You have the inalienable right to high octane

It’s road-trip time, America. Even if life, liberty and the pursuit of acceleration aren’t specifically outlined in the Constitution or its 27 amendments, the freedom to drive wherever we want, whenever we want, is deeply ingrained into the national identity.

Some 42 million people plan on traveling at least 50 miles during the holiday weekend, the most since 2007, according to AAA. They’ll enjoy gasoline prices that are at their lowest in years: The national average for a gallon of regular 87-octane gas stood at $2.767 Thursday, 90 cents cheaper than a year ago.

At Fuel Freedom, we believe the best way to drive prices even lower and keep them that way is to introduce fuel choice at the pump. Alcohol fuels like ethanol and methanol are cheaper and cleaner, saving consumers money, cut air-pollution levels and reduce our dependence on oil, one-third of which is imported.

octane22But even if you care about none of those things, there’s this: Ethanol rocks. It pops. It cranks. E85 blend, which is up to 85 percent ethanol and the rest gasoline, increases power and performance in engines, largely because more of the fuel’s energy content is used up when it burns. Because of the high oxygenation of ethanol, the pure form of the alcohol has an octane of 113. E85, whose ethanol content can vary depending on the season, usually has a rating of 105.

In fact, blending ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply to make E10 is how oil refineries are able to bring the octane of their products up from weak tea to 87, 89 and 91. It also helps clean fuel systems, which is how oil companies were able to get harmful additives (benzene, toluene and xylenes) out of gasoline without sacrificing performance.

High octane is a reason why IndyCar races on E85 and NASCAR runs on E15. It’s a reason why racing and muscle-car enthusiasts put on their mad-scientist caps and convert their prized vehicles to run on E85. Here’s a terrific primer by Hot Rod’s Jeff Smith, and here’s a cool video of a Northern California guy talking jargon at 3,000 RPMs about his E85-converted 1967 Camaro:

So happy 239th birthday, America. It’s a perfect time to declare your independence from oil addiction. Go big, go ethanol, and go forth.

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Time to declare independence from expensive oil

shutterstock_194720870Happy Fourth, America. Take the day off. Take three days off, actually.

On this day, 238 years after the phrase “Put your John Hancock right here” was born, we celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence from Britain in different ways. We can run a 5K, stay put and watch a parade, buy a hundred bucks’ worth of rockets’ red glare at the fireworks stand, or keep the home fires burning at the grill.

Many of us will observe that most American of traditions – climbing into our cars and hitting the open road. AAA Travel estimates that 41 million Americans are venturing at least 50 miles from home sometime between July 2-6. Eighty percent of them, 34.8 million people, are choosing vehicles as their mode of transport. That’s the highest number since 2007, before the recession.

We cherish our “unalienable rights,” as the Founding Fathers decreed on that mild 76-degree day in Philadelphia (Jefferson took note of the temperature) on July 4, 1776. But our freedom to choose our own destiny ends once we pull up to the gas pump.

At the pump, our only fuel choice is gasoline refined from crude oil. Although domestic oil production keeps growing, surging demand here and around the world has kept prices inflated. The U.S. average for a gallon of regular unleaded on June 24 was $3.667 in the U.S., according to the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That’s 19 cents higher than a year ago.

Fuel Freedom Foundation is working to bring competition to the U.S. transportation fuel marketplace for the first time by making it easier to obtain other fuels like ethanol and methanol. These fuels, which can be made from abundant natural gas, are cheaper to buy and cleaner to burn than gasoline. Giving consumers choices will give them more money to spend, create jobs, improve health and mark the beginning of the end of our addiction to imported oil.

We don’t have to accept high gas prices as a fact of life. We can fight back. Just ask the guys in the powdered wigs who put pen to paper more than two centuries ago.