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For most of the year, in most of America, E85 means a fuel blend that it 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. But, don't think that the E85 brand label means the the fuel in the pump is necessarily 85 percent ethanol. In some cases, during most of the year, E85 pumps sell fuel that is really E70.
There are three volatility classes for ethanol (designated 1, 2, and 3). Class 1 is summertime E85, and needs to have a minimum of 79 percent ethanol (so even E85 doesn't have to be E85). Class 2's ethanol minimum is 74. And Class 3, wintertime ethanol, is 70 percent. In some parts of the country, Wyoming, for example, Class 3 is sold from October through May and Class 1 is sold only in July and August. You can find what fuel is sold when in your state in the the Department of Energy's "Handbook for Handling, Storing and Dispensing E85" (which you can download here in PDF form) on pages 22 and 23.

Robert White, Director of Operations of Ethanol Promotion & Information Council (EPIC) responded to a question about E70 from AutoblogGreen and said that, "The winter blend of E85 is seasonal, but is set by geographical regions. The seasonal change in fuel is to help with cold temperatures. The more hydrocarbon in the fuel, the lower the flash point to ignite the fuel when starting. There are no notices at the pump, and if labeled properly, the FCC label reads 'Minimum 70% Ethanol' - the term E85 is a generic term, not an official government term."

The Handbook says about Seasonally Adjusted Blends that:

"The amount of alcohol in the fuel ethanol blend depends on the geographical region and the season. (A complete breakdown by volatility class for the geographical fuel regions can be found in Appendix A). In cold weather, more gasoline is added to the blend to ensure proper starting. A minimum of 70% by volume of alcohol is permitted in the winter blend by the ASTM fuel standard. This seasonal blending from 15% to 30% gasoline limits concerns about winter cold starting and are similar to seasonal adjustments of volatility (vapor pressure) used in gasoline blending throughout the United States."

Just FYI.

[Source: Robert White]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 7 Comments
      • 4 Months Ago
      Guys, I never said this was news. Note the "FYI" in the original post. I thought there might be people who'd like to know what, exactly, E85 is - because it's not always what it appears to be. If you knew that already, then cool. If you learned it today, then that's cool, too. Right?
      • 8 Years Ago
      The winter blends of E85 are fairly well documented. Some states have a "minimum 70% ethanol" label as well. Seasonal blending of fuel is a common and well understood practice that is done with all motor fuels.

      "1985 Gripen", I think cold-start systems using a secondary fuel tank are fairly common in Brazil. However, that would add a fairly high level of complexity for the average consumer. The best feature about E85 in a flexible fuel vehicle (and biodiesel in a diesel vehicle) is that the you can add whatever fuel you chose each time you fill up.

      • 8 Years Ago
      " the term E85 is a generic term, not an official government term"

      The term E85 is a MISLEADING term, not an official government term.
      • 4 Months Ago
      With 0w-20 oil and winter gasoline, and if your battery is in good shape, you can start an engine at -40.

      -20 is about the limit for E70.


      Truth in advertising?
      • 4 Months Ago
      Truth in advertising?

      All I can say is that I'm in Minnesota, where we know a little more about E85 AND 20 bellow than most of the rest of the county.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Learning this makes the new SAAB BioPower100 Concept to be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show look like an even better idea than originally thought.

      The BioPower100 Concept runs on E100 ethanol, but it has a separate smaller tank which contains pure unleaded gasoline. The car uses the gasoline only to start and warm-up to temperature and then once the car's at temperature an ECU switches the fuel source to the E100 in the larger fuel tank. From that point on the car is burning NO gasoline.

      No need for these "E85" seasonal blends which give you more gasoline in colder weather to help with cold starts.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Honestly, what a non-issue! Jimmy is right -- seasonal blending is a common practice with many motor fuels.

      At an 85% blend or a 70% blend, E85 is an alternative fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline. It also works fine in cold temperatures -- our FFV fired up without trouble at -18 degrees recently.