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UL Suspends Authorization for E85-Compatible Fueling Components

16 October 2006

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.

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October 16, 2006 in Ethanol, Infrastructure | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

There is always more than one way to throw a monkey wrench into the gears of progress. www.ul.com/gasandoil/ethanol.html

Im not a big E fan, but this whole "live green,go yellow" thing is coming on a little fast and furious. And Im an ADM and GM stockholder. E85 is new technology...85% does need to be phased-in slowly. Being in the auto repair biz for 30+ years, Small changes evolve...and E is really just a feel-good for the FUV, drive to the mall set anyway.

I remember seeing about 10 years ago a segment about ethanol in Brazil on television. They were saying it rips apart their engines in only a few years.

Even if ethanol was better on engines then gasoline I still wouldn't want it. Even if every wild grassland in the world was destroyed then converted to farmland it probably wouldn't satisfy our transportation needs.

"No evidence of field issues," indeed! With more than 300 public E85 outlets, some of them in operation for more than a decade, you would expect problems to occur in Minnesota.

How many publems with Minnesota E85 pumps have been reported?

None. Zero. Nada.

If there is a problem with E85 pumping equipment, by all means, let's fix it. If not, what's this all about, UL?

Bob, I'm not sure that the Minnesota experience is enough for UL to rubber stamp the safety of ethanol storage/dispensing.
Why don't we just try and get all states on board with the 10% blend? Oh yeah, then all the Flexfuel guzzler folks a pass on their consumption, and the big3 would have to improve the efficiency of their fleets.

Oh yeah, then all the Flexfuel guzzler folks WOULD NOT GET a pass on their consumption, and the big3 would have to improve the efficiency of their fleets.

Gas station equipment needs to meet far more stringent safety requirements than vehicles, and those are already strict. It does sometimes happen that damage occurs only after prolonged use and even then only in a small subset of units tested.

Hypothetically, ethanol is strongly hygroscopic, so moisture drawn in with the ambient air could accumulate in the storage tank. Additives in the fuel and powered stirrers in the tank are supposed to prevent any ethanol-water phase from separating out and accumulating at the bottom, where it could cause corrosion and contaminate the ground water. Similar concerns might apply to parts of the pumping and dispensing system. Separately, elastomers used for seals and hoses might have passed muster - accumulated fuel vapors near an electric motor would represent a major fire hazard.

UL's decision does suggest they pulled the rip cord at the last minute, a step I expect they took only after careful consideration. I would be very surprised if the merits (or otherwise) of E85 per se entered into their decision at all.

It surprise me how people do not like change E-85 is a win win situation less oil depended country and more work for our people, have you forget that our government pay many farmers no to produce, how many millions in taxes can we save by no paying farmers no to produce, how much we can save by no paying to the oil cartel of the world and being depended of there needs do not forget the help to our environment that we are destroying by using regular fuel, is no excuse if Brazil use 100% ethanol on there cars with no change on the durability of there car we can do it to. STOP supporting the big oil companies and start supporting our farm industry and our own peoples

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