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Locally sourced E30 biofuel safe for use in non-flex fuel vehicles, ongoing research finds

LINCOLN, NE – The use of ethanol blends in vehicles continues to increase across the United States. Recent results from an ongoing pilot program in Nebraska is showing promise for even higher ethanol blends to be safe for use in the nation’s vehicles.

Governor Pete Ricketts announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the continuation of groundbreaking research being done in Nebraska on E30 fuel. Results of the State’s initial pilot program, launched in 2019, showed that E30 is safe and reliable fuel for use in conventional vehicles. Under current EPA guidelines, only flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) can use ethanol blends higher than E15. Through its second phase of research, the State intends to underscore its initial findings in order to support regulatory change to make E30 accessible to all drivers.

In June 2019, the State of Nebraska began its study on the use of locally sourced E30 biofuel in conventional vehicles. State teammates outfitted 50 State-owned vehicles with onboard tracking systems to capture data on vehicle performance. They monitored those vehicles for an entire year. Data was submitted to engineers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) for analysis.

In 2021, UNL’s Engineering Department released its analysis of data from the first phase of the demonstration. It clearly showed that E30, a blend of gasoline and 30% ethanol, is safe and efficient to use in non-FFVs. This peer-reviewed research was the first scientific demonstration of its kind.

The second phase of the E30 demonstration will begin in the fall 2022 and include up to 825 State vehicles. While further demonstrating the safety and reliability of E30, the State will also significantly reduce its fuel costs and carbon footprint through the program.

“Promoting higher ethanol blends should be a centerpiece of our national strategy to lower gas prices,” said Ricketts. “Ethanol saves drivers money at the pump, is better for the environment, and creates opportunities for farm families in America’s Heartland. Nebraska has already demonstrated that E30 can be used in regular vehicles without reducing performance or requiring extra maintenance. With our expanded study, we’ll be in an even stronger position to advocate regulatory change to make E30 accessible to everyone.”

One of the key findings from the first phase of the E30 demonstration is the positive environmental impact of allowing statewide E30 consumption. According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, if only 10% of the 1.7 million registered non-FFVs in Nebraska used E30 instead of E10, ethanol consumption would increase by 18.5 million gallons per year and carbon emissions would decrease by 64,000 tons per year.

“This marks another significant milestone for the nation’s ethanol industry and another significant step in reducing gasoline’s aromatic content,” said Reid Wagner, executive director of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “We have demonstrated that higher ethanol blends release fewer harmful emissions, have no detrimental impact on vehicles, and save consumers money. We hope to see other states follow Nebraska’s lead by demonstrating the use of E30 in their state fleets.”

Wagner said the State plans to work with industry partners and the EPA to continue the E30 demonstration for at least two years.

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