Ethanol Avgas

This is from AOPA Pilot, December 1999:

I rent the helicopter “wet”, so I don’t know how much avgas costs; but I think that when the article was written it was around $2.00/gal. I’m fairly sure that the reason this fuel was produced was to get the lead out of aviation fuel, but given the recent high prices of gasoline, why not start making ethanol-based mogas for our cars? It would be cheaper and also reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Should this have gone into General Questions? Or is it MPSIMS?

First, gas is not that expensive. For road use, you have a lot of federal and state taxes which push up the price.

In the 70’s some gas did contain about 10% ethanol. This died out for lack of consumer interest.

Note that the artical states that you have to modify the engine to use it. That will make it hard to introduce to drivers. Gas prices would have to go up a lot to justify the “bother” of converting.

Other countries have even higher gas taxes than the US does. Very few bother to stop using gas. There are many alternatives. I believe that Brazil switched to a methanol based fuel. In the 80’s the US government funded research on alternative fuels. We have the technology to make artificial gasoline; it’s just not cost effective now.

True, but other countries seem to have better public transportation than we do.

Yes, engines have to be modified; but the $500 figure quoted is for aircraft engines, which are more expensive than car engines. Note that the modification doesn’t preclude the use of regular avgas. If engines were modified or constructed to use alternative fuels at the factory, then synthetic gas would be an option, not a necessity. Let’s say the conversion would cost $500. Assume the fuel is 50 cents less per gallon, and your car has a 20 gallon tank. That’s a saving of $10 per tankful. The conversion would be paid for after 50 tanks. Since I fill up about twice a week (I have a long commute), that would take about 6 months. Also, the article claims an increase in horsepower. I think a lot of people would opt for the conversion.