$700,000 study will test the feasibility of gas-ethanol blend pipeline

The Association of Oil Pipe Lines along with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will study the effect of E10, E15 and E20 blends on corrosion and cracking of pipelines. The results of the $700,000 study is expected in 12 to 18 months and the goal of the study is to find out three main things: how much ethanol can be sent down existing pipelines, what changes need to be made to mitigate the damage from ethanol to the pipelines and what kinds of designs are needed to make a pipeline that can carry ethanol.

Brazil uses ethanol pipelines but the idea has not gained much traction in the US because of perceived problems with pipeline damage caused by ethanol. Plus, here in the U.S., there are plans for dedicated train lines that would transport ethanol, for example a $150 million project in Nebraska that could be complete in 2010 if it gets funding. The train pipeline would be made of three or four 95 to 125 car trains, could store 30 million gallons of ethanol and would shave about 9 cents a gallon off the cost ethanol for the plants. The price of ethanol has gone done 30 percent with an apparent glut in the market. How would an ethanol pipeline fare if the glut continues? "If there's no interest, that'll be the end of it," Kirk McClymont of Seminole Energy Services of Tulsa, the company behind the plan, told Businessweek.

[Source: Ethanol Producer Magazine, Associated Press]

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