Growth Energy, a biofuel trade organization, said in an article on its website that ethanol is a renewable, earth-friendly biofuel made from plants.
“It’s a high-quality, high-octane fuel that burns cleaner and cooler than oil, which is good for our environment and our car engines,” the article said.
Mike O'Brien, vice president of market development at Growth Energy, said E15 – a biomass-based gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol – is only available at 1,200 locations in 29 states, including North Carolina. He said its availability will continue to grow.
“We’ll probably end up with about 1,400 by the end of this year,” O'Brian said. “In terms of the number of locations in North Carolina offering it, there are 72 retail locations offering it.”
O’Brian said E15 will also hold a better value for the customer, retailing typically anywhere from 3 to 10 cents per gallon less than regular gasoline, resulting from the type of octane booster in the fuel.
“The more ethanol you put in the fuel, the higher the octane rating and the cheaper it is because now you’re taking out things that are significantly more expensive," he said. "When you go to the gas station, just take a look at the regular gas and the premium and you’ll definitely see what I’m talking about. The premium is going to have a lot more of those petroleum-based (octane boosters) in it, and that’s why the price is so much higher.”
O'Brian said E15 is the most tested fuel ever put on the market, leading to a certification from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy for use in all cars made in 2001 or later. Its higher octane content allows it to burn cleaner in the engine, and it releases fewer harmful emissions than straight gasoline.
“There really is not a downside to E15 for the consumer,” he said.
O'Brian said E15 is important because of the myriad of benefits, such as its status as a domestically produced renewable resource and the purchasing power of the consumer.
“I recommend it to my kids, family and pretty much everybody I come across that has a 2001 or newer vehicle," he said.