An E85 Ethanol Fuel Impact Study for Wake County, North Carolina Addressing Economical, Operational, Environmental, and Social Issues

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dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Alexander Hobbs, Committee Member en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Richard Johnson, Committee Chair en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Herbert Eckerlin, Committee Member en_US Roy, Bryan Erik en_US 2010-04-02T17:54:37Z 2010-04-02T17:54:37Z 2005-08-23 en_US
dc.identifier.other etd-08222005-124156 en_US
dc.description.abstract The value of ethanol as an alternative fuel has recently been a highly debated topic. There have been many strong opinions for and against its use expressed by governmental agencies, public interest, and industrial groups. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of using ethanol fuel in the U.S. and particularly Wake County, North Carolina, from an economical, operational, environmental, and social view. Current corn production and ethanol fermentation methods produce the fuel at a net energy gain in addition to creating valuable co-products such as corn oil or dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). North Carolina can currently benefit economically from the ethanol production industry, but not agriculturally until other feedstocks besides corn are utilized. This climate is not good for corn growing, which is why NC imports a large amount each year for animal feed. Since corn is already transported here, using some for ethanol fermentation while still producing high protein DDGS for the hog and poultry industry can be profitable. Wake County has a large flex-fueled vehicle (FFV) population close to 9,000 that can use ethanol as a fuel. This will drive the region?s ethanol fuel market in addition to what can be distributed to other close populated centers such as Charlotte, Richmond, and even Washington D.C. FFVs have the ability to operate on any ethanol blend from 0-85% with no performance differences except for a decrease in fuel economy. The three tested FFVs in this study showed a 24.3% drop in fuel economy when using E85. This amounted to a 0.58 gallon displacement of gasoline when one gallon of E85 was used by Wake County's flex-fueled vehicles. Using E85 can significantly reduce the petroleum import when utilized by every FFV owner. On-road tests also showed an average reduction of 52% in carbon monoxide emissions when using E85, which can help some counties in North Carolina that have been in danger of being classified as a non-attainment area for carbon monoxide. Other emissions such as nitric oxides and hydrocarbons varied with each vehicle, but showed no significant overall result that would negate the carbon monoxide benefit. Additionally, when accounting for the agricultural production, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will not increase as much with ethanol as when burning gasoline. In a survey of flex-fueled vehicle owners in Wake County, it was found that only 13% knew that their vehicle could run on a fuel other than gasoline. In a population that indicated they were very concerned with the state of fuel in the U.S., particularly because of the rising costs and the dependence on foreign oil, it was surprising that so many were unaware of their vehicle's capability to use an alternative fuel. However, 93% were willing to buy an alternative fuel and 85% would factor in the type of fuel a vehicle used before buying their next automobile. This indicates that we need more reliable and clear information about alternatives available to consumers. From the benefits found in this impact study, ethanol is concluded to be a viable alternative fuel for this area right now. Efforts should be made in the ethanol industry to increase production and make the alternative available so consumers have a choice and can decide for themselves if ethanol will play a large part in our fuel consumption in the future. en_US
dc.rights I hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dissertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to NC State University or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report. en_US
dc.subject automobile pollution en_US
dc.title An E85 Ethanol Fuel Impact Study for Wake County, North Carolina Addressing Economical, Operational, Environmental, and Social Issues en_US MS en_US thesis en_US Mechanical Engineering en_US

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