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Rural Missouri Magazine

Ethanol: Our homegrown fuel

Frank Stork
by Frank Stork

Because I have corn-producer friends who also produce ethanol, it gives me a sense of doing something special when I fill my fuel tank with their product. Recently my enthusiasm increased when I learned that we can use a fuel with an even higher blend of ethanol!

In mid-August I attended a meeting with U.S. Sen. Kit Bond and Missour-ians working to bring economic growth to our state. The subject of the day was the rapidly expanding use of E85, the acronym for motor fuel blends of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. We learned that by supporting ethanol production and its use, we help cut down on oil imports and reduce auto emission pollutants.

While filling my own vehicle with ethanol and watching others filling up with pure gasoline, I want to shout, “stop!” I want to tell them that they are not using a clean-burning, renewable product made from Missouri corn. They are instead using an imported product that sucks billions of dollars out of our national economy each year.

It surprises and disappoints me that everyone is not using ethanol these days. After all, this home-grown fuel is a well-tested and proven product. Since 1981, more than 178 billion gallons of ethanol blends have been used in the United States. With an average mileage of 20 mpg, that is more than 3 trillion miles of proven experience.

A few years back when my wife bought a new vehicle, the salesman suggested she not use ethanol. She knew he was uninformed. We quickly leafed through the automobile owner’s manual and showed him that the manufacturer actually recommended the use of ethanol. Automobile and truck manufacturers recommend ethanol because it is a clean-burning fuel. In addition, ethanol helps keep fuel injection systems clean so the engine runs better.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers compared ethanol fuel to straight gasoline. They said, “Ethanol noticeably reduced engine pre-ignition and as a result acceleration was improved.” They also said ethanol should be looked at as an octane enhancer. Blending gasoline with as little as 10 percent ethanol improves the rating about three points. That means increased engine performance.

It is always comforting for me to pull into a Break Time convenience store owned by MFA Oil. As Missouri farmers own MFA Oil, I know they will have an ethanol pump. Another good reason for pulling into Break Time is that their fuel blended with ethanol is the same price as unblended gasoline.

Because ethanol fuels enhance the efficiency of engines, reduce oil imports, help Missouri’s economy and reduce harmful exhaust emissions, I would think service stations that didn’t offer ethanol would soon be out of business.

As we remain committed to increasing the use of blended fuels for a number of good reasons, we should read our vehicle owner’s manual for recommended fuel use. It is my bet the manual will clearly suggest and strongly encourage the use of ethanol, our homegrown fuel.

Stork was executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.

Rural Missouri magazine - April 2014 issue
 
 
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