Ethanol – Frequently Asked Questions

EthanolPumpWhat is Ethanol?
Ethanol is an alcohol produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts. It is frequently used as an additive to gasoline. Because it is made from plants, ethanol is considered a renewable fuel.

Why is high ethanol gas bad for my engine?
Fuel with higher concentrations of ethanol, like E-15, can cause serious mechanical problems. The added ethanol causes the engines to run at a much higher temperature increasing wear and shortening life. Higher ethanol gas is particularly damaging to small two-stroke engines. In older engines, including cars, high ethanol fuels can damage seals and gaskets increasing the possibility of fire and serious engine damage.

What is E-15?
E-15 is gasoline with 15 percent ethanol. Most recently-manufactured marine and other small gasoline-powered engines are designed, calibrated, and certified to run on no more than 10 percent ethanol.

Is ethanol bad for the environment?
Additional increases in ethanol allowances in the fuel supply also carry serious environmental concerns. Corn production requires significantly more water than most other crops and leads to greater runoff of nutrients and other pollutants into watersheds. Environmental degradation impacts fish populations and aquatic habitat necessary for recreational opportunities.

What is the RFS?
The Renewable Fuel Standard is a program started in 2007 under the Energy Security and Independence Act. At the time the country was hyper aware of its dependence on foreign oil and saw the need to kick start investments in alternative energy sources. The EPA is mandated under the law to set targets for the amount of different renewable fuels used every year until 2022.

Will my insurance cover engine damage from ethanol?
Insurance carriers will not cover claims and vehicle manufacturers will void warranties for engine damage due to use of the E-15 blend. AAA, the motorist advocacy group, has also spoken out against E-15 and has asked the EPA for better studies on all engine types. For these reasons, consumers must check the ethanol content at the pump.

Why is the EPA pushing for E-15?
Good question. Several years ago, Congress attempted to predict future gasoline consumption and felt ethanol was key to meeting those needs. However, due to Americans driving less and vehicles becoming more fuel efficient, gasoline consumption has not increased as predicted. In spite of reduced gasoline consumption, the EPA is still pushing for more ethanol in every drop of gas.

How common is E15?
Right now, only 12 states allow E-15 but this number could grow. Most stations only offer E-10.

 

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