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Ethanol versus gasoline

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) has said that it sis challenging the findings from a recent study by the University of Minnesota that claims that ethanol is more polluting than gasoline, and calls it an intellectually dishonest effort.

David Van Der Griend, UAI President said, “these are baseless and quite frankly irresponsible conclusions that gasoline is cleaner than ethanol. The study utterly failed to consider a vast body of research by auto industry and health experts that conclusively show gasoline aromatic hydrocarbons are the primary source of the most dangerous urban pollutants. The aromatics, which comprise 25 – 30% of US gasoline, are responsible for a wide range of serious health effects, including autism, cancer, and heart disease.”

Ethanol is a source of clean, low carbon octane that is used in federal reformulated gasoline in major US cities. And even though it is not required, refiners choose ethanol for its clean burning properties and its ability to help them meet emission standards. Carbon monoxide exceedances have essentially been eliminated in the US due to the presence of ethanol and ozone violations are at the lowest levels in history. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, the amount of ozone in the air has decreased 18% from 2000 – 2013.

Van Der Griend continued, “urban air pollution, and specifically summertime smog or ozone, is a mix of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, particulates, NOx, and countless other factors. Gasoline itself is a toxic soup of chemicals but as we add ethanol we clean up that gasoline and protect public health.”

He noted that outdated models used by the US EPA fail to recognise the value of higher blends of ethanol. Yet, UAI fuel testing confirms that higher blends of ethanol, such as a 30% blend, if made by simply adding ethanol to a base fuel already containing ethanol, would significantly lower vapour pressure and provide clean octane. Regardless of deficiencies in EPA modelling, the fact that ethanol is in all US gasoline and ozone levels are decreasing speaks for itself, say UAI researchers. Van der Griend concluded, “we continue to bring our data and real world experience with ethanol to the EPA and hope they can join us in challenging these types of studies that fail to do their homework.”

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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