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And when Henry Ford was experimenting with car engines a century ago, he tried ethanol out as a fuel. But he rejected it—and for good reason. The amount of heat you get from burning a litre of ethanol is a third less than that from a litre of petrol. What is more, it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Unless it is mixed with some other fuel, such as petrol, the result is corrosion that can wreck an engine's seals in a couple of years. So why is ethanol suddenly back in fashion? That is the question many biotechnologists in America have recently asked themselves.
E85 is an alcohol fuel mixture that typically contains a mixture of up to 85% denatured fuel ethanol and gasoline or other hydrocarbon by volume. On an undenatured basis, the ethanol component ranges from 70% to 83%.