Growing Ethanol Markets: E15 Testing to Start in California

October 21, 2020

Growing Ethanol Markets: E15 Testing to Start in California

Oct 21, 2020

Key Issues:Ethanol

Author: Julie Busse

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with state corn organizations, ethanol partners and the auto industry, are working with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to conduct vehicle testing at the University of California at Riverside (UCR). E15 in the California market is important to growing ethanol demand. CARB is a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is the state’s clean air agency.


The testing will demonstrate the environmental benefits and compatibility of E15 in selected makes and models of vehicles. This process will help pave the way for sales of E15 and higher blends of ethanol in California.


“With the scope of research agreed upon and contracts signed, E15 testing in California can move forward,” said JR Roesner, Indiana farmer and Ethanol Action Team (ETHAT) member. “If we can achieve E15 as the base fuel in California, based on estimated total gasoline usage in the state in 2015, the potential market opportunity would be roughly 750 million gallons of ethanol or 260 million bushels of corn.”


Tests will be conducted on 20 late-model vehicles to measure tailpipe and evaporative emissions. Testing a broad sample of makes, models, and technology levels with both E10 and E15 blends will provide CARB with the necessary information to permit the sale of E15 in California.


“Motor gasoline volatility is varied throughout the year to ensure good cold-start and drivability while also controlling evaporative emissions,” said Brian West, NCGA contributor and former Group Leader for the Fuels and Engines Research Group at the National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Summer fuel is used in certification tests, and we wanted to use retail fuel for this program.  If the refiners had begun the changeover to fall/winter gasolines, we would have been significantly delayed either waiting for 2021 summer fuel or having to source a specialty fuel, which is very expensive and also has very long lead times.”


NCGA and state partners, Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, CARB, and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) are partnering on the study.