Ethanol Myths

Tara Desmond

Apr 04, 2022  |  Ethanol

Myths vs Real Story


Myth: Ethanol clogs my carburetor.
The real story: 
Ethanol is an effective solvent and can help remove gum and deposits left by years of gasoline use. This is one of the reasons alcohol is often used as an additive in today’s fuel.


Myth: Ethanol takes away from feeding the world.
The real story: 
The majority of corn grown in Illinois is field or dent corn which is not the kind you eat at the kitchen table.  Less than 1% of corn grown in Illinois is sweet corn. Despite the many current uses of corn, we consistently have a surplus of the crop left over every year that could be devoted to new future uses. In the latest World Agriculture Supply & Demand Estimates, there is an 11% surplus of corn after the demand for animal feed, DDGs, fuel ethanol and food & industrial are met.


Myth: My fuel system is harmed by ethanol.
The real story: 
Aromatics in today’s gasoline are generally more aggressive to rubber than those of the 60s and 70s. Extended storage without proper treatment or overuse of certain additives may contribute to deterioration of fuel system components.


Myth: Creating ethanol uses more energy than it produces.
The real story: For every unit of energy input, ethanol produces 2.3 units of output. Gasoline output is actually LESS than one unit of output per unit of input, making ethanol three times more energy efficient than gasoline! In other words, it takes three times more energy to make a gallon of gasoline than it does to make a gallon of ethanol. (USDA, 2010)


Myth: Ethanol made from corn isn’t really better for the environment.
The real story: Ethanol reduces emissions by more than 50 percent. A study from the University of Nebraska found ethanol’s direct-effect greenhouse-gas emissions were 59 percent less than gasoline while at the same time dramatically reducing airborne toxins like benzene. The US Department of Energy reports that the use of corn for ethanol has led to “zero” changes in land use. Therefore, having ethanol produced from corn has not had any effect on the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” or led to any increase in rainforest harvest. (University of Nebraska, 2009) (US Dept. of Energy, 2012)


Myth: Using ethanol reduces my car’s performance.
The real story: 
Ethanol is one of the most economical performance fuels on the market. That is why it is used by every car in NASCAR’s three premier series. Many teams have reported an increase in horsepower and no decrease in mileage when using ethanol-enhanced fuel.


Myth: Ethanol adds water to fuel and causes phase separation.
The real story:
 Ethanol is anhydrous. E10 fuel cannot absorb enough moisture from the air to cause phase separation (separation into two liquid phases). If water is allowed directly in the tank, phase separation can occur in both straight gasoline and ethanol blends.


Myth: Ethanol reduces the performance of my boat.
The real story: Ethanol provides high octane for exceptional engine performance and reduced emissions. Need proof? The National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) uses E10 exclusively for all their races.


Myth: It is unsafe to use ethanol in my lawn mower/weed eater/small engine.
The real story: 
All small engine manufacturers in the United States approve the use of E10 (10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) in their equipment.