Eco-Living Magazine

EPA Closer to Approving 15 Percent Ethanol-Gasoline Blend

Posted on the 05 April 2012 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

EPA Closer to Approving 15 percent Ethanol-Gasoline BlendThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently gave approval to 20 fuel and fuel additive manufacturers registering ethanol to use in the production of E15—a gasoline blend containing 15 percent ethanol. Since the fuel may only be used in vehicles model year (MY) 2001 and newer, the approved manufacturers must also develop a misfueling mitigation plan to sell the fuel legally. Furthermore, the fuel must pass a series of federal tests and comply with additional state and local laws, some of which may hinder or prohibit the sale of higher ethanol-gasoline blends.

While many additional steps must clearly be taken before E15 can hit the market, the EPA’s decision is significant. Excluding two important instances (discussed below), the amount of ethanol in gasoline has been limited to 10 percent for the past 30 years. This means that automakers that have traditionally used E10 to rate fuel economy could soon find their figures dropping if E15 becomes the new standard (since ethanol is less energy dense, and therefore less efficient, than gasoline). There are also many environmental considerations. For example, one study cited in an infographic from an earlier post found that it would require 11 acres to power a car using 100 percent ethanol for one year.

However, this isn’t the first time the EPA has increased the permissible level of ethanol to 15 percent. The most recent approval is actually the combination of two past “partial waivers.” Each permitted some manufacturers to sell E15, but to a limited vehicle MY range. The first waiver was granted in 2010, but stipulated the fuel could be used only in vehicles MY2007 and newer. The second waiver was granted last year, but applied only to vehicles MY2001-2006. Now that the necessary vehicle and emissions testing has been carried out, EPA passed the most recent legislation that combines both waivers.


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