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New NREL Report: Already E15 Compatible

May 28, 2015


WASHINGTON — The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a new study today that found most of the existing fuel dispensing infrastructure components — including underground storage tanks — are compatible with E15. The researchers interviewed retail fuel equipment experts and examined manufacturer warranty statements, official records, and industry trends in a multifaceted look into the compatibility of fuel blends beyond E10 with all retail station fuel dispensing equipment. Key NREL findings:

  • "It is often stated that tanks cannot be used to store E15, but this assumption is incorrect as the majority of installed tanks can store blends above E10. For many decades, underground storage tank (UST) manufacturers approved their tanks for blends up to E100..."
  • "...there are UL testing standards available now for all gasoline–ethanol blends from 0% to 85% ethanol... Certain equipment types are typically UL listed—these include tanks, pipes, dispenser, hanging hardware, submersible turbine pumps, and shear valves."
  • "A review was conducted with each manufacturer to determine compatibility with ethanol blends. There is an extensive list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment available in the appendices."
Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, commented on the study, noting, "This comprehensive analysis is both timely and relevant to the current debate about the so-called 'blend wall' that some would like to use to limit the growth opportunities for ethanol under the RFS. Clearly, the constraints to the increased use of E15 have more to do with the recalcitrance of refiners and marketers than they do any real infrastructure barriers. Today's comprehensive study should once and for all belie the misplaced conclusion that infrastructure and ethanol demand limitations should justify a reduction in the RFS as it found most equipment at a retail fuel station today, including underground storage tanks, are compatible with E15. This study demonstrates that most retailers will not be required to break concrete and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to offer E15." In addition to E15 compatibility, the report examined literature from the past 15 years to find out if "...there were any negative impacts during the multi-year deployment of E10 nationwide" and ultimately determined that "No incidents of E10 causing releases (also referred to as leaks) from UST systems were identified." It concluded that "None of the reviewed literature noted any association between E10 and any specific UST release." This technical report will become a go-to resource for any retailer looking to complete an assessment of their retail fueling system before offering E15. It includes "an extensive list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment available in the appendices" of retail fueling equipment manufacturer's compatibility statements. A webinar will be held at 1 p.m. CT on June 11 to review the report and answer any questions. A copy of the full report — commissioned by the RFA with financial support from the BYO Ethanol campaign — can be found here.