Rural Missouri Magazine

Ethanol: energy from home

by Frank Stork

Having farmer friends who produce Ethanol gives me a sense of doing something special when I fill my fuel tank with their product. A similar feeling came over me when I toured the new ethanol production plant near Macon.

This plant stands as a tribute to Missouri corn growers who took the initiative to add value to a Missouri product and to enhance the lives of each of us.

While filling my own vehicle with ethanol and watching those at nearby gas pumps, I want to holler "stop!" at those buying the unblended stuff! I want to tell them they are not using a clean-burning, renewable product made from Missouri corn. They are using an imported product that sucks billions out of our national economy each year.

On a sub-freezing day this past winter I asked a lady who was filling her car with gas why she didn’t use ethanol. She said, "My brother-in-law said ethanol wasn’t good for the engine in my car." When I told her it was good throughout the year and especially during winter because it helps prevent gas-line freeze-up, I thought she was going to hit me over the head with her nozzle.

A few years back when my wife bought a new mini-van, the salesman suggested she not use ethanol. My wife quickly leafed through the owner’s manual and showed him that the manufacturer actually recommended the use of gasoline blends including ethanol. Automobile and truck manufacturers recommend ethanol because it is a very clean-burning fuel. In addition, ethanol helps keep fuel injection systems clean so they perform 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 10 percent ethanol improves the rating about three points. That means increased engine performance.

There is always some degree of resistance to trying something new. Ethanol is not something new anymore. Since 1981 more than 168 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. There is no question ethanol is the fuel of the present and future!

The next time we pull into a filling station that does not have an ethanol pump, we should drive right on out. I always pull into a Break Time convenience station owned by MFA Oil. As MFA is owned by Missouri farmers, I know they will have an ethanol pump there.

We should read our owner’s manual for recommended fuel use. Please don’t look to me, a brother in law or an uninformed salesperson for guidance on such important matters. It’s my bet the manual will suggest we use ethanol, our "Energy From Home."

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

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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