What is E85?
By Jeanette Joy Fisher
If you watched the Olympics, you probably noticed that
General Motors launched a major advertising campaign,
touting the fact that 1.5 million GM vehicles are able to
run on E85, made from corn. If you're new to the
alternative fuel concept, perhaps you were left wondering
exactly what E85 is.
The term E85 is derived from the blend of two different
fuels, comprised of 85% ethanol (where the term E85 comes
from) and 15% petroleum. E85 is able to be used by
vehicles that are known as flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs).
So what's the big deal, and why is GM willing to spending
many millions of dollars to let people know their vehicles
will run on E85?
Ethanol is an exciting concept, since it can be made from
virtually any type of starchy plant, including sugar cane,
wheat, canola, or milo. However, most American ethanol is
produced from corn, which is grown in huge abundance in
the Midwest. It could represent a perfect union between
farmers and consumers, since it will give farmers a
steady, reliable outlet for their corn and it will provide
motorists with a cleaner, less expensive fuel that doesn't
rely on foreign suppliers.
But that's just the beginning. E85 also helps reduce a
vehicle's exhaust and greenhouse gas emissions, since it
has higher oxygen content. That means it's burned more
completely than conventional gas, making it more
environmentally friendly than petroleum-based fuels. In
fact, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
statistics suggest that E85 produces some 40% less carbon
monoxide and 15% less production of other pollutants that
contribute to smog.
Those figures should be enough to get people excited about
E85's prospects. It's also promising that a huge automaker
like GM has chosen to spend large amounts of its
advertising dollars to bring the concept of green vehicles
and fuel into the mainstream consciousness, and they're to
be commended. It represents a major first step toward
freeing America from dependence upon foreign oil, as well
as lowering greenhouse pollutants and providing American
farmers with a new, profitable, stable avenue for selling
their crops. It seems to be a winning proposition for
Not surprisingly, E85 is most readily available in the
Upper Midwest, where the majority of the corn to make it
is grown. Some 400 of the 600 locations nationally are
located in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota,
Wisconsin, and South Dakota.
Copyright 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher
"Just Stay Home" Campaign
Is Your Vehicle E85 Ready?