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E85 Fueling Infrastructure Development in US May Hit Bumps

Development of a more wide-spread E85 refueling infrastructure is fundamental to any wider-spread usage of the 85% ethanol blend, and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) has established continued funding for E85 infrastructure as its highest legislative priority.

However, in an update to its members, the NEVC noted that it has been advised that it is “unlikely” that the Department of Energy will make any grants during calendar year 2007 to build additional E85 stations.

During Sept. 2006, DOE issued $5.4 million in grants which are intended to build an additional 168 stations. This program was apparently financed by using both FY 06 and 07 funding. Unfortunately, DOE has also indicated they will be unable to provide NEVC funds to make E85 infrastructure grants.

NEVC says that it is negotiating with DOE officials in an attempt to receive up to an additional $800,000 to continue to provide E85 technical support, and is urging support for the bills currently in Congress that would provide more support for infrastructure build-out.

Funds available for spending by NEVC in 2007 are approximately half of the amount available in 2006, due to a reduction in federal support from what the organization had anticipated. As a result, the organization said, it is unlikely it will be able to provide grants to assist with building new E85 stations at this point.

Nor is there good news about UL certification of an E85 fueling system. In 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) were unaffected by this decision. (Earlier post.)

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.

Although UL had indicated that initial materials compatibility testing was to have begun sometime in mid-December, 2006, local building codes are going to require structural changes be made to the testing facilities prior to the start of such E85 equipment testing, according to the NEVC.

At this point, the NEVC is:

not optimistic we will have any form of UL certification prior to the second quarter of 2008. We are hopeful this schedule can be advanced; however, much work remains to be accomplished.

Comments

Lad

Why would the government want to slow this activity down? Unless they are being lobbied to do so. But wo has to gain by lobbying against E85 pumps?

t

Lad.

The oil companies?

Engineer-Poet

It's a huge waste of tax money for next to no gain.  The only reason E85 exists is because manufacturers get a CAFE credit against their guzzlers for making them flex-fuel.  Without the credit, nobody would make flex-fuel cars or E85.  If the CAFE credit was rescinded, there would be fewer guzzlers on the road and less fuel consumed as well as fewer tax dollars spent on ethanol subsidies.

James

That's not the only reason it exists. It also makes money for farmers who get to push the price of corn up.

Butanol can be made in the same plants that make ethanol, can be transported in gasoline pipelines and contains more engergy than ethanol. But then less of it would be needed and the farmers wouldn't make as much money.

Harvey D.

Engineer-Poet:

Can American people 'plebiscite' the current Federal Administration to convince it to change direction?

Massive production of food based ethanol to keep gas guzzlers on American roads while millions are starving is pathetic and un-American.

Massive investment in efficient PHEV/BEV + high performance batteries and cellulosic (non-food based) ethanol and butanol would be more in sync with the current times.

Engineer-Poet

Farmers would make the same money if their product was used for gasohol (E10).  It would take 14 billion gallons of EtOH to supply E10 to a 140-billion gallon market, and we're not even halfway there.

Mark A

The UL recognizes the effect that gasohol, at more than 15%, will turn most rubber hoses, and intricate metering mechanisms inside of pumps, to soft jelly, hence their suspension of authorization. Accurate metering will be impossible.

Perhaps we should all shoot for E10, as a supplement, instead of reaching for the unattainable E85, at 70-75 the energy value of gasoline. About the best we can expect.

DS

E85 is a "Green" figleaf for Detroit.

APosterFormerlyKnownAsAndy

From the ethanol thread below: Biofuels don't have to support the fuel needs of the current fleet in order to be useful. The efficiency increases of EVs or plugins would drastically reduce the need for liquid fuels. If EVs, plug ins, whatever can reduce demand by something like 80 percent even current corn-based ethanol technology could deliver a substantial portion of the remaining liquid fuel needs. No technology has to provide the complete answer.

Heck even corn based ethanol can get better: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/12/mit_engineered_.html

K

We should go for ten-percent (or thereabouts) gasohol available soon and everywhere. Drop this crapola E85 push.

We don't have enough ethanol for readily available E85. And little prospect that can soon change.

Small percentages of ethanol with gasoline raise the octane quite a bit. Roughly 10-15 points as I recall. The octane rise tapers off at higher percentages.

If manufacturers can be sure of a higher minimum octane they can raise compression and get more power. This can also be done with turbo boost. And pretty quickly.

Mileage can be increased w/o exotic engineering. No, it won't solve everything. What does?

Bob

"E85 Fueling Infrastructure Development in US May Hit Bumps"

Ya recon?

No number of words are going to convince these people. Only the utter failure after an incredible number of years is going to force them to give up their rediculous adventure.

What a dang shame!

James

It doesn't matter that there isn't enough E85 to replace all the gasoline. Pushing it increases demand so the farmers can raise corn prices and get more subsidies.

t

The positions of people on this board regarding the efficacy of ethanol are pretty much fixed. Further argument on my part is hardly going to change anyone's mind.

But this points at the real problem, the failure to set standards that make a difference. The Europeans are setting a standard of 130 grams of co2 per km. Our engines have more than twice the horsepower and twice the grams of co2 as the average european car. Set a standard. Meet it. If the consumer chooses to put ethanol in his machine, so be it.

Regardless, however, is there some point in the future where it would be acceptable to quit subsidizing ethanol?

Phil Lampert

All:

We have no illusions that all vehicles in the future will be able to operate on E85. However, if all vehicles were FFVs, then we could operate thos same vehicles on E15, or E22, or any level of ethanol in the fuel. Light duty vehicles today can ONLY operate on up to 10% ethanol. Thus, let's get them all changed out to FFVs and we can surpass the 10% maximum that we have today. In fact, in some areas of the nation, here in Jefferson City MO and elsewhere, fuel retailers offer E85 for 20% less than regular unleaded. For my dollar, that's a good buy.

Mark A

".....E85 for 20% less than regular unleaded. For my dollar, thats a good buy....."

Keep in mind that E85 gasohol has been shown to have 70-75% the energy value of regular gasoline. Therefore, a 30 mpg car would then get 22.5 mpg. Is that still a good buy? Everyone must decide on their own.

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