EPA declares new 20% ethanol fuel blend road ready

June 18, 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a renewable gasoline product that can be blended into conventional gasoline at up to 20% concentration – the highest yet to be approved for use in any conventional gas-powered vehicle without requiring any engine modifications.

The blend, called VertiGas20, was developed by a California-based fuel company in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The company specializes in alternatives to conventional petroleum-based fuels that are created from plants

The ethanol product is produced using a process called Consolidated Alcohol Deoxygenation and Oligomerization, which was first developed at the Oak Ridge lab in Tennessee.

“VertiGas20 represents a significant step toward producing more renewable fuels, compatible with the existing infrastructure, which will help mitigate climate change,” the company’s chief operating officer said in a press release.

Transportation accounts for about 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to data from the EPA. The U.S. government has made a major push toward electrification with tax credits for electric vehicles and investments in the charging network. For many Americans, however, EV’s remain prohibitively expensive, while others say the battery ranges are too small and the charging network too sparse to make electrification practical.

Renewable fuels made from plants, sometimes known as biofuels, are one way to reduce carbon pollution without having to embrace full electrification. Ethanol-based fuels are centuries-old and emerged as an additive to reduce the pollution associated with gasoline in the 1970s. Currently, the most common fuel blends contain at most 10% ethanol, but VertiGas20 is designed to be blended at 20% while still working with all gasoline-powered vehicles on the road today.

In developing the gas, the company worked alongside the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office. The office assisted in testing the renewable fuel under various conditions, gathering data and analyzing the fuel’s environmental impact across its entire production process.

The Bioenergy Technologies Office is the government’s leader in developing biofuels. Recently, the office offered $18.8 million in grant funding for algae-based biofuels, with full applications due June 27. The office also offers grant funding for developing fuel from organic waste, research and development of sustainable aviation fuel and various biomass-based fuel projects. A full list of funding opportunities is available through the office’s website.

In addition to the gasoline blend, the company is also working on a renewable propane and alternatives to petroleum-based plastics, paint, nylon and detergent. It is also participating in the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge.

It is not alone on the push for more sustainable fuels. A major international aircraft manufacturer recently announced an expansion to its partnerships aimed at developing hydrogen-based aviation fuel with studies at airports in Houston, Atlanta and across Canada. Earlier this year, a Colorado-based biofuels company announced a partnership aimed at bringing 100% ethanol fuels to the freight trucking industry.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

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