Ethanol or Gasoline: Which is Better for Your Car

While refilling your car’s tank at the gas station, you may well be thinking Ethanol vs Gasoline what is the difference between the fuel they call ethanol and regular gasoline? Which one is better for my car? Should I choose one on top of the other? Have I been using the wrong type of fuel in my car? Usually, the selection is determined by price, availability, and the manufacturer’s good word. Don’t let the wrong choice deter you from enhancing the performance and fuel efficiency of your car. Let’s find out which is better for your car among Ethanol and Gasoline.

Ethanol or Gasoline: Which is Better For Your Car
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What is Ethanol Fuel?

Ethanol fuel is just ethyl alcohol, which is used in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol fuel is a biofuel. In petrol-powered engines, it is used in the form of an additive, or it is used as the primary fuel.

The biomass from agricultural produce like corn, sugarcane, potato, hemp (bhang), etc. yields ethanol as a common by-product. The top two producers of ethanol in the world are the United States of America (62.2%) and Brazil (25%).

Benefits of Ethanol and Concerns

Ethanol is a renewable, locally produced conveyance fuel. Ethanol helps reduce emissions whether used in low-level blends like E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline) and E15 (15% ethanol) or E85 (flex fuel) – a gasoline-ethanol blend with 83% ethanol. As is true for other alternative fuels, there are several concerns about the use of ethanol.

Fuel Economy and Performance

The difference in impact on fuel economy depends on the energy difference in the blend used. For instance, E85 with 83% ethanol content gives nearly 27% less energy per gallon than gasoline. The impact on fuel economy decreases with the decrease in ethanol content. Engines in gasoline vehicles together with FFVs (flexible-fuel vehicles) are optimized for gasoline. Fuel economy would probably increase due to increased engine efficiency if they were optimized for higher ethanol blends. The octane number of ethanol is higher than that of gasoline and so, it offers increased power and performance.


The carbon dioxide emitted by a car when ethanol is burned is counterbalanced by the carbon dioxide trapped when the feedstock crops are farmed to produce ethanol. This is different from gasoline and diesel, which are refinery products from petroleum produced from the earth. No emissions are counterbalanced when these petroleum products are burned.


No special fuelling equipment is needed for low-level blends of E10 or less, and any conventional gasoline vehicle can be run with them. It is also possible to use blends above E10 in current fuelling equipment. But some equipment requires to be upgraded. FFVs can work on E85, gasoline, or any blend of ethanol and gasoline. They are available as standard equipment having no incremental cost. Thus, they are an inexpensive alternative fuel vehicle choice.

Differences Between Ethanol and Gasoline

A gallon of gasoline offers one-third more energy compared to a gallon of ethanol. The blended fuel E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) is about 30% less powerful than pure gasoline. Ethanol and gasoline are similar in power, acceleration, and cruising capacity, but miles per gallon for ethanol are less than pure gasoline.

Ethanol causes harm to fuel systems and engines. But pure gasoline does not. Water contamination and fuel separation are the most critical problems. Ethanol draws and absorbs water, as well as water from the air.

When the ‘gasohol’ absorbs sufficient water, fuel water contamination happens in the gas tank of the car. This affects engine performance. When the car rests for some time, fuel separation follows, and the gas and water develop layers in the gas tank. If the motor drains off the water layer into the engine, severe expensive loss occurs.

Since ethanol is an alcohol, it causes corrosion in the fuel system. There appears rust on the metal parts and plastic parts become cracked or deformed. Ethanol is not a perfect fuel additive, especially since older cars get problems with ethanol fuel.

Even if ethanol is less effective than gasoline and can even cause damage to cars, it is being blended and sold because the blend of gasoline and ethanol burns cleaner in comparison with pure gasoline and ethanol reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of a car.

Pros and Cons of Ethanol Fuel

For environmental intentions, ethanol is less damaging than unblended gasoline. Carbon monoxide creation from ethanol fuel is considerably lower than that of gasoline engines, and ethanol is simpler to obtain since it originates from processed corn. This implies it also aids farmhouses and manufacturing economies.

The shortcomings of ethanol involve the use of farmland for industrial corn growth instead of food crops. Besides, biofuels are not destined for all vehicles, particularly older vehicles. Nevertheless, many automakers are changing to low-emissions vehicle standards, which necessitate cars to use ethanol blends instead of unblended gasoline.

Advantages of Ethanol for the Environment and Economy

As a whole, ethanol is believed to be healthier for the environment than gasoline. Ethanol-fuelled cars make lower carbon dioxide emissions, and the levels of hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen emissions are the same or lower.

E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol, also gives out fewer volatile components than gasoline, which indicates fewer gas discharges from evaporation. Adding ethanol to gasoline in lower percentages like E10 with 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline lowers carbon monoxide emissions from the gasoline and betters fuel octane.

The Disadvantages of Ethanol

Ethanol is frequently promoted as a clean, affordable alternative to petrol, but the production and application of ethanol are not all optimistic. The main debate about corn and soy-based biofuels is the expanse of land it removes from food production.

Cultivating corn for ethanol entails huge amounts of synthetic fertilizer and herbicide. Generally, corn production is a common cause of nutrient and sediment pollution. Moreover, the usual procedures of industrial corn farmers against profitable and homegrown food farmers are judged more environmentally harmful on the whole.

What is the Modification Needed to Run Ethanol Fuel?

The octane rating (113) of ethanol is greater than conventional gasoline fuel. Hence, this makes allowance for an augmented compression ratio for enhanced fuel mileage.

However, this augmented compression ratio will cause roughly 20% amplified stress to the engine and its components like a piston, cranks, valves, etc. For this reason, ethanol-powered engines are made more rigid and strengthened compared to conventional ones.

Secondly, E100 i.e., ethanol in its purest form has a low heating value. Therefore, an improved flow of ethanol is needed to produce the same amount of energy. This results in key modifications in the fuel intake and injector to afford more fuel.

Third, ethanol has a higher RON value, which varies from 0 to 100, and defines the conduct of the fuel in the engine during combustion. This implies that ethanol is more opposed to spontaneous detonation. The application of ethanol needs an extra heating system.

This is the cause why ethanol or E100-powered cars confront difficulty starting during colder temperatures. A supplementary gasoline tank is attached to deliver the initial crank.

Is Ethanol a Viable Fuel Source?

Ethanol has been named the “green fuel” or “future fuel”. But there have been apprehensions concerning the dependable and viable source of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is a plant by-product and a “renewable” energy source as the production and combustion of ethanol achieve a full cycle, although some amount of energy is needed to produce ethanol.

Choosing Ethanol or Gasoline is a matter of what is best for the future of humankind.

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Ask Indian Friend Now

Do cars function better on ethanol?

Actually, ethanol is more energy-efficient than gasoline. It cools down engines twice as much as gasoline when vaporized and offers more octane, which helps increase efficiency.

What is the major advantage of ethanol over gasoline?

Ethanol is a renewable fuel as it is formed from biomass. Besides, ethanol burns more cleanly and fully than gasoline. Ethanol decreases the emissions of greenhouse gas as the grain or other biomass consumed to make the ethanol absorbs CO2 as it grows.

What is the disadvantage of ethanol vs gasoline?

The disadvantage of ethanol fuel is that it reportedly causes engine burns and corrosion. In order to use it in a more beneficial way, researchers are looking forward to converting it into hydrogen form, which is supposed to elevate it as a remarkable alternative source of fuel.

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