Ethanol, both a liquor and a fuel, has been around in the form of Moonshine Whiskey since 15th Century Scotland.
In 1908, Ford Motor Company's first car, The Model T, used ethanol corn alcohol gasoline as fuel energy.
Since 2003, ethanol has grown rapidly as the oxygenating factor for gasoline. Ethanol replaced MTBE for oxygenating fuel, since almost all states now have banned MTBE, due to groundwater contamination, health and environmental concerns.
Ethanol blend fuels for gas powered engines have been around for over 100 years; Ethanol is now found at most public gas stations nationwide, due to mandates/laws and recommendations in the Alternative Motor Fuels Act (1988), Clean Air Act (1990), Energy Policy Act (2005) and most importantly - The Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS) - Signed September 2006.
The push for ethanol as an alternative to imported oil spurred the construction of 172 plants in 25 states by the end of 2008. But during 2009 falling oil prices has made ethanol less cost effective. More than 20 plants have recently closed.
Despite 10% being the universally accepted legal limit for ethanol in conventional gas-powered engines,
in March 2009 ACE, Growth Energy and 54 ethanol producers submitted a waiver application to increase E10 to E15.
ETHANOL HISTORY TIMELINE
1826 Samuel Morey developed an engine that ran on ethanol and turpentine.
1850's During the Civil War, a liquor tax was placed on ethanol whisky, also called Moonshine, to raise money for the war.
1876 Otto Cycle was the first combustion engine designed to use alcohol and gasoline.
1896 Henry Ford built his first automobile, the quadricycle, to run on pure ethanol.
1920's Standard Oil began adding ethanol to gasoline to increase octane and reduce engine knocking.
1908 The first Ford Motor Company automobile, Henry Ford's Model T, was designed to use corn alcohol, called ethanol. The Model T ran on (ethanol) alcohol, fuel or a combination of the two fuels.
1940's First U.S. fuel ethanol plant built. The U.S. Army built and operated an ethanol plant in Omaha, Nebraska, to produce fuel for the army and to provide ethanol for regional fuel blending.
1940's to late 1970's Virtually no commercial fuel ethanol was sold to the general public in the U.S. - due to the low price of gasoline fuel.
1975 U.S. begins to phase out lead in gasoline. MTBE eventually replaced lead.
Note: Later, between 2004 to 2006, MTBE banned in almost all states, due to groundwater contamination and health risks.
1980's Oxygenates added to gasoline included MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether - made from natural gas and petroleum) and ETBE (Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether - made from ethanol and petroleum).
1988 Denver, Colorado, was the first state to mandate ethanol oxygenates fuels for winter use to control carbon monoxide emissions. Other cities soon followed.
1990 Clean Air Act Amendments - Mandated the winter use of oxygenated fuels in 39 major carbon monoxide non-attainment areas (based on EPA emissions standards for carbon dioxide not being met) and required year-round use of oxygenates in 9 severe ozone non-attainment areas in 1995.
1992 The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) was passed by Congress to reduce our nation's dependence on imported petroleum by requiring certain fleets to acquire alternative fuel vehicles, which are capable of operating on nonpetroleum fuels.
The Clean Air Act (1990) and Alternative Motor Fuels Act (1998 & 1992) contain provisions for mandating oxygenated fuel (RFG =Ethanol and MTBE). Requirements set for 2 types of clean-burning gasoline, RFG Federal Reformulated Gasoline and Wintertime Oxygenated Fuel.
1995 The EPA began requiring the use of reformulated gasoline year round in metropolitan areas with the most smog.
Ethanol Fuel History
Ethanol fuels have been powering engines since 1826...
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Highlights on Renewable/Reformulated Ethanol Alcohol Blends of Fuel
During Past Decade (1998 - 2009):
1989 - 2000 Summary - Selected Environmental Regulations Affecting the Product Quality of U.S. Motor Gasoline:
June 1989 Phase 1 Summer Volatility (RVP) Regulation
May 1992 Phase 2 Summer Volatility (RVP) Regulation
November 1992 Oxygenated Gasoline
December 1994 Reformulated Gasoline Phase 1
January 2000 Reformulated Gasoline Phase 2
1999 Some states began to pass bans on MTBE because traces of it were showing up in drinking water sources.
2003 California began switching from MTBE to ethanol to make reformulated gasoline.
(California was the first state to completely ban MTBE, effective January 1, 2004).
Late 1990's to Present Major U.S. auto manufacturers begin selling Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV's), that can run on up to 85% ethanol.
2003 to Present Almost ALL states have followed California's lead, banning MTBE, (a few states still have lawsuits pending with the EPA for exemption from MTBE ban), resulting in MTBE being replaced by ethanol nationwide.
2005The Energy Policy Act of 2005, written by the EPA contains regulations to ensure that gasoline sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel (ethanol is a renewable fuel).
April 2005 Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP - OMC) is the first marine manufacturer to receive the EPA "Clean Air Excellence Award", for their newly re-designed outboard engine called the Evinrude ETec, specifically designed to run on E10 ethanol gas.
Almost all marine engines manufactured prior to 2000 prohibt use of alcohol fuel.
See EPA warnings to boat owners and other widespread precautionary statements issued by all major engine manufacturers regarding use of alcohol fuel in a conventional engine.
2006-Present Many marine and auto engine owners report marine damage and severe engine failure caused by ethanol blend fuels - Investigations reveal gas sold contained over the legal limit of 10% for E10 or was used in an engine not designed for gasahol and all types of alcohol-blends of gas.
September 7, 2006 The Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS) is signed. This national renewable fuel program is designed to encourage the blending of renewable fuels (ethanol) into our nation's motor vehicle fuel. The nationwide Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), will double the use of ethanol and biodiesel by 2012.
December 2007 Energy Independence and Security Actsigned by Congress and the President, which requires the use of 15 billion gallons of renewable (ethanol) fuel by 2015. In 2007 about 6.5 billion gallons were produced.
2007-2008 Surge in individual states mandating the use of 10% ethanol E10 gasoline.
Rapid increase in documented engine problems (drivability, performance, parts damage), and lawsuits related to E10 blends of gasoline.
Despite 10% being the universally accepted legal limit for ethanol in conventional gas-powered engines,
on April 21st, 2009 ACE, Growth Energy and 54 ethanol producers submitted a waiver application to increase E10 to E15.
2009 Waiver submitted to the EPA (by ethanol promoting industry groups) to increase E10 to 15% ethanol. Without opposition by 5/21/09, E15 will be allowed at public pumps this year. Not a single conventional engine manufacturer approves of over 10%. We strongly urge the public to petition against E15 increase. E85 (used only in specially designed flex fuel vehicles) makes much more sense than forcing all to use a 15% mid-range blend, not approved by engine's manufacturers.
The federal government and EPA laws and mandates do NOT require sale of E10, instead they've mandated a specific amount of renewable (ethanol) fuel to be sold within each state. - All blends of ethanol (E10, E20, E85) may be sold to meet these quotas -
The Renewable Fuels Standard that President Bush pushed through Congress in 2007, required that 36 billion gallons of biofuels be sold by 2022, of which 15 billion could be ethanol derived from corn. That rule spurred a massive expansion of corn ethanol.
-- To meet the increasing Federal/EPA renewable fuel quotas, the states with a limited number of E85 gas pumps often have no other choice than to add ethanol to all or most of conventional gasoline, (up to the maximum legal limit of 10% = E10), to meet their current quotas.
State laws for ethanol renewable fuels vary widely.
During the past decade, very few states have proven successful in encouraging consumers to switch to E85 Flex Fuel Vehicles, which helps to explain why E10 is now being sold everywhere.
-- Unlike E10, E85 fuel contains 85% ethanol and 15% petroleum, and can only be used in engines specifically designed or converted for high alcohol blends of fuel. Automobiles that can run on E85 are usually referred to as Flex Fuel or Alternative Fuel Vehicles, (FFV and AFV).
The vehicle's gas cap will always state when up to 85% ethanol (E85) is permitted. E85 fuel should never be used in a conventional gas-powered vehicle.
Many vehicles on the road can not safely use all blends of ethanol gas, both E10 and E85.
This list includes most older cars, marine, motorcycle, classic cars and aircraft engines, plus several types of lawn and other gas-powered equipment. View Manufacturer Ethanol Warnings.
ETHANOL USE - HISTORY BY INDUSTRY
FAA banned ethanol a long time ago (around the 1960's) for use in aircraft. - 2006 FAA and EEA issues statements to the public, warning never to use ethanol in aircraft, since ethanol blends are now widespread at (non-aircraft) gas pumps.
Late 1990's - Present: Marine Manufacturers, who once advised against using alcohol in marine engines, now change the instructions in owner's manuals to allow 10% fuel blends in most marine engines.
Modifications were made to most outboard engines 1990's to present to allow the safe use of ethanol 10%.
"If you are going to believe, know why you believe and back it up with something...".
Copyright Protected Information by MLR Solutions - Fuel Testers Company.
Page Update in progress - 2009.
Research information sources include:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/ EIA - Energy Information Administration - Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government.
http://www.energy.gov/ U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Clean Cities Fact Sheet- Low Level Ethanol Fuel Blends April 2005, EIA Kids Timeline - Ethanol History, and others.