DoE Fights Back On E15-Hurts-Your-Car Study

Follow Antony

Proposed EPA E15 gasoline pump warning label for ethanol content

Proposed EPA E15 gasoline pump warning label for ethanol content

Enlarge Photo

The Department of Energy has hit out at the recent Coordinating Research Council study into damage caused by using E15 gasoline.

In its rebuttal, the DoE points out several flaws in the CRC's study, and says the Council failed to establish a proper control group to determine the statistical significance of the results.

In the study, the latest in a line looking into the effects of raising ethanol content from E10 to E15, the CRC claimed that over two years of testing E15 in vehicles made between 2001-2009, two of the eight vehicles tested suffered significant wear. Another would have failed an emissions test.

The DoE highlights several flaws from the CRC study, including:

  • Only three of the eight engines were tested with straight gasoline, containing no ethanol. One of the engines that failed was running on this straight gasoline--not an ethanol mix.
  • None of the engines were tested with E10 fuel--a blend that represents 90 percent of all the gasoline sold in the U.S.
  • The CRC's test cycle was specifically designed as a stress test, and there was no previous data on how this test would affect engine components.
  • The CRC's cylinder compression testing was measured using an arbitrary 10 percent "leakdown" figure, not used anywhere else in the industry.
  • Many of the engines used by the CRC for the testing are already known to have durability issues, regardless of the fuel used.

In its rebuttal, the DoE also cites its own research using standard gasoline, E10, E15 and E20, on 86 vehicles, using an EPA-approved 120,000-mile test procedure.

During this testing, the DoE found no statistically significant loss of performance on any of the fuel blends, and using the CRC's "leakdown" figure for compression, found no correlation between loss of compression and the type of fuel used.

Results are still uncertain for cars built before 2001, so our advice would be to steer clear of higher ethanol blends on earlier vehicles.

However, the debate looks set to rumble on as far as using E15 in later models goes--this is unlikely to be the last you'll hear from either side of the debate.

You can read the DoE's full rebuttal here.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (10)
  1. I still don't get this.
    Voelcker reported "eight different engines from the 2001 through 2009 model years, with a pair of vehicles for each engine tested".
    That would imply 16 engines, 8 of which are running on gasoline, right? or did I miss something.

    Now Antony reports "Only three of the eight engines were tested with straight gasoline,"
    So only three engines on gasoline and 5 engines on E15?

    OK, so is this the score?
    Gasoline 1 of 3 failed
    E15 3 of 5 failed

    Is that the reason statistical significant is being brought up? It is a pretty small group.

  2. **significance

  3. I suspect the discrepancy might be down to how the CRC reported their findings - and the DoE has now clarified the actual testing procedure.

    But yes - the DoE's report suggests that only three of the 8 engines were tested on regular gas, with the rest a mix of either E15 or E20. That only eight engines were tested also appears to be the source of the DoE's issues, as it's very difficult to obtain a statistically significant result with such a small sample size.

  4. Thank you for the added clarification.

    It is unfortunate that E15 cannot be used with more certainty.

  5. Guess if a study initiated by an organization funded by the American Petroleum Institute suggests that a product from outside their industry is bad for your car it's wise to check their methodology. When it comes to substitutes for oil the truth is often lost in a barrage of misinformation and FUD campaigns disseminated by vested interests and Big Oil (assisted by their car industry sidekicks) has endless funds and influence at it's disposal to create it's own "truth".

    Goes to show that when agendas of money and power are involved it's never a good idea to accept something as the truth just because it's supposed to be based on "research", "scientific" even or the opinion of an "expert".

    Thanks for an educational report Anthony!

  6. this is an orginazation with American Petroleum Institute And the major automobile manufacturers. if anyone checked their facts and looked at the website they would see that. And where is the detailed report from doe to prove that the ethanol is save for non ffv's as they claim?
    and if it is, than why is there no one willing to put up the legal fee's to protect the people that have issues with misfueling?

  7. By the same token, since the federal government is in support of ethanol (to reduce reliance on foreign oil, support farmers, etc.), their conclusions must also be viewed with some level of skepticism. Having worked with NASA for over 20 years, I have seen internal government politics (i.e., the agendas of money and power) play a large role in their decision making processes. All we can do is gather as much data as possible, from as many sources as possible, and try to reach an informed conclusion. Also, as mentioned in the first comment, it's a bad idea to try to reach conclusions with such a small sample size. I think both reports reached the conclusions that their groups supported.

  8. The epa needs to back up their criticisms with their own report. Where is there extensive testing they supposedly have done?

  9. Interestingly according to another (not too independent admittedly) research adding ethanol actually shaved off $1.09/gallon last year cutting the typical U.S. household's spending on gas by more than $1,200. No wonder the petroleum lobby is fighting ethanol hand and foot. Ethanol is costing them big time.


  10. Interesting considering I make it a point to get gas from a station with 100% gasoline-no ethanol added, and pay around .10 less than the crap with ethanol, but this article would lead me to think I should be paying $1.09 more. It just doesn't add up. Besides that, we may use less gasoline, but how much do we spend subsididizing ethanol production?

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.