E85 is an abbreviation typically referring to an ethanol fuel blend of
85% ethanol fuel and 15% gasoline or other hydrocarbon by volume.
In the United States, the exact ratio of fuel ethanol to hydrocarbon
may vary according to ASTM 5798 that specifies the allowable ethanol
E85 as ranging from 51% to 83%. This is due to
the lower heating value of neat ethanol making it difficult to crank
engines in relatively cold climates without pre-heating air intake,
faster cranking, or mixing varying fractions of gasoline according to
climate. Cold cranking in cold climates is the primary reason ethanol
fuel is blended with any gasoline fraction.
In Brazil, ethanol fuel is neat at the pumps, hence flexible-fuel
vehicles (FFV) including trucks, tractors, motorbikes and mopeds run
on E100. The 85% fraction is commonly sold at pumps worldwide (outside
the US), and when specifically supplied or sold as
E85 is always 85%
ethanol (at pumps or in barrel). Having a guaranteed ethanol fraction
obviates the need for a vehicle system to calculate best engine tune
according to maximise performance and economy.
In countries like Australia where
E85 is always 85% ethanol (and pump
fuel with varying fractions is called "flex fuel"), performance
motoring enthusiasts and motor racing clubs/championships use E85
extensively (without the need for any FFV certification). Use of
alcohol (ethanol and methanol) in motor racing history parallels the
invention of the automobile, favoured due to inherent combustion
characteristics such as high thermal efficiency, raised torque and
with some advanced engines, better specific fuel consumption. In the
United States, government subsidies of ethanol in general and
particular have encouraged a growing infrastructure for the retail
sale of E85, especially in corn growing states in the
1.1 Specific fuel consumption
1.2 Energy value
2 Octane and performance
2.1 Use in flexible-fuel vehicles
2.2 Octane rating
4.2 Food vs. fuel
5 Availability and price
6 US price regulation
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Specific fuel consumption
E85 promoters and the Society of Automotive Engineers contend that
automotive manufacturers currently fail to equal the fuel consumption
of gasoline because they fail to take advantages of characteristics
which are superior in ethanol-based fuel blends. They claim that some
ethanol engines have already produced 22% more miles per gallon than
identical gasoline engines.
Ethanol advocates[who?] also state that it is a mistake to
base ethanol engine design on gasoline engine design, and that ethanol
engines should be based on diesel engine design parameters
Using this approach, the EPA has produced an ethanol-only engine which
achieves much higher brake thermal efficiency levels than gasoline
Mileage is dependent upon the composition of the ethanol-gasoline
blend, transmission, state of engine tune (primarily fuel-air mixture,
spark timing and compression ratio).
United States to offset this difference in fuel consumption in
vehicles not optimised for ethanol, legislation has been passed to
subsidize its cost.
In contrast, ethanol critics contest the benefits of
E85 by focusing
on the fact that
E85 has 33% lower heating value compared to the
higher heating value of gasoline. However comparing energy expressed
as a value of heat does not reflect the total work from an Otto
Cycle. Because energy content does not factor
certain latent or specific heat values, nor
combustion pressure, so looking at heat alone in the combustion
equation does not determine efficiency or work according to the laws
of thermodynamics.
Octane and performance
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worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this article, discuss
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E85 fuel dispenser at a regular gasoline station
Use in flexible-fuel vehicles
E85 ethanol is used in engines modified to accept higher
concentrations of ethanol. In the US such FFVs are designed to run on
any mixture of gasoline or ethanol up to 85% ethanol, whereas in
countries such as Brazil where the climate is typically warmer, FFV
run on neat alcohol. There are a few major differences between FFVs
and non-FFVs. One is the elimination of bare magnesium, aluminum, and
rubber parts in the fuel system.
Fuel injection control systems have a
wider range of pulse widths to inject up to 34% more fuel (which in
turn produces more power).
Stainless steel fuel lines, sometimes lined
with plastic, and stainless-steel fuel tanks in place of terne fuel
tanks have been used. In some cases, FFVs use specific engine oil that
neutralises acidity. For vehicles with in-tank-mounted fuel pumps,
precautions to prevent arcing, as well as flame arrestors positioned
in the tank's fill pipe, are sometimes used.
As more effort is put into maximizing an engine to take advantage of
E85's higher "octane", engines achieve greater power advantages. One
car that has higher power on ethanol is the Koenigsegg CCXR, which on
ethanol is the fifth-most powerful production car, with 20% more hp on
E85 than on gasoline. According to the manufacturer, this is due to
the cooling properties of ethanol.
E85 has an octane rating higher
than that of regular gasoline's typical rating of 87, or premium
gasoline's 91-93. This allows it to be used in higher-compression
engines, which tend to produce more power per unit of displacement
than their gasoline counterparts.
Examples of octane mis-citation can be found at the Iowa Renewable
Fuels Association titled "
E85 Facts" which cites a range of
100-105, and a document at the Texas State Energy Conservation Office
titled "Ethanol", which cites a 113 rating.
Some vehicles can be converted to use
E85 despite not being
specifically built for it. Because of the lower heating value
a cooler intake charge—which, coupled with its high stability level
from its high octane rating—has also been used as a "power adder" in
turbocharged performance vehicles. These modifications have not only
resulted in lower GHG emissions, but typically resulted in 10-12%
power and torque increase at the wheels. Where the engine was
previously knock limited by gasoline, power improvements are as high
Because of its low price (less than $2.00/gal in some places) and high
availability in certain areas people have started to turn to using it
in place of high-end racing fuels, which typically cost over
There are four primary types of pollutants scientists study. These
emissions are hydrocarbons (HC), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon
monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Because
E85 is predominantly
ethanol, the exhaust emissions are much different from those of
regular gasoline. Numerous studies have compared and contrasted the
different emissions and the effects these emissions have on the
environment, but the tests have been inconclusive. The tests have
shown very little consistency if any at all because there are too many
variables involved. The make and model of the vehicle, the way in
which the ethanol was produced and the vehicle's overall fuel
efficiency all play a large role in the overall outcome of each
study. To address the problem of inaccuracy, engineers at
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory combined data from all
applicable emissions studies and compiled them into one data set. This
compiled set of data showed that on average all emissions that are
federally regulated showed a decrease or no statistically relevant
E85 and gasoline.
EPA's stringent tier-II vehicle emission standards require that FFVs
achieve the same low emissions level regardless whether
gasoline is used. However,
E85 can further reduce emissions of certain
pollutants as compared to conventional gasoline or lower-volume
ethanol blends. For example,
E85 is less volatile than gasoline or
low-volume ethanol blends, which results in fewer evaporative
E85 also reduces carbon-monoxide emissions and
provides significant reductions in emissions of many harmful toxics,
including benzene, a known human carcinogen. However,
E85 in certain
engine operating conditions may increase emissions of acetaldehyde.
EPA is conducting additional analysis to expand our understanding of
the emissions impacts of E85.
A study by
Purdue University found that the economic benefit of
highly dependent on the price of crude oil.
Food vs. fuel
Main article: Food vs. fuel
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United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
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E85 critics contend that production of ethanol from corn (maize)
drives up world food prices, causing corn to be unaffordable or even
E85 advocates counter that concern by pointing out that
over 93% of all corn grown in the
United States is never fed directly
to people, but is instead used as livestock feed[citation
needed]. Corn used to produce ethanol contains a high amount of
starch and is not easily digestible by humans, like sweet corn.
American farmers grow more corn than people purchase; there is an
annual surplus of corn in the U.S.
E85 advocates say that corn prices have increased due to manipulation
of the commodities markets and because American corn companies sell
more and more US-grown corn to
Mexico and China, creating more
competition for corn buyers, and therefore driving up its price. E85
critics contend that ethanol producers may not reduce carbon emissions
due to the petroleum and natural gas used in raising corn and refining
E85 advocates reply by pointing to ethanol producers who do not do
so, but instead use
E85 or biodiesel fuel to transport E85, and use
biomass as a heat source for the distillation of ethanol instead of
petro-products like natural gas.
Some say that cellulosic ethanol produced from waste materials or fast
growing non-food crops such as switchgrass is much more beneficial,
but not yet economically practical at large scale. Others say that
the world can easily replace all of its use of petroleum by simply
making ethanol from the many crops that yield more ethanol per acre
than corn yields, with existing technology, not future
technology, and that certain elements in the cellulosic
ethanol field are more interested in patent rights than in producing
the greatest amount of ethanol at the lowest price point.
Availability and price
E85 in the
United States and Corn ethanol
Opening of an
E85 retail pump in Maryland
E85 is increasingly common in the United States, mainly in the Midwest
where corn is a major crop and is the primary source material for
ethanol-fuel production. As of July 1, 2014, there were more than
3,300 fuel stations that offered
E85 as a fuel
is widely used in Sweden; however, most of it is imported from Italy
E85 was formerly available from the
Maxol chain in
Ireland, where it was made from whey, a byproduct of cheese
manufacturing. The availability ended in 2011, due to a
severe excise-duty hike which rendered it economically unviable. In
E85 is available from 52 St1 chain locations and 71 ABC chain
E85 sold by St1 is labeled as
E85 and as "Eko E85" in ABC-stations to indicate it is manufactured
from Finnish bio-waste.
By way of international price comparison, in the Cook Islands as with
many of the Pacific Islands, cost of producing 100% ethanol from
coconut biomass is a fraction of obtaining fossil fuels.
US price regulation
The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 created the Volumetric Ethanol
Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) to subsidize production costs. The 2008 Farm
Bill reduced the VEETC’s 51-cent tax credit to 45 cents. Other
measures taken by Congress to jump start ethanol production include
the 2004 VEETC bill, which provided for a Small Ethanol Producer Tax
Credit which gave tax credits to small ethanol producers. More
recently, the Tax Relief Act, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization
Act, and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended the tax cuts allowed by
VEETC from the end of 2010 to the end of 2012.
In the United States, to realize equivalent fuel economy at the pump
with an FFV, the price of
E85 must be much lower than gasoline. E85
was at least 20% less expensive in most areas as recently as 2011.
In one US test, an early model 2.75-ton Chevy Tahoe FFV averaged 18
MPG (U.S. gallons) for gasoline and 13 MPG for E85, 28% worse than
However, in Australia, where Holden has sold more than 70,000 FFVs
since 2010, the difference in combined consumption on similar V8
variants in a family sedan is between 10% and 20%.
In 2010, the cost of gas in the US averaged $3.42, while the cost for
E85 averaged $3.09, or 90% of the cost of
gasoline. In another test, however, a fleet of
Ford Tauruses averaged only about 6% fewer miles per gallon in
ethanol-based vehicles when compared to traditional, gas-powered
Lambda sensor – also known as an oxygen sensor, used to measure lean
versus rich combustion conditions
Methanol – wood alcohol, not to be confused with ethanol (grain
Timeline of alcohol fuel
^ "Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing
E85 and Other
Gasoline Blends." US Department of Energy. afdc.energy.gov
Retrieved October 2, 2013.
^ Brusstar, M. (2002-10-21). "High Efficiency and Low Emissions from a
Port-Injected Engine with Neat
Alcohol Fuel". SAE International.
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^ US EPA/OAR/Office of Transportation & Air Quality/Advanced
Technology Division and FEV Engine Technology; Inc. "Economical,
High-Efficiency Engine Technologies for
^ Iowa Renewable Fuels Association "
E85 Facts" Archived 2011-05-30 at
the Wayback Machine
^ Texas State Energy Conservation Office "Ethanol"
^ Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, Vol. 59
^ Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 45, Issue 39
^ "SmartwayLogistics". www.epa.gov. December 8, 2008. Archived from
the original on 2008-12-08.
^ "Economics of Ethanol" (PDF). Purdue University.
^ "U.S. Corn-Surplus Seen Larger Than Expected on Early Harvest -
Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
Alcohol Can Be a Gas Blume, David 2007 Preheating;
pp. 406–410, Advancement of Ignition Timing: pp. 404,
417-18, 530 'Higher Compression with Ethanol'pp. 70, 358-60,
E85 Prices". E85prices.com. July 1, 2014. Archived from the
original on 2014-07-01.
E85 leaflet" (PDF). Archived from the original
(PDF) on 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
E85 - Tehokkaampi bioetanoli suomalaisesta jätteestä". St1.fi.
Archived from the original on 2016-10-02. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
^ "ABC-asemat". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
^ "Suomi - RE85". St1.fi. Archived from the original on 2012-12-22.
E85 Fuel". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
Gasoline Comparison test". Edmunds.com. Archived from the
original on 2010-11-09. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
^ "Ethanol: The facts, the questions | desmoinesregister.com".
The Des Moines Register. Archived from the original on 2013-01-10.
^ "Ohio's First Ethanol-Fueled Light-Duty Fleet" (PDF). Archived from
the original (PDF) on October 30, 2004.
Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing
E85 and Other
Gasoline Blends September 2013, US Department of Energy
Fuel Bait and Switch - See how many flex-fuel cars are on the
road and how many stations offer E85. Center for American Progress
Eric Kvaalen, Philip C. Wankat, Bruce A. McKenzie. ethanol
Distillation: Basic Principles, Equipment, Performance Relationships,
and Safety Purdue University, April 1984.
Matthew Phenix. Liquor Does It Quicker. Popular Science, June 2005.
E85 Fleet Test Results[dead link]
Properties of ethanol Transportation Fuels - USDOE Report,
Alcohol Fuels Reference Work #1, July 1991 (Especially Chapter 7 for
corrosion and increased engine wear risks associated with
water-contaminated E85)[dead link]
University of Michigan
E85 Emissions Report[dead link]
University of Michigan
E85 Control of Emissions Report
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Report on
E85 Conversion of Silverado
LiveGreen GoYellow[permanent dead link]
Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of
Fuel Ethanol Argonne
E85 conversion kits
American Coalition of Ethanol E10 - E30
Fuel Economy Study
U.S. DOE's Alternative Fuels Data Center - Ethanol
EPA Presentation and Technical paper it is based upon.
USDA Ethanol Production Cost Reduction Announcement - US Government
Subsidy to End in 2007
Winning The Oil Endgame Rocky Mountain Institute's fuel strategy
Think Outside The Barrel - Video of a talk by Vinod Khosla at Google
Flex-fuel Bait and Switch - See how many flex-fuel cars are on the
road and how many fuel stations offer E85.
US biofuel production should be suspended, UN says
Vegetable oil fuel
Biomass heating systems
Cellulosic ethanol commercialization
Energy content of biofuel
Food vs. fuel
vteAlternative fuel vehiclesCompressed-air engine
Compressed air car
Battery electric vehicle
Battery electric bus
Electric platform truck
Electric motorcycles and scooters
Electric kick scooter
Gyro flywheel locomotive
Hybrid electric vehicle
Neighborhood Electric Vehicle
Plug-in electric vehicle
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
Common ethanol fuel mixtures
Fuel cell vehicle
Hydrogen internal combustion engine vehicle
Hybrid electric vehicle
Liquid nitrogen vehicle
Natural gas vehicle
Who Killed the Electric Car?
What Is the Electric Car?
Revenge of the Electric Car
Car designClassificationBy size
Cabriolet / Convertible
Coupé de Ville
Drophead coupe (Convertible)
Saloon / Sedan
Sedan delivery/Panel van
Sedanca de Ville (
Coupé de Ville)
Spider / Spyder (Roadster)
Coupé de Ville)
Gasoline / petrol (direct injection)
Homogeneous charge compression ignition
Layout .mw-parser-output .nobold font-weight:normal
(engine / drive)
Front / front
Front mid / front
Rear / front
Front / rear
Rear mid / rear
Rear / rear
Front / four-wheel
Mid / four-wheel
Rear / four-wheel
Engine configuration(internal combustion)