With all this talk of next-generation fuels, you would think that the more recent developments would actually be better for the environment than conventional gasoline. Such is not the case with E85 ethanol, it seems, if a report coming out of Stanford is to be believed. According to this study, which was done through some sort of computer model, burning ethanol is actually worse for Mother Nature than burning straight gasoline.
The difference doesn’t seem to be huge, but by his estimates, an extra 20 people would die each year if “all vehicles in the United States ran on mostly ethanol fuel blend by 2020.” The exact details surrounding this conclusion are a little murky, and it’s still remarkably difficult to find an E85 refueling station, so I’d hold off on any doomsday theories for the time being. It is something interesting to ponder, though.