Is E15 dead on arrival?

The GAfuels Blog is written by two private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft: Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., an expert on autogas and ethanol, and Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer and aviation journalist.

Despite the EPA’s recent approval of E15 for vehicles built since 2007, numerous roadblocks stand in its way before it appears – legally – at our gas stations.

First, 35 states have laws on the books limiting ethanol blends to 10% maximum. Changes to these laws could easily require two to four years of legislation. Second, no ASTM or NTEP standards exist yet for this mid-level blend. Third, virtually no fuel handling, storage or dispensing equipment is available with UL approval, and Underwriter’s Lab has already stated that it will not re-certify existing E10 approved equipment to handle E15.

With continued stagnation in consumption of gasoline meeting head on with consumer ambivalence towards E85/Flex-Fuel vehicles (and virtually no E85 fuel available at gas stations), rising mandatory ethanol production quotas cannot be met, even if every drop of gasoline were blended to E15.

This recent notice from the Oregon Department of Agriculture on E85 sums things up well for one state. I think this is a pretty succinct summary of why E15 is DOA and will have absolutely no effect on the blending wall. Between ASTM standards for mid-level blends and NTEP standards for equipment, both of which are non-existent, I think the ethanol lobby just wasted two years of effort to avoid the blending wall.

Submitted by Dean Billing

Comments

  1. says

    Donald Miller – Where did you ever get the idea that our ethanol is imported? There is a $0.54 / gallon tariff on it unless they play games bringing it through a third party in the Caribbean which is a real hassle. In fact the U.S. has more than 12 billion gallons / yr. ethanol production capacity and exports ethanol. http://www.neo.ne.gov/statshtml/122.htm

  2. says

    Steve –
    It is pretty ironic that a bill that was supposed to be a corporate welfare act for E85 is driving all of the gasoline in the U.S. E10. The federal RFS mandate in EISA 2007 is not a mandatory E10 law. There are only four states with active mandatory E10 laws today, although Florida will join them at the end of the year. Since the federal law is not a mandatory E10 law, the E15 waiver is just that, an option if a gas station and their distributor can figure out how to sell it legally and not suffer liability consequences, which are numerous and complex.

  3. donald miller says

    NONE of my personal aircrat can use any ethanol fuel. The benefit was not to the Iowa farmers but to the importers of ethanol. A good portion of our ethanol is imported and is reflected in the tax collected.

  4. Kent Misegades says

    Randy,

    Check http://www.PURE-GAS.org and your local marinas for ethanol-free gas.

    Contact the following people and relate your story. Then ask them to contact the EPA administrator Lisa Jackson (jackson.lisa@epa.gov), and the EPA’s Justin Cohen (cohen.justin@epa.gov) to urge the EPA to prohibit the blending of any ethanol in premium gasoline.

    Dan Johnson, LAMA President (Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association), bydanjohnson@gmail.com

    Doug McNair, EAA ‘s VP for Government Relations, dmacnair@eaa.org

    AOPA – not sure who to contact there, they don’t show much interest in this topic however

    I flew a new Sting last year in Germany – awesome airplane but no fun if the fuel tank leaks, especially due to ethanol.

    Kent

  5. Randy S. says

    This fraud on America must stop ASAP. Ethanol is not an answer to anything but farmers pocket books due to their lobbying power and subsidies. I fly a Sting Sport carbon fiber aircraft and now have a LEAK in the bottom due to ethanol!! It’s powered by the Rotax 912 that can only use 100LL up to 30% of the time, and I’m having serious trouble finding any premium octane gas without Ethanol. It’s breaking down the composite fuel tanks!! What am I suppose to do?

  6. Steve says

    I hope you are right. But the federal government has this nasty habit of forcing things down our throats regardless of merit, feasibility, or any sense of reality.

    I will keep my fingers crossed because I hate ethanol, which, in my opinion, is nothing more than a con to provide a payoff to corn farmers in Iowa.

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