E15 (15% ethanol, 85% gasoline) is a new higher octane fuel that will soon be available nationwide at retail fueling stations. E15 was approved for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs)  by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through a second partial waiver in January 2011.This approved group of vehicles includes more than 80% of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today. What is more important is the fuel consumed by these vehicles constitutes more than 80% of the unleaded fuel sold.The EPA mandated E15 label states what vehicles E15 may be used in. It is important to note that dispensing E15 into a vehicle or engine that may not use E15 is prohibited by federal law.

Vehicles that may not use E15 are model year 2000 and older cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles. All motorcycles may not use E15 as well. For more information on E15’s use in motorcycles, please read RFA’s Fact Sheet. Engines that may not use E15 are all off-road vehicles, including boats and snowmobiles, all off-road equipment, including lawnmowers and chainsaws, and vehicles with heavy-duty engines.

Please see the RFA Automobile Fact Sheet for E15 and the RFA FAQ Sheet for E15 that address fuel economy, the testing of E15, and other frequently asked questions.

Sound Scientific Research

E15 is currently the most widely tested fuel to date. The RFA sponsored a report conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to review completed studies on the effects of E15 on engine durability, emissions, and other factors. After reviewing 43 studies, and reporting those findings in the Review and Evaluation of Studies on the Use of E15 in Light-Duty Vehicles  and Appendix, NREL found the available literature on E15, “did not show meaningful differences between E15 and E10 in any performance category.” In specifically evaluating the Coordinating Research Council’s (CRC) controversial engine durability study, NREL found “…the conclusion that engines will experience mechanical engine failure when operating on E15 is not supported by the data.”

Consumer Information

Please see the RFA Understanding E15 FAQ sheet that addresses who can use E15, where E15 is available, as well as general U.S. ethanol industry statistics.

You may also view RFA Manufacturer Fuel Auto Recommendations for 2012, 2013, and 2014 Vehicle Models.

Health Effects Testing Data

A required step in the approval of any new fuel or fuel additive, as stated in the Clean Air Act and EPA regulations, is the submission of health effects testing data. On February 3, 2012, this health effects testing data package was submitted to EPA for approval. The submitted health effects data package was then approved by EPA on February 17, 2012, satisfying the Tier 1 and Tier 2 requirements for E15. This acceptance allows for ethanol companies to register with EPA to offer E15.

Misfueling Mitigation Plan

Incorporated in the partial E15 waiver decision by EPA are misfueling mitigation conditions. The conditions that need to be met are:

  • Labels must be placed on E15 retail dispensers indicating that E15 use is only for MY2001 and newer motor vehicles.
  • Product Transfer Documents (PTDs) must accompany all transfers of fuels for E15 use.
  • Parties involved in the manufacture of E15 must participate in a survey of compliance at fuel retail dispensing facilities to ensure proper labeling of dispensers.
  • Parties must submit a plan addressing conditions to EPA for approval.

In order to address these items, the RFA submitted this Model E15 Misfueling Mitigation Plan on March 2, 2012 to meet the waiver conditions. A fuel additive or fuel manufacturer that wishes to register E15 must submit a misfueling mitigation plan.

Approval of the E15 Misfueling Mitigation Plan was received on March 15, 2012. This approval deemed the Model E15 Misfueling Mitigation Plan developed by RFA and submitted to EPA in early March 2012 as sufficient to meet the MMP requirement explained in the partial waiver condistions. The letter can be seen here.

Getting E15 to the Marketplace

For E15 to be sold lawfully by a fuel or fuel additive manufacturer, the manufacturer must register E15 and meet the waiver requirements. Companies seeking to offer E15 will need to register with EPA, submit the Misfueling Mitigation Plan, a fuel survey plan, and take proper steps to address any existing fuel regulatory requirements at the state level. More information on E15 registration can be found here on EPA’s website.

2013 Ford Escape gas cap shows it is okay to use ethanol-blended fuels up to E15.

Source: Fox Car Report Tweet on Twitter

E15 Retailer Handbook

The RFA has developed the E15 Retailer Handbook to provide fuel retailers with regulatory and technical guidance in order to legally store and sell E15 ethanol blends. The Handbook provides sample checklists and questions that all potential E15 retailers should contemplate before moving forward with offerings of E15. Specifically, the Handbook offers guidance regarding:

• Federal regulatory requirements including blender registration, octane posting, proper pump labeling, compliance with an EPA-approved fuel survey, and OSHA regulations

• State and local fuel safety regulations

• E15 conversion guidelines for fueling infrastructure

• Retail conversion procedures

• E15 fuel specifications and properties

• Transportation and storage requirements

• Safety and firefighting procedures