You’ve seen it on the signs – E85 fuel. It stands out because it’s cheaper than the other types of fuel. But what is E85 gas and how does it differ from regular gasoline? And – should you use it?
What is E85? E85 gas is a type of alternative fuel that consists of a blend of ethanol and gasoline. Ethanol is a renewable, bio-based fuel that is made from corn or other biomass sources. Gasoline is a fossil fuel that is derived from crude oil. The ratio of ethanol to gasoline in E85 gas can vary from 51% to 83%, depending on the season, the region, and the availability of the fuel. E85 gas is compatible with vehicles that are designed or modified to run on flex fuel, which means they can use either E85 or regular gasoline.
Here’s the Good News.
- Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and produces less carbon dioxide, which is better for the environment.
- Ethanol is domestically produced in the US from corn or other crops, which reduces the need to import oil from other countries.
- Ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline, which means it can resist engine knock and improve combustion.
And the Bad…
- Ethanol is more expensive than gasoline on an energy-equivalent basis, which means that a vehicle using E85 gas will spend more money on fuel than a vehicle using gasoline. Additionally, E85 gas is not widely available across the country, especially in regions where ethanol production is low or nonexistent.
- It can cause corrosion and compatibility issues with some vehicles and equipment. Ethanol is more corrosive than gasoline and can damage some metal components and rubber seals in older or non-flex-fuel vehicles and equipment. Ethanol can also attract water and cause phase separation in fuel tanks and lines, which can lead to engine problems and poor performance.
A vehicle using E85 gas will need more fuel to travel the same distance as a vehicle using gasoline.
So – should you use E85? Find out in our next blog post!