November 8, 2016
To find out how consumers stand to benefit from even more ethanol in fuel, we spoke with Growth Energy’s CEO, Emily Skor, and Dr. Andy Randolph of Richard Childress Racing. Currently, most gas sold in the U.S. is capped at 10% ethanol—something known as the “blend wall.” There’s no argument that E15—gasoline with 15% ethanol content—is on its way, however. The EPA has already approved it, and our country’s Renewable Fuel Standard puts pressure on refiners to increase the industry’s use of biofuel alternatives. The question now is whether or not the increased prevalence of ethanol in our fuel is a good for consumers.
First, here are some of the basic “fun facts” surrounding ethanol:
- Adding ethanol to gasoline increases its octane rating. A gallon of regular, unleaded gas on sale today has an octane rating of 87. E15, on the other hand, pushes that number up to 88. Premium gas sits anywhere from 91 to 94 octane, but E85 Flex Fuel is in the 100-105 range.
- Ethanol burns cooler and cleaner than regular gasoline. Adding more ethanol to gasoline would hypothetically reduce emissions.
- Currently, ethanol is cheaper than gasoline, so increasing ethanol from 10 to 15% should save you some money when you fill up.