August 20, 2007

High Performance E85 with Jay Leno

E85 detractors often cite the comparative high energy content of gasoline to ethanol. It is true that currently designed combustion engines and even current flex-fuel models get lower mileage on ethanol than they do on gasoline. However, that is far from the whole story.

On Jay Leno's Garage website he features a video titled "E85 Demystified" which contains an interview with noted engine designer Carl Banks who specializes in high performance engine design. Carl insists that the reason that automobiles don't run as well on ethanol as they do on gasoline is because they are not designed to. If they are designed to, the cars would operate with much higher performance because of the relatively high compression ratio of ethanol compared to gas.

"It’s the octane number,” he says. “Octane is a rating of knock-resistance. The higher the number the better. E-85 is 105 octane.”

Coupled with plug-in hybrid automobile technology, it is not likely that there will be an appreciable difference between buying gasoline or ethanol because the mileage will be dependent on electric storage efficiency and the secondary motor efficiency for whatever fuel it runs on. The decision to buy ethanol is likely to hinge on the comparative price of the fuel options and its availability at local pumps.

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1 comment:

Ray said...

If you turbo charge the engine you increase the compression ratio and therefore have the same economy as a gas engine.

retired engineer rg