USGC: Ethanol can improve China’s air, water quality

By U.S. Grains Council | July 28, 2015

A U.S. Grains Council mission including U.S. environmental and public health specialists recently traveled to China to discuss how air and water quality in that country could be improved through the use of ethanol in the country’s fuel. 

“China already has a 10 percent mandatory blend rate for gasoline in specified markets,” said USGC Manager of Ethanol Export Promotion Programs Ashley Kongs. “But there are many large cities and regions seeking to improve air and ground-water quality that are not yet using E10 fuel.”

To increase awareness of the favorable air and water quality aspects of using ethanol as a fuel oxygenate, the council organized a series of seminars and meetings with national and provincial energy officials, key ethanol producers, environmental protection officials and researchers on vehicle emission. 

Mission participants made presentations outlining how the United States significantly improved air quality while maintaining economic growth and expansion of automobile transportation with the use of ethanol as an oxygenate in gasoline. Since roughly half of aggregate air pollution in the United States comes from motor vehicles, reformulated gasoline played a key role in these improvements. 

The presentations also explained the environmental reasons that have made ethanol the preferred oxygenate in the United States, as the primary alternative oxygenate, methyl tert-butyl ether (MBTE), has the potential to contaminate ground water. 

MTBE is still widely used in China so policymakers with whom the team met were very interested in the adverse environmental impacts the use of MTBE had in the United States prior to the use of ethanol as the primary oxygenate.

“There is significant interest is finding viable solutions to pressing air and water quality problems in China,” said Bryan Lohmar, USGC director for China.

“The team’s presentations were very well received and discussions with prominent energy and environmental policymakers, policy advocates and industry representatives were very engaging. This activity has increased key stakeholders’ awareness of ethanol as an ideal oxygenate, and I think will help facilitate expanded adoption of E10 to improve the environment.” 

Joining Lohmar and Kongs on the mission were:

- Angela Tin, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest vice president environmental health;
- John Mooney, U.S. EPA chief of air programs branch in region 5 office in Chicago;
- James Patrick O’Brien, chemist and private consultant;
- Jiang Junyang, USGC deputy directory in China; and
- Andrew Anderson-Sprecher, U.S. Embassy Agriculture Affairs Office agricultural attaché.

Click here to view more photos from this mission.