E15 is a blend of gasoline and up to 15% ethanol. It has been certified for sale in the United States and is slowly beginning to show up at filling stations. In 2011, EPA approved E15 for use in conventional vehicles of model year 2001 and newer, through a Clean Air Act waiver request, based on significant testing and research by the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.
The following are the benefits of E15:
E15, a fuel blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, is the next step in America’s quest for real choice at the pump. Ethanol blends like E15, E30, and E85 provide consumers with the appropriate vehicles to exercise their freedom of choice when pulling up to the gas pump.
Who can use E15?
E15 has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in light duty vehicles (cars, trucks, and SUVs) made in model year 2001 and newer, as well as all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). This represents more than 75 percent of the nation’s vehicle fleet. Remember, E15 is not a mandate. It simply gives fuel suppliers the option of blending up to 15 percent ethanol per gallon for sale to the EPA-approved vehicle population.
Is E15 safe?
In 6 million miles of testing, the U.S. Department of Energy found no problems with the use of E15 in the numerous vehicles selected. Over the past year, approximately 40 million miles have been driven on E15. For more than three decades, ethanol has been a safe and effective fuel additive in our nation’s fuel supply. The same is true for E15 and those vehicles identified.
How will consumers know when to use E15?
EPA has required a new pump label and an extensive misfueling mitigation plan that all retailers offering E15 must follow. That plan, developed by the Renewable Fuels Association, can be downloaded here. Additionally, the RFA is offering the labels, signage, pump toppers, and an E15 Retailer Handbook to all retailers. The Handbook can be downloaded here.
How will E15 affect my vehicle warranty?
There is a lot of discussion on vehicle warranties and E15; this is a complicated question for new fuels like E15. Importantly, E15 wasn’t approved by EPA when many of the vehicle owner’s manuals were written. There has been significant growth in the inclusion of E15 in new vehicle owner’s manuals since EPA’s approval in 2011, especially for brand new cars and trucks sold in 2012 and 2013. New owner’s manuals may provide guidance on the use of E15. However, that leaves car owners questioning the older vehicle model use of E15 and the effect, if any, it will have on the validity of the remaining warranty coverage. Just like aftermarket fuel additives, like stabilizers and octane boosters, or the economy grade 85 octane gasoline that is offered in mountain areas, specific fuels or additives are not always called out by name in a vehicle’s owner’s manual. Use of these non-mentioned fuels and fuel additives does not necessarily void a vehicle warranty. In fact, vehicle manufacturers may not deny a warranty claim based on use of a different fuel if that fuel did not contribute to the problem for which the warranty claim is made.
What will E15 cost?
Based on current prices, E15 may be sold at a discount to both E10 ethanol blends as well as gasoline containing no ethanol.
Where is E15 available?
Currently, about 40 stations in nine states are offering E15 under the conditions set by EPA. Moving forward, more stations will be provided this fuel choice to consumers and allowing them to make the decision. The stations that are currently offering E15 can be seen here.
How will a move to E15 impact the nation’s energy strategy?
Ethanol remains the only alternative to gasoline that is capable of putting any downward pressure on gas prices today. According to an Iowa State University/University of Wisconsin study released in May 2012, ethanol helped keep gas prices $1.09 lower per gallon than they otherwise would have been in 2011 because of ethanol’s pricing points and its ability to replace expensive barrels of imported oil.
Additionally, in 2011, the ethanol industry helped 401,600 Americans find work or keep the jobs they have, adding $42.4 billion to the GDP and pumping $30 billion into the budgets of hundreds of thousands of American households. Increasing our domestic use of ethanol will further enhance these benefits.