A new study by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists shows that a gallon or so of ethanol will produce roughly 1.5 times more power per gallon of fuel than conventional gasoline.
The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, finds that ethanol produces less greenhouse gases than gasoline, and produces a higher yield per gallon when burned in fuel cells.
“This is a breakthrough in the energy storage market, where a gallon and a half of gasoline is already about twice as powerful as the equivalent of a gallon’s worth of ethanol,” Andrew Lander, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.
“The fuel cells we’ve developed, which have been used in commercial vehicles for over a decade, have the potential to deliver even more power.”
The researchers used an internal combustion engine to generate a 1.6-liter, 1,200-horsepower tank of fuel, which was then loaded into a diesel-powered vehicle.
They then tested the fuel cells against the same fuel, hydrogen, to determine how much power they could produce with each fuel.
They found that they could generate roughly one gallon of electricity per gallon fuel, enough to run a gasoline-powered car for five days at the gas station.
That is, ethanol produced roughly the same amount of power as hydrogen, a relatively new fuel.
Lander noted that the power that hydrogen produces is comparable to that of diesel.
“It’s a pretty significant difference,” Lander said.
“That’s an amazing advantage.”
The research is also a bit surprising.
The ethanol researchers didn’t expect that the amount of energy produced would be so much more than the amount that hydrogen is able to generate.
The hydrogen researchers thought that because ethanol’s fuel cell produces less energy than the gasoline-based system, hydrogen could potentially produce far more power than ethanol, which is why they built their own hydrogen fuel cell.
But when they compared their fuel cell with the gasoline system, they found that the fuel cell produced more power.
Lander noted in a press release that the research is a step in the right direction, but he also said that the researchers need to continue their work to find out more about the energy yield of the ethanol system.
They have also released a new video detailing the findings, which you can watch above.