Ethanol-Free Gas

Snohomish Co-op is the only station in Snohomish to offer ethanol-free gasoline.

Snohomish Co-op gas station

Should I use non-ethanol fuel?

Non-ethanol fuel is strongly recommended for boats, mowers, chainsaws, and other small engines. It produces more energy than gas-ethanol mixes, and many people prefer it in their cars. Read a deeper breakdown below.

Why is Ethanol being added to Gasoline?

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is a biofuel. Derived from from plant materials. It is now mixed in most vehicle fuels found at gas station pumps.

The push to add ethanol to fuel has been based on energy independence and environmental concerns. These are worthy causes, but they don't align as well with the ethanol movement as it may seem.

The environmental impact

Many studies indicate that ethanol emits fewer particles when burned. The entire picture is not so simple, though. Varying models report drastically different data on the amount of pollutants put out by ethanol. The farming industry receives billions of dollars every year in subsidies-note that the generation of this money had its own environmental impact. Also of significance are the chemicals used to fertilize and treat the crops necessary to create ethanol.

Energy Independence? ...Not so fast

Corn is the main ingredient in U.S. ethanol(around 40% of corn produced in the US was used to create ethanol in 2014), because it is the easiest to convert to fuel. Estimates suggest that even if all corn in the U.S. were used for ethanol, the amount would fall far short of our energy needs. Other ingredients- grasses, wood, algea, and plant fibers-can be used to make ethanol, but this cellulosic ethanol is much less energy-effective to produce.

Is ethanol cheaper than gasoline?

Possibly. Gas with ethanol may be easier on your wallet, but a look at the pump prices is only part of the reality. Your car will go further on a gallon of non-ethanol gas, and non-ethanol gas is considered better for engines-especially small yard tools like mowers and leaf blowers. Harder to gauge is the political side-both agriculture and oil industries recieve subsidiaries powered by your tax dollar.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires that more biofuel be used every year until we reach 36 billion gallons by 2022. In theory, this is good for energy independence. But it has a list of drawbacks.

Negatives of Ethanol in Gasoline

  • In 2009, 1/3 of U.S. corn was used as ethanol additive. This accounted for only 5% of U.S. gasoline use.
  • By 2015, regulation states that 15 billion gallons of ethanol must be used in U.S. gasoline. This accounts for 50% of all U.S. corn. With this in mind, consider that already nearly 1 billion people around the globe will go to bed hungry tonight.
  • Ethanol may actually create a net energy loss.The overall effect of ethanol on our energy use is still very much in question, but studies show that the energy used to create ethanol may equal or exceed the energy output that ethanol provides.
  • Shelf life of gasoline with 10% ethanol is shorter than that of pure gasoline.
  • Ethanol attracts/absorbs water, deteriorating the fuel itself and fuel components. Order a test kit for water here.
  • Ethanol dissolves fiberglass, and is corrosive to aluminum. It is especially harmful to mowers, blowers, chain-saws, and other small gas engines.