such vehicles and fuels could be extensive. Engines
must be designed to work most ef;ciently using this fuel
and then must secure EPA certi;cation. This could take
several years. Consequently, the market demand for E25
could be restricted to existing FFVs for many years.
3. If the new, high-octane fuel is E25, this fuel will not
be compatible with the existing, legacy ;eet. Retailers
would have to protect against misfueling. Also, demand
would be limited until the number of E25-capable
vehicles gains signi;cant market share. According to a
recent Fuels Institute ;eet turnover analysis, it would take
several years after vehicle introduction, coupled with very
high annual sales ;gures, to reach 20 percent of vehicles
on the road.
The high-octane fuel discussion is important for traditional fuel retailers because achieving greater ef;ciency to
comply with federal standards will extend the life of a liquid
fuels market. Debate regarding the best way to deliver a
higher-octane fuel remains. Many consider ethanol desirable,
but several other octane-enhancing, gasoline-blending components might be able to deliver a high-octane fuel without
the compatibility challenges of E25. Opportunities exist, but
competing challenges could undermine the development of
an E25 market.
THE LIKELY WINNER
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance will
require an expansion of biofuel blends in the market, but
signi;cant market challenges must be overcome.
E15 represents the best opportunity to boost ethanol’s
position in the market, but even it has limited capability to
satisfy the high RFS levels. With the potential demise of
E85, a gap must be ;lled if ethanol will contribute more
signi;cantly to the program.
High-octane fuels could provide a market opportunity for ethanol, but it is not yet certain such fuels will
be ethanol-dependent. Further, it will take several years
beyond the 2022 RFS target to make any market difference.
Implementation will require careful coordination between
the fuel distribution market and the vehicle industry concerning fuel and vehicle availability.
Many opportunities and hurdles exist for ethanol. The
maze can be solved, but it will take a commitment from
everyone in the market.
John Eichberger is executive director
of the Fuels Institute. Reach him at
Nearly 90 percent of U. S. ethanol
plants are “dry mills” in the Midwest
that grind corn into ;our, then
ferment the ;our into ethanol.
Trains or trucks transport 90 percent
of ethanol to fuel terminals to be
blended. Mainly barges transport the
other 10 percent, and some pipelines.