E85 fuel is an ethanol based fuel that uses up to 85% less petroleum in order to run an automobile. Every time there is a spike in fuel prices, an alternative fuel is always looked at as a possible alternative and that’s what E85 tends to be. Most vehicles that are equipped with flexible fuel options can run this fuel or standard gasoline without a problem. Is it a good fuel to use that could save drivers some money? Here are the pros and cons of E85 fuel to consider.
What Are the Pros of E85 Fuel?
1. It decreases individual reliance on petroleum products.
Because E85 fuel is just 15% petroleum, it means that a consumer is using more renewable resources for their transportation needs. 70% of the oil consumption that occurs in the United States goes to meet transportation needs. If everyone used E85 fuel, it would translate to a reduction of over 25 million barrels of oil per day.
2. It keeps money in the local economy.
Traditionally the United States imports about half of the crude oil that it needs every day. With drivers converting to fuel sources like E85, domestic economics become improved. Instead of sending cash over to OPEC, drivers are sending cash to the family farmers in their region.
3. Many vehicles are already equipped to run on E85 fuel.
General Motors is one of the biggest proponents of E85 fuel and they have 7 million vehicles on the road today that can run it. The only problem is that 70% of vehicle owners don’t even realize that they have a flex-fuel vehicle. Only 10% of people even utilize the option when they do have it.
What Are the Cons of E85 Fuel?
1. It can be difficult to find.
E85 fuel isn’t found at every gas station. There are about 2,100 gas stations in the United States that offer the fuel, but there are 6 states that don’t have a single station at all. People who live in the Upper Midwest have the highest concentration of E85 stations, mostly because they live close to the corn belt where the fuel base is grown.
2. It takes fossil fuels to create it.
Although the main benefit of E85 fuel is that it uses just 15% petroleum, farmers are required to use fossil fuels to grow the product. Tractors and other farm equipment all run on fuels, so the planting, growing, and harvesting of the corn has a certain environmental impact that is often not considered in the percentages.
3. The CO2 reduction is minimal.
Compared to gasoline, E85 fuel takes about 40% of the CO2 out of the environment, but this is only measured from the exhaust system of a vehicle running the fuel. In addition, E85 burns about 30% faster than traditional gasoline, which means it takes more E85 to go the same distance as regular fuel. Add in the fossil fuels that are needed to grow the corn and the gains are quite small.
In areas where E85 fuel is subsidized, it may be a good option for drivers. In the 6 states where there are no E85 stations, it probably isn’t the right option. By weighing all of the advantages and disadvantages, however, every driver can reach their own conclusions.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.