Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

100+ Miles Per Gallon of Gasoline (MPGG)

January 31, 2009 · · Filed Under Alcohol Blended Fuels, Alternative Fuels, E85 Flex-Fuel, Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs), FuelClinic 

One of the common arguments against ethanol/methanol  is that we “don’t have enough arable crop land to produce enough ethanol to replace our projected demand for oil without starving to death first”.

In a way this is true, but it misses the point. We don’t have to replace all oil with alcohol (or anything for that matter), we just have to displace enough of it to reduce the strategic value of oil, making oil a plentiful commodity instead of an economic weapon. 

Here’s an interesting idea from FFV Club of America that illustrates how Flex Fuel technology can effectively increase your “miles per gallon of gasoline” to over 100 MPGG.

I get 100+ miles per gallon of gasoline (MPGG) using E85, so I use less gasoline and more domestically produced alternative fuels.

When using E85 in my FFV I can get 100+ MPGG (miles to the gallon of gasoline). After all, the challenge is about gallons per gasoline not only miles per gallon. For example. The 20 gallon fuel tank on my Dodge minivan takes 17 gallons of ethanol and 3 gallons of gasoline (E85). I normally average about 20 miles per gallon and go about 400 miles on that tank full. Even if I assume a 20% loss in mileage (truthfully I do not check or care, I just use E85 when I can) I go about 320 miles on those 3 gallons of gasoline or about 106 MPGG. Now that is progress and I have one of the highest miles per gallon of gasoline cars on the road!

In essence, you’re going much further on each gallon of petroleum-based gasoline but “cutting” it with biomass-based alcohol.

I like this so much I’m adding the capability to measure and track “MPGG” using FuelClinic in a future update.

Daydreaming: Imagine the kind of MPGG possible if the existing gasoline-hybrids like the Toyota Prius were also Flex Fuel capable (they are not). Taking the daydream one step further, how about a plug-in flex-fuel hybrid… (Need to stabilize E85 in storage, to prevent moisture from being absorbed, but otherwise – it’s possible today to build such a vehicle.)

Calculating MPGG also helps debunk another frequent argument against alcohol-blends that, gallon for gallon, drivers will actually see a decrease in mileage using ethanol/methanol vs. straight gasoline.

Note: It is true, generally speaking, that in existing gasoline powered automobiles you will get “fewer miles per gallon” using ethanol/methanol, but only because gasoline powered cars are engineered to efficiently use lower-octane gasoline as a fuel. If cars were engineered to take advantage of the higher octane/higher compression ratios possible with ethanol, the efficiency would rival that of gasoline. There’s nothing “wrong” with alcohol as a fuel, just ask IndyCar Racing,  it’s just not apples-to-apples to compare fuel efficiency in engines that are not tailored to take advantage of the different properties of each fuel.

If the goal is to reduce oil consumption, control oil prices, cut carbon emissions, and help ourselves and our nation economically, then thinking about the ability of your Flex Fuel car to “off-set” oil by a substantial margin with each mile you drive makes each fill-up a little more satisfying.

What do you think about MPGG, ethanol/methanol, or Flex Fuel technologies?

Would measuring mileage by MPGG make refueling a little more satisfying to you, or am I just nuts?

As always, your comments are important and greatly encouraged. :)


5 Responses to “100+ Miles Per Gallon of Gasoline (MPGG)”

  1. UL Approves 15% Ethanol Blends for “Legacy” Gas Pumps | Fuelishness! Fuel Economy Blog on February 25th, 2009 7:33 AM

    […] There are other challenges, from auto manufacturer warranties, to congressional action needed, to consumers potentially noticing reduced mileage from using a greater percentage of alcohol in their low-compression gasoline engines. (While “miles-per-gallon” may slip, the “miles-per-gallon-of-gasoline” will increase significantly.) […]

  2. peregrinem on March 27th, 2009 1:50 PM

    what about the goal to reduce or maintain affordable fuel prices for the citizens?

    If ethanol were free and you only had to pay for the 3 gallons of gas.

    Does it still take two+ parts of energy to make one part of ethanol?

    You will still lose 3-4 miles per gallon of gas by using ethanol with gasoline

  3. Doc Miles on March 27th, 2009 2:25 PM

    @Peregrinem – It no longer takes 2+ parts of energy to make one part ethanol/methanol – thanks to continued development and growing scale, the efficiencies are much higher now. In many modern plants there is a net gain, albeit slight.

    Let me take a minute to assure you that pulling oil from the ground, transporting it across the world, refining it into gasoline, and transporting it to your local gas station takes energy as well. It’s been made efficient from “economies of scale” – but it’s certainly not free.

  4. Breakthrough Engine Technology Turns the “Gasoline-Ethanol Equation” Upside Down « Fuelishness! Fuel Economy Blog on March 29th, 2010 8:02 AM

    […] like bio-diesel (from algae) and ethanol/methanol (cellulosic ethanol)  would allow us to quickly displace a great quantity of petroleum while continuing to utilize our existing distribution […]

  5. Michael on October 11th, 2011 10:41 PM

    Measuring miles per gallon of gasoline from a tank filled with E-85 and comparing that to miles per gallon of gasonline from a tank filled with pure gasoline just does not make any sense whatsoever. I belive in using E-85 to support the reduction of dependence on oil as a strategic commodity, as well as for environmental reasons, but the comparison above is just silly.

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