A publication for antique car buffs is reporting the Environmental Protection Agency is intent on ending the production of ethanol-free gasoline, known in aviation as Mogas. Hemmings Daily said the Renewable Fuels Standard issued by the EPA a couple of weeks ago sets eliminating ethanol-free gasoline as a goal. It quotes the EPA as saying it plans to “continue incentivizing the market to transition from E0 to E10 and other higher level ethanol blends.” While the EPA doesn’t set ethanol levels in fuel, it is mandated by law to set the amount of ethanol and other renewable fuels that must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. A powerful lobby of U.S. corn producers maintains constant pressure to increase ethanol volumes.
For 2017, the EPA increased the amount of ethanol that must be used in gasoline sold in the U.S. by 6 percent to 19.28 billion gallons, or about 10.7 percent of the total gasoline supply. Most automotive gasolines have slightly less than 10 percent ethanol and all modern vehicle engines are designed to use those fuels. Manufacturers can void warranties if a higher concentration is used in their vehicles. But there are blends that have 15 percent or more ethanol and can be used in so-called flex fuel vehicles. The threat to Mogas comes with the theory that as ethanol volumes required by the EPA increase, there is less room to allow production of ethanol-free gas because of the so-called 10 percent “blend wall” that refiners are reluctant to breach in their mainstream fuels. That means more flex fuel blends will have to be sold to absorb the increased ethanol volume.
Marine and off-road vehicle engine manufacturers are leading the battle against the demise of ethanol-free fuel because their engines and operating environments make them more susceptible to alcohol-related damage. The EPA claims ethanol-free fuel is a preference rather than a requirement for virtually all other engines, like those in old cars and airplanes, even though the FAA specifically bans the use of ethanol-blended fuels in the automotive fuel STCs it issues for certified aircraft. “With the exception of the oldest engines, essentially all vehicles and engines currently in use have been designed to be compatible with E10,” the EPA says in its response to comments opposing the increased use of ethanol. There are about 110 airports selling Mogas in the U.S., according to the website flyunleaded.com. Many more aircraft owners buy Mogas at gas stations and fill their tanks from jerry cans at considerable cost savings.