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Intermediate Ethanol Blends Infrastructure Materials Compatibility Study: Elastomers, Metals, and Sealants

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 was an omnibus energy policy law designed
to move the United States toward greater energy security and independence. A key provision of EISA is
the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which requires the nation to use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel
in vehicles by 2022. Ethanol is the most widely used renewable fuel, and a significant portion of the
36 billion gallon goal can be achieved by increasing the ethanol in gasoline to 15%. In fact in March
2009, Growth Energy (a coalition of ethanol producers and supporters) requested a waiver from the
Environmental Protection Agency to allow the use of 15% ethanol in gasoline. In anticipation of this
waiver being granted, uncertainties arose as to whether additional fuel ethanol, such as E15 and E20,
would be compatible with legacy and current materials used in standard gasoline fueling hardware. In the
summer of 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy recognized the need to assess the impact of intermediate
blends of ethanol on the fueling infrastructure, specifically located at the fueling station. This research
effort was led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in
collaboration with Underwriters Laboratories. The DOE program has been co-led and funded by the
Office of the Biomass Program and Vehicle Technologies Program.
The infrastructure material compatibility work has been supported through strong collaborations between
the DOE labs and UL. NREL led the effort to select and test a limited number of new and legacy fueling
dispenser units using 17% ethanol; the actual testing was conducted at UL under subcontract to NREL.
ORNL led the effort to evaluate the impact of intermediate blends of ethanol on a large number of
materials (metals, elastomers, plastics and sealants) representing those typically used in dispenser
infrastructure. The ORNL materials studies are reported herein, but additional work is under way at
ORNL, and additional interpretation of the combined data from ORNL, NREL, and UL is expected in the
near future

Author(s)
Michael Kass
Contact Person
Tim Theiss
Contact Organization
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Contact Email
Bioenergy Category
Publication Year
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.