E-85 Renewable Fuel. What is E-85?
E-85 is a renewable, clean-burning, high octane fuel that is designated as an alternative fuel according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Very simply, E-85 is a blend of 85% denatured ethanol and 15% unleaded gasoline.
E-85 fuel is produced to be used in E-85 designated vehicles only. Flexible fuel vehicles, FFV’s, can switch back and forth between E-85 and conventional gasoline. E-85 used in non-flex vehicles are at risk for certain rubber parts made from conventional elastomers to prematurely break down.
The auto manufacturers are producing 500,000 FFV E-85 vehicles on an annual basis.
What does the “E” stand for in E-85?
Ethanol. It is a colorless, flammable liquid or, more commonly known as “white lightning”, which is a 200 proof grain alcohol.
Ethanol has a long history in America. Before 1860, ethanol was a popular chemical used as an illuminant and a solvent. President Abraham Lincoln taxed the alcohol with a $2.08 per gallon spirits tax to help finance the Civil War. In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt lifted the spirits tax in order to promote the emerging automobile industry. Leading the way for ethanol as an automobile fuel was Henry Ford, who designed his first Model T to run on ethanol.
Ethanol is made from a variety of energy crops like corn, agricultural waste and forestry wastes. Ethanol in Illinois is primarily made from corn.
The sugars in corn are fermented into a weak alcohol and through a process of distillation, the water content is eliminated, resulting in 100% alcohol (200 proof). The alcohol is then denatured (to make alcohol unfit for drinking by adding a small amount of gasoline, so that it is not subject to the alcohol tax). The alcohol becomes ethanol and is transported to petroleum terminals to be blended with unleaded gasoline.
Ethanol is used for two primary reasons:
• As a blending agent, i.e. fuel oxygenate booster to provide more complete combustion for gasoline.
• As a primary fuel like E-85.
Fuel oxygenates were mandated by the Clean Air Act of 1990 to reduce carbon monoxide levels. Under the provision, large cities that could not meet the air pollutant standards for ozone, soot and particulate matter, were mandated into a Reformulate Gasoline Program (RFG). This program designated that 10% of the gasoline in these “non-attainment areas” must have a fuel oxygenate booster. An oxygenate booster helps gasoline complete its combustion in gasoline engines, thus reducing CO tailpipe emissions. Since 1995, 10% fuel oxygenate boosters have been used in non-attainment areas. The Chicago and Milwaukee greater metro regions use ethanol to satisfy that 10% requirement in gasoline. Ethanol has become the “booster” of choice throughout the U.S., chiefly due to its availability and non-toxic status.
• High Octane Fuel: 105 to 110 Octane
• Environmentally Friendly
• Does Not Contaminate Water Supplies
• Domestically Produced
• Renewable Fuel Source
• Produced From A Variety Of Energy Crops
• Supports The American Economy
• Promoted Energy Independence
• The State Of Illinois Doesn’t Charge Sales Tax On E-85
E-85 Relative Facts
• Current ethanol production is four billion gallons annually. Mandated by Congress to be 15 billion gallons by 2018.
• Illinois produces 40% of all ethanol consumed in America.
• Illinois ranks 2nd in corn production with 1.5 billion bushels annually.
• One bushel of corn produces 2.7 gallons of ethanol.
• All three American auto manufacturers build E-85 FFV vehicles.