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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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Comments (9)
  1. Good article. At a time of crop shortages, we should be focused on replacing E15 crop based ethanol anyway with cellulosic biofuels. We are suppose to be producing 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2022 in the new RFS standard. We are not suppose to see any growth in food based ethanol according to the standard. Do you know which manufacturers are the furthest along in adopting the new biofuels?
     
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  2. E10 or E15 is VERY detrimental to our antique boats and classic automobiles. I don't use it and will not use it.
     
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  3. "the first third of a gallon of gas in the hose is whatever was pumped by the last driver."

    I need some proof for that statement...
     
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  4. Feel free to follow the NYT link, which is where I sourced the information.

    Logically it makes sense - anything past the actual pump itself doesn't go back into the tanks, just as fuel in a car's fuel lines doesn't get sucked back into the tank when it isn't being used.
     
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  5. 1/3 of a gallon is over 1 litter, more than half of a 2L bottle. That is a lot of gas.

    Well, that only mean a terrible design by the gas station. Many gas stations have different hose for differet grade of gas (except for Costco Stations). Why can't they do the same for E15?
     
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  6. @Xiaolong: I suspect the answer is that gas stations don't intend to add additional tanks for E15 plus any even-more-ethanol-intensive blends in the future. So instead they add one tank of pure ethanol and a "blender" pump that delivers the appropriate mix of ethanol and gasoline depending on whether E10 or E15 is requested.

    You've already got regular, mid-grade, and premium gasoline. You'd need to redesign all your pumps to add a fourth grade of gasoline--so apparently instead the blender pump makes more sense (and, at least theoretically, "future-proofs" the station by allowing other blends as well).
     
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  7. Well, many stations have the "fourth" nozzle for Diesel and seperate Tank.

    The "blending" pump idea is just there to save money. If the "blender" pump goes out of calibration, you will never know how much ethanol you are getting.

    Plus, storing and transporting 100% ethanol is just expensive due to the ethanol's desire to evaporate and/or absorb water out of the air. Both are problems.

    Do we know for a fact that is how the E10/E15 works? (with the blending pump)
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  8. The only long term effects on engines is that engines will burnout all of the gunk and junk carbon residue that is left behind by 100 percent gasoline. The Oil Companies are trying their best to discredit blended ethanol gasoline. Actually the best gasoline for your car is 50 percent blended ethanol gasoline. Ethanol blended gasoline is higher octane and will make your engine run cleaner for the evironment and add horsepower to your auto. The Oil Companies knwo that if the truth gets out to the public about ethanol its stock will suffer. The Truth will set you free. Respectfully, USN SPECOMM 1970-1993
     
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  9. You are absolutely right. The TRUTH will set you free. However your truth isn't true at all. A story done back in 2009 by Bloomberg refutes everything you just said...and it was written in 2009 with true accounts of mechanics stating that fuel pumps IN BRAND NEW VEHICLE were destroyed with the 10% blend. As in vehicles that only had 10% ethanol gasoline in their tanks. It is bad for the vehicle, bad for the environment, and bad for fuel mileage. When the ag industry hired retired Gen Wesley Clark to lobby for the dying industry, that is when it all went down hill. LOL... Best gasoline for your car is 50% blended ethanol. I quote Lexus "In the case of the Lexus recall, using just a 10% ethanol blend was found to be destroying many of these engines also." Do the research yourself, "The Great Ethanol Scam".
     
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