Positive Results for E85

By Susanne Retka Schill | January 14, 2011

The ethanol industry will be kept on its toes this year, with an all-out battle to keep some version of industry subsidy—probably a reformed tax incentive—alive, not to mention keeping critics at bay who don’t like the bullish corn market. Our columnists in this issue address these concerns from several angles.

Our feature articles this month uncover the progress being made for the industry on several other fronts. Associate Editor Kris Bevill attended the Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit in early December, which was celebrating a strong year’s performance for the Canadian biofuels industry. She also writes about Propel’s interesting retail approach in California. Propel builds and operates biofuel fueling islands situated at filling stations with room to tuck in another island. They recently rolled out a special program that will tell customers just how much imported oil they’ve displaced with their biofuel purchase. Bevill also tells the story of how one state—our home state of North Dakota—implemented a program that has resulted in a huge increase of blender pumps in the state and made North Dakota No. 1 in the nation.

Associate Editor Holly Jessen delves into the world of racing this month, reporting on efforts to optimize E85 engines. She also writes about the team that won the X Prize for getting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon—using E85 in a specially tooled engine and ultra light car to beat out electric cars. Turns out, when you factor in the coal-fired electricity’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in charging those electric batteries, the E85-powered car also beats the electric cars in GHG reduction. Good news indeed, as the ethanol industry strives to tell its message about the positive benefits of ethanol.

This issue is heading to Phoenix, Ariz., for the 16th annual National Ethanol Conference. It will be a nice break for those coming from the midst of winter, and a opportunity to network with others in the industry, which is often as important as listening to the great lineup of speakers. I’ll be going to Phoenix, as well, and look forward to visiting with you there.