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Why aren’t there any mostly ethanol fuel stations in Wilmington?

Judy Royal

Ethanol, a biofuel made from corn, is very prevalent in the Midwest where lots of corn is grown. But not so much around here. While there are lots of gas stations that carry the E10 blend (10 percent ethanol), the only E85 (85 percent ethanol) fuel station in the Wilmington area is at the New Hanover County N.C. Department of Transportation office and not available for public use, according to data from AAA Carolinas,. There are 16 in North Carolina, including three in the Pinehurst and Southern Pines area, the closest ones to Wilmington.

Tom Crosby, vice president of communications forĀ  AAA Carolinas, said he thinks practicality is the reason why ethanol fuel is in less demand and therefore scarce in our area.

“It’s not quite as popular once people figure out that you’re spending more to go a mile using E85 than you are regular gas,” he said. “That’s because it doesn’t have the same energy content as regular gas does.”

Crosby explained that while E85 burns cleaner, it doesn’t have as much combustion power as standard gasoline, thus making mileage per gallon lower. He cited figures stating that although the average price per gallon for regular gas was $2.685 on June 18 and E85 was $2.181, it would cost $2.87 in ethanol to go the same mileage as you would on a gallon of regular gasoline.

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Don Eggert

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4 Responses to “ Why aren’t there any mostly ethanol fuel stations in Wilmington?”

  1. On June 21, 2009 at 3:58 pm Adam wrote:

    I am glad there are not ethanol stations around here. Ethanol certainly is not the answer and in my opinion is pushed by legislators from the corn belt. Time and focus on ethanol should be on other, more productive and long-term viable alternative fuels and energy sources.

  2. On July 29, 2009 at 10:00 am NCDriver wrote:

    Ethanol can cause major problems for engines designed to use standard unleaded fuel, especially marine engines.

    E85 had been banned, until recently, in the US because of these potential problems. Most boat owners should avoid E10 and especially E-85. Ethanol acts as a detergent and can cause any substances that are in the fuel pumped into tanks to clog fuel injectors and even tends to melt fuel tanks not equipped to handle this “scrubbing” quality.

    Boat owners need to put filters between their gas tanks and engines to catch any of the gunk that ethanol may loosen in a tank before it gets to a marine engine.

    It stands to reason this problem could occur in car and truck engines as well.

    Also, as noted in Judy Royal’s story, E85 is not as efficient at providing good gasoline mileage as regular unleaded fuel yet it costs the same or more.

    Some modern auto engines are designed to handle E85 but many older models may not be so designed. Many boats are definitely not equipped to burn E85 nor E10.

    Before you fill up a boat engine with fuel, it’s advisable to check to make sure your regular fillup spot (gas station, convenience mart) hasn’t converted to E10 or E85, especially if your engine wasn’t designed to burn those fuels and you don’t have a filter in the line between the fuel tank and engine.

  3. On August 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm DecalDude wrote:

    I found ethanol free gas in Wilmington, NC. It’s at Midway Kwik Stop – 4505 College Rd. Castle Hayne, NC. It’s between Murrayville & Castle Hayne. Great place to fill up the boat. Friendly service to…couldn’t ask for more.

  4. On February 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm Patrick Reams wrote:

    You do not see E85 in many east coast fueling locations, because it is cost prohibitive to transport. E85 cannot be sent through the standard fuel pipelines and must shipped via tanker truck.

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