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EPA approves another blender pump configuration for E15 and E10 ethanol blends

12 February 2013

EPA has approved a new blender pump configuration, submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), for general use by retail stations that wish to dispense E15 and E10 from a blender pump with a common hose and nozzle. Blender pumps, or multiple-grade dispensers, are fuel dispensers that dispense multiple gasoline-ethanol blended fuels (e.g. E10, E15, and E85) typically through a common hose and nozzle.

When two different gasoline-ethanol blended fuels are dispensed from the same hose and nozzle, residual fuel from a prior fueling of E15 may be commingled with a subsequent fueling of E10, resulting in the inadvertent misfueling of vehicles not covered by the E15 partial waivers with fuels containing greater than 10 volume percent ethanol.

In an effort to address this potential misfueling issue, EPA approved an industry-submitted configuration that requires a minimum purchase of four gallons from blender pumps that dispense both E10 and E15 from the same hose and nozzle. Such an approach would prevent misfueling by diluting any residual E15 left in the hose from the previous sale of E15.

Groups representing motorcycle owners and lawn mower manufacturers objected to this configuration because their products have gas tanks that are normally two gallons or smaller. In response to these concerns, RFA developed and proposed a new configuration for EPA approval that retail stations may use as an alternative to the currently approved configurations.

Retail stations that wish to use this new configuration must provide a fuel pump with at least one dedicated hose and nozzle dispensing a gasoline-ethanol blended fuel containing no more than 10 volume percent ethanol (i.e. E10 or lower). These retail stations must also prominently affix a new label to its blender pumps which says “Passenger Vehicles Only. Use in Other Vehicles, Engines and Equipment May Violate Federal Law.” Passenger vehicles in this context do not include non-road vehicles, engines, and equipment (e.g. marine engines, motorcycles, ATVs, lawnmowers, etc.). Retails stations must also post additional signage informing consumers of the availability and location of the dedicated E10 (or lower) fuel pump.

EPA believes that this new configuration is suitable for dispensing E15. Since retail stations using this new configuration would re-direct customers with vehicles, engines, and equipment not covered by the E15 partial waivers to a dedicated fuel pump that exclusively dispenses E10 or fuel containing less than 10 percent ethanol by volume, those customers would not inadvertently misfuel their vehicles, engines, and equipment from a hose that dispensed both E10 and E15 from a blender pump. Therefore, EPA has approved the configuration for general use.

A retail station that wants to sell E15 from blender pumps can now choose from any of the three approved configurations, based on its own assessment of what would work best for that station and its customers, or it may submit a different approach for EPA approval. Companies that already have previously approved MMPs may use this new configuration without notifying EPA. Companies that newly seek approval to use the March 2, 2012 Model Plan may choose from any of the three approved configurations.

The EPA has granted two partial waivers that taken together allow but do not require the introduction into commerce of gasoline that contains greater than 10 volume percent (vol%) ethanol and up to 15 vol% ethanol (E15) for use in model year (MY) 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles, subject to certain conditions.

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