The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association on March 17 announced Iowa motorists purchased 2,930,635 gallons of E85 in the fourth quarter of 2014, and a record-setting 11,962,764 million gallons in all of 2014, according to data released by the Iowa Department of Revenue. The nearly 12 million gallons of E85 sold in 2014 is more than a 1 million gallon increase over the previous record in 2013. The nearly 3 million gallons sold in the fourth quarter of 2014 is also a fourth quarter record.
Consumers are realizing the benefits beyond E85's cheaper cost
"Another year, and another E85 sales record in Iowa," says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. "The most impressive aspect of this record is that retail gasoline prices dropped significantly in the second half of the fourth quarter of 2014, yet Iowa motorists remained committed to the homegrown, cleaner-burning fuel by setting a new fourth- quarter record for E85 purchases. This fourth-quarter data proves that not only is E85 being purchased at a record rate where available in Iowa, but consumers are realizing the benefits of this more locally-produced, environmentally-friendly fuel, beyond simply its cost advantages."
In Iowa, E85 is a fuel blend containing between 70% and 85% ethanol. E85 is currently sold at about 200 fueling sites in Iowa, and can be used in all flex-fuel vehicles (FFV). To determine if your vehicle can use E85, check your owner's manual, the vehicle's fuel cap, or visit ethanolrfa.3cdn.net for a list of FFVs. For a list of retail locations offering E85 in Iowa visit iowarfa.org. To view Iowa Department of Revenue's quarterly E85 sales data visit tax.iowa.gov.
Iowa is the nation's leader in renewable fuel production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 3.8 billion gallons annually, including 22 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity and one cellulosic ethanol facility currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.
National Biodiesel Day reaffirms benefits of using biodiesel
In other news this week regarding renewable fuels, National Biodiesel Day was March 18. It began a year-long call to action for farmers and others to use more of this renewable fuel to the benefit of Iowa's economy, environment and rural communities. The Iowa Soybean Association echoed the Iowa Biodiesel Board's challenge to every farmer in Iowa to request greater offerings of the fuel by distributors and to commit to increasing biodiesel usage in their farm operations.
Ed Ulch, who farms near Solon and serves as an ISA director, says biodiesel is a valuable asset for Iowa and an appropriate product to promote today and every day. "Iowa is the nation's largest producer of biodiesel and farmers are among the beneficiaries," he says. "It's an advanced biofuel made from agricultural byproducts and coproducts that creates demand for what we grow, and burns cleaner than regular diesel while delivering quality performance regardless of the season."
March 18 is the birthday of Rudolf Diesel, the man who invented the engine that bears his name. He ran early models on peanut oil and was a visionary for renewable fuel.
Biodiesel helps benefit economy, environment and farmers
According to research conducted by Informa Economics, biodiesel adds 74 cents to the per-bushel price of soybeans. Livestock farmers benefit, too. Soybean meal feed costs are lowered by at least $25 per ton due to the increased demand for soybean oil. The biodiesel industry also creates demand for animal fats.
A poll of more than 360 Iowa soybean farmers conducted earlier this winter by ISA finds room for increased biodiesel consumption. Of nearly 360 farmers surveyed, 41% said they use biodiesel in the farming operations. "Not readily available" was the primary reason cited for not using the fuel followed by concerns about its performance in cold weather (29%). However, availability has improved the last several years due to favorable state legislation.
Recent poll shows only 41% of Iowa farmers use biodiesel
Biodiesel experts say blends of up to 20% can be successfully used in cold temperatures, as long as the biodiesel and diesel meet high quality standards. In winter, blends should be treated and handled for cold weather, using similar methods to treating the No. 2 grade of diesel fuel.