Why You Can't Buy Just 1 Gallon Of E15 Ethanol

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Big square baler harvesting wheat straw for production of cellulosic ethanol

Big square baler harvesting wheat straw for production of cellulosic ethanol

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It's fair to say that E15 gasoline--that's gasoline, blended with 15 percent ethanol--hasn't been universally popular, since being approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Not only are the blended pumps that serve it few and far between, but there are still clouds of doubt hanging over its long-term effects on engines.

Even if you can find it and aren't worried about it slowly eating away at engine components, a new rule on how much you're able to purchase is further harming its case.

As The New York Times reports, a four-gallon minimum purchase at service stations selling E10 and E15 from the same pump is making it even more difficult to buy fuel, particularly for motorcycle users.

The minimum volume requirement is designed to prevent users accidentally filling with higher quantities of ethanol at blended pumps, as the first third of a gallon of gas in the hose is whatever was pumped by the last driver.

That means small fills of E10 following an E15 fill will contain more ethanol, potentially increasing the risk of damaged components. This stops people filling up small, gasoline-powered equipment like leaf blowers and lawnmowers, where a damaged engine could increase the risk of fire.

However, for motorcyclists and ATV riders with small gas tanks, a four-gallon fill may not always be possible--preventing them from filling at these pumps. That means some road users can't buy any fuel from blended pumps, let alone higher ethanol blends.

While the EPA's motives are good--reducing the risk of fire for people who only want small quantities of gasoline--it's yet another negative strike for E15.

With a four-gallon minimum at blended pumps, even drivers who don't want E15 are being inconvenienced...


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