Ethanol-Mix Push Threatens Mogas Use

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It looks like the future of mogas use in airplanes is limited unless something is done to reduce the U.S.'s growing preference for ethanol as a fuel additive. Most states are considering laws requiring up to 10 percent ethanol in all or most automotive gasoline and the federal government seems poised to make it easier for oil companies to make the switch by reducing, suspending or even canceling a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol (which is generally a lot cheaper than the domestic variety). That's bad news for aircraft owners who've obtained supplementary type certificates (STCs) allowing the use of automotive fuel in their engines. Ethanol-blended fuels are not permitted under the STCs. Whether or not a 10-percent blend will hurt aircraft engines is a hotly debated topic but the regulations make it a moot point. Nor does there seem to be any stopping the widespread use of ethanol to replace a fuel additive called MTBE, which has caused environmental problems. MTBE is to be phased out in coming years and the use of ethanol in gasoline is expected to increase from 4 billion gallons this year to 7.5 billion gallons next year.