Powering the Future

By Tom Buis | January 16, 2013

The renewable fuels industry continues to contribute in so many ways. Our industry has created more than 400,000 well-paying jobs here at home that cannot be outsourced, it has revitalized rural economies across the heartland and it is helping reduce our dangerous addiction to foreign oil, all while improving our environment and providing consumers a choice and savings at the pump.

The ethanol industry is also at the forefront of addressing the difficult challenges of tomorrow. As automakers look forward to meet the increasing fuel efficiency standards, one thing is for sure—cars will be very different from the ones that I grew up with. We have already seen many manufacturers cut engine size to increase fuel efficiency and turbocharge them to maintain horsepower, while cutting the weight that decreases fuel efficiency.

As the automotive industry moves toward smaller, turbocharged engines, they will need increased levels of octane in the fuel to produce the power necessary to continue high performance. This is where our industry helps meet tomorrow’s challenges.

Ethanol provides the most affordable octane source available today. While there are alternatives, one, MTBE, is illegal in 38 states, and others, like aromatics, are toxic and cost roughly twice as much as ethanol. Our industry produces a fuel that is essential to the future development of automobiles.

Growth Energy believes that the vehicle engines of tomorrow can be optimized for better performance, improved mileage and increased environmental benefits and cleaner air. The engines of tomorrow must be designed to run on the renewable fuels of the future, such as ethanol. We must always be on the cutting edge of innovation, thinking how best our industry can contribute. That is why it is so critical we work with in partnership with auto manufacturers. By highlighting all of the benefits of ethanol and providing concrete examples of how our industry’s fuel can help manufacturers retain performance increasing efficiency, our industry has the opportunity to be a major driver in the future of engines.

Our industry has already demonstrated a willingness to push innovation further and faster. More than three years ago, we pushed to get E15 as an approved fuel in the marketplace and put it to the test on the racetrack. Just this past year, NASCAR cleared over 3 million miles racing on E15 and what they have seen is better performance under some of the most demanding driving conditions. The verdict: E15 delivered increased horsepower and performance without any negative side effects, mileage loss or engine damage.

The bottom line is that E15 delivers. As we continue our work to bring higher blends into the marketplace in the new year, we must remain focused on clearing the regulatory hurdles on both the state and federal level to ensure that E15 can enter the marketplace without further delay. We must aggressively educate and advocate for retailers and consumers, to ensure a cleaner-burning, higher-performing and less expensive fuel is available, so that everyday drivers can choose to put it in their car and benefit from the increased octane and lower price.

Furthermore, we must continue to build upon our relationship with auto manufacturers. If we are to successfully secure a place for our product in the liquid transportation fuel of the future, we must continue our collective collaboration and stay engaged.

There is no doubt that ethanol and higher blends with increased octane are a major component for the challenges of tomorrow and increased vehicle efficiency. We know that we produce a product that is better and cleaner burning, not only for the engines, but for our environment. And in the process, we are creating jobs at home that cannot be outsourced and helping secure our nation’s energy independence by decreasing our addiction to foreign oil.

We are part of the solution, an answer to tomorrow’s challenges, and so, in this new year, we must renew our vigor and continue to advocate for higher blends of ethanol, as they are the transportation fuel of the future.

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Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy
202-545-4000
tbuis@growthenergy.org