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EPA Grants Certification for First Time to E85 Conversion Kit

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded certification for the first time to an automobile conversion kit that allows non-flexible fuel vehicles to safely and efficiently run on E85: the Flex-Box Smart Kit from Flex Fuel US.

The first Flex-Box Smart Kit to be certified is for the most common fleet vehicles: the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car with the Ford 4.6-liter engine. The company anticipates receiving approval for passenger vehicle Flex-Box Smart Kits, including consumer, truck and performance vehicles.

The compact conversion unit mounts in the engine compartment and continuously monitors engine and emission controls and delivers supplementary fuel injection to allow the vehicle to operate at optimal performance no matter what fuel blend is in the tank.

Fleet operators can have their Flex-Box Smart Kits installed nationwide at AAMCO Transmission Centers, due to AAMCO’s new “Eco-green Auto Service” program.

Based in Chicago and founded in 2006, Flex Fuel US is a developer of future fuel solutions and alternative fuel conversion systems.

Although it technically possible to convert a conventional gasoline vehicle to run on E85, such conversions would likely be illegal unless they are EPA-certified, according to the agency. Certification requires testing of the emissions profile resulting from the conversion.




Is this to say that the piping and tubes in the non FFV versions are already capable of carrying ethanol without corrosion? It makes sense, I suppose -- why order two stocks of tubes and pipes for your production line when you can use only one type. I guess you just omit the (relatively) expensive control and monitoring module for non FFV applications. Are the fuel injectors actually different, or does this conversion module just modify the instruction set given to the pump in order to increase volume when ethanol is present? I'd guess the latter...

That this company is based in the midwest makes sense -- the only geographical location in the US where E85 is at least a bit practical.


Wouldnt it be greener to just crush these ubiquitous, gas-sucking behemoths? 10?mpg or less on E85 gets old real fast.


This could have some merit if it were widely available for the most popular cars. We may need to get beyond E10 and this could help produce more customers that can use it.


This is largely being put out there for fleet operators that need flex fuel or alternative fuel vehicles to meet their Energy Policy Act requirements. That's why the box is becoming available first for this vehicle- it's a top seller to the regulated fleets. And no doubt the Corn Belt states will buy some too, just to support the local economies.

I wish law enforcement would stop buying all those Crown Vics, though. The Impala performs almost identically (other than how every cop in the free world took his driving course in a rear-drive car), is just as huge, gets vastly better economy, and is vastly cheaper for fleets to purchase. Add to all that the Crown Vic's poor side impact test results and that whole rear impact fire fiasco. Oh, and if you think the regular Crown Vic's fuel economy is bad, the police package version is even worse (though I don't think that number is widely published or reported).


Oh, as to NBK's question, the need for injector replacement would vary. You generally don't over-specify injector capacity because doing so usually forces you to trade off some precision at the bottom end, which hurts smoothness and emissions at idle. The energy density in ethanol is lower, but not vastly lower. In some cases the existing injectors will be able to handle it, but probably not in all cases.

Certainly the need to replace injectors would vastly increase the cost of retrofit kit, so I would expect that you'll see the kits released for applications where the injectors don't need changing.


In general if the injectors don't have enough duty cycle available, a small rise in fuel pressure will allow them to deliver sufficient fuel without hurting the idle. This can be accomplished by replacing the fuel pressure regulator, an inexpensive part that is usually easy to replace.

John Schreiber

The system includes an additional fuel injector, and an O2 sensor and a microcontroller, so it is pretty complete.


@ John S.
Actually, I believe it includes an actual alcohol sensor (of the type abandoned by the OEMs in their flex-fuel vehicles to save money), not an O2 sensor.

@ Wes (OT)
I like the Impala as a standard vehicle; if I had need of a larger sedan I would use one as my personal vehicle. However, it is not "just as huge" as the CVPI. It might look it when it's not full of police equipment, but there's a big difference between those vehicles when it comes to room for equipment. Check out the front-seat hip-room spec for one, and imagine a laptop mount (placed very carefully out of the airbag deployment zones) digging into the driver's knee constantly.


I like conversion kits. It gives people another option. I hope these kits are successful in the marketplace.


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