By Ben DuBose
HOUSTON -- Proposals to incorporate 15% fuel ethanol blends (E15) in passenger vehicles are being met with resistance by many in the global hydrocarbon processing industry (HPI), according to a new poll.
With several hundred votes cast at Hydrocarbonprocessing.com, 67% of respondents say it is neither safe nor economical for E15 blends to be used in passenger vehicles during the next decade.
Over 95% of cars and light trucks in the US are currently built to run on gasoline containing 10% ethanol, or E10, and todays auto manufacturers will not warranty their engines for the use of fuel with higher ethanol content, said Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).
They have good cause; a recent CRC study issued in May shows that even the use of E15 in EPA-approved vehicles can cause significant damage, he added.
Meanwhile, 21% said it was reasonable for E15 blends to be used within five years.
After more testing than ever has been completed, the US Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of E-15 for use in 2001 and newer vehicles, said Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.
Its use will grow slowly over time as the resistance to its use by the refining industry withers in the face of compelling economics and consumer choice, he added.
Another 6% of respondents said the safety of E15 blends depended largely on region.
Autos in some countries like Brazil already use 25% ethanol in the gasoline blend, said Alfred Luaces, IHS senior director of research and analysis for global petroleum markets.
Brazil is also unique in that there is a large portion of the auto fleet that can use 100% ethanol fuel instead of gasoline, he continued.
In the US, we expect the E10 gasoline blend to remain the dominant fuel product and do not expect widespread introduction of E15 for at least another five years.
Luaces cited the voiding of existing car warranties and possible changes to state-level fuel specifications as barriers to the adoption of E15 over the next several years.
To see more details on this poll as well as access prior Hydrocarbon Processing poll results, click here.
(Editors note: Polls are where we at Hydrocarbon Processing gather industry sentiment on significant issues of the day. Visit the home page to weigh in on our latest poll regarding cybersecurity in the HPI.)