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EPA approves E30 demonstration project

EPA approves E30 demonstration project

Nebraska is showing E30 is safe for use in non-FFVs

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave its approval to let Nebraska continue demonstrating the use of a higher blend of ethanol in vehicles.

Starting this fall, Nebraska will test up to 825 State-owned vehicles to identify how using E30 is better for everyone.

“Promoting higher ethanol blends should be a centerpiece of our national strategy to lower gas prices,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a statement. “Ethanol saves drivers money at the pump, is better for the environment, and creates opportunities for farm families in America’s Heartland.”

About 790 million bushels of Nebraska corn is used for ethanol production each year.

Nebraska began studying the use of E30 biofuel in 2019.

Under current EPA guidelines, only flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) can use ethanol blends higher than E15.

FFVs “have an internal combustion engine and are capable of operating on gasoline and any blend of gasoline and ethanol up to 83%,” the U.S. Department of Energy says.

Officials installed tracking systems on 50 State-owned non-FFVs (26 with E15 and 24 with E30) to monitor vehicle performance.

Most of the vehicles were Dodge Avengers owned by the Nebraska Transportation Bureau (NTB). Ford Fusions owned by the NTB, and Dodge Chargers owned by the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) were also included in the tests.

The E15 vehicles drove 331,483 miles and the E30 vehicles drove 307,516 miles for a total of 638,999 miles.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) received the data for analysis.

A 2021 UNL report showed multiple benefits to E30, including an ethanol consumption increase of 66,000 gallons per year if the NTB and NSP vehicles transitioned to E30.

And state-wide E30 use would increase ethanol consumption by 18.5 million gallons per year and cut carbon emissions by 64,000 tons per year.

The number of U.S. corn bushels destined for ethanol production has increased in recent years.

In 2020, 5.05 billion bushels went for the biofuel’s use. That number rose to 5.152 billion in 2021 and is estimated to increase further to 5.375 billion in 2022.

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