Ethanol: Our homegrown fuel
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
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
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
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
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.