You may not know a lot about biofuels, and we understand you might have a few questions. We want to make sure you have all the answers you need about America’s favorite biofuel – ethanol – the next time you fill up at the pump.
What is ethanol?
Ethanol is a renewable, earth-friendly biofuel made from plants. Most ethanol is currently made from corn, but new technologies allow ethanol to be created from other materials like wood chips and agricultural waste.
Ethanol is blended into gasoline – 97 percent of the gasoline sold in the U.S. includes 10 percent ethanol. Ethanol burns cleaner and cooler than oil, which is good for our environment and our car engines. And the higher the ethanol content in gasoline, the greater the benefits.
In sum, ethanol is an advanced biofuel keeping our air clean and our engines running smoothly.
How do biofuels help America?
Ethanol is a great American success story. It burns cleaner and cooler than oil and increases octane, which is good for our environment and our car engines. The industry also supports over 300,000 high-tech, green American jobs, driving billions of dollars of economic activity across the U.S.
Without biofuels, we would turn back the clock by adding chemicals that produce cancer- and smog-causing emissions back into gasoline, once again becoming more dependent on foreign oil and paying higher prices for gas.
What is E15?
E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent regular gasoline. Right now, almost every gas station in America sells a 10 percent blend, but many more are starting to offer E15, which is great news. E15 is approved for any vehicle manufactured since 2001 – nearly 9 out of 10 cars on the road today – and it contains more ethanol, which means lower prices, cleaner air and better performance.
What are mid- to high-level ethanol blends?
Gasoline blended with 20 percent or more ethanol is considered a “higher ethanol blend.” The most common mid- to high-level blends are E20, E30, E40, E50 and E85.
E85 contains a mix of 51-83% ethanol and the remainder is gasoline. It is a popular, affordable option for flex-fuel vehicle owners.
How are fuel blends of ethanol better than plain, regular gasoline?
Biofuels like ethanol replace harmful carcinogens and toxic additives that can be found in petroleum-based fuels, while providing a naturally high octane. Thanks to ethanol, there’s less toxic, harmful additives in your fuel, and in turn, in our air. That’s a benefit we can all breathe a little easier about.
Is E15 safe for my car?
E15 is approved for all passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles 2001 and newer – nearly 9 out of 10 cars on the road today. Most automakers, including all of the Big Three, now explicitly warranty E15 for all new models.
Consumers have driven over 4 billion miles using E15 without a single reported negative effect. The facts are clear. There has never been an instance of a warranty being voided over the use of E15.
What is a flex-fuel vehicle?
A flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) is a vehicle designed to operate on any ethanol blend, ranging from E10 to E85. Today, there are more than 19.3 million FFVs on the road – saving drivers money and improving engine performance every day.
How can I tell if I am driving a flex-fuel vehicle?
Your owner’s manual should clearly indicate if your vehicle is flex-fuel ready. Often, these vehicles will feature a yellow gas cap that is clearly labeled “E85 Compatible.” Still unsure? Enter your vehicle make, model and year here.
Where can I fuel up with E15?
E15 can be purchased in 29 states, and that number is growing. Use our Biofuel Finder tool to help locate the E15 station nearest you.
Can I use ethanol blended fuel in my Craftsman lawnmower, Mercury boat engine, Yamaha jet ski, Honda snowmobile or Polaris four-wheeler?
Standard E10 ethanol blends are safe to use in all engines, including boats, motorcycles and outdoor equipment. Under federal law, some small equipment should not be fueled with higher blends, and that is why all those pumps are clearly labeled.
Many professional fishermen, like those on the Crappie Master’s tournament trail, all use E10. So does the National Boat Racing Association.
Gas prices aren’t too high. Do we need ethanol?
Biofuels like ethanol are a major part of the reason gas is less expensive than just a few years ago. About 10 percent of our fuel is already ethanol, and the more we can cut our reliance on foreign oil, the less we have to worry about the next crisis overseas.
Today, the U.S. consumes 19 million barrels of oil per day. About one-fourth of that is still imported from countries in the Middle East. Even at today’s gas prices, ethanol provides consumers a more affordable option at the gas pump and it’s better for the environment and our car engines.
Is ethanol greener than regular gas?
Ethanol is an earth-friendly biofuel that cuts carbon emissions from 43 to 100 percent or more, depending on the feedstock – and this percentage continues to increase with ongoing innovations in advanced biofuels.
Without biofuels like ethanol, chemicals that produce cancer-causing emissions would still be added to gasoline.
The Department of Energy predicts that this will be a new record year for gasoline consumption, and the more we can replace that energy with clean-burning biofuels, the better.
Is biofuel production efficient?
According to the USDA, ethanol is more energy efficient to produce than gasoline. For every 1 Btu of energy used to make ethanol, ethanol provides a 2.6 Btu return.
Does ethanol receive federal government subsidies?
The ethanol industry does not receive federal subsidies. Unlike those for the oil industry, tax incentives for corn ethanol disappeared years ago.
Fuel is not sold in a free market. OPEC members like Venezuela and Iran have manipulated the price of oil for decades, and the same industry that drills for oil controls access to consumers. The Renewable Fuel Standard, which is the U.S. policy that served as an on-ramp for the blending of ethanol into our fuel supply, seeks to level the playing field so we can bring consumers more renewable options at the pump.
In fact, biofuels save taxpayer money, and it saves consumers money. Today, the ethanol industry drives $44 billion in economic activity and contributes nearly nine billion dollars in federal, state and local tax revenues. And the savings for consumers can reach $1.50 per gallon when the price of oil spikes.