E85 Frequently Asked Questions
What is a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV)?
vehicles have been designed to operate on any ethanol blend up to 85%
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
Flexible fuel vehicles (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. For a list of FFVs, please click here.
What happens when E85 is not available?
The FFV system
allows the driver to use any combination of gasoline or ethanol – from 100% unleaded gasoline to 85% ethanol blends. Therefore,
gasoline can be used if E85 is not available.
Does an FFV cost more than a gasoline-only model?
fuel engines are standard equipment on certain makes and models of
automobiles, trucks and SUVs produced by General Motors, Ford Motor
Company, DaimlerChrysler, and Nissan. FFVs are available
at little or no additional cost. These vehicles carry the same warranties
as gasoline-only vehicles.
Can a car be retrofitted or converted to use E85?
conversion kits have been offered in the past to convert vehicles to
use alternative fuels, 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). At
the present time there are no conversion kits or after-market parts
that have been certified by EPA as meeting exhaust emission standards. In
fact, converting a vehicle that was designed to only operate on unleaded
gasoline to operate on another form of fuel is a violation of federal
law and the offender may be subject to significant penalties.
Are repair and maintenance costs for FFVs any different than
they are for gasoline vehicles?
No, the costs are roughly
the same as regular auto repairs and maintenance. An
FFV does run cleaner and, therefore, some maintenance costs may actually
be reduced in the long run.
What is the price of E85?
Ethanol should be priced
competitively with regular, unleaded gasoline. 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.
Where can I buy E85?
For a list of Iowa E85 refueling locations, please click here, or
for E85 stations nationwide, please click here.
How can I get an E85 pump in my area?
influences what products are sold. Talk to your
local retailers about offering E85. Financial assistance is
available to retailers through the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure
Program, which is being managed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. For more information
on the grants available through the Iowa Values Fund, please visit: www.iowaagriculture.gov/agMarketing/IRFIP.asp.
What is the octane rating of E85 compared to gasoline?
has an octane rating ranging from 100-105, making it a high performance fuel. In
comparison, regular unleaded gasoline has an octane rating of 87.
What happens if I accidentally fuel my gasoline-powered vehicle
No problems should
occur if you mistakenly fuel once with E85.
The “check engine light” may appear due to the higher oxygen
content in E85. Long-term use of E85 in gasoline-only vehicles
may cause damage because of the incompatibility of high-ethanol blends
with parts in gasoline-only engines. Alcohol fuels can be more
corrosive than gasoline. Therefore, fuel system parts have been
upgraded to be ethanol-compatible. Also, improper use of E85
may compromise performance and emissions.
What is the impact of having E85 available in Iowa?
over 93,000 FFVs are owned by Iowa motorists. Projections
are that an additional 40,000 to 100,000 FFVs will be purchased by
Iowans each year over the next decade, bringing the state’s total
FFV fleet to 800,000 by 2015. If all these vehicles ran on E85,
it would increase the demand for ethanol by 500 million gallons.
If E85 is spilled on the ground, can it contaminate groundwater?
is water soluble, non-toxic and biodegradable. E85 contains
roughly 80% less of the potential contaminates found in gasoline.
Is E85 more toxic or dangerous than gasoline?
No. 100% ethanol can be ingested by human beings. Fuel-grade
ethanol must be “denatured” with gasoline to prevent consumption. Also,
ethanol does not contain the harmful carcinogens and toxins found in