- E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The U.S. Department of Energy defines E85 as an alternative fuel.
- E85 is an environmentally friendly fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline.
- Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) have been designed to operate on any ethanol blend up to 85 percent ethanol. Special onboard diagnostics read the fuel blend, enabling drivers to fuel with ethanol blends in any combination from a single tank. The computer adjusts the FFV’s fuel injection and ignition timing to compensate for the different fuel mixtures.
- FFVs have modifications to their design to enable them to operate on higher blends of ethanol. Changes include an oxygen fuel sensor that detects the level of oxygen (ethanol); the fuel tank, fuel lines and fuel injectors are made of different materials; and a stainless steel fuel tank has been added along with Teflon-lined fuel hoses.
- E85 is a domestically-produced renewable fuel that reduces dependence on foreign oil imports, which are projected to reach 77 percent of total U.S. fuel use by 2025.
- A typical vehicle operating on gasoline gets 20 miles per gallon. If that same gallon of gasoline was extended with 85 percent ethanol, the vehicle would travel over 100 miles by the time the original gallon of gasoline was consumed.
- FFVs are not optimized for E85, so they experience a five to 15 percent decrease in fuel economy because ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline. However, E85 has a much higher octane rating (100 to 105) than gasoline. Fuel economy varies depending on such things as driving conditions, temperatures and tire pressure. For comparison purposes, aggressive driving habits can result in a 20 percent loss and low tire pressure can reduce mileage by six percent.
- FFVs have a larger fuel tank to provide the same driving range as a gasoline-powered vehicle.
- Some projections predict there will be over 800,000 FFVs in Iowa by 2015. If all of these ran on E85, it would increase the demand for ethanol by 500 million gallons.
- Today nearly all alternative vehicles are produced by auto manufacturers to ensure they meet exhaust emission standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Consumers can now fuel non-flexible fuel vehicles with E85 with the installation of a FLEX-BOX SMART KIT™. The kit, which is EPA approved, continuously monitors a vehicle’s engine emissions and adjusts supplemental fuel injection which allows the vehicle to operate at optimal performance.
- With EPA certification, installing a FLEX-BOX SMART KIT™ doesn’t affect your vehicle’s warranty. Several vehicles have already been approved for use with the conversion kit; and the EPA plans to continue testing and approving more vehicles for use with the kit.
- E85 is priced competitively with regular unleaded gasoline – typically at least 50 cents less. As is the case with all types of fuel, the larger the number of outlets offering E85, the more competitively priced the fuel should be.
- There are state and federal incentives for selling E85. Several ethanol plants blend E85 and offer incentives to retailers.
- Iowa offers financial assistance to retailers through the Iowa Department of Economic Development that offsets the cost of E85 refueling equipment. Customer demand influences what products are sold. Talk to your local retailers about offering E85.