Equipment Breakthroughs Offer Motorists More High Blend Ethanol Options

Equipment Breakthroughs Offer Motorists More High Blend Ethanol Options

Equipment warranties, new dispensers announced by companies give Iowa fuel retailers more flexibility in offering ethanol blends to customers.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association put out a press release last week telling about recent developments that are paving the way for higher ethanol blends to be made available to the motoring public.

A company called Gilbarco Veeder-Root has introduced state-of-the-art equipment and expanded product warranties on its equipment to provide more ethanol fuel choices at gas station pumps. The company has upgraded the warranty on its standard fuel dispensers to cover blends containing up to 15% ethanol (E15) making it the first fuel equipment supplier in the industry to announce this change for fuel dispensers already in use.  In addition, Gilbarco Veeder-Root has introduced a new dispenser for mid-level ethanol blends. 

"Iowa fuel retailers now have more flexibility in offering ethanol blends to their customers," says Lucy Norton, IRFA managing director. "With new equipment options available, there's absolutely no reason why mid-level ethanol blends and E85 shouldn't be part of a fuel retailer's product mix."

Fuel retailers also have new option for flex-fuel vehicle owners

Standard fuel dispensers that are currently approved by Underwriters Laboratory for E10 now have Gilbarco warranty coverage for up to E15. Gilbarco is ensuring that their customers are covered when EPA designates E15 as an approved fuel in the future. This warranty change is retroactive for Gilbarco dispensers manufactured or commissioned in North America since April 1, 2008.

Fuel retailers also have a new option for offering mid-level blends to flex-fuel vehicle owners. Gilbarco has released a multi-hose blender pump capable of offering a combination of ethanol and gasoline blends. Many states, including Iowa, require a separate hose for dispensing blends exceeding 10% ethanol.

EPA is expected to announce a decision sometime this summer whether or not it will allow gasoline blended with up to 15% ethanol to be sold and used nationwide in non-flex fuel vehicles. Currently, EPA only allows blends up to 10% ethanol to be used in nonflex-fuel vehicles.

EPA is expected to announce a decision on E15 this summer

"This is the perfect time for retailers to explore these new dispensing options as we await a decision from EPA, possibly as early as this summer, on the approval of E15," says Norton.  "With new equipment and state grants available, retailers can position themselves to be ready to strike as soon as EPA rules on E15."

Iowa currently has regulations that allow for the dispensing of high blend ethanol, such as E30, E50 or E85, absent of equipment certification. State-specific compliance measures for these higher blends enable Iowa retailers to offer these fuels today.

Retailers interested in installing an E85 or biodiesel pump can receive a grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Information and a grant application is at www.iowalifechanging.com/business/renewablefuels.html.

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 39 ethanol refineries capable of producing nearly 3.3 billion gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 14 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce over 315 million gallons annually.

IRFA was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.

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