Co-blending ETBE, ethanol best way to hit renewable fuel targets

15 March 2012 10:48  [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS)--Co-blending ethanol and ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) into gasoline represents the best utilisation of currently available gasoline-related biofuel options, an industry association representative said on Thursday.

Dr Walter Mirabella, chairman of the biofuels team at the European Fuels Oxygenates Association (EFOA), said combining the two biological blending agents offers synergistic benefits and represents the best way of hitting mandatory renewable fuel content targets for gasoline in the EU.

One of the major obstacles to increasing the renewable content of gasoline is consumer resistance, said Mirabella, who was speaking at the European Fuels Conference.

This resistance was evidenced last year by the relatively unsuccessful introduction of E10 (gasoline with up to 10% ethanol) in Germany. Customers did not accept the new blend to the extent hoped for because of a range of concerns, including fears of potential engine damage and reduced energy content.

Mirabella said the best strategy is therefore to exploit the gasoline type which is already the most popular with consumers, RON95, and to maximise the bio-content within the existing specification limits.

RON95 is already permitted to contain up to 5% ethanol (E5). By adding similar amounts of ETBE to the mix, the bio-energy content is increased by 53%, said Mirabella. This eradicates the need to market new specifications to the consumer while bringing fuel producers closer to renewable fuel targets.

Under EU law, fuel producers are penalised for failing to meet these targets, which currently differ between EU states but by 2020 should be 10% renewable content in transport fuels across the board.

Using the key German market as an example, Mirabella said co-blending ethanol and ETBE would offer savings - in terms of reduced penalties - of €14/tonne of gasoline, or €21m/year.

Adding ETBE to E5 also provides other benefits, such as increasing the oxygenate content and eradicating other technical issues caused by blending ethanol, said Mirabella.

By: Ross Yeo
+44 208 652 3214

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