Flexible fuel vehicle owners could get more choices at the pump under a pilot project launched by the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
"Fueling stations currently sell gasoline blended with either 10% or 85% ethanol," says Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky. "This pilot project will allow them to install pumps that dispense ethanol fuel blends not currently offered, like 20 or 30% ethanol, to allow consumers to decide for themselves which blend is best for them based on price and performance."
All vehicles on the road today can use gasoline blended with 10% ethanol, or E10. Flexible fuel vehicles, however, can use higher blends with up to 85% ethanol. The blender pumps authorized under the pilot project will allow flexible fuel vehicle owners to purchase such blends as E20, E30, E50 or E85.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation is now testing how regular fuel vehicles perform on higher ethanol blends. Initial research shows that E15 and E20 blends deliver the same environmental benefits without any adverse effect on vehicle engines," Polansky says. "It's very possible the Department of Transportation may one day endorse using these higher ethanol blends in non-flexible fuel vehicles."
In the meantime, to ensure unwitting consumers don't accidentally pump a higher ethanol blend into their vehicle than it can manage, the pumps will feature a bright orange label with the message "For use in flexible fuel vehicles only."
The Kansas Department of Agriculture's weights and measures program regulates gas pumps for accuracy and verifies the fuel's characteristics, including octane rating and whether the fuel contains impurities. Program staff will ensure that equipment used to dispense the ethanol blended fuel is suitable and properly installed, and that fuel quantity and quality standards are met.
The pilot project will allow blending on a trial basis until Jan. 1, 2009. Guidelines
for the pilot project are online at www.ksda.gov/renewable_energy/content/191.
Currently there are 28 stations in Kansas selling E85 fuel.