EPA policies slowing storm recovery

The northeastern region of the U.S. is one of the RFG (Reformulated Gas) Areas where the EPA dictates the use of an oxygenate in gasoline to lower carbon monoxide emissions. In the U.S., ethanol is the most common oxygenate, in addition to it raising a fuel’s AKI (Anti-Knock Index, commonly called octane) rating by about 2-3 points. Oil companies, realizing a means to lower the cost of refining, typically deliver a sub-octane fuel known as BOB (Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending) to fuel terminals in there areas, where ethanol is then blended into the fuel. This is the reason that in RFG areas one has difficulty finding ethanol-free fuel, as can be seen by comparing the RFG map to Pure-Gas.org map.

Without ethanol, BOB’s AKI rating is only 84, below the needed 87 for the cheapest Regular gas. BOB is not a legal “finished” fuel until ethanol is added. Thus, any disruption in the supply of ethanol (such as a storm or ethanol rail car explosion) will affect an oil company’s ability to provide finished gasoline. Prior to Sandy’s making landfall, this CNBC article summed up the danger simply: “Bottom line — if we run out of ethanol we run out of gasoline.”

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Israel’s CAA endorses mogas

haim 2

Evidence of the continued worldwide expansion in the use of lead-free, ethanol-free mogas in general aviation comes from this report from Israel. Haim Zaklad, a private pilot there, recently requested details on our study of the FAA’s aircraft registry showing that over 80% of all piston engine aircraft could operate today on lead-free, ethanol-free mogas. He described the recent successful action by pilots in his country to gain approval of the Petersen mogas STCs from Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority:

Haim in his club’s glider towplane

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BP gives up on cellulosic ethanol

In news that is sure to send shock waves throughout the ethanol industry and the EPA, one of the world’s largest oil companies is shelving plans to produce so-called cellulosic ethanol from non-food plants such as wood chips and switchgrass. As described in an article from the Wall Street Journal, “BP PLC Thursday said it is ending plans to build a commercial-scale cellulosic-ethanol plant in Florida, saying it instead will focus on research and development.”

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Commodities can lower the cost of flying

Commodities, by one definition, are “mass-produced unspecialized products.” Typical traded commodities include grain, coffee, sugar, pork bellies, feeder cattle, industrial and precious metals, natural gas and oil. They are produced worldwide in enormous quantities, resulting in most cases in far lower real costs than a century ago when limitations to transportation and political barriers to trade restricted producers to their own local markets.

For many years, aircraft manufacturers have made use of some of these commodities, [Read more…]

Fuel prices – How high will they go?

Mogas

With vehicle fuel prices surging across the country, pilots are also feeling the pain at the airport pump, with the price for a gallon of  avgas averaging more than $6 in every region, as reported by the website 100LL.com. According to statistics reported by AirNav.com, average prices for Jet-A remain about 50 cents lower, while mogas is a whopping $1.50 less than avgas.

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Self-service saves

Being well into the second half-century of my life, I vividly recall how, in 1973, the OPEC oil embargo, knee-jerk government-imposed price controls and the subsequent shortage of gasoline wreaked havoc on our nation’s economy. On my 16th birthday of that year, Nov. 6, I soloed an airplane for the first time at the late, great Kentucky Flying Service on Bowman Field, Louisville, Ky., where I happily slaved each weekend as a line boy to earn the $20 required for an hour and a half of dual in a C150.

Although the hourly rates for flying remained fairly stable over the next year, the cost of gas needed to get to the airport started cutting into my meager funds, stressed further when I discovered girls. With the appearance of the first “Hep-er-Sef” self-service gas stations, bringing significant cost savings, things started looking up for this plane-crazy teenager.

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