Believe it or not, pure ethanol "can" run great in most engines. Its octane rating is probably somewhere around 100...I say probably because Octane is specifically calculated and observed with petroleum based fuels.
The Model T and pretty much all the predecessors ran on alcohol. It wasn't until the late 20's that the OIL LOBBY convinced Ford and others to convert to Gasoline.
Ethanol was first produced as a substitute for whale oil in lamps in the early 1830's
BIG OIL finally shut that down through ushering in a sugar tax during the civil war that made it nearly impossible to produce alcohol in quantity commercially, this ushered in (coal oil) or Kerosene for use in homes and businesses.
Alcohol burns more slowly than gasoline, and at a lower temperature, so it tends to help the engine run cooler. Also does not have any of the additive crap that is in gasoline. The fact that Ethanol acts as a solvent for the shellac and deposits from gasoline fueled one of it's first smear campaigns.
In the 1970's after years of use of gasoline with additives, this caused fuel filters to become clogged and people to blame the Ethanol.
Trouble with that logic is that once you change the filter a few times, your system is clean and water free.
In that Ethanol has no additives, I should say the non denatured Ethanol (i.e. Ethanol with Gasoline added to keep people from drinking it that we are sold) which contains benzene and is responsible for the "fish kills" when ethanol is accidentally spilled
The fuel system has to be designed for Ethanol that is for sure. Thats a big reason why fuel injected engines run better than carburetors. There used to be carbs specific for Ethanol (likely methanol too, but Methanol is a whole other topic)
We are at an impasse with using alternative fuels. The car companies have produced low compression engines to accommodate the low energy density fuels like 85 octane and lower gasoline.
This makes the use of any fuel other than gasoline impractical
for example propane works in much a similar fashion to alcohol in engines, clean burning, anti-knock, etc. Trouble is the engine needs to be either 13:1-15:1 compression ratio or turbo charged to provide the right air fuel ratio for efficiency.
this is ALL a scam, the cars today are very inefficient for several reasons, primarily so they burn MORe fuel and keep the tax base up, second, they use crapoline (distillate) that is cheaper to produce and less efficient than gasoline "used to be".
These are the facts that the media doesn't tell you. not secrets but conveniently omitted truth.
PS - before you think that this is speculation, I grew up with racing engines, and all different klinds of exotic fuel around as my dad was big in motor sports and tractor pulling.
As boys often do, we experimented with the fuels ourselves in LOTs of different applications from mowers to minibikes to motorcycles to Cars and trucks.this included gasoline (between 95 and 140 octane...yes that is possible) ethanol, Methanol, propane, and lots of other stuff...even messed with hydrogen at one point. bottom line, the "standard talking points " are is not necessarily true.
I also worked for Automotive engineering for many years, so this is really (mostly anyway) based on experience and facts, not just spouting off
Hope this opens the debate a bit.