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RFA Applauds Administration for Recalling Fuel Economy Rules, Allowing for a More Comprehensive Approach

WASHINGTON—In response to the Trump administration’s decision today recalling EPA’s federal fuel economy and emissions rules, and allowing for a data-driven review of the 2022-2025 standards, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen had the following statement:

“Today’s actions allow the opportunity for EPA to slow down, remove politics from the process, and take a more comprehensive approach to fuel economy standards. In 2012, EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration promulgated final regulations establishing the CAFE and GHG standards for 2017-2025. Included in the final rule was a requirement that the agencies conduct a midterm evaluation (MTE) for the 2022-2025 standards and determine whether the standards established in 2012 were still appropriate in light of the latest available data. The RFA filed extensive comments focused on the role of fuels in enabling more efficient vehicle technologies. By rushing through a cursory review to finalize a rule before the transition, the agency clearly did not fully consider our comments, or the comments of other stakeholders.

“In its MTE, EPA correctly identified technologies that will effectively improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases. But they failed to appropriately consider the fuels that will enable those technologies. High octane, low carbon fuels can play a significant role in helping to meet fuel economy targets in the future. That is an omission that must be addressed moving forward if future vehicles can in fact help us address climate change without backsliding on other critical air quality and public health priorities. We look forward to this opportunity, giving EPA a second chance to conduct a more thorough review of fuel economy rules, vehicle technologies, and the fuels that will be necessary to assure success.”

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RFA Sponsorship of Crappie Masters Tournament Trail Begins Friday in Florida

WASHINGTON — Last fall, the Renewable Fuels Association announced it would be a co-title sponsor of the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail, in an effort to educate boaters, conservation enthusiasts and consumers about ethanol’s benefits and its use in boats and other marine applications. The first of 19 tournaments begins this Friday in Deland, Florida, between Daytona and Orlando.

The tournament is being held Jan. 27–28 at St. Johns River.

“We are looking forward to the first Crappie Masters Tournament Trail event this week,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White, who will attend the event to meet the various teams and other attendees, educating them about ethanol. “There continues to be misinformation surrounding boating and ethanol, but for nearly 30 years, 10 percent ethanol (E10) has been used in all types of marine engines and the fuel blend is approved for use by all major marine engine manufacturers. E10 is safe to use in marine engines, and provides an octane boost, and dilutes the harmful ingredients in gasoline to help conserve these fishing habitats.”

“Crappie Masters is proud and honored to be teaming with the Renewable Fuels Association as a title sponsor of the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail,” said Crappie Masters President Mike Vallentine. “We have worked hard over the past few years, dispelling the myths and mistruths regarding E10 fuel in outboard engines. This partnership will allow Crappie Masters to take this effort to a new level through nationwide television, radio, print, social media, and face-to-face interaction. We aim to educate boaters and all outdoor lovers that ethanol is safe for your boat, safe for the water and fisheries, safe for the environment, safe for the future and the best choice all around, along with supporting America’s farmers. We are privileged to take ethanol and renewable fuels to a mainstream, expected, and accepted level.”

Crappie Masters Television will also highlight each tournament. The weekly show can be found on the Pursuit Channel, which is on DIRECTV 604, Dish Network 393, Verizon, CenturyLink and Roku. RFA also recently produced a TV commercial to highlight the partnership with Crappie Masters, which you can view here. It will appear at least once during each of these scheduled broadcasts:

  • Tuesdays: 9:30 a.m. Central
  • Thursdays: 5:00 p.m. Central
  • Sundays: 12:30 p.m. Central

Additional funding for the sponsorship came from the National Corn Growers Association. The next Crappie Masters Tournament Trail event is Feb. 3–4 at Lake Talquin in Gadsden County, Florida.

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RFA Announces Fishing Sponsorship to Promote Ethanol

WASHINGTON — The Renewable Fuels Association is proud to announce it will be a co-title sponsor of the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail this year with Bass Pro Shops, in an effort to educate boaters, conservation enthusiasts and consumers about ethanol’s benefits and its use in boats and other marine applications.

Crappie Masters provides a crappie trail that anglers and families can enjoy and compete for prizes.

The sponsorship will focus on ethanol versus the RFA and includes print and TV advertising, as well as a presentation on an episode of Crappier Masters TV. Further, it will include a presence at the tournaments, promotionally wrapped vehicles and boats, and a strong online presence and various social media efforts. Supportive funding from the National Corn Growers Association, as well as a handful of state corn grower organizations, including those from Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky. Further state corn grower organization support is expected in the coming months.

“We are pleased to co-title sponsor Crappie Masters to help spread the word about ethanol’s benefits to boaters,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “There has been a lot of misinformation perpetuated by biofuel opponents surrounding boating and ethanol, but for nearly 30 years, 10 percent ethanol (E10) has been used in all types of marine engines and the fuel blend is approved for use by all major marine engine manufacturers. Additionally, with ethanol’s higher octane rating, it gives boaters an extra power boost, while being the lowest-cost, cleanest-burning, biodegradable fuel on the planet.”

Bass Pro Shops Crappiemasters Owner and President Brian Sowers said, “This is a huge opportunity to partner with these great organizations. We aim to be the face and voice in the fishing and outdoor industry, dispelling myths and educating the public regarding the safe use of E10 in outboard engines. We believe renewable fuels provide fewer emissions, cleaner air, cleaner environment, cleaner water, and healthier fisheries that future generations can enjoy. Ethanol and renewable fuels reduce our dependence on foreign oil, support American farmers, and make a stronger America. Bass Pro Shops Crappiemasters is honored to be a partner with the Renewable Fuels Association and ethanol, and look forward to a bright and exciting future working together for a common goal and belief.”

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High Octane, Low Carbon Fuels Can Play Role in Compliance with Fuel Economy and GHG Standards, RFA Says

WASHINGTON — High octane, low carbon (HOLC) fuels can play an important role in helping automakers comply with increasingly stringent fuel economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emission standards in the 2022–2025 timeframe, according to comments submitted Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). In order to realize the benefits of HOLC fuels, however, EPA and NHTSA must ensure CAFE and GHG regulations treat fuels and engines as integrated systems, the RFA said.

“This is an important process because it will determine the path forward for future energy efficiency and environmental goals,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “EPA has correctly identified technologies that will effectively improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases. But the agency has failed to appropriately consider the fuels that will enable those technologies. That is an omission that must be addressed moving forward if future vehicles can in fact help us address climate change without backsliding on other critical air quality and public health priorities. We look forward to working with EPA and NHTSA as this process continues,” he added.

In 2012, EPA and NHTSA promulgated final regulations establishing the CAFE and GHG standards for 2017–2025. Included in the final rule was a requirement that the agencies conduct a “midterm evaluation” for the 2022–2025 standards and determine whether the standards established in 2012 are still appropriate in light of the latest available data. The first step in the process was the release this past July of the draft Technical Assessment Report (TAR) for public comment. RFA reviewed the TAR and commissioned a technical analysis by engineering and technical consultancy Ricardo, Inc.

According to RFA and Ricardo, many of the advanced internal combustion technologies examined by the two agencies would experience increased fuel efficiency and generate fewer emissions if operating on fuels with higher octane ratings than today’s regular grade gasoline, which has an octane rating of 87 (anti-knock index). According to the Ricardo analysis, “It is clear that implementing a high octane fuel standard would provide opportunity for increased engine efficiency and hence reduced greenhouse gases, and doing so by blending with ethanol provides an even greater benefit due to ethanol’s high heat of vaporization combined with the inherently low carbon footprint of ethanol. Many of the technologies discussed in the Draft TAR, including ones with the highest expected penetration rates, could produce greater GHG and fuel economy benefits if paired with fuels offering higher octane ratings and an inherently higher charge cooling characteristic.”

Meanwhile, automotive engineers and executives, Department of Energy researchers, the National Research Council and academia have also called for the introduction of high octane low-carbon fuels in an effort to increase fuel economy and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, growth in turbocharging has already resulted in an increased demand for higher-octane fuels. According to recent analysis from the Energy Information Administration, more stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards caused automakers to increase the market penetration of turbocharging from 3.3 percent in 2009 to 17.6 percent in 2014. The surge in turbocharging was accompanied by an increase in the demand for high octane premium gasoline, according to EIA. In fact, premium gasoline sales rose from 7.8 percent of total gasoline sales in June 2008 to 11.3 percent of total gasoline sales by September 2015.

RFA outlined a handful of recommendations to the agencies:

  • EPA and NHTSA should treat engines and fuels as integrated systems during the midterm evaluation process and beyond;
  • As a sensitivity case to the central compliance demonstrations, the agencies should assess the fuel economy and emissions impacts associated with using HOLC fuels in advanced IC engines with high compression ratios;
  • A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of various CAFE/GHG compliance pathways including both engine and fuel technologies should be conducted. Such analysis should include a pathway for HOLC fuels in advanced IC engines;
  • EPA and NHTSA should ensure the Proposed Determination fully accounts for the Co-Optima initiative’s recommendations for “candidate fuels” that best enable advanced IC engine technologies and maximize their efficiency; and
  • The agencies should “heed the call” for HOLC fuels. EPA and NHTSA should use the MTE process to establish the roadmap to broad commercial introduction of HOLC fuels in advanced IC engines beginning in 2025.

View RFA’s formal comments here and the Ricardo, Inc., analysis here.

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New DOE Study: Gas Becomes “Stale” Long Before Water Uptake Becomes a Concern

WASHINGTON — As millions of Americans say goodbye to summer and prepare to store their boats, motorcycles, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other equipment for the winter, a new study by the Department of Energy (DOE) is providing fresh insight into a decades-old debate about the impacts of ethanol-blended gasoline on water uptake and “phase separation” in small and off-road engines.

The study, conducted by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), found that the petroleum components of ethanol-blended gasoline become degraded and unfit for use in an engine long before the ethanol portion takes up enough water to cause phase separation in the fuel tank. “Phase separation” occurs when an excessive amount of water is introduced into the fuel tank leading the ethanol and water to mix and sink to the bottom of the tank. In other words, gasoline becomes “stale” and unusable before water uptake by the ethanol component becomes a concern.

“Significant gasoline weathering (evaporation of the most volatile components) can occur over one month of storage in a high-temperature, high-humidity environment, with total mass losses as high as 30-70% for certain tanks,” according to the study, which was commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “This means gasoline weathering, which can have a negative effect on fuel quality, generally occurs well in advance of any issues related to phase separation. The fuel vapor pressure may drop to levels where the fuel is not fit for purpose (engine will be difficult or impossible to start) and there may also be gum formation.”

As part of the study, NREL scientists stored gasoline-ethanol blends ranging from E0 (0% ethanol) to E85 (83% ethanol)  in actual lawn mower fuel tanks over several months in a climate-controlled chamber meant to replicate hot, humid environments like Houston and Orlando. The samples were tested at regular intervals for evidence of gasoline weathering and water uptake.

In every case, the hydrocarbon components of the fuel became unfit for use in an engine before water uptake became a concern. Over time, the fuel samples experienced significant loss of volatility, loss of mass, reduced octane rating, increased concentration of sulfur and gum, and other degradations. The study found that ethanol-free gasoline (E0) degraded “to the same degree [as ethanol-blended fuels] during this timeframe…An ethanol-free gasoline stored in the same conditions for the same period of time would likely be problematic despite a lack of phase separation.”

For gasoline-ethanol blends, it often took more than three months for phase separation to occur, meaning the fuel had already weathered to a point it was unusable. “In a small engine fuel tank in a constantly high-temperature, high-humidity environment, it takes three months or longer for E10 and other ethanol blends to take up enough water for phase separation,” the study found.  “This confirms the statement by Mercury Marine that water uptake in E10 blends ‘…does not happen at a level or rate that is relevant.’”

The research also found that an advantage of ethanol blends is that they do in fact hold more water in suspension without phase separation than the hydrocarbon components of gasoline. The scientists found that “…more ethanol improves the fuel’s resistance to phase separation. This is an advantage that can help keep fuel systems ‘dry’ by moving low levels of water out of the system.”

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen offered the following comments on the new study:

“Simply put, critics who continue to suggest E10 is a problem for small engines and boat motors are all wet. This research from NREL clearly demonstrates once and for all that ethanol actually helps these engines run more efficiently. It also shows that gasoline goes bad long before the ethanol in the tank could cause any problems due to moisture uptake. This research effectively disproves the half-baked anecdotes and horror stories about E10 and small engines that have been pushed for decades by ill-informed biofuel opponents and snake-oil additive salesmen.

“Every manufacturer of small and off-road engines has approved the use of E10 in their equipment for many years. If owners of this equipment simply follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for fuel, maintenance, and winterization, they won’t have any issues at all. But, as this study shows, letting gasoline sit in your tank for extended periods of time is likely to cause some issues—irrespective of whether the gasoline contains ethanol or not.”

A summary of the NREL study is available here and the full study can be found here.

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Bobby Likis Shares the Mic with Robert White

Bobby Likis Shares the Mic with Robert White

Bobby Likis, automotive expert and host of nationally syndicated car-talk program “Bobby Likis Car Clinic,” shares the mic with Robert White, RFA vice president of industry relations, live from the 76th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 13.

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EPA Should Take Note of New DOE High Octane Fuels Research

For the past several years, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been quietly researching the benefits of ethanol-based High Octane Fuels (HOF), such as E25, E30 and E40. Now, some of DOE’s findings are ready for prime time.

In a recent paper, (“Summary of High-Octane, Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Study”), scientists from DOE’s Oak Ridge, Argonne and the National Renewable Energy Laboratories reviewed the exciting results of their HOF research to date. DOE’s work on HOFs has been comprehensive, and includes topics ranging from marketplace barriers to HOF adoption to fuel efficiency and GHG benefits to economic considerations. Overall, the research found that development of ethanol-based HOFs and co-optimized spark ignition engines would be beneficial to the economy and environment of the United States.

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently evaluating the feasibility and cost of future vehicle fuel economy and GHG emission standards, this report makes a strong case that HOFs should play a central role in fueling our future automobiles.

Key points from the DOE report are summarized below.

Knock Resistance of Ethanol-Gasoline Blends

The study confirmed that Mid-Level Ethanol Blends (MLEB) such as E25 or E30 are beneficial to high efficiency vehicles in several ways. (Vehicles with small, boosted, direct injection engines built with high compression ratios.)

First, ethanol can be used to produce high octane fuels: adding 15% more ethanol to an E10 blend with 87 octane can produce an E25 HOF that is suitable for use in a high efficiency engine.

Second, ethanol has a high heat of vaporization compared to petroleum fuels, which provides further knock resistance that is not measured in the traditional octane tests. A MLEB HOF inherently provides more knock resistance than an E0 fuel of the same octane, and automakers can calibrate their vehicles to take advantage of this additional knock resistance.

Third, and very importantly, an E25 HOF reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 4%, and an E40 HOF reduce greenhouse gases by 9% over an E10 HOF fuel.

Effect of HOF in Legacy Vehicles

Existing FFV vehicles were tested with E30 HOF, and a significant improvement in vehicle performance was noted.

Additional experiments were conducted with a non-FFV 2014 Ford Fiesta equipped with a small, turbocharged direct-injection engine. The vehicle underwent fuel economy testing with an E0 90.7 octane fuel, and an E15 splash blended with that same fuel, resulting in a 97.8 octane fuel. The fuel efficiency was higher for the E15 fuel, significantly exceeding the fuel economy expected based on the fuel energy content. In the highest speed and load test, the engine had a 4.6% improvement in thermal efficiency when using E15, resulting in a nearly equivalent volumetric fuel economy to the E0. This vehicle would see even greater fuel economy improvements with an ethanol-based HOF in the range of 100 octane! The bottom line is that ethanol-based HOFs can achieve the same or better fuel economy in optimized engines as an E0 or E10 fuel in conventional engines.

Market Analysis

The DOE also examined market forces encouraging and opposing the introduction of ethanol-based HOFs.

Specifically, the agency found that regulatory acceptance and support of HOF is necessary to foster broad adoption. RFS2 levels should increase in a predictable fashion so that expected ethanol volumes and RIN prices are understood in the marketplace. Further, fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations should properly incentivize the production and co-optimization of new cleaner fuels and vehicles.

The success of the HOF is also dependent on the acceptance of the HOF by key stakeholder groups. The groups identified in the study are fuel producers, distributors, retailers, automakers and consumers. The DOE studies show that HOF will be cost competitive with other fuels in the marketplace, especially as cellulosic ethanol production from corn stover reaches broad commercial scale. The study further suggested that incentive and grant programs to upgrade infrastructure will be needed, and should be provided through state and local governments.

Conclusion

The DOE laboratories concluded that ethanol-based HOF will be beneficial to American consumers. HOFs will allow substantial increases in vehicle fuel economy and substantial decreases in greenhouse gas emissions, while requiring only modest upgrades to existing fuel infrastructure. Multiple stakeholders stand to benefit from the development of the HOF and the high efficiency vehicles.

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Bobby Likis: Higher Octane Enables Engines to Produce More Power

Bobby Likis: Higher Octane Enables Engines to Produce More Power

Bobby Likis, an automotive expert and founder of Car Clinic, explains the octane benefits engines receive from ethanol blends and why ethanol has become THE choice of fuel additives globally.

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Ford’s “Fuel of the Future” Still Powering America Forward

This month marks the 120th anniversary of an automotive milestone: Henry Ford’s test drive of his first vehicle, the Quadricycle. The 20-mile-an-hour Quadricycle, which was literally built using two sets of bicycle wheels, would launch the career of an industrial pioneer and push the world into a new era for transportation. The 32-year-old engineer had single-handedly revolutionized the “horseless carriage” with his experiment that ran on an unenviably-small three gallons of … ethanol. Ford was a staunch supporter of using fuel ethanol, which he called the “fuel of the future,” in part because of its effect on engine performance. From the Model T to the Mustang, the performance of these machines’ engines came down to the quality of fuel — or more specifically, octane.

Today, ethanol is the cleanest and cheapest source of octane on the planet. The benefits of ethanol have long been apparent to gasoline blenders and it’s not hard to see why. To describe ethanol as the most multifaceted fuel source in America may seem like embellishment in a 2016 world where sensationalism has become the norm, but for a fuel that dates back to Ford’s days, the liquid that chemists better describe as EtOH truly is amazing when you examine its versatility.

The ethanol industry has grown from a niche sector of the fuel market to become a ubiquitous component of the motor fuel market available at nearly every gas station in the country. With an octane rating of 113, ethanol provides more knock resistance per dollar than any other additive. Ethanol’s benefits aren’t just being felt here in the United States; international markets are also starting to recognize ethanol’s ability to upgrade gasoline octane ratings, which in Europe, for example, are much higher due to their more stringent fuel economy standards. Ethanol increases octane in a much cleaner way than more harmful petroleum-derived octane such as toluene and benzene. Moreover, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline, and as a renewable source, ethanol is in the best position to meet the needs of high-octane engines without harming the environment.

Consumers unfamiliar with ethanol will find that they get real bang for their buck. Those that are familiar know that the fuel blend is providing a clean, energy-efficient source of octane for their engine for a low cost at the pump. The Renewable Fuels Foundation and MathPro Inc. intend to educate those still unacquainted with ethanol and octane with a series of webinars this summer. The first session, “All About Octane,” is set to be held on Wednesday.

If the founder of one of Detroit’s Big Three can build his empire upon the earliest of early flex-fuel vehicles running on ethanol, it might be worth taking a second look at what we put in our own tank.

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RFA Launching Boating Campaign to Combat E10 Misinformation

WASHINGTON — As Memorial Day weekend approaches later this month and people start heading out to the beaches and on the water, the Renewable Fuels Association is launching an ad campaign today to correct misinformation regarding ethanol usage in marine engines.

The campaign kicked off with a two-page ad in the latest issue of Marina Dock Age, which is delivered to nearly every marina in the United States. A copy of the ad can be found here. The campaign will also feature educational outreach and further ad placement in news outlets throughout the country.

“There has been a lot of misinformation perpetuated by biofuel opponents surrounding boating and ethanol,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “For nearly 30 years, 10 percent ethanol (E10) has been used in all types of marine engines and the fuel blend is approved for use by all major marine engine manufacturers, including Honda, Mercury Marine, Kawasaki and Johnson/Evinrude. As a bonus, ethanol’s higher octane ratings increase engine performance, in addition to it also being the lowest-cost, cleanest-burning fuel on the planet.

“E10 is safe for marine engines. Period. Any organizations that say otherwise are not telling the truth,” Dinneen added.

It is important to remember that while E10 is approved for use in all marine engines, higher ethanol blends, such as E15, are not. EPA has approved the use of E15 in all 2001 and later model year vehicles, but only for on-road vehicles. But as EPA requires E15 and higher ethanol blends to be clearly labeled at the pump, and mandates that E10 also be available at any station offering E15, boaters need not be concerned. Through more than four years of E15 sales, there has not been a single case of E15 misfueling in a marine engine.

For more information on boating and ethanol, please check out this FAQ document that RFA has previously issued.

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