E15 Ethanol Gasoline Arrives...At One Station In Kansas

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Corn Ethanol Pump

Corn Ethanol Pump

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If ever there was a suitable place to sell stronger blends of ethanol in gasoline, it's the midwest.

With vast supplies of common crops like corn, the midwestern states are ideal for ethanol production and sales. And kicking off that trend is one lone gas station in Kansas, the first to sell E15 gasoline.

E15, a blend of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, has been approved by the EPA, but adoption of the fuel has been slow as several carmakers have been unwilling to say whether it's safe to use in their vehicles.

Others recommend against it, some say it will damage your engine, and many refuse to cover any E15-related damage under warranty.

The first station to offer it is a Phillips 66 station on Route 10 in Lawrence, Kansas. Speaking with The New York Times, station owner Scott Zaremba described ethanol as "the fuel of the future."

“Being in the Midwest, offering renewables from ethanol and biodiesel fuel are just a natural fit for us.”

The station side-steps some of the technical issues of E15 by using pumps that offer a selection of blends. All vehicles already use a 10 percent blend called E10, but the customer can also select E15, E30 and E85.

Zaremba has actually been selling these blends for a while, but previously only to drivers of "flex-fuel" vehicles. Now, the E15 is labeled for use in regular vehicles.

E15 does have plenty of advantages, not least the home-grown appeal of being able to produce greater quantities of fuel in the nation's backyard. Potentially, this could lead to reduced costs too, and it keeps money in the country, where it can help improve the economy.

Ethanol also has a higher octane rating than regular gasoline, suitable for the higher-compression engines that manufacturers are now building to improve efficiency.

There are downsides too. Availability is one--highlighted by the fact that Zaremba's station is the first in the country to offer E15 for regular cars. Fuel efficiency is another, since ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline, and the final stumbling block has already been mentioned--lack of car manufacturer support.

Until any sort of consensus is reached, filling with higher blends of ethanol is very much up to the consumer's discretion.

And until there are more E15 stations, you'll probably have to live in Lawrence, Kansas...


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Comments (6)
  1. Kansas can keep E15 all to themselves. There are absolutely no advantages for this type of fuel. There is a gas station nearby my home which sells ethanol-free premium fuel and I every week there. It is work the extra 30 cents to know that my car is not being damaged by the E10 and the extra 2-4 MPG almost makes up for the extra cost. I also use their ethanol free fuel for all of my power equipment.

    You can use pure-gas.org to find the nearest ethanol-free station near you. They also have a very basic iPhone app that finds the nearest stations.


  2. @Matthew: Thanks for the info. However, if you are driving any car legally sold in the U.S. since 1980, it is designed to handle E10 and will not suffer any damage. It may deliver marginally less fuel economy, however, as ethanol has a lower energy content per volume than gasoline. But the car should not suffer any damage.

    Other items with gasoline engines, however, were not necessarily designed that way: snowmobiles, gasoline-engined power tools, ATVs, marine engines, etc.

  3. Marginally less fuel economy? My 2004 F150 suffered a 10% drop in mpg, and so did my wife's 2001 Acura. I realize this is probably the result of the ECU not being tuned for E10, but it's still hurting my wallet, and why should I be penalized for being forced to put a product into my trucj that it was never designed for?

  4. It seems to me that the age of gasoline is coming to a close. Car manufacturers are adding more and more devices to bring fuel econemy up but overall driving performance is getting worse. Driving performance is starting to feel choked off in new cars with turbos and 8 speed gearboxes they feel like the have asthma. And now gas is being diluted with ethanol and why the price doesn't seem to be affected and it doesn't perform as well. I also wonder what I need to do in my classic cars, all I've heard is that its hazardous in older engines but there is no one answer as to what needs to be done. Our use of oil seems to be coming to an end, a slow end but the decline has become visible.

  5. E-15 contains only 90% of the BTUs of real Gasoline (hard to find anywhere now) the remainder are fillers and stabalizers to keep the alchohol in suspension for a few days, they provide nothing to move your car. E15 must be used with in a few days or just leaves non-combustable swill (mostly water) in the bottom of you tank. Requires adding a product like StarTron to clean your fuel system out. Actually; E15 if sold by the energy provided should be discounted by 25%

  6. @DrBob: I'm not following your math. How can there be only 75% the energy of pure gasoline in a blend that's 85% gasoline? That makes no sense.

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