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E85 Fueling Infrastructure Development in US May Hit Bumps

18 February 2007

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.

February 18, 2007 in Ethanol, Infrastructure | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

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?

Lad.

The oil companies?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

E85 is a "Green" figleaf for Detroit.

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

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?

"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!

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.

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?

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.

".....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.

I think it's pretty likely that 10-20 years from now there will be regional differences in transportation in the US. The east and west coasts (with higher population densities) will be EV dominant. The farm belt with its low density and vast rural stretches might be more heavily bio-fueled. After all, why wouldn't the farmers want to support their own crops?
E85 makes sense in the heartland where it is more difficult to expand the electric grid. It's also easier to sell your crop to the plant down the road, than to ship it accross the ocean as an export. End users are also closer to the the crops and plants in the midwest than on the coast.

The consequences of E85 short-termism are similar to those noted on BBC Today IRT deep sea overfishing
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6374971.stm

From an ecological perspective, we cannot afford to destroy the deep sea (topsoil).
From an economic perspective, deep-sea fisheries (corn ethanol industry) cannot occur without government subsidies.
The bottom line this is not sustainable.

Actauly thats one of the benifits of a flex fuel car they often use a supercharger or some other gizmo when running on high e blends so as to boost the car and get back some of the lost milage. I know some of the new flex fuel cars get very close to the same milage for e 85 as regular fuel.

Engineer-Poet:

The difference for the farmers between corn based E-10 and E85 will be the price of corn.

It has already jumped from about $2/bushel to $4/bushel. With E-85 corn price may jump as high as $8/bushel.

When the price of one grain goes up that much, farmers will reduce production of other grains such as wheat, barley, oats etc and their price will skyrocket across the board.

Check the price of bread, pasta etc., two years down the road... be prepared to pay a lot more.

Massive production of food based ethanol (E-10, especially E85) to keep our gas guzzlers on the roads is not a bright idea.

$8/bu corn would certainly fix things.  It would cause a political backlash against the whole corrupt system of subsidies-for-votes-and-campaign-money which has kept ethanol going this far.  This backlash would include all cattle, pig, chicken and turkey farmers, dividing the ag lobby against itself.  The public might even listen to the experts and force the pols to cancel the whole ethanol boondoggle.

If this is going to happen, the sooner the better!

However, at $8/bu I doubt there would be any ethanol producers still in business.  Massive collapse of the distilling business wouldn't fix the problem as thoroughly as cutting off its subsidies and mandates, but it would help.

Hope the ethanol subsidies are gone in 10 years. We have until around 2017 until the social security tab comes due. If we can get the biofuels market large enough to help stabilize the agricultural markets, improve fuel security, and help alleviate carbon emissions, the subsidies would be well worth it. All of our farm subsidies need to start phasing down by 2014.

Um the cost of wheat in bread is a few cents the cost of corn in cornflakes is a few cents. Anyone who has bought corn or rice in 50 ;b sacks or in bulk would know this simple fact.

Forget about a dedicated E85 infrastructure. Instead, spread the ethanol around make E10 the standard around the country. E10 is not limited to flex-fuel vehicles - it can be run in anything with a gasoline engine.

Better yet - forget about ethanol entirely and instead pursue biobutanol development. It's a nearly perfect replacement for gasoline.

Jeff:

Even if biobutanol is a much better fuel than ethanol, it still represents a major problem if it is made from food crops such as corn, sugar beets, beans etc.

Cellulosic butanol + millions of PHEVs and BEVs to reduce overall liquid fuel consumption may be a more acceptable solution.

It's the environment, stupid!
You can't talk about biofuels and subsidies w/o acknowledging the environmental benefits vs. petroleum consumption.

Reducing pollution coming from the transport sector is very important and therefore deserves at least as many subsidies as the awl-bidness.

The Iraq morass was initiated at the behest of the traditional oil industry.
We can afford that far less than paying farmers to produce clean energy that is domestically sourced.

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