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E15 – a 15% Ethanol Blend
E15 (15% ethanol, 85% gasoline) is a new higher octane fuel is becoming available nationwide at retail fueling stations. E15 was approved for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2011.
This approved group of vehicles includes more than 80% of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today. What is more important is the fuel consumed by these vehicles constitutes more than 80% of the unleaded fuel sold.
Vehicles that may not use E15 are model year 2000 and older cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles. All motorcycles may not use E15 as well. Engines that may not use E15 are all off-road vehicles, including boats and snowmobiles, all off-road equipment, including lawnmowers and chainsaws, and vehicles with heavy-duty engines.
Click here to read a blog entitled Getting the Facts Straight on E15, written by Robert White, vice president of Industry Relations for the Renewable Fuels Association. It provides more detailed information on car manufacturer’s approval of E15 fuel in autos.
The Renewable Fuels Association has more information on E15.
Distillers grains are a co-product of ethanol production. Distillers grains are a high-value animal feed produced after the starch in the corn kernel is converted to ethanol. The availability of distillers grains has helped Nebraska become the top cattle-on-feed state in the U.S.
Bottom line: Ethanol plants create more than clean-burning, renewable fuel. They also produce feed for animals that produce food for consumers.
Ethanol adds two to three points of octane to fuel. Ethanol also burns cooler and cleaner than ordinary gasoline, which helps extend engine life and reduce engine deposits.
Ethanol provides high quality, high octane for exceptional engine performance and reduced emissions. Ethanol has been used in cars since Henry Ford designed his 1908 Model T to operate on alcohol. Trillions of miles have been driven on ethanol-blended fuel since 1980. In fact, several teams in national and international racing competitions use ethanol because of its high octane and exceptional performance. Since 2010, nearly all gasoline sold in the United States has contained 10% ethanol.
FACT: With a 113 octane rating, ethanol is the highest performance fuel on the market and keeps today’s high-compression engines running smoothly.
FACT: Ethanol-blended fuel keeps your fuel system clean for optimal performance because it does not leave gummy deposits.
Food, Feed and Fuel
The corn we use to make ethanol is field corn, not the sweet corn that people typically eat. Moreover, the ethanol production process doesn’t just create renewable, clean-burning fuel. Distillers grains, a high value livestock feed, is also produced. Every bushel of corn yields 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17 pounds of high protein animal feed.
Click here (.pdf) for an infographic on how ethanol provides feed, food and fuel for the world.
Ethanol has a positive energy balance. Improved ethanol production efficiencies in concert with new farming technologies means that the energy benefits of ethanol continue to grow. According to the latest USDA research, 1 unit of energy invested in the corn ethanol production process results in 2.3 units of usable energy in the form of ethanol.
New technologies are increasing ethanol yields, improving efficiencies and allowing ethanol biorefineries to make better use of natural resources. In less than 20 years, the industry has dramatically reduced the environmental impacts of producing ethanol. The amount of thermal energy required to make a gallon of ethanol has fallen 36% since 1995, while electricity use is down 38%. At the same time, producers are squeezing 12% more ethanol out of every bushel of corn.
Ethanol is rapidly biodegraded in surface water, groundwater and soil, and is the safest component in gasoline today.
Air Quality Benefits
Ethanol is one of the best tools we have to fight air pollution from vehicles. And there is no fuel available at scale today that matches ethanol’s ability to improve overall environmental quality compared to gasoline. From its biodegradable nature to reductions in greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions, ethanol provides a tool to address environmental concerns without requiring an entirely new way for goods and people to get from one place to another.
Ethanol contains 35% oxygen. Adding oxygen to fuel results in more complete fuel combustion, reducing harmful tailpipe emissions. Ethanol also displaces the use of toxic gasoline components such as benzene, a carcinogen. Ethanol is non-toxic, water soluble and quickly biodegradable. Ethanol is a renewable fuel produced from plants, unlike petroleum-based fossil fuels that have a limited supply and are the major contributor of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a greenhouse gas (GHG).
FACT: Using ethanol in place of gasoline helps to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by an average of 34% compared to gasoline.
FACT: In 2013, the 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced reduced greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles by 38 million metric tons. That’s equivalent to removing 8 million cars from the road.