E15 movement has 'serious hurdles' to overcome - fuel expert

08 February 2013 00:13  [Source: ICIS news]

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (ICIS)--The widespread adoption of E15 will continue to be a slow movement because the US ethanol industry continues to face resistance from the auto industry and fuel retailers, a Marathon fuels technology manager said on Thursday.

“From my perspective, the prospects of large-scale implementation of E15 are bleaker than it was 10 years ago,” Fred Walas said at the National Ethanol Conference.

E15 is a higher-octane fuel with a blend of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol that was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for vehicles made after 2001.

According to Walas, most vehicle manufacturers say that E15 could void the warranty on their products.

“This gives us a great deal of pause, because the people that design the vehicles that use our fuel are telling us not to sell the fuel because it can damage their products,” Walas said.

“If someone buys E15, and they have a problem, the manufacturer won’t say, ‘We will take care of it,’” he added. “They would say, ‘You put E15 in there, and we told you not to put E15 in there.’”

The exceptions are Ford, GM and Porsche, Walas said.

“This is a very, very small percentage of vehicles that can use E15, and that is the biggest concern we have,” he said.

Another challenge is that 97% of US fuelling stations are owned by independent retailers, not by gasoline companies.

Upgrading a fuelling station to dispense E15 would require hundreds of thousands of dollars, an investment some cannot or will not make, Walas said.

Additionally, the industry faces other issues such as state fuel regulations requiring adjustments, the California Air Resources saying it would take several years to complete vehicle testing rule developments, as well as the AAA automobile organisation expressing concerns about misfuelling, he added.

“These risks will cause large corporations to pause and decide if they want to do that,” Walas said. “E15 has got some serious, serious hurdles it still needs to overcome.”

By: Tracy Dang
+1 713 525 2653

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