What is gasohol? What is it used for?

Gasohol is a mixture of gasoline and ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Specifically, nine parts gasoline to one part ethanol. We make ethanol by fermenting corn and other agricultural produce. In fact, you can ferment any sugary or starchy plant to produce ethanol. Gasohol is a fuel for internal combustion engines.

Gasoline is a derivative product of petroleum or crude oil.

The CO2 emissions that this gasoline-ethanol blend emits is less than that of gasoline. However, both their octane numbers are almost equal. CO2 is the chemical formula for carbon dioxide.

Even though the fuel has lower CO2 emissions, it can cause increases in evaporative emissions. It may also cause increases in the emissions of other pollutants. The age of the vehicle, as well as weather conditions, affect emission levels.

According to the English Oxford Living Dictionaries, gasohol is:

“A mixture of gasoline and ethyl alcohol used as fuel in internal combustion engines.”

Any car that uses gas (British English: petrol) can also run on gasohol. In some cities in North and South America, people use the fuel to help control air pollution.

We do not use it on airplanes. In fact, aeronautical engineers globally say we should not use this gasoline-ethanol mixture as a fuel for aircraft.

Gasohol - definition and illustration
There were many forecasts decades ago that gasohol and other ethanol blends would dominate the market. However, gasoline made a comeback.

Ethanol-gasoline mixtures

Ethanol-gasoline mixtures have ‘E’ numbers, such as E10, E25, E80, etc. Each number describes the percentage of ethanol by volume in the mixture. E85, therefore, is eighty-five percent ethanol and fifteen percent gasoline.

Gasohol, which ranges from E5 to E25, is a low-ethanol blend. Internationally, however, the most common term for this fuel is E10, i.e., with 10% ethanol.

Many people think that gasohol gives your car more miles per gallon than gasoline. This is a myth. Several studies have shown that fuel consumption is virtually the same.

A 2011 study that the VTT Technical Research Center conducted found no difference in fuel consumption.

Gasohol popular in some countries

In some countries, especially those without their own oil reserves, gasohol is popular. It is popular because it reduces the country’s fuel dependence on other countries. It also helps keep down fuel costs for motorists and businesses.

When oil was scarce in Europe, people used gasoline-alcohol blends intermittently.

Other types of gasoline-alcohol blends include discol, agrol, and alcolene. They were popular in the United States in the 1930s when farmers sought cheaper fuels.

Gasohol has been popular in Brazil for several decades. However, the fuel has been unable to compete successfully against cheaper gasoline.

In August 2016, scientists from University of Michigan reported that ethanol and biodiesel emit more greenhouse gases than gasoline.