UK rail company studies effects of E5 in tank cars

By Ryan C. Christiansen | January 12, 2009
Web exclusive posted Jan. 14, 2009, at 5:32 p.m. CST

VTG Rail UK Ltd., based in Birmingham, U.K., a subsidiary of the Hamburg, Germany-based rail logistics and rail car leasing company VTG Aktiengesellschaft, recently completed a one-year study in partnership with tank car lining manufacturers to determine the effects of ethanol on tank car components and interiors. According to VTG, E5 blended with petroleum gasoline has no adverse effect on tank cars parts and lining materials.

Over a six-month period, VTG conducted immersion tests with E5 and found during ongoing internal inspections that no softening or swelling of the lining material was detected. The ethanol blend did not have any effect on the lining other than some minor discoloration, which does not affect performance. The blend also did not affect tank car components.

According to VTG, the company will conduct further tests to ensure that tank cars can accommodate higher blends of ethanol, up to E15.

"Following the results of the study, VTG has approved the use of biofuels in its tank vehicles. But at the moment, (VTG) recommends that the bio additive concentration should not exceed the 5 percent limit," said Paul Lugg, tank fleet manager for VTG.