Randy Leonard:
The mpg for gasoline engines that use ethanol is significantly reduced.
It takes nearly as much energy to create a gallon of ethanol as it provides.
JK: Does this mean that Portland is NOT mandating an ethanol mix for gasolene? Or are we mandating less mpg and no net energy saving?

While we are on the subject of carbon and thus global warming, be sure to see the below link and its links to credible indications (Britain’s Royal Society) that the sun may ultimately turn out to be the cause of global warming:

http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/Cosmic_rays_and_climate.htm

Thanks
JK

It takes nearly as much energy to create a gallon of ethanol as it provides.

And yet, the Portland City Council is requiring us all to buy it. Hmmmm. Them is also interesting facts.

8c)

Randy,

Your post is exactly the point we all made when this first came up = biodeisel? Fine. E85? Stupid. Bad for the earth. Bad for the US. Bad for Portland. But of course, now that you have voted it in, you can't possibly go back, lest you be seen as anti-green. Which of course is ludicrous, since E85 is anti-green, but Portland politics is all about symbols, isn't it?

As someone who at one time voted for Randy Leonard because of his no-nonsense practical approach to problems, I have two theories about his recent re-direction. One or both of them may be correct:

(1) He has a brain tumor which has affected the thinking and reasoning portion of the brain; why else would a practical politician swing so far from the practical world of actually solving city problems to the silly cities-can-stop-wars world and the stupid cities-buying-biofuels-will-save-the-planet world.

(2) He is running for higher office, he thinking and reasoning portion of the brain; why else would a practical politician swing so far from the practical world of actually solving city problems to the silly cities-can-stop-wars world and the stupid cities-buying-biofuels-will-save-the-planet world.

Hey, it's worked for Sten.

If randy,eric,sam and the rest including Gov. K. want to save the world why dont they run for president or head of the impotent U.N. We hire these people to do our local work like maintaining and building roads and infrasrtucture, protecting us from the criminal element providing water and disposing of sewage at a reasonable cost. Who do they think they are,Ghandi? Meanwhile we have a huge traffic problem, a revolving door at the jail, schools that suck and tax exempt million dollar condo's.Lets have a council meeting declaring bush sucks woo hoo arent we great

Ace: You have crystallized my thoughts exactly, but in your unique manner of expression. Bravo.

"Portland politics is all about symbols, isn't it?"

Seems to be. And that's OK if there is something substantiating the symbol. But too often the reality is something else. Portland has a trendy feral cat station at PGE park while county ordinances and practices are as anti feral cat as they come. So I wasn't sure what I thought about the Gehry affordable housing as a statement a few posts back. Sometimes it seems what we are stating is '"Hey this is Portland; we're phonies!"

The corrosion issue is an old one. If someone had just done some research they would have known that.
But why try to think things through?
Cityhall doesn't
Nickle

Your post is misleading, Jack. Portland's ordinance does not mandate E-85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline). Our ordinance requires, in addition to 5% biodiesel, 10% ethanol (a statewide requirement that has existed in Oregon for a number of years).

It is unfortunate that the level of this discussion here seems to not elevate above asserting that it isn't hydrocarbons but rather "the sun" that is causing global warming.

Randy, why don't you stick to things that REALLY need solving by someone in your position? Like murdering cops, out of control land prices, and giveaways to rich developers?

Randy:

Most of the criticism of E85 applies equally to your E90 Ethanol Mandate:

1. It creates artificial demand for a product that harms the environment (assuming the ethanol is derived from corn).

2. It provides lower fuel economy than regular gasoline. Portlanders will actually have to consume more E90 than they would have burning regular gas.

3. It does not have the same "shelf life" as regular gasoline, and will be especially harmful to automobiles that are parked for long periods of time.

4. This is pandering to the eco-voter in it's most elemental form. Ironically, it benefits franken-farming corporate corn growers (like ADM). For the above reasons, most environmentalists regard ethanol as a "dirty" alternative fuel.

5. Portland's retail consumption of diesel is less than 4% of the volume of gasoline sold in Portland. On this basis, the "dirty" fuel will comprise 96% of Randy's biofuels mandate; the "clean" biodiesel will comprise only 4%.

Randy: You sponsored a measure that requires ethanol. I don't care if it's 10, 15, 85, or 100, you increased the consumption of ethanol in Portland. Now you come on here bad-mouthing ethanol -- not E85 generally, but ethanol in general. You're right, I am confused.

And I don't see anybody here denying global warming. I do see a lot of people asking you to do your job and stop taking ecstasy trips with Sten and the Bus Kids over issues that aren't yours.

Jack-
I understand why what I am saying sounds confusing.

Rather than take up your bandwidth with my explanation, I have been inspired by this discussion to do a stand alone post over at BlueOregon on this issue (hint; read today's front page article in the Oregonian entitled "There's danger in the air").

It should be posted momentarily.

Cars are bad. Bad, bad cars.

I do see a lot of people asking you to do your job and stop taking ecstasy trips with Sten and the Bus Kids over issues that aren't yours.

Amen to that.

Remember folks, Randy is an expert on bio fuels, in his own words he has studied this issue extensively on the internet.

Uh-oh...Randy has "been inspired". It's elbows on the gurney time for Portland Taxpayers. Everybody take a deep breath...and on the count of three, you need to exhale slowly and just relax...

One....Two....Click here for a simulation of the procedure
http://www.kyotokagaku.com/products_medi_dres.html

It won't hurt a bit. We're doing this for your own good.

God, this is getting juvenile like a school yard.

My 1966 Cessna airplane is certified to use automotive gasoline in the absence of aircraft gasoline (which is 100 octane). However, it CANNOT be used if it contains ANY amount of ethanol. It damages the rubber parts in the fuel system. I can't see why that wouldn't also be true with automobiles, particularly older ones.

"Think globally, act locally."

A journey begins with one small step

-ancient Chinese proverb


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