Fuel Quality and Guidelines

The Renewable Fuels Association’s Fuel Ethanol Industry Guidelines, Specifications and Procedures is a compilation of the key technical aspects of fuel-grade ethanol and its traditional application as a fuel component, based on the collective experience and expertise of our member companies. It is designed to serve as a condensed technical reference for ethanol producers, blenders, and other interested parties. 


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program, a rule designed to reduce air pollution from passenger cars and trucks. Beginning in 2017, Tier 3 set new vehicle emissions standards and lowered the sulfur content of gasoline, considering the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system. The gasoline sulfur standard makes emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles, and enables more stringent vehicle emissions standards since removing sulfur allows the vehicle’s catalyst to work more efficiently. There are numerous compliance details for sulfur reporting for U.S. producers and importers. The Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Standards for Denatured Fuel Ethanol document is intended to help ethanol producers comply with the rules.


Denatured Fuel Ethanol product quality and integrity are important to the RFA. To achieve quality laboratory data for fuel ethanol products, the RFA has put together the Guidelines for Establishing Quality Assurance and Quality Control Programs, which includes a discussion of methods for analyses, sampling, general laboratory procedures and techniques and instruction on quality assurance and quality control practices. Providing high-quality fuel to the customer should be the primary goal of every Quality Assurance / Quality Control program. This document is intended to outline minimum requirements for producing valid lab results and assuring fuel ethanol product quality meets customer expectations. The document also includes a discussion on the major co-products being produced at ethanol manufacturing facilities including distillers dried grains with solubles, corn distillers oil, and carbon dioxide. 


RFA recommends fuel ethanol producers and importers add a corrosion inhibitor to fuel ethanol. The corrosion inhibitor should be included at a treat rate sufficient to provide corrosion protection comparable to that of other available motor fuels while protecting the transportation distribution system from corrosion concerns. We have developed an Evaluation Protocol for Corrosion Inhibitors for Fuel Ethanol for ethanol manufacturers to determine the appropriate level of corrosion protection. The RFA recommends that these tests be considered by each manufacturing location to confirm the effectiveness of the candidate fuel corrosion additive. 


Proper transportation procedures are critical to ensuring the denatured fuel ethanol remains on specification and fit for purpose through delivery activities. Inspection of the transport equipment prior to loading is a must. Please visit our Railroad & Tank Car Information page for more information and publications.


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