Several Senators last fall wrote the Environmental Protection Agency requesting testing of blends of ethanol above 10% for non-flexible fuel vehicles.
"It is becoming even more important as we see the maximum market demand for E-10 blends quickly approaching," says Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "It is believed that the E-10 market will be saturated by 2012 or 2013 at about 12 or 14 billion gallons a year. That's about twice what we producer right now. It is critical that timely approvals be made for intermediate blends of ethanol-blended gasoline for non-flexible fuel vehicles."
The EPA has indicated they are seeking input and data from stakeholders. The state of Minnesota in conjunction with the Renewable Fuels Association has released a year-long study measuring the effects of E-20. The report shows no problems with either the automotive equipment or their performance.
Grassley is now sending letters to leading automakers to find out what they are doing in the area of research and testing on higher ethanol blends. He wants to know what each of the automakers knows about materials, performance and emissions issues and if they are sharing that information with the Department of Energy and EPA.
"If we are going to address the higher blend issues and decrease our dependence on foreign oil," Grassley says, "It's going to have to be a cooperative effort between the public and private sectors."