The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted a waiver for fuel containing up to 15% ethanol (E15) for model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. Currently, there is an overall 10 volume percent (vol%) ethanol blend limit (the “blend wall”) in gasoline. The partial waiver was in response to a March 2009 application submitted by Growth Energy under the Clean Air Act. (Earlier post.)
A decision on the use of E15 in model year 2001 to 2006 vehicles will be made after EPA receives the results of additional DOE testing, which is expected to be completed in November. However, no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in model year 2000 and older cars and light trucks—or in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines—because currently there is not testing data to support such a waiver.
There are two types of conditions for implementing the partial waiver decision, those for mitigating the potential for misfueling of E15 in all vehicles, engines and equipment for which E15 is not approved, and those addressing fuel and ethanol quality. All conditions must be met prior to the introduction of E15 into commerce.
Misfueling mitigation conditions include:
- Labels must be placed on E15 retail dispensers indicating that E15 use is only for MY2007 and newer vehicles.
- Product Transfer Documents (PTDs) must accompany all transfers of fuels for E15 use.
- Parties involved in manufacture of E15 must participate in a survey of compliance at fuel retail dispensing facilities to ensure proper labeling of dispensers.
- Parties must submit plan addressing conditions to EPA for approval.
Fuel quality conditions include:
- Ethanol used for E15 must meet ASTM International D4806-10.
- The Reid Vapor Pressure for E15 is limited to 9.0 psi during the summertime.
This partial waiver represents only the first of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry towards commercialization of E15 gasoline blends. These include but are not limited to submission of a complete E15 fuels registration application by industry, and changes to some states’ laws to allow for the use of E15.
Additionally, several steps are being taken to help consumers easily identify the correct fuel for their vehicles and equipment. First, EPA is proposing E15 pump labeling requirements, including a requirement that the fuel industry specify the ethanol content of gasoline sold to retailers. There would also be a quarterly survey of retail stations to help ensure their gas pumps are properly labeled.