Higher Ethanol Fuel Wrecking Gas Pumps
posted at 8:26 am on December 18, 2010 by Jazz Shaw
There has been a debate going on for some time over efforts by supporters of ethanol based fuel to get a waiver from the EPA which would allow gasoline to be blended with 15% ethanol (E-15) rather than the current limit of 10%. As recently as last December the EPA has held off on such a decision at the request of groups such as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Their chief concern was that more time was needed to do long term testing of cars currently in the fleet to ensure that the higher rated mixture would not adversely affect emissions or cause damage to older vehicles not designed for such fuel over the life of the car.
But now they may have a hard time even finishing the requested testing. The reason? The 15% mixture fuel is causing widespread failures in the gas pumps you’ll need to get the fuel into your car in the first place. The following release is from the American Petroleum Institute. (API)
In comments filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), API today revealed that a Department of Energy (DOE)-funded study shows the vast majority of existing gasoline pumps will fail if used to dispense E15.
E15 is a fuel blend consisting of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol. EPA has approved E15 for use in 2007 and newer model vehicles.
The study, which was conducted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), shows that 40 percent of new dispensing equipment designed for use with E10 (today’s gasoline) failed tests, and 70 percent of previously used E10 equipment failed tests.
There also is a strong similarity between the materials used in aboveground equipment and underground storage tank systems, leading API to conclude that there is a high risk associated with using E15 in E10-designed underground equipment. API says there are serious safety concerns with any equipment not specifically designed to pump E15.
This has been a vexing and long running battle inside the beltway for years now. The usual list of suspects has pushed for faster and faster adoption of ethanol and used a key voting block to get their way. But as the API report above from Energy Tomorrow shows, a slower, more careful approach is required if we are to take our fleet of automobiles in this direction.
But when you put politics ahead of science and engineering, you’ll all too often wind up in a ditch. If the pumping equipment itself is failing under the flow of E-15 what is it going to do to older engines, particularly during hard economic times when more and more consumers are hanging on to their vehicles longer? We should at least give the experts sufficient time to finish their long term testing before approving such a move.
Now you can yell at Jazz for being a stupid, wrong-headed RINO even faster than by just leaving a comment. Follow him on Twitter! @JazzShaw