Ethanol Industry E15 Vehicle Study Detailed

Cindy Zimmerman

A new study released this week makes a good case for allowing up to 15 percent ethanol in all vehicles, to avoid having different standards for older cars. The ethanol industry is hoping it will help the Environmental Protection Agency rule favorably on the request to grant a waiver allowing E15 that was requested nearly two years ago.

Renewable Fuels Association“Indications are that the agency is contemplating granting a partial waiver,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We have concerns about the confusion that might create in the marketplace for consumers and for gasoline marketers themselves.”

RFA called on Ricardo, Inc., an internationally recognized automotive and engineering firm, to study the feasibility of introducing E15 blended fuel in 1994 to 2000 model years. In a Wednesday morning webcast and conference call with media, Ricardo chief gasoline product group engineer Luke Cruff presented the findings of the 90 page study. He explained how and why the study looked at vehicles made by six companies during the 1994-200 period, which currently total almost 63 million or 25% of the light duty vehicles on the road. Cruff says the report came to the overall conclusion that “the adoption of E15 is not going to adversely affect fuel system components in properly engineered vehicles, or cause them to operate in a suboptimal manner as opposed to how they currently operate on E10.”

According to the report, the evaluation of the vehicles involved the study of several technical areas. “Fuel system changes from 1994 to 2000 were analyzed. The introduction of various emission and diagnostic regulation levels during the studied time period was summarized. Emissions certification data from the most common vehicle platforms were collated and evaluated for current emissions outputs relative to the original legislated levels. After treatment systems and vehicle calibrations from the period of interest were analyzed to determine the likelihood of deterioration due to changes in ethanol content. Properties of gasoline / ethanol blends were evaluated relative to fuel system materials commonly used during the study period, and the key degradation mechanisms of these materials were established. Finally, physical fuel system parts were procured and evaluated to identify the deterioration that would be expected for 1994 to 2000 MY parts still in service today.”

Listen to or download the opening statements of Dinneen and Cruff in the player below. Diagrams and photos referenced by Cruff can be found in the report.

RFA Ricardo Press Conference
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