Faulty testing produces “meaningless” results in oil and auto industry study on E15

May 16, 2012

Faulty testing produces “meaningless” results in oil and auto industry study on E15

(May 16, 2012) Washington – A report released today by the oil and auto industries on E15 and other higher level ethanol blends is fundamentally flawed, noted both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

In a blog post, the DOE offered some tough critiques of the oil and auto industry research. Specifically, the blog said, “We believe the choice of test engines, test cycle, limited fuel selection, and failure criteria of the CRC program resulted in unreliable and incomplete data, which severely limits the utility of the study. “ The entire blog post can be read here.

Speaking to the New York Times, a Department of Energy spokesman “said that his agency had tested 86 vehicles on test tracks and dynamometers for a total of more than six million miles. ‘A subset of those engines tested in the D.O.E. study were torn down and inspected with no discernible difference in engine wear between test fuels,’ he said.”

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen echoed the concerns of DOE and emphasized the importance – and public desire – to diversify our fuel supply including using higher level ethanol blends.

“Accepting the status quo in a fuel market monopolized by petroleum as the best this nation can do is unacceptable. After 6 million miles and years of testing, the Department of Energy found no problems with the use of E15 in vehicles made since model year 2001. By funding research using questionable testing protocols and illegal fuels, the results of this study are meaningless and only serve to further muddy the waters and shun the overwhelming desire of 75 percent of Americans for greater choice at the pump. The RFA has worked in good faith with all stakeholders in this debate to identify and address concerns in a constructive manner that will increase America’s use of domestic renewable fuels and reduce our reliance on imported oil. This study, and continued efforts aimed at confusing rather than informing consumers, impede this progress and do little to address the nation’s need for clean, renewable fuel that lowers the price at the pump and creates jobs here at home.”

Earlier today, the RFA outlined some concerns with the re-release of this report. Those concerns include:

  • The Department of Energy conducted six million miles of testing on E15 – the equivalent of 12 round trips to the Moon – and found no issues.
  • Some of the vehicles in the oil/auto industry funded research project actually failed on E0 – gasoline without ethanol. (Interestingly, no E10 was tested.)
  • Some of the vehicles tested were under recall by NHTSA.

Additionally, research from automotive consulting firm Ricardo, Inc., found that high octane fuels – fuels like ethanol with an octane rating of 113 – will be essential in helping automakers achieve new fuel economy standards. That research can be read here.