If you have a question about ethanol, send us a note.
• SAVE MONEY AT THE PUMP. FFV drivers reported maintaining similar mileage to regular gas when filling up with up to 30 percent ethanol.
• BOLSTER AMERICA’S ECONOMY. Ethanol supports local economies by keeping jobs in the U.S.
• DECREASE TAILPIPE EMISSIONS. Grain-based ethanol can reduce emissions by 59 percent.
• STRENGTHEN U.S. ECONOMY. Diversifying the American energy basket reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
E15 – unleaded gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol – is approved for use by the EPA for cars 2001 and newer, which equates to more than 80% of the vehicles on the road today.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. In the strictest sense, yes, a vehicle that was designed to operate on unleaded gasoline only could be converted to operate on E85. Realistically, the conversion is extremely difficult. Below explains the reasoning. Be aware that Flex Fuel U.S. has obtained the only U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval for an E85 conversion kit. The Flex-Box Smart Kit™ is approved for for Dodge vehicles such as the Dodge Charger, Dodge Magnum, Chrysler 300 2wd and AWD 5.7L Hemi as well as vehicles from Ford that include Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car, Mustang, F150, Navigator and Expedition.
During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, many small companies were formed that were altering gasoline-powered vehicles to operate on other forms of fuels such as propane, compressed natural gas, 85 percent ethanol and 85 percent methanol. The marketing program of these conversion companies was based on the premise that it was cheaper to operate a vehicle on alternative fuels. However, the vehicles being converted were engineered, designed and built to operate on unleaded only. Shortly after the emergence of the “conversion firms” the EPA determined that when converted from gasoline to another form of fuel, the exhaust emissions from these converted vehicles were often much “dirtier” than prior to conversion. See explanation regarding EPA Memo 1A. The use of alternative fuels in the transportation sector has been built around the objectives of using cleaner, non-gasoline based components.
Based on the federal authority provided to the EPA through the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the EPA implemented regulations that required the exhaust emissions from vehicles converted to run on alternative fuels be “as clean as the exhaust emissions of the original gasoline equipment.” That is, if Ford Motor Company manufactured a vehicle to meet federal emissions standards on gasoline, a company converting that vehicle to operate on propane, must be able to certify that the emissions from the converted vehicle was as good as the original. A process to certify such after-market equipment was initiated and ultimately, few if any conversion kits were able to qualify.
Today, 99.9 percent of the vehicles that are capable of operating on alternative transportation fuels are produced by the original equipment manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler. Engineers from these companies are able to design and build vehicles that meet the EPA exhaust emission standards. These companies also are required to warranty the exhaust emissions from these vehicles for 10 years or 100,000 miles, something very few conversion companies are able to accomplish. However, as you will read below, that might be changing.
Although your vehicle was not manufactured to run on E85, no problems should occur if you mistakenly fuel once with the alternative fuel. The largest difference between an E85 powered vehicle and a gasoline powered (legacy) vehicle is that their computer modules are meant to read different amounts of oxygen within the fuel. E85 contains a higher amount of oxygen than gasoline and E85 compatible vehicles are made to read that higher amount. When a higher amount of oxygen is read by a gasoline powered vehicle, your "check engine light" may appear. A number of other parts on the FFV's fuel delivery system are modified to be ethanol-compatible. The fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel injectors, computer system and anti-siphon device have been modified slightly. Alcohol fuels can be more corrosive than gasoline. Therefore; fuel system parts have been upgraded to be ethanol-compatible.
Ultimately it is a drivers choice, but we do need to be firm in recommending that only FFVs use E85 and to state that we are not responsible for damages.
No. 100 percent ethanol can be and is ingested by human beings. The fuel ethanol must be "denatured" with gasoline or a bitter agent to prevent ingestion. Also, ethanol does not contain the harmful carcinogens and toxins found in gasoline.
No. This has been a common misconception of the ethanol industry, that it takes more energy to make ethanol than is available to the final consumer. Remember, ethanol is produced from plant matter, today dominated by corn, wheat, potatoes, sorgum, etc. Plants grow through the use of energy provided by the sun and are a renewable resources. In the future, ethanol will be produced from waste products or "energy crops." Current ethanol producers like POET are close to commercializing production of ethanol using products such as corn stover.
Current research prepared by Argonne National Laboratory (a U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory), indicates a 38 percent gain in the overall energy input/output equation for the corn-to-ethanol process. That is, if 100 BTUs of energy is used to plant corn, harvest the crop, transport it, etc., 138 BTUs of energy is available in the fuel ethanol. Corn yields and processing technologies have improved significantly over the past 20 years and they continue to do so, making ethanol production less and less energy intensive.
Yes. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy's website to learn about incentives available in your state or area.
Preliminary studies have actually shown fuel economy gains with mid-level blends such as E20 and E30. E85 does have a fuel economy loss, but is typically priced low enough to offset that loss. (That’s the advantage of owning a FFV. You have more options as fuel prices fluctuate). By the way, most drivers using E10 (the standard 10 percent ethanol blend) see no difference in fuel economy — and some see a gain.
There are more than 19.3 million FFVs on America’s highways today. There are 3,000+ E85 fueling stations across the nation and more than 470 stations with a flex fuel pump installed — and more are being added every week.
Higher blends include any ethanol blend above 10 percent (E10). The most common are E20, E30, E40, E50 and E85. The “E” in the designation simply indicates that the fuel contains ethanol — and the number associated with it is the percentage of ethanol in that blend. For example, E20 is 20 percent ethanol, 80 percent gasoline. E30 is 30 percent ethanol and 70 percent gasoline. E40 is 40 percent ethanol and 60 percent gasoline. E50 is 50 percent ethanol and 50 percent gasoline. E85, the most common higher blend, is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.