ACE: Midlevel ethanol blends are important

By Erin Voegele | August 04, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 18, 2008 at 11:13 a.m. CST

The proliferation of ethanol blender pumps and the future potential for midlevel ethanol blends were highly emphasized topics at the American Coalition for Ethanol's 21st Conference and Trade Show, "Fueling Revolution," which was held Aug. 12-14 in Omaha, Neb.

Ethanol blender pumps were the featured topics during the general session and during two breakout sessions.

Gilbarco Veeder-Root and Dresser Wayne Inc. are expected to gain Underwriters Laboratory Inc.'s approval for blender pumps by the end of the year, according to Dave Zumbaugh, Gilbarco Veeder-Root's senior district sales manager. He added that several other companies are undergoing UL approval for various E85 infrastructure components. In addition, Zumbaugh spoke about the importance of proper labeling at the pump, encouraging attendees to look into branding, as well as local, state and federal regulations and guidelines when installing the pumps.

During one of the breakout sessions, Steve Rust, an ICM Inc. project development specialist, spoke about a study ICM will be doing in September using the company fleet and employee vehicles to test the effects of midlevel ethanol blends. He explained how retailers can blend onsite to earn a blending credit, and shared information on pump labeling specifications. Bill Paulsen, Advanced Bioenergy LLC's vice president of operations, also spoke during the sessions and ACE Vice President Ron Lamberty served as moderator.

During the general session, Steve Przesmitzki, a senior project leader with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, spoke of the many research projects that are currently underway to study midlevel ethanol blends. According to Przesmitzki, the U.S. DOE began studying intermediate ethanol blends last year. He explained that small non-road engines were given a priority during the summer of 2007 because a change in emissions from these engines is much easier to detect than a change in emissions in a passenger vehicle. The smaller engines are also more economical to study.

In addition, Przesmitzki spoke about flex-fuel vehicles and the need to optimize the vehicles for ethanol in order to get the best performance. He also assured attendees that the parts in flex-fuel vehicles are different than the parts found in standard vehicles. He also shared information on previous studies that have found evidence of certain emissions increasing and long-term catalyst degradation in vehicles using midlevel ethanol blends. Przesmitzki spoke about the role of the U.S. EPA in researching midlevel blends, noting that their number one priority is protecting U.S. air quality.

During the general session, Ralph Groschen, a senior marketing specialist at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, presented information on Minnesota's goal to double the state's ethanol use by 2013. Groschen said there are two ways this can be accomplished: using more E85 and continuing to use of E10; or replace E10 with E20. He added that although EPA approval is needed to proceed with a plan to replace E10 with E20, that eventual approval will not only apply in Minnesota, but could become a national certification, opening the door for E20 use on a national basis. Lamberty also served as a moderator and presenter during the general session.