There has been a lot of research to try and find an alternative to fossil fuels, and the most recommended solution seems to be biodiesel or even ethanol. E85, a mixture of ethanol and gasoline mixed at a ratio of 85:15, respectively. E85 is becoming increasingly popular in the US, where there are nearly 2000 stations that sell just this kind of fuel, leaving some customers without any choice. It is increasing, and we already see E5 and E10 in Europe.
E85 and other ethanol-blended fuels are less efficient than regular gasoline/petrol – the lower energy value means you achieve less power and MPG. The ethanol component does not produce as much heat as gasoline when it burns – i.e., it has a lower heating value (energy/BTU) or calorific value. It is sometimes preferred for its lower low emissions, but this is costly. It is also more expensive depending on the source of the ethanol, and if your engine is not fully compatible, it will cause running difficulties and engine warning lights. Ethanol is hygroscopic and can cause corrosion and premature failure to fuel system rubbers and similar components.
There are several reasons governments want to incorporate this as a fuel source. As already mentioned, e85 is purported to produce lower exhaust emissions and a tangible way to reduce global warming. It’s important to understand that it does not eliminate emissions entirely but merely reduces them.
An unstable supply of fossil fuels from the Middle Eastern countries is another reason – if supply were to be cut for any reason, economies would quickly collapse.
Although there are clear advantages to e85, countries still don’t support it, especially those that worry about the source of ethanol or the damage it will do to older vehicles. The primary concern is that agricultural land will be used to grow crops for ethanol rather than food for people. Oil producing companies and countries are also opposed to e85 production as they see it as a potential threat to their chief source of income.
Either way, if you decide or are forced to purchase e85, ensure that it is safe for your vehicle to use or fortify the fuel with an additive. If you have no choice, use an appropriate fuel additive that provides additional lubricity, corrosion protection, pH correction and combustion stabilization to protect the fuel system and eliminate engine warning lights resulting from poor-quality combustion.