Increasing the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline from 10% (E10) to 20% (E20) does not present problems for materials used in current vehicles or fuel dispensing equipment and provides similar power and performance, according to a new study released by the State of Minnesota.
This initial scoping study for E20 consists of three main areas of investigation: materials compatibility, drivability, and emissions. The emissions testing is still being conducted and the results will be released as soon as the testing is complete.
The State of Minnesota the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) conducted the study as part of the process to meet a state law that requires ethanol comprise 20% of all gasoline sold in the state beginning in 2013. Governor Pawlenty signed legislation that included this requirement in 2005. Minnesota and its partners will soon apply to the EPA for a waiver to federal rules that will allow E20 to be used in all of the state’s gasoline.
The study was conducted at Minnesota State University Mankato and the University of Minnesota, with cooperation from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Renewable Fuels Association. The study included input from fuel refiners, automakers and small-engine manufacturers, and funding support from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the Council of Great Lakes Governors.
The study included standard passenger vehicles, gasoline-electric hybrids and delivery vehicles. The vehicles were driven by University of Minnesota employees, who submitted log books compiled during the course of the study. In addition, certified professionals drove the vehicles quarterly and submitted their findings. The study was conducted over 12 months to ensure the fuel and the vehicles operated in weather conditions common to all four seasons. Drivers who participated in the testing indicated that E20 provided both the power and performance they expected.
In addition to the road tests, researchers conducted laboratory tests to evaluate the effect of E20 ethanol blends on materials commonly found in conventional vehicle fuel systems. These included components made of various metals, rubber and plastics.
Key findings of the report include:
The effects of 20% ethanol blended fuels do not present problems for current automotive or fuel dispensing equipment.
The drivability study showed that E20 provided similar power and performance to E10 ethanol blended fuel throughout the entire calendar year, which included a broad range of ambient weather conditions.
Based on the materials compatibility and drivability testing results of this scoping report, there are no issues that would prevent moving forward with the comprehensive testing required to certify E20 as a federally approved motor fuel.
Final recommendations on how to proceed with respect to E20 must be withheld until the ongoing emissions testing is complete.
Executive summary of materials compatibility and drivability testing