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Re: Organic chem -- or was it "ethanol"

On Fri, 16 Feb 1996, Merlyn Plotz wrote:
> > Ethyl Alcohol (ethanol) isn't burned purely, it is an additive to normal 
> > gasoline that makes it burn less efficient, but producing more power.  It 
> > is usually used in racing.
> Ethanol statement - makes it burn less efficient, but producing more 
> power. Isn't this a contradiction in terms? It has been my impression
> that it is sold in an effort to reduce polution.

Primarily there were two purposes.  1. to extend scarce gasoline 
supplies and 2. to reduce pollution.  Uh, make that three purposes.  3. to 
increase revenues for corn producers and processors.

Secondary effects include (all else held constant) an increased octane 
rating for the fuel and less energy in the fuel.  Note these two are NOT 
incompatible.  Octane rating is related to the burning properties of the 
fuel.  A higher octane rating make fuel burn more with a "whoosh" rather 
than a "bang".  This reduces the tendency for detonation (knocking).  The 
amount of energy per gallon has an effect on power available.  More 
energy = more power available (again, all else held equal).  Ethanol has 
less energy per gallon than gasoline.  In essence, the oxygen content of 
the ethanol indicates that it is already part way along the combustion 
pathway before it enters the vehicle.  The enregy that this part of the 
pathway would have produced has already taken place outside of the engine.

* Robert L. Myers                  <rmyers@wvit.wvnet.edu>               *
* Chair, Dept. of Chemistry        (304) 442-3358  (office)              *
* West Virginia Inst. of Tech.     (304) 574-2372  (home)                *
*                                  (304) 442-3109  (secretary)           *
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