President Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and sent the world market for a spin with many wondering whether we’d run out of food before we gave up our gas guzzlers. Now, under the Obama administration, we see an increased emphasis on mass transportation systems. I’ve been driving through corn country and the signs posted say that Flex Fuel will free us from buying foreign oil. Will Flex Fuel help to free the United State from buying foreign gas or is this just a stop gap measure leading us toward an uncertain future? What is Flex Fuel and why is our future tied up in it?
The Renewable Fuels Standard and Flex Fuel
According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 establishes the requirement for the production of renewable fuels at 4 billion gallons in 2006, with those numbers rising by 2012 to 7.5 billion gallons.
Portion of US Demand to be Supplied by Flex Fuel
According to the Energy Information Administration, US Demand for fuel amounts to 20 million barrels per day, times the 42 gallons in a barrel equals 840 million gallons per day, times 365 days, equal a total of 306.6 billion gallons required by the United State yearly. Dividing 7.5 billion gallons by the 306.6 total use amounts to supplying about 2.4% of the fuel used in the United States.
The production and use of flex fuel is not enough to supply the fuel for all of our vehicles, but it is a start, one that is expected to more than satisfy the expected growth in demand for oil products. The reason for the Obama Administration look at mass transportation is the whopping percentage of US Oil consumption use related to transportation amounts to 71%. Other uses include the use of fuels to generate electricity.
Make Up of Your Vehicle’s Fuel
When oil companies deliver fuel to your vehicle, they’ve purchased crude oil with some level of purity. The better the purity, the less the crude oil needs to be refined to produce the fuel your car uses and the less it costs for them to deliver it to buyers. Depending on the chemical breakdown of your fuel and the way your vehicle’s engine works, your car will burn the fuel and turn it into energy. Typical gasohol E10 contains about 10% ethanol and 85% gasoline. With Flex Fuel E85, the percentage of ethanol is 85% and the gasoline 10%. Many companies are looking at refining less pure forms of oil, such as shale oil which is a more expensive process.
Flex Fuel Production
According to Renewable Fuels Association, Flex Fuel Production is very much similar to the production of alcohol, with grains ground and set to ferment and the ethanol, a form of alcohol captured during processing. One reason gasoline products are added to the mix is to keep it from being drinkable and subject to taxation as such.
What Happens to Your Vehicle with Flex Fuel
Existing vehicles that run on gasoline require the installation of a conversion kit to make the fuel burn efficiently. A number of facilities are set up to convert your vehicle to the use of flex fuel if you choose to have it done. Gasohol, or gasoline made with 10% ethanol can be used in most gasoline engines.
Flex Fuel and the Food Supply
According to the Energy Information Administration, Ethanol E85, is currently produced from sugars produced from grains such as wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, but also from grass clippings, potato skins, sugar beets, and sugar cane. Research to use the non-edible portions of the grains, wood, and native grasses is ongoing. What we recycle from our yards may end up back in our car’s engines. Use of food supply to make fuel is a valid concern, but technology is working to supply answers. The Flex Fuel initiative was the needed boost to car manufacturers to supply vehicles that can use Flex Fuels, production facilities to produce Flex Fuels, and suppliers that sell Flex Fuels.
Flex Fuels are the Future along With Other Alternatives
The more flexible we are in our use of energy and the more conservative, reusing our waste products and cutting down our usage, the more we will protect our environment and our country’s ability to provide a comfortable standard of living. I personally would like to see alternatives such as moving heavy energy manufacturing off the earth and use of mass transportation simply because the cities that have it are so convenient to visit.