As of 5 October 2006, Underwriters Laboratories suspended the authorization to use UL Markings (Listing or Recognition) on components for fuel dispensing devices that specifically reference compatibility with alcohol-blended fuels that contain greater than 15% alcohol—e.g., E85. Fuel dispenser components as they relate to use with traditional fuel blends (e.g., E15 or less) are unaffected by this decision.
Although UL “has no evidence of field issues” with E85 equipment, the organization noted that research indicates that high concentrations of ethanol may result in “the fuel chemically attacking the materials used in fuel dispenser components, and may ultimately degrade the dispenser’s ability to contain the fuel.”
...we are suspending authorization to use the UL Mark on components used in dispensing devices that will dispense any alcohol blended fuels containing over 15% alcohol until updated certification requirements are established and the effected components have been found to comply with them.
UL says that its engineers are actively reviewing current E85 research and meeting with industry and government experts to gather the information required to draft the revised certification requirements. UL anticipates that testing of E85 dispenser components will commence immediately following publication of UL’s E85 certification requirements.
The move came as an unhappy surprise to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC), which had been working for the past year and a half with Underwriters Laboratories in an effort to gain UL certification of an E85 fueling dispenser.
On Oct 5, UL unexpectedly distributed a memo essentially “delisting or rescinding” the certification of many of the existing E85 compatible components. These components had been previously tested by UL and had passed rigorous and robust engineering and design review. We inquired with UL to determine the factors that resulted in this action and were frankly not provided significant explanation for such drastic action. To our knowledge, no field failures have occurred, no new evidence of corrosion had become available, etc. We are at a loss to explain the factors behind this very unusual action of “delisting” previously certified equipment.
The result of this action has been immediate and damaging to our infrastructure development efforts. We have been advised that existing E85 fueling stations have been closed by a Fire Marshall in Ohio and other such closures may be pending. This is an unfortunate and uncalled for action. Again, there has never been a failure of a pump dispensing E85, no fires, no leaks, no environmental damage or personal injury.—Phil Lampert, Executive Director, NEVC
UL is hosting an E85 technical meeting on 1-2 November 2006 in their Brookhaven, IL offices.
Insurance companies and local fire marshals generally require the use of “listed” equipment as a condition of coverage or code-compliance. The suspension by UL doesn’t put an immediate end to E85 sales, but it definitely complicates the picture.