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Serving: IA
Save The Earth, Save A Dollar

Save The Earth, Save A Dollar

Renewable fuels offer cost savings and environmental benefits. Despite what the critics of biofuels say, Iowa motorists can save money by using ethanol blended fuels and biodiesel blends, too. Here's how Iowa Renewable Fuels Association figures it.

On Earth Day last week, which was April 22, 2011, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association encouraged motorists to buy ethanol-blended fuel and urged both farmers and fleet managers to purchase biodiesel-blended fuel. "If you use ethanol and biodiesel, you not only help preserve Iowa's clean air, but you help keep money in your pocket by purchasing lower-cost renewable fuels," says Lucy Norton, managing director of IRFA.

"Iowa motorists can keep 10 to 13 cents for every gallon of E10 fuel they purchase," notes Norton. "With AAA reporting that gas has now topped $4 per gallon in six states, Iowa motorists are fortunate to have a cheaper alternative available. And, flex-fuel vehicle owners can save even more because E85 is currently priced nearly $1 per gallon less than regular, unleaded gasoline."

Blending ethanol with gasoline helps cut noxious vehicle emissions. Using ethanol reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 30% and cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 27%. Vehicles running on ethanol offset the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel by 45%. Greenhouse gas emissions lead to global warming. 

U.S. ethanol eliminates a need for 445 million barrels of oil a year

Ethanol provides additional savings by lowering the billions of dollars spent each month on foreign oil. U.S. ethanol production eliminates the need for 445 million barrels of imported oil annually, which far exceeds the amount of imports from Saudi Arabia each year.

Iowa corn and soybean producers are also helping save the Earth. As tractors powered by biodiesel plant this year's crops to sustainably renew our supply of biofuels, exhaust emissions of hydrocarbons are being reduced by 67%.  "Farmers are committed to preserving our air and water quality," says Grant Menke, biofuels manager for IRFA. "Choosing clean-burning, biodegradable biodiesel assures that the planet will be a better place for future generations."

Biodiesel has the highest energy balance of any motor fuel, producing 4.5 units of energy for every unit of energy input. In addition, the use of 1 billion gallons of biodiesel in the U.S. would have the pollution-reduction effect of removing 1.4 million vehicles from the road.

With diesel prices skyrocketing, homegrown biodiesel makes sense

Menke adds, "Right now, there are great opportunities to save money on biodiesel blends for on-farm and in-fleet use. With diesel prices sky-rocketing, we encourage farmers and fleets to contact their fuel distributors and take another look at the cost-savings offered by homegrown biodiesel."

"Now is the perfect time for flex-fuel vehicle owners to take advantage of the lower cost of driving with an ethanol blend," Norton says. In the Des Moines metro area, E85 is typically selling for only $2.79 per gallon, while E-zero, the non-ethanol blend, is typically selling for $3.80. Factoring in typical fuel economy variations, an FFV (flexible fuel vehicle) owner would pay only 16 cents per mile using E85 compared to 19 cents per mile using E-zero gasoline.

How to figure cost per mile for ethanol vs. gasoline without ethanol

Here's the explanation of these cost per mile calculations. The calculations are based on today's prices: E-zero @ $3.80 and E85 @ $2.79 per gallon.

Fuel economy was assumed to be an industry average of 20 miles per gallon when operated on E-zero. Mileage for the FFV was assumed to drop 15% when operating on E85.  Based on today's FFV technology, IRFA finds 15% to be the typical mileage loss for using E85.

E-zero:  $3.80 per gallon divided by 20 mpg = 19 cents per mile

E85 with 15% mileage loss:  $2.79 per gallon divided by 17 mpg = 16 cents per mile

For a list of Iowa E85 and biodiesel stations, visit the IRFA website at The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's ethanol and biodiesel producers. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.

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