With gas prices constantly fluctuating in recent months, consumers have become more interested in alternative fuels. One alternative fuel that is becoming increasingly available to consumers is E85, a blend of ethanol and gasoline. E85 is comprised of 85 percent ethanol, made from corn or other crops, and 15 percent gasoline.

The E85 fuel typically costs 50 to 70 cents less than a gallon of gas. E85 has a higher octane which can increase horsepower and vehicle performance. The E85 fuel also reduces tailpipe emissions of some smog-forming exhaust and greenhouse gases. However, vehicles burn the E85 fuel faster due to lower energy content, so the miles per gallon on E85 fuel is reduced.

The interest in E85 is continuing to mount based on the fact that ethanol is a renewable, domestic product. In his State of the Union Address on January 31, 2006, President George W. Bush introduced the Advanced Energy Initiative, which calls for his 2007 budget to include $150 million (a $59 million increase over the FY06 budget) directed toward the development of cellulosic ethanol. By producing ethanol from agricultural waste products such as wood chips, stalks, and switch grass, it is estimated that the fuel will become cost competitive by 2012. More information on the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative can be found at www.whitehouse.gov.

While there are millions of vehicles already on the road that are capable of running on E85, there has been a shortage of fueling stations. Until recently, there were only approximately five hundred fueling stations throughout the country that sold E85. In 2006, two thousand additional fueling stations are expected to begin selling E85 to consumers. GM currently has 1.5 million vehicles on the road that can run on the E85 fuel. Ford also has a significant number of vehicles currently on the road capable of operating on E85. Vehicles that are capable of running on the E85 fuel are known as flex fuel vehicles (FFV). FFVs are able to sense the fuel mix and adjust accordingly without any additional modifications to the vehicle or adjustments made by the user.

If you are interested in using E85, you might be asking, “How can I find out if my vehicle will run on E85, and is there a fueling station near me?” The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) Web site addresses these questions. To find out if your vehicle will run on E85, please visit www.e85fuel.com/e85101/flexfuelvehicles.php. As Anthony Pratt, senior manager of global powertrain forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates, stated, “You may have an ethanol vehicle in your driveway and not even know it.”

USA map E85

Photo Courtesy of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition. www.E85Fuel.com
All states shown in yellow currently have E85 fueling stations available.

If you do have an ethanol vehicle and want to find out where the fueling stations are located, please visit www.e85fuel.com/database/search.php.

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