Showing posts from May, 2018

Cylinder Index Machismo

We moved into that new-to-us house in a southern Twin Cities suburb back in 1999. It was early spring, in between slush and mud, and the time when suburbanites emerge from their ivory and taupe four-bedroom igloos. On that sunny day, a neighborhood envoy of two gentlemen caught me washing my Taurus in the driveway. By professions they were a carpenter and a deputy sheriff, so good people to know, I figured. We chatted over all the usual Minnesotan middle-class male bonding topics: fishing, ice fishing, hunting and something called Garage Logic. Garage Logic or "GL" is the radio show creation of Twin Cities personality Joe Soucheray. I wasn't a GL devotee, but was familiar with Soucheray, his sidekick Rookie, and their macho shtick of mocking modern life. GL fans claim no problem is ever so great that it cannot be solved in the garage.

Having gained enough intel on the new guy in the neighborhood, ‘Carpenter and Deputy’ stated it was time to let me get back to washing the …

A Time For Good Times And Somber Remembrances

Today is a national holiday set aside to honor those who have died while serving in the military. It has also come to represent a long weekend for picnics, big sales, and the start of the summer season. In Indianapolis, though, it is the weekend that celebrates the “greatest spectacle in racing,” an event that first began in 1911.

Robert Moffitt, Clean Air Choice Team communications director, grew up in Indianapolis, where the Indianapolis 500 dominated local news coverage for the entire month of May. “Stories about the race lead the newscasts and make headlines just about every day,” he said. “But one story about the Indy 500 remains relatively unknown – the fact that the world’s fastest and most advanced race cars run on E85.”

Indy cars began using various blends of ethanol or methanol in 2006, eventually settling on an E85 ethanol blend, the same fuel sold in more than 370 stations in Minnesota. Because ethanol gets better fuel mileage than methanol, Indy fuel tanks were reduced fr…

Finding E85 Along Your Memorial Day Travel Route

It’s just a few days away from Memorial Day! While the intent of the holiday is to honor those who died during service in the U.S. military, Memorial Day weekend is also widely considered to be the weekend that officially kicks off summer. Some simply look forward to an extra day off work or school, yet many others plan to travel over the coming days. Whether it’s camping and fishing, visits to the cabin, or simply a road trip to be with family, this traditionally busy travel weekend could mean lots of miles on your vehicle.

As an avid reader of blog, you already know that flex fuel vehicle (FFV) drivers can reduce their tailpipe emissions by choosing E85 over traditional gasoline, but did you know that FFV drivers will generally also spend less for every gallon pumped by using E85 or other ethanol blends instead of regular gasoline? So before you hit the road this weekend, wouldn't you like to know where you can find E85? While the main focus at has been s…

Life Cycle Assessments and E85 Part II

Note: This is the second of a two-part series. Read Part I for an introduction to using life cycle analyses.

Part II: Ethanol's Greenhouse Gas Benefits
The GREET model, or Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation model, was developed and originally released in 1996 by the Argonne National Laboratory. The GREET model is annually updated and refined to account for the latest technologies in transportation and fuel options. GREET is a type of life cycle assessment developed specifically for evaluating fuel and transportation impacts on the environment. According to GREET's authors at Argonne, this analytical tool can account for more than 85 different vehicle and fuel combinations, and can be used by fleet managers and researchers, as well as by auto and energy industries. It allows users to compare traditional forms of transportation and fuel to renewable forms and make the best decision based on calculated energy costs, emissions, and overall impac…

Life Cycle Assessments and E85

Past posts on this blog have often praised the clean air benefits of choosing to use E85 in your flex fuel vehicle or even opting for 88 octane (E15) instead of 87 octane in a 2001 or newer gasoline vehicle. In a two-part series this week, we’ll begin to share scientific evidence behind these clean air claims. Today, in Part I, we will introduce a method used to weigh costs and benefits, a process known as a life cycle assessment (LCA). In Part II later this week, we’ll discuss a specific type of LCA called the GREET model, which was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy to assess and compare petroleum use and alternative fuels. We’ll also discuss results of E85 used in this GREET tool and address other considerations when looking at the air quality impact of using E85.

Part I: What is a Life Cycle Assessment and Why Does it Matter for E85? 
 According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), “A life cycle assessment is the assessment of the environmental impac…

All HEVs Are Not Created Equal

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are relatively common today. In the United States, the Honda Insight kicked off the modern HEV era when it beat the Toyota Prius to market in 1999. The popular Prius HEV followed closely the next year. Typically, HEVs have a conventional internal combustion engine, fueled with gasoline or diesel fuel, and combined with an electric drivetrain. All HEVs are not created equal, though.

From 2005 to 2014, a limited number of Chevrolet Silverado pickups were built with a “mild” hybrid system. When these came to a stop, the engine shut off. The hybrid system restarted the gasoline engine when the driver pushed the accelerator. Bed-mounted outlets provided power to anyone with equipment needing electricity. Contractors working out of their (too-often idling) ‘mobile offices’ might have saved a little fuel and emissions with the Silverado.

Better fuel economy and‒in turn, saving on operating costs and emissions‒are key HEV benefits. However, the higher initial co…

Waterville's Phil Mart Offers Big Time Savings, Small Town Service

Last week we posted a brief update on all the newest stations in Minnesota offering E85 or E15. Today, we’re digging a little deeper with one of them and sharing the story of PhilMart in Waterville. We spoke with one of the owners, Jeff LaFrance about his station. Jeff and his wife Lorie own the station along with Lorie’s mother, Fern Renken, who's managed the station since 1983. Last year, the three station owners made a big decision to add new fuels. We asked Jeff to tell us a little about why they made this decision.

Jeff explained the biggest reason was they simply had to update their old pumps. As they began researching options and learned about ethanol blends, the new fuel choices became more appealing. “Not only was some grant money available to add ethanol blender pumps, but these new fuels also benefit Minnesota’s local economy and helps protect our air quality in the Midwest. Most importantly to us as station owners, it differentiates us from our competitors in the area.…

Coming Clean on World Asthma Day

The first Tuesday in May is World Asthma Day. More than 400,000 Minnesotans live with the chronic lung condition, and most are at higher risk when outdoor pollution levels are high.  Fortunately, Minnesota has many flex fuel vehicles and more E85 stations than any other state. Using E85 in a flex fuel vehicle can significantly reduce tailpipe emissions, which is one of the major sources of air pollution here. When you fill you tank with cleaner-burning E85, you’re not just saving money, you are helping those with asthma and other lung diseases breathe a little easier.

Thanks for using ethanol blends!