New Chemical May Pave Way for Ethanol Pipelines

Joanna Schroeder

A new technology may aid in the development of pipeline infrastructure to move ethanol. MidContinental Chemical Company, Inc. has announced a new fuel ethanol additive designed to combat stress corrosion cracking (SCC) a problem that is inherent in shipping ethanol through pipelines. Today more than 100,000 miles of pipelines snake across the U.S. and deliver petroleum products including gasoline, diesel fuel, and home oil but not ethanol.

The ethanol industry has been pushing for an ethanol pipeline – the driving factor being the ability to transport fuel via pipeline offers lower transportation costs. Yet, fuel ethanol transportation and storage do have their challenges one of which is SCC, the slow growth of cracks along a pipeline that are caused by mechanical stress and exposure to corrosive material. Ultimately, SCC can lead to pipe rupture.

According to company materials, MCC’s new product family consists of film formers combined with other functional additives. These products are clear, non-hazardous, mobile liquids, that provide protection from corrosion and do not harm the fuel product. Phil Korosec, Technical Director at MidContinental Chemical Company, Inc., explained, “Our bench testing using ASTM G129 and other extensive tests on fuel ethanol under pipeline-like conditions indicate that fissuring and cracking can actually be halted, keeping harmful components of fuel ethanol from compromising the integrity of pipelines, without harming the ethanol.”

As more and more ethanol enters the fuel supply, in part due to the demand created by the Renewable Fuels Standard, the ethanol industry is searching for ways to transport the fuel at lower costs. Everett Osgood, Product Manager for Fuel and Renewable Fuel Additives with MCC concluded, “It’s estimated that transporting fuel ethanol in existing pipelines instead of by truck or rail can reduce transportation costs by up to 90% in some areas. That’s an enormous savings.”

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