Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a leading safety testing and certification organization, recently collaborated with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate safety issues concerning highly-concentrated ethanol-blended fuels. The overall goal of the research was to advance public knowledge about the long-term effects of ethanol on the components of E85 dispensers and the subsequent effects on fire safety. UL’s research findings have led it to establish safety requirements for E85 fuel dispensing equipment.

“UL’s research into the safety aspects of the equipment used to dispense high percentage ethanol-blended fuels was a significant undertaking that required the participation of government agencies such as the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Association (EPA), as well as technical experts in biofuels and material compatibility from around the world,” said Gus Schaefer, UL’s Public Safety Officer. “We took the need for E85 dispenser requirements very seriously due to the unique characteristics of ethanol-blended fuels and believe the potential issues we identified through our thorough process will help promote the efficient, effective delivery of E85 as safely as possible.”

UL mark

The UL mark is added to those products that have been certified by Underwriters Laboratories. Credit: Underwriters Laboratories

Conducting the research involved collection of technical data, field studies of existing E85 installations in the United States and Brazil, analysis of material compatibility for dispenser components, and a co-sponsored technical forum with the DOE. The forum consisted of thirty-two national experts from automobile and petroleum companies, ethanol producers, dispenser and component manufacturers, industry associations, government agencies, and university researchers.

“The Department of Energy has been pleased to facilitate an efficient, focused, diligent, and collaborative effort with Underwriters Laboratories, EPA, and stakeholders. We are pleased with the outcome that offers predictability in planning and growth of E85 as it becomes a nationwide fueling option. A safe and reliable biofuels infrastructure is essential toward meeting President Bush’s goal of displacing 20 percent of gasoline consumption within a decade by commercializing cost-effective biofuels nationwide,” said Andy Karsner, U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “UL’s quick completion of test requirements will help expand the use of clean and abundant homegrown fuels to decrease our reliance on imported oil, increase our energy security, and benefit our environment.”

Go to www.ul.com for more information.

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