Brisk Sales of E85 in Minnesota During 2011

clean air choice mnStrong sales of E85 continue across the Midwest and especially in Minnesota, according to organizations that track sales.

In the first eight months of 2011, Minnesota E85 sales increased 26 percent compared to the same period in 2010. Reports from Iowa and North Dakota also show significantly higher E85 sales this year than in 2010.

Minnesota has more than 360 E85 retail outlets, more than any other state. Plus, the state also continues to make progress to reduce gasoline consumption in state-owned vehicles. Between July 2010 and June 2011, the state fleet used more than one million gallons of E85, setting a new record for a 12-month period.

According to the Minnesota SmartFleet Committee, E85 now accounts for approximately 19 percent of their light-duty fuel purchases. State agencies used 736,885 gallons of E85 from January through September, up from the 724,827 gallons during the same period in 2010.

“This increase is all the more notable because many of the state’s 3,000 flex fuel vehicles that are capable of using E85 were not driven during a 20-day state government shutdown in July,” said Tim Morse, chair of the SmartFleet Committee and director of Fleet and Surplus Services for the Minnesota Department of Administration.

“Using these fuels not only reduces lifecycle emissions and air pollution, they also help reduce our dependence on petroleum, a majority of which is imported into Minnesota from tar sand sources,” said Kelly Marczak, director of the Clean Air Choice program of the American Lung Association in Minnesota and SmartFleet Committee member.

Alliance AutoGas Achieves EPA-Certification

Alliance AutoGas is now EPA-certified to convert more than 200 vehicle types to propane autogas utilizing the Prins System. The company is a conversion equipment provider and co-founding partner of American Alternative Fuel.

American Alternative Fuel privately funded these EPA certifications to ensure fleet owners and managers nationwide can choose from a wide variety of vehicle makes and models when converting to clean-burning autogas. With more than 200 eligible vehicles, this is the largest privately financed portfolio of autogas vehicle certifications in the United States. New certifications include the latest model years for the popular Ford Crown Victoria and E-series vans and additional certifications for several medium duty GM platforms.

Fleets running on autogas see savings on both fuel and maintenance costs. Autogas is an average of $1.25 per gallon less than gasoline and many Alliance AutoGas fleets report reduced maintenance needs and increased vehicle engine life after shifting to autogas. In addition to the cost-savings benefits of autogas, it is also a clean-burning fuel that is 90 percent domestically produced.

Alliance AutoGas provides both bi-fuel and propane-dedicated conversions using Prins vapor and liquid injection technology. The bi-fuel Prins VSI system gives drivers peace of mind because vehicles automatically switch back to gasoline if the autogas tank runs low when a fueling station cannot be reached.

Petroleum Equipment Group Joins E85 Coalition

The Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) has joined the Coalition for E85 – a group of retailers, producers, equipment manufacturers and other supporters of E85 fuel.

PEI executive vice president Robert Renkes says the goal of the Coalition is to protect the investments of 2,500 small businesses and stop a multimillion-dollar tax hike on consumers. “Fuel marketers, equipment manufacturers and the motoring public have invested a significant amount of money in building the E85 infrastructure and flex-fueled vehicles,” said Renkes. “We must not abandon E85 this close to self-sustainability.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) capable of running on up to 85% ethanol fuel represent approximately 98 percent of all the alternative fuel vehicles operating on the nation’s highways. “E85 represents a form of liquid transportation fuel that is growing in use and has an infrastructure investment cost similar to unleaded gasoline,” said Renkes. “Following the lead of the Congress and several recent presidents, many of our members have committed to the production of E85 fueling equipment, and we call on the Congress and Obama Administration to maintain the small incentives provided to advance the sale of E85.”

Currently, other alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas, propane and hydrogen, receive a $0.50 per gallon tax credit as part of the Alternative Fuel Credit and the Coalition believes E85 should be included as well.

Airport BP Offering E85 in Virginia’s Tidewater Area

Attention travelers in the Tidewater, Va. area, the Airport BP is now offering E85 ethanol at its full-service auto repair center and convenience store located near Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport. Airport patrons picking up a flex-fuel rental vehicle or FFV drivers in the beautiful Tidewater area can now easily fill up with E85 at Airport BP.

By opening an E85 station with partner Protec Fuel, Airport BP is doing its part to help reduce emissions, lower our dependence on foreign oil and spur domestic economic growth.

Protec Fuel, based in Florida, has partnered with Airport BP to provide fuel for the company’s new greener burning fuel option and assist with its fuel launch. This makes Virginia’s ninth public E85 station. Protec contributed to four of these projects.

Nebraska Ethanol Coalition to Promote FFV Awareness

A new grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used to promote flex fuel vehicles, flex fuel pumps, and driver education in Nebraska, one of six states that will be working with the FlexFuel Vehicle Awareness Campaign.

NE EthanolThe Nebraska Ethanol Industry Coalition (NEIC) will be heading up the statewide project with partners including the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Clean Fuels Foundation, ICM, Poet Ethanol Products, Monsanto, Green Plains Renewable Energy, and Phibro Ethanol Performance Group.

While the FFV Awareness Campaign is an ongoing national effort, this project will concentrate on six states: Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Georgia and Florida. Key elements of the project include working with state motor vehicle departments to inform drivers that they may already have a flex fuel vehicle and how FFV drivers can easily find fueling sites offering high-level ethanol blends. The campaign will also provide an opportunity to educate all drivers on ethanol with respect to performance, emissions, and advantages it provides over gasoline and imported oil.

Todd Sneller, Chairman of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and Administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said the project reflects a unique “virtual pipeline” that targets production states like Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas and links them with key markets like Maryland, Georgia, and Florida. “Clearly we are near the saturation point in terms of ethanol blends in conventional vehicles,” said Sneller. “To maintain the renewable fuel standard and move to the next level we need to take advantage of the 9 million FFVs on the road today that can use high level ethanol blends, ranging up to E85. For that to happen drivers need to know their vehicles have this capability and where to find the fuel,” he said.

FlexFuel Vehicle Education Project Announced

A new public education project to reach drivers of FlexFuel Vehicles (FFVs) by working with state Motor Vehicle Administrations (MVA) was announced today by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Clean Fuels Foundation.

As a part of the national FFV Awareness Campaign, the “FlexFuel Vehicle/Motor Vehicle Administration” project will work with MVAs in six states on outreach opportunities such as developing an FFV owner database, vehicle registration and license renewals, safety inspection and emissions notices, and including information with the energy/emergency preparedness program, state websites, and at point of service. The six states are Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Maryland, Georgia, and Florida.

“Working together with MVAs and automakers we want to reach drivers of FFVs to make sure they are aware that their vehicles have the capability of using high-level ethanol blends,” said FFV Awareness Campaign Manager Burl Haigwood. “Educating drivers about fuel choice will result in proper refueling and protect ethanol’s stellar 30-year marketplace reputation.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers CEO Mitch Bainwol says they represent 12 companies of FFVs that see the need for consumer education. “FlexFuel Vehicles are a growing segment of the auto pool. We are pleased to help sponsor this project to increase the use of alternative fuels like E85 and in so doing, educate drivers to avoid the potential for misfueling.”

FFV Awareness Campaign supporters noted that reaching drivers in cooperation with the DMVs is essentially a no-to-low cost means to help states meet their goals to reduce petroleum use, support new biofuel technologies, and improve air quality. The Alliance now joins EPA, USDA, several Clean Cities Coalitions, and over 30 Ag/Energy/Environmental organizations that support the FFV Awareness Campaign.

Protec Fuel Celebrates E85 in Little Rock

A promotion offering 85% ethanol fuel for 85 cents a gallon will celebrate the grand opening of five new E85 pumps in the Little Rock, Arkansas area next week.

Florida-based Protec Fuel supplies the fuel and conducted installation of Coulson Oil‘s E85 pumps which are already open to the public. The big celebration will be held on August 10 at the Shell SuperStop in Little Rock, starting at 10:00 am. The event will feature the $.85 fuel promo for flex-fuel vehicles and speakers will include Lt. Governor Mark A. Darr, Energy Office Director Scott Hamilton, and company representatives.

More information about the event is available on-line from Coulson and Protec Fuel.

Bi-Fuel Ethanol-Diesel Vehicle Debuts in Brazil

Typically flex fuel vehicles are a combination of ethanol and gasoline or diesel and biodiesel. But inroads have been made to create flex fuel vehicles that use a combination of ethanol and diesel fuels. Iveco, FPT Industrial and Bosch officially debuted the Iveco Trakker Bi-Fuel Ethanol-Diesel vehicle at Agrishow last week in Ribeirão Preto, the country’s largest agricultural show.

The Takker contains an FPT Industrial Cursor 9 engine that can run on an ethanol and diesel mixture and is geared toward sugarcane and ethanol producers in the country. In early tests, the vehicle has successfully been using a 40 percent ethanol / 60 percent diesel blend and providing a 6 percent reduction in fuel costs. Development of the bi-flex vehicle began in 2010 with support from UNICA, the Brazilian Association of Sugarcane Producers and part of an ethanol industry “green policies” program.

The next step is for the prototype to be tested by Raizen, a joint venture company between Cosan and Shell during the 2011 harvest.

“We are still at the early stages of development and certainly we expect to reach a higher Ethanol-Diesel substitution rate bringing even lower operational costs,” said Renato Mastrobuono, Product Development Director for Iveco Latin America.

The Iveco Trakker Bi-Fuel prototype is a 6×4 truck used for 63 ton GCM that can be used in several applications on the sugar-cane plantations, such as articulated liquid tank transport. It uses a 360CvCommon Rail Cursor 9 engine. The truck has two tanks – one for ethanol and one for diesel- as well as an electronic control unit for each fuel, a pressure pump for the ethanol system and a lambda sensor for the exhaust manifold.

The ethanol is injected directly into the intake manifold during the admission stage. After the compression stage, the diesel is injected to promote combustion, and the system does not need any anti-knock additives.

“Another plus of the Bi-Fuel technology is that the engine can be fully reversed to diesel only application, which will make it easier to resell the vehicle after its use in the sugar-cane environment,” added Mastrobuono.

Ethanol Industry Supports Veterans

Memorial Day may be over but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about our veterans for another year. This past holiday, Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC) and the FlexFuel Vehicle Awareness Campaign partnered with the Volunteers of Underage Military Service (VUMS) with a procession of ethanol and hybrid electric vehicles in a Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the event was to showcase the role ethanol has in the country’s quest for national security and domestic clean energy.

One of the participants of the event was Marine Lt. Col. (ret) William C. Holmberg, a VUM and board member of American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). “Our slogan is There is no National Security without Energy Security,” said Holmberg. “Groups like CFDC, Ethanol Across America, the Flexible Fuel Vehicle Awareness Campaign and ACORE work every day to increase that awareness. Marching together in the shadow of the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and the memorials helps people get the connection that much of the unrest around the globe has links to oil. Increasing our supply of domestic fuels makes our nation safer and more secure, plain and simple.”

The procession included the CFDC/Ethanol Across America FlexFuel Chevy Avalanche and Novozymes’ FlexFuel Vehicle promoting biomass to ethanol. Today there are more than 9 million flex fuel vehicles on the road. Doug Durante, director of the Ethanol Across America program noted that if these vehicles ran on fuels such as ethanol the country could immediately reduce its reliance on foreign sources of oil and military costs associated with protecting oil interests.

“It is an honor for us to be part of the salute to all those who have served. Our generation sees the loss of jobs, wealth, and military cost of importing more than 60% of our oil, and we have an opportunity to do something about it,” said Durante. “If reducing our dependence on oil keeps us out of one less conflict, and keeps young Americans from having to be memorialized, then we should all be working toward that goal.”

Col. Holmberg concluded by adding, “Alternative fuel, high-mileage vehicles and ethanol are our front lines in securing a more secure energy future for America, and, by the way, major artillery in our climate change battles.”

EPA, DOT Unveil Hip, New Fuel Economy Labels

Amidst high gas prices consumers, legislators and NGO’s (non government organization) have all called for stricter fuel economy standards. Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel economy labels designed to help consumers take advantage of increased efficiency standards enacted under the Obama Administration. The increased fuel economy standards are designed to help save consumers money at the pump.

Changes to the new labels are the most dramatic in over 30 years, and provide more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, as well as information on each vehicle’s environmental impact. The announcement was made today at electric car maker Tesla‘s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

“Smart energy policy, advanced engineering, and technology are working together to move the auto industry forward,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld. “The Obama Administration delivered the first-ever tailpipe greenhouse gas emission and fuel efficiency standards. What we are doing today, with the new labels, is helping the American public make decisions that can reduce the burden on their pocketbooks, and the burden on our environment.”

The improvements to the fuel economy labels will give consumers better, more complete information to consider when purchasing new vehicles. Starting with model year 2013, the improved fuel economy labels will be required to be affixed to all new passenger cars and trucks – both conventional gasoline powered and “next generation” cars, such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. The new rules, passed in 2010, should improve fuel economy of cars and trucks built between 2012-1016 to the tune of 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program and save consumers an average of $3,000 in fuel costs. Switching to an electric vehicles should reap even more savings at the pump.

“Looking at the true cost of gasoline – not just at the pump, but the cost in terms of our national security, our economy and the environment – electric vehicles simply make the most sense,” said Tesla VP of Corporate Development Diarmuid O’Connell. “Tesla is committed to putting as many affordable electric vehicles on the road as quickly as possible to end our reliance on foreign sources of oil and reduce the economic shocks that are driven by the volatility of oil prices.”

Click here to see versions of the new labels and click here to see side by side comparisons of the new labels versus the old labels.