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Title: Summary of High-Octane Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Study

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of light-duty vehicles are pursuing a broad portfolio of technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy. Central to this effort is higher efficiency spark ignition (SI) engines, including technologies reliant on higher compression ratios and fuels with improved anti-knock properties, such as gasoline with significantly increased octane numbers. Ethanol has an inherently high octane number and would be an ideal octane booster for lower-octane petroleum blendstocks. In fact, recently published data from Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories (Splitter and Szybist, 2014a, 2014b; Szybist, 2010; Szybist and West, 2013) and OEMs (Anderson, 2013) and discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest the potential of a new high octane fuel (HOF) with 25–40 vol % of ethanol to assist in reaching Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goals. This mid-level ethanol content fuel, with a research octane number (RON) of about 100, appears to enable efficiency improvements in a suitably calibrated and designed engine/vehicle system that are sufficient to offset its lower energy density (Jung, 2013; Thomas, et al, 2015). This efficiency improvement would offset the tank mileage (range) loss typically seen for ethanol blends in conventional gasoline and flexible-fuelmore » vehicles (FFVs). The prospects for such a fuel are additionally attractive because it can be used legally in over 18 million FFVs currently on the road. Thus the legacy FFV fleet can serve as a bridge by providing a market for the new fuel immediately, so that future vehicles will have improved efficiency as the new fuel becomes widespread. In this way, HOF can simultaneously help improve fuel economy while expanding the ethanol market in the United States via a growing market for an ethanol blend higher than E10. The DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office initiated a collaborative research program between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to investigate HOF in late 2013. The program objective was to provide a quantitative picture of the barriers to adoption of HOF and the highly efficient vehicles it enables, and to quantify the potential environmental and economic benefits of the technology.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  3. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
BM0102060; CEBM007
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States); Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B); USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (EE-3V)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS high octane fuel; mid-level ethanol; greenhouse gas emissions; vehicle efficiency; renewable super premium