E85 & Biodiesel Guide

What is E85

E85 (or flex fuel) is a term used for an ethanol fuel blend of 85% denatured ethanol fuel and 15% gasoline (or similar hydrocarbon). It is typically used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are available from domestic and foreign automakers and are essentially vehicles designed to operate on any combination of gasoline and/or ethanol up to that 85% level. These vehicles have OBD-II computers in them which detect the exact fuel being consumed and can adjust fuel output levels accordingly to maximize the vehicle’s fuel burning capabilities.  

Standard gasoline is rated at 87 octane while E85 is typically rated at 100 to 105 octane. This higher octane rating comes with some significant benefits such as - less fuel needed for combustion, being less volatile than gasoline or low-volume ethanol blends resulting in fewer evaporative emissions, and increased overall engine performance. 

There are more than 2,700 public E85 stations in the United States that offer high-level ethanol blends to nearly 20 million flexible fuel vehicles currently on U.S. roadways. All equipment used to dispense E85 fuel must be compliant with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards set for E85, designated UL87a and the John Ellsworth Company ensures that all our E85 equipment is UL listed. 

For more information on E85 and how to safely handle and store it, take a look at this comprehensive handbook from the U.S. Department of Energy - Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing E85 and Other Ethanol-Gasoline Blends.

What is Biodiesel

Biodiesel, used in everything from airplanes to roadway vehicles to tractors to generators, is a renewable and biodegradable fuel manufactured domestically from plant oils (i.e. soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil), animal fats (i.e. beef tallow, pork lard), and recycled cooking oils (i.e. yellow grease). It has the benefits of producing reduced greenhouse gas emissions, is nontoxic and suitable for sensitive environments, and displaces petroleum-derived diesel fuel.

The biodiesel labeling conventions are as follows:

  • 100% biodiesel is referred to as B100
  • 20% biodiesel, 80% petrodiesel is labeled B20 (most popular)
  • 5% biodiesel, 95% petrodiesel is labeled B5
  • 3% biodiesel, 45% petrodiesel is labeled B4

Blends of B20 or lower require no new equipment or modifications to existing equipment, in both dispensing and combusting the fuel. This is because B20 can be stored in diesel fuel tanks and pumped with the same equipment as diesel fuel and engines operating on B20 have similar fuel consumption, horsepower, and torque to engines running on petroleum diesel. B20 does present a few unique handling and use precautions, but most users can expect a trouble-free B20 experience.

Since the soybeans and other feedstock biodiesel is made from naturally absorb carbon dioxide, the CO2 emissions from actually burning biodiesel essentially get canceled out, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Life cycle analysis completed by Argonne National Laboratory found that B100 use reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 74% compared with petroleum diesel.

Oxidized biodiesel and biodiesel blends can contain organic acids and other compounds that can quickly wear down your equipment. Corrosion can also be the result of contaminants like water, free glycerin, free fatty acids, or the sodium or potassium used in biodiesel processing, so having the necessary filters in place is important. Ensuring that all the biodiesel you’re storing, pumping, and burning is compatible with all your equipment can minimize corrosion risks.

For more information on Biodiesel, its benefits, and how to safely handle and store it, take a look at this comprehensive handbook from the U.S. Department of Energy - Biodiesel Handling and Use Guide.


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