Alcohol or Gasoline: Which is Better? See the calculation for flex cars!

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Do you want to clear your doubts about whether alcohol or gasoline is more advantageous to supply? So you are in the right place. In today’s article, I will explain how to make this account and save it when filling up the car.

A subject that is increasingly present in the daily lives of Brazilians is whether it is worth filling up with alcohol or gasoline. With so many increases in values ​​in recent years, everything that can be done to reduce the impact on the consumer’s pocket is valid. This includes practices from choosing a car that consumes less and adopting ways to save fuel to performing calculations to see if it is more worthwhile to use alcohol or gasoline when the car is flex-fuel and taking care not to use adulterated fuel. To help you with this, we explain throughout the text how to check the most advantageous for your pocket. 

It has been a while since fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline have not reigned supreme in the automotive world. CNG (natural gas) and ethanol, as the alcohol used to fuel automobiles are known, have been more used in recent times. The launch of electric and hybrid cars also shows that the automotive industry is thinking about better and cheaper fuels for the environment. However, while they still don’t dominate the market, the consumer needs to make calculations to save. 

Alcohol or gasoline: clear your doubts about which one to use 

We have prepared a guide on how you can calculate and know which fuel is most worth filling with.

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How to calculate whether alcohol or gasoline pays off more

As we said above, ethanol generally has a lower price per liter than gasoline. But, due to the difference in fuel efficiency, this does not mean that filling the tank with alcohol is, financially, the best option. To know which one will have the best cost-benefit, it is necessary to make a calculation that involves some factors.

According to a standard established a few years ago, a liter of ethanol yields, on average, 70% of the same amount of gasoline. Therefore, you must multiply the price of a liter of gasoline by 0.7. If the result is lower than the price of a liter of alcohol, it would be worth filling up with gasoline. If it’s bigger, then the cheapest option would be alcohol. 

To facilitate understanding, imagine that a liter of ethanol is selling at R$5.84 and that of gasoline at R$6.91. Thus, multiplying R$ 6.91 by 0.7, the result is R$ 4.83. That is, less than R$ 5.84, therefore, it pays to fill up with alcohol.

Controversial calculation:  

However, this account to analyze whether it is more worthwhile to put gasoline or ethanol in the tank is controversial. There are differences regarding the yield of 70% of alcohol in relation to gasoline. According to tests carried out by Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia with 20 vehicles from four different categories, this number varied between 70.7% and 75.4%%.

This is because the previous calculations, used by Inmetro’s Brazilian Labeling Program, take into account gasoline with 22% anhydrous ethanol in its composition, while, currently, the present amount is 27% in regular gasoline and 25% at a premium.

That is, gasoline is less pure. Although the calculation that takes into account 70% is still the reference value for Anfavea (National Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers), the best thing is to do tests with both fuels and check their yields per liter. In addition, the way the driver drives also impacts fuel consumption.  

How to calculate your car’s fuel consumption

The first step in finding out which is more profitable to fill up with is to know what your car’s consumption is. Therefore, you must fill the tank and reset the trip meter.

Keep using your car normally and the next time you fill up, check the pump for the number of liters placed in the tank. Now you just need to look at the average kilometers driven in the period and find the average kilometers per liter that your car does. For example:

  • You drove 300 kilometers and you needed to fill up 22 liters to fill the tank, the average will be 13.63 (300 divided by 22).

Now that you can measure your car’s consumption, you can make a more individualized account which pays off more.

What are the differences between fuels?

To understand the differences between alcohol and gasoline, it is necessary to know the origin of each of these fuels. That’s why we explain it below.  

Ethanol, as the type of alcohol used as fuel for vehicles is known, can be produced from different raw materials. Among them are corn, beets, and sugar cane, the latter being used to produce Brazilian ethanol. To become a source of energy for the engines, the cane is crushed and its liquid, the garapa, is reserved to be heated and transformed into molasses. After that, it is fermented, undergoes distillation, and becomes a fuel, composed of 96% ethanol and 4% water. 

Gasoline, on the other hand, is a fuel derived from petroleum, which undergoes distillation processes at different temperatures. Its goal is to split compounds from their different boiling points. Thus, at a certain temperature substances such as cooking gas, asphalt, diesel, and gasoline are obtained. It is worth remembering that the gasoline sold at gas stations is not completely pure. The substance present in the pumps has up to 27% anhydrous ethanol, which is dehydrated ethanol.   

Why is the efficiency of alcohol and gasoline different in the engine?

When you arrive at a gas station to fill up with alcohol or gasoline, you notice that there is a difference in prices. Generally, alcohol is cheaper, and this happens because of the difference in the burning between them in the engine.

Gasoline is made up of several hydrocarbons, an organic compound that causes it to evaporate at different temperatures. Ethanol, on the other hand, has a simpler composition and consists of a single hydrocarbon. That is, it evaporates faster than the petroleum derivative. Therefore, a tank full of alcohol lasts less than one full of gasoline. 

Alcohol or gasoline: which has more impact on the environment?

When choosing alcohol or gasoline, it is also important to take into account the impacts that each fuel has on the environment. Although gasoline is widely used, ethanol is undoubtedly less harmful to nature. 

As gasoline is derived from petroleum, its combustion releases carbon dioxide (CO2). This gas is one of the villains that contribute to global warming and the greenhouse effect. In addition, incomplete combustion releases carbon monoxide (CO), a pollutant that accumulates in the atmosphere. Therefore, gasoline is a fuel that significantly harms the environment. 

Ethanol, on the other hand, because it is obtained from sugarcane, emits much less polluting gases into the atmosphere. Second, it does not deplete the ozone layer in the same way as petroleum-based fuels. Addition, another advantage of alcohol is that the sugarcane bagasse used in its production can also be used as a source of electrical energy. To give you an idea, there are hundreds of Brazilian industries that are self-sufficient in energy because of this. 

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