Another day, another opinion on the feasibility of E15.

This time, a group called the Coordinating Research Council released a study saying that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to push for allowing gas with a 15-percent ethanol blend (aka E15) to be sold to the general public for newer cars may have been a bad one because of potentially harmful effect the fuel may have on older vehicles, the New York Times reports.

E15 may compromise the durability of the engines of most of the cars on the road because automakers didn't design the vehicles to run on E15, which has 50% more ethanol than the current maximum of a 10-percent ethanol blend (i.e. E10), the group says.

Of course, Coordinating Research Council is backed by – wait for it – eight automakers as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API), according to the Times. The automakers have long pushed to delay E15 approval because of engine durability concerns while the API represents a petroleum industry whose demand is inversely related to how much ethanol's being used in light-duty vehicles.

With that in mind, Patrick B. Davis, an Energy Department program manager specializing in vehicle testing, said in a blog post that the new study is "flawed" in part because the study didn't involve the testing of E10's impact on engines. Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen called the report "junk science."

The EPA in April approved the first applications to make E15 amid protests from automakers and recreation vehicle makers that have claimed that the higher alcohol content may damage engines and fuel systems. The government has gone back and forth on the issue, both pushing for higher ethanol production levels to cut foreign-oil dependence while last year terminating a 30-year tax subsidy on corn-based ethanol.

Recently, The Auto Channel reported that researchers at University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University estimated that ethanol production cut the average cost of fuel last year by $1.09 a gallon because of lower ethanol prices and broader use of fuels such as E10.


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  • 15 Comments
      diffrunt
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am so glad regular gas is available in my area.. E10 makes my 2010 rattle.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @diffrunt
        You should immediately take your 2010 car into the dealership and have them fix it. These vehicles are mandated to run correctly on E10, and if there is something wrong with your car that it rattles, they are required to repair it under warranty. But why exactly do you blame the E10 when there is clearly something wrong with your individual vehicle?
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      I dug into the report. The big scary results that they came up with? When you include cars that would be illegal to fill with E15, about 0.8% of those cars COULD get a theoretical warning light. Those 0.8% of cars would have to fill with E10 instead, IF the actual car's warning light threshold was the same as the hypothetical limit that these guys made up. They tested cars dating back to 1996 (which would be illegal to fill with E15 under the current E15 regulations). They found that 2.1% of these up to 16 year old cars could get a hypothetical warning light when fueled with E10. A warning light when running E10 on an up to 16 year old car would of course indicate that there is a mechanical problem with the car, because they are mandated to run on E10 from the factory. They claim these vehicles are "preblem-free vehicles". No. When a car that is certified to run on E10 lights up a warning light when run on E10, this is by definition not a "problem-free vehicle". This is probably a 16 year old clunker with 200K miles on the odometer that definitely has mechanical problems! When they increased to E15, they found that 2.9% of cars could get a warning light based upon their made-up threshold. That means 0.8% of cars could experiencing problems with their fuel system where E15 will expose those existing problems, if the "Example threshold, for illustrative purposes only" were to trigger warning lights in real cars. Keep in mind that not a single real warning light was observed in this report. What is the horrible and fear-inducing solution to these 0.8% of cars getting a warning light on E15? Fill up with E10 instead the next time they need to fill the tank. No permanent harm done. In fact, the owner just got an early heads up that the car is operating marginally. But remember that this was NOT a study of actual warning lights that actually came on! This was a study where "Individual tests (raw data) were subjected to hypothetical LTFT increases" and then compared with "Example threshold, for illustrative purposes only" where cars MIGHT see a warning light come on. These are based upon theoretical thresholds "not matched to OEM-specific thresholds." When the actual real OEM-specific thresholds are applied, the actual real thresholds were much higher than their theoretical limit they used for this study. In some cases, OEM limits were as much as 70% higher than the hypothetical limits they assumed for this study! In other words, the readings would have to be 70% higher to trigger a real warning light in the real world than the hypothetical limit they set for this study! http://www.crcao.com/news/Mid%20Level%20Ethanol%20program/Appendix%20J%20-%20E-90%20slides%20for%20EtOH%20RCG%20050510.pdf The worst-case conclusion you could come to with this study, is this: 1) Don't fill your 1996 to 2001 car with E15, because that would be illegal. 2) If you are the 0.8% that get a warning light, fill with E10, no harm done.
      mustsvt
      • 3 Years Ago
      Even if E15 is safe I don't want it. It would be another meaningful hit to fuel economy with no lower cost to me at the pump. I already have no options in my area besides E10.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mustsvt
        I believe the problem with MTBE was that it was polluting ground water supplies, was highly carcinogenic, and lives for a reaaaaaalll long time. Ethanol also produces aldehyde emissions when it burns. So when they switched over to e10, you traded some carbon/nitrogen/hydrocarbon emissions for aldehydes and whatever friends come along. They can actually be really harmful according to some studies. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/04/stanford_study_.html Hey, burning stuff produces harmful substances? no way.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mustsvt
        Well you are in luck, because there is absolutely no E15 mandate that would make you buy it. However, right now there is a legal mandate that I choose to buy E15 for my 2001+ gas car, I cannot legally do that. This law would give ME the same freedom of choice to buy E10 or E15. You don't oppose my freedom of choice, do you? As for your complaint about being forced to choose E10. The people who breath the smog created by you burning pure gas instead of E10 have made the choice to breath less smog. E10 replaces MTBE to greatly cut down on smog. It is a proven and effective solution to replace MTBE. Do you believe you should be allowed to over-rule the decision of all the people who have chosen cleaner air to breath? You don't believe that, do you? You want to breath cleaner air too, right? How about a big thank-you to everyone who came before you and fought for your right to breath cleaner air, including the folks who brought you the E10 mandate you complain about.....
          mustsvt
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          PR, I said I don't want E15, I never said YOU could fill up to your hearts content with it. I just am concerned it will become the default fuel like E10 has leading to paying full price for less mileage and more fill ups. It seems you hate anyone having an opinion on a matter if it does not match your own. Get over yourself as judge of the universe.
          EVnerdGene
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          "because there is absolutely no E15 mandate that would make you buy it." They say that about E10, but I have no choice in my area. OK, I can switch to diesel - - - auhuck, auhuck, auchuck ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
      motorhead
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why do the left always feel inclined to push stuff down our throats that they think is good for us ?
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @motorhead
        Why do the right always feel inclined to shove stuff down our throats that corporations know are bad for us, and will kill us? Like emissions from straight gas that cause increased smog without an oxygenate agent like ethanol. The effects of removing the ethanol mandate as an oxygenate are widely known scientific fact that it will kill people if that mandate were removed. Stop forcing your emissions down our throats.
        motorhead
        • 3 Years Ago
        @motorhead
        "they" said MTBE was good for us also ethanol - aldehydes ?
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Could have added e85 capability a decade ago, in anticipation that we'd eventually have a different fuel source in the future. But no. As with all things involving the auto industry, they drag their dang heels.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      The squabble is between two sides of vested interests. Before mandating anything, the government should either provide an option for those with older vehicles to continue to use non-ethanol gasoline. If the government wishes to deter the use of non-ethanol blends in newer cars it can simply increase the tax on non-ethanol fuel. Effective, but not dictatorial.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Why would you allow older cars to use non-ethanol gasoline, when E10 ethanol is being mandated as a replacement for MTBE to reduce smog? Did you even consider that at all? The people who have to breath the air don't have any choice but to breath what comes out people's tailpipes. E10 reduces smog the same way MTBE did, which keeps US cities from looking like Beijing or Mexico City. Why do you think car owners should be allowed to dictate to other people that they must breath more smog?
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they complain about climate scientist's findings because of grant money, these people have a much bigger financial interest in the results of selling 5% less gas or saving $$$ per car by using cheaper parts. I'll wait until an unbiased group tests this in double blind tests. I also wonder if you know you are going to burn through a tank in the same day, how much impact will it have?
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