E85 is the term for motor fuel blends of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The 85 percent ethanol in the E85 fuel is primarily made from corn. Besides its superior performance characteristics, ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and is a completely renewable, domestic and environmentally friendly fuel which enhances the nation’s economy and energy independence.
E85 is intended for use in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). FFVs can be fueled on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, from zero percent ethanol and 100 percent gasoline up to 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
The expansion of E85 stations stalled last year after the decision by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) to suspend certification of pumps because of concerns that new components on E85 pumps had not been adequately tested. While no serious leaks or related problems were reported, dealers stopped adding the pumps out of liability concerns.
Underwriters Laboratories is a century-old, independent safety-certification organization which tests and writes Standards for Safety for products, components, materials and systems, evaluating more than 19,000 types of products each year.
In October, the UL announced the availability of safety requirements for E85 fuel-dispensing equipment, which was welcome news for alternative fuel supporters. The announcement removes a major barrier for many companies that have been waiting to offer E85 at their fueling stations.
According to Steve Ruhl, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, it is not a stretch to think that the number of E85 stations could double in 2008.
Illinois has approximately 160 E85 stations, only two of which are located in Peoria County. There is a Phillips station located at 2136 S. Airport Road in Bartonville which has been offering E85 for several years, and in the last six months, a USCO station along Route 91 in Dunlap began offering the renewable fuel as well. USCO also has two stations in Pekin offering E85—one at 801 S. Second Street and the other at 815 Derby Street. Other E85 stations close to Peoria include Tremont Oil Company in Tremont and FS FastStop in Williamsfield.
Currently there are more than 1,300 E85 fueling stations open across the United States. With UL’s announcement, that number is projected to double in the coming year, creating additional demand for ethanol because of convenient access to E85. In fact, if the six million flex-fuel vehicles currently on the road were to be operated entirely on E85, potential demand for ethanol could increase by 5.1 billion gallons— nearly 75 percent of the industry’s current production.
Can Peoria County double its E85 stations from two to four in 2008? It sounds like a small task, considering the recent announcement by Underwriters Laboratory. IBI