EPA to allow replacement for ethanol

Washington Examiner:
The Environmental Protection Agency is about to allow a new renewable fuel to be sold at the pump, which could revolutionize the fuel business while eliminating the use of corn ethanol in gasoline altogether.

For some, the prospects of no longer having to use ethanol under the EPA’s renewable fuel mandate is reason enough to support the new super fuel.

“We started to look at what would be an alternative, rather than just say ‘no, no, no, we don’t like ethanol,’” said John McKnight, senior vice president for environmental policy with the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

His trade group opposes moving to higher levels of ethanol under EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard because of the damage the fuel causes to marine engines that power everything from 75-foot yachts to fishing boats and jet skis. Some of McKnight's members include engine makers Volvo, Honda, Kawasaki, Caterpillar, Cummins and Mercury.

“Is there something that’s out there that’s better?” was the question McKnight asked about 10 years ago.

The answer was “biobutanol,” the name given to the renewable form of isobutanol.
BP, in a partnership global chemical giant DuPont, is preparing to introduce the fuel commercially, with production ramping up in the coming months.

The EPA is expected to soon approve an application to sell BP’s biobutanol as a 16-percent gasoline blend.

The agency, in its proposal to approve the fuel, called it an “attractive option” to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard, because of its superior qualities compared to conventional corn ethanol, including its higher energy density.
Ethanol and biobutanol are alcohol fuels derived from fermenting corn. But biobutanol is not corrosive like ethanol and behaves more like conventional gasoline. That means cars, boats and other machines that require gasoline can use it at high levels without experiencing problems.

The Energy Department lists four main benefits of the fuel. It has a "higher energy content" than most gasoline alternatives such as ethanol. It has lower Reid Vapor Pressure than ethanol, which means lower fuel volatility and emissions. It also provides for "Increased energy security" because it can be produced "domestically from a variety of feedstocks, while creating U.S. jobs." Finally, it reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

McKnight, who is pushing the new fuel, said increasing the year-round use of 15-percent ethanol blends from the current 10 percent, as President Trump recently endorsed, is particularly damaging to marine engines.
It does sound better than ethanol, although that is a low bar at this point.  Ethanol has screwed up more small engines than can be counted.  I still question the need for biofuels at this point.  The original purpose of the mandate was to reduce the dependency on imported oil. 

With the shale revolution, there is more than enough US light crude to replace any contribution by ethanol and deliver a superior product.  The one hold back is that many US refineries need to be converted to handle the light crude rather than the heavy crude from imported oil  But the mandate has the perverse effect of diverting money that could be used to update the refineries to sinkhole investment in RINs which are of no benefit to anyone other than Big Corn.

Whatever can be done to eliminate the ethanol requirement should be a priority.


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