The Everyday Difference
Almost all gasoline currently contains 10 percent ethanol (E10). Mid-level blends are growing in popularity and will soon be made more available across the nation. Blender pumps are needed to provide additional levels of ethanol in gasoline. Mid-level blends are blends of gasoline containing 15, 20 and 30 percent ethanol. These blends provide many advantages to your vehicle and your health.
What are mid-level ethanol blends?
Mid-level ethanol blends are blends of 15, 20 and even 30 percent ethanol. The primary means for creating these blends is to simply add ethanol to current E10 fuel, which makes up nearly 97 percent of all U.S. gasoline sales.
The ethanol industry doesn’t want regular gasoline (E10) to go away. Instead, mid-level blends provide consumers with more choices. This choice gives consumers options and a cleaner fuel with increased octane. For example, E15 is a mid-grade octane and E20 is premium.
Why are mid-level blends not readily available?
There are two reason – first, gas stations need blender pumps to provide mid-level ethanol blends. Second, the oil industry still controls a significant majority of gas stations, limiting what retail chain stores are able to sell.
Right now, there are roughly 400 stations nationwide that offer mid-level blends. The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to see that number expanded. In 2015, it gave $100 million in grant money to 21 states to install blender pumps for mid-level ethanol blends.
What are blender pumps?
Blender pumps allow the consumer to choose their ethanol level, whether it be E15, E20 or E30. Gas stations with blender pumps usually have an underground tank of regular gas (E10) and a tank of E85 or E98. Then, when the consumer chooses a blend such as E20 or E30, ethanol is simply added to the regular gasoline. This choice gives consumers more options for octane (E15: mid-grade, E20: premium, and E30: super premium).
The ethanol industry doesn’t want regular gasoline (E10) to go away. Instead, blender pumps provide consumers with more choices. More than 5,000 blender pumps will soon be available nationwide. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded 21 states grant money worth more than $100 million to install blender pumps.
What are the benefits of using mid-level ethanol blends?
Mid-level ethanol blends provide higher octane, better performance and cost less than regular gasoline. Plus, mid-level ethanol blends are cleaner-burning, reducing toxic emissions.
On average, consumers shouldn’t see mileage loss with E15 and likely E20. In fact, many consumers today who have access to blender pumps say they often see better mileage. Automotive studies show modern cars can take advantage of higher octane. Even with E20 having 3 percent less energy than E10, the higher octane can allow the best ignition timing over all ranges of vehicle power loads.
Should I be concerned about gasoline quality?
Consumers are unaware that there is a significant variation in gasoline. Gasoline makeup typically contains more than 100, and often 200, different components that vary depending on the time of year and the refinery. Many of these components are solvents and are considered toxic.
The gasoline quality of most concern is high-distillation components that come right out of crude oil and the addition of toxic aromatics like benzene and toluene for octane. These toxins come out of the tailpipe as invisible particles that can directly enter your bloodstream and cause a host of health problems.
What can I do to get more access to mid-level blends?
Right now, most blender pump retail stations are located in the Midwest. To get more access, it’s best to tell your local retailer and lawmaker that you would like more ethanol.
If you’re curious and want to experiment, find a station that sells E85. Then you can make your own mid-level blend using one-third E85 and two-thirds regular (E10) to reach an E25 or E30 blend.
What is a flex-fuel vehicle?
A flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) has the flexibility of running on more than one type of fuel. FFVs can be fueled with unleaded gasoline, E85 or any combination of the two. Like conventional gasoline vehicles, FFVs have a single fuel tank, fuel system and engine. And they are available in a wide range of models such as sedans, pickups and minivans.
You don’t have to have an FFV to use mid-level ethanol blends. Most vehicles that are 2001 and newer have been tested for up to E15. Some of the testing included E20 and E30 without problem.