Gasoline vs. Ethanol: Which do you choose?

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Difference between Gasoline and Ethanol

While there is no sign that those in power intend to curb the widespread use of gasoline as fuel for cars and industrial equipment, various environmental concerns have brought about the need for alternative fuels sources and ethanol has shown promise as being one of the most feasible ones. Can ethanol indeed take the place of gasoline? A look at their differences and characteristics may shed a clue.



A gallon of pure ethanol provides only 66% of the energy of an equivalent amount of gasoline. When ethanol is blended with gasoline at a ratio of 85% to 15%, the mixture will provide 71% the energy of pure gasoline.

In practice, ethanol is also less fuel efficient than gasoline, although it offers similar power, acceleration and cruising performance.

Cost Concerns

Interestingly enough, the ethanol blend described above costs about as much as pure gasoline, so it would appear that the only advantage to using ethanol or ethanol blends is with regard to environmental concerns and concern over OPECs prediction that the world will run out of petrol less than 15 years. In addition, the lower mileage of ethanol also means that to will have to fill your tank more often, thereby increasing your costs. To its credit, ethanol capable vehicles cost about as much as gas driven vehicles as well, so this may just be enough reason to give them a try and help out the environment in the process

Toll On The Environment

Now we come to the main reason why we should consider switching to ethanol in the first place, which is reduced emissions. The adverse effect of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions on the atmosphere is well documented, and gasoline driven engines are some of the biggest culprits.

As it turns out, ethanol on its own or mixed with gasoline can considerably reduce engines emissions, making it a seemingly feasible partial solution to the pollution problem. In fact, it is estimated that switching over to ethanol or ethanol blends exclusively could reduce carbon monoxide emissions in the environment by 30% or more. VOC exhaust emissions will also be reduced by 12%, and PM emissions will decrease 25%. Ethanol also has the advantage of being non-toxic and biodegradable.



  • Comes from fossils
  • Less friendly on the environment than ethanol
  • More widely used than ethanol
  • Provides more energy than ethanol
  • Along with other fossil fuels is considered the biggest polluter in the United States
  • OPEC predicts that oil reserves are dangerously low and will be depleted within 15 years.


  • Comes from corn
  • More environment friendly than gasoline
  • A newer and therefore less popular energy source
  • Provides similar performance to gasoline
  • Ethanol capable vehicles generally cost the same as gasoline vehicles
  • Can be used as a gasoline addictive
  • Can also be used on its own
  • Can reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 30%.
  • Reduces VOC emissions by as much as 12%
  • Reduces PM emissions by 25%

Your choice at the pump?
  • Gasoline
  • Ethanol

Discuss It: comments 3

  • Guest
  • patrick wrote on May 2010

Ethanol is good option but it has reduced the crop output in USA which in turn reflects in food crisis on Asian countries .SO cann't say very well 'bout ethanol

  • Guest
  • joe wrote on February 2011

if you were to read any of the unbaised research articals about the subject you would there by understand that ethanol does indeed produce similar amounts of carbon when compared to gasoline. by using ethanol you cannot just simply ignore the carbon it produces when burned. furthermore,one of the main problem still remains that most current forms of biofuels tend to be much more corrosive to engine components,fuel lines and tanks. this has been fairly well documented but in fairness there are parts in the fuel system that can be replaced to add a fair amount of resistance to the acidic components but for most individuals this becomes cost prohibitive. if the industry were to continue down this road it would logically be done without being a detriment to food stock such algea for use in biofuel. research has shown it to have a much higher production to weight ratio than corn, soy or rape seed. also i must add that in using algea in place of the examples listed you have a pretty wide range of uses for any byproducts such as feed stock suplements for cattle and enclosed exaust systems for coal power plants to name just a few. i would like to finish by stating that if an indiviual could figure out a way to deal with, in fuel itself, the main issues of corrosion and tendancy to draw in water causing ethanol separation then the viability of ethanol would be more reasonable than political.

  • Guest
  • Jan wrote on April 2011

Be sure you've done your research before you state that the corn crop has been reduced affecting food production due to use for ethanol. We are farmers and that statement is not true. Ethanol is made from feed grains. The type of corn used to produce ethanol is primarily for livestock feed (about 90%); not for human consumption. Also, ethanol production separates the starch from the other components. The protein and other nutrients remain. Another fact, corn use for ethanol production does not create food shortages. The U.S. is exporting more corn today than at any time in history. Neither does ethanol production cause high food prices. The price of corn is a very amall factor in overall food prices. Only about 10% of U.S. corn is processed directly into human food products. The price of oil has a significant impact on food prices as does the value of the dollar. Doubling the price of corn raises the cost of a box of corn flakes by less than 4 cents. Food vs. Fuel is a fals and dangerous premise.

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