Wednesday, May 18, 2022

If There is a Shortage of Both Gasoline and Food Brewing...

 ... Should corn go into fuel or food?

In the past, since I didn't favor ethanol in gasoline for environmental and operational reasons, it seemed obvious. Food was a better use. But if both are short, and the international situation matters both in terms of food supply and fuel supply, which is should win the calculus?

In the US, I assume the market will decide. The EPA's rules on gasoline blends have been relaxed, and the value in food and gasoline has gone up. Jump ball, I guess, since we have enough and export both.

In Europe, I'm guessing gasoline wins. 

 In the third world, I imagine food wins, except where sugar cane is used to make ethanol, there really isn't the same export demand for cane.

It's a shame people can't just play nice. I thought, or at least naively hoped, we had outgrown this, on this scale.


Assuming we're looking at E15...

  • Use Biobor EB or Stabil 360 Marine. They really help with corrosion, which is the main cause of carb jet plugging.
  • Keep your jets clean. Ethanol runs leaner than gas, meaning you need about 5% more E15 through the jet than with gasoline. Small outboards are designed a little rich, but this tolerance will be reduced.
  • The vapor pressure is even greater than E10, so the pressure in sealed tanks will increase. Keep them out of the sun, paint them white (a flexible paint, such as inflatable paint or buoy paint, is required), or make a white cover.


  1. The whole fuel price issue annoys me. In a real sense, it's and artifact of misguided public policy. That's really the only reason prices are so high, and gas has alcohol in it. Our ruling elites make decisions based on questionable criteria. We can fuss and fume, and write our congressman; both approaches are equally effective in resolving the issue (no one listens to us fuss and fume, and the congressman doesn't listen either). Does that sound cynical?

  2. Placing anything on the "ruling elite" is cynical, but not so much about politicians themselves, as we who elect them and how we chose our votes. We believe whatever makes us feel good, both Democrat and Republican. In this case, we believed ethanol corn had something to do with family farms, when it had only to do with industrial agriculture and swing votes.

    But I don't think ethanol is a black and white issue. It is too widespread world-wide for the US political system to be the sole factor. Time will tell. I don't have a strong feeling other than it should not be subsidized (it is currently exempt from highway tax, which is a big dodge that must be covered by other taxes). Let it stand on its own feet, financial and environmentally, and watch where the chips fall.