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Ethanol Fuel Mix Becomes More Popular As Gas Prices Rise

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Bring up the topic of alternative fuels, like ethanol, at the pumps and there will be a wide variety of reactions.

"I'm fine with that," said one driver. "I mean, I think it's a good idea."

"Ethanol actually is worse on mileage and actually is costing people money, and it's not effective," said another driver.

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    Ethanol is fuel processed from corn. E-10, a mix of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gas, is already available at two Crown stations in North Raleigh. The alternative fuels program manager at N.C. State, Anne Tazewell, says E-10 can run in any car, benefits U.S. farmers and makes us less dependent on foreign oil.

    "I'd rather send 10 percent of my money to a Midwest farmer than a Middle Eastern oil shiek, and that's what you're doing by supporting the use of E-10," said Tazewell.

    E-85 is 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gas. But, drivers need a specially designed flex fuel engine to use E-85. Chrysler, GM, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, and even Mercedes Benz make flex fuel vehicles, cars that run on E-85. However, you have to go a long way to find E-85.

    "We do have some stations that are offering E-85 in other parts of the state near Shelby, one soon to open in Southern Pines, but none yet in the immediate Triangle area," said Tazewell.

    Alternative fuels are used by a small percentage of Triangle drivers, but with gas prices skyrocketing, some experts said it's time everyone gets ethanol in their tanks.

    Brazil is considered the model for alternative-use fuel. The country doesn't import any foreign oil. They use an ethanol-like fuel, made from sugar cane stalks.


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