The president of the South Dakota Farmers Union took issue with remarks made by a General Motors executive at the recent National Ethanol Conference that 98 RON (Research Octane Number) or higher gasoline was not feasible.
In a letter to General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra, Doug Sombke challenged GM vice president Don Nicholson’s claim that “98 RON fuel was a bridge too far” and urged the company to look at their own historical position of identifying 100 RON fuels as the right fuel for the 2020-2025 time frame.
With the Safe Affordable Fuel Efficiency (SAFE) rule currently being developed by EPA, the opportunity to raise the minimum octane standard and achieve significant mileage increases can be realized with a 100 RON/E30 fuel according to Sombke. Furthermore, he said the requirement that these fuels reduce carbon emissions is easily met with higher ethanol blends that are increasingly recognized as low carbon fuels. In his letter, he cited previous positions of GM and other automakers that a 100 RON fuel in optimized conventional vehicles could provide a 7% mileage increase while reducing CO2 emissions.
“The internal combustion engine is going to be the primary propulsion technology for decades, and the octane in today’s fuel is increasingly toxic and polluting”, said Sombke. “Ethanol is the most cost-effective and cleanest source of octane available and automakers need to join us in calling for higher blends, not lower.”
Sombke also cited the E30 challenge in South Dakota, and Governor Kristi Noem directing the state fleet to use E30 as evidence that higher blends are already being produced, distributed, and utilized.