Blending the Rules

The March edition of EPM answers questions about RVP and E30, says EPM's editor-in-chief. Other articles cover reconditioning of key back-end equipment, along with a new DDGS treatment.
By Tom Bryan | February 16, 2017

On numerous occasions I’ve been told that E30 can be used in nonflex-fuel vehicle engines without concern, but until I read this month’s cover story I wasn’t sure we should be telling consumers to try it. After reading “Passing the Test with Flying Colors,” on page 28, I’m convinced that modern engines are perfectly capable of using E30 without incident or risk.

As EPM’s Ann Bailey reports, Watertown, South Dakota-based Glacial Lakes Energy LLC sponsored an E30 Challenge to empirically prove that the midlevel blend is compatible with modern engines. Through consumer education and sound automotive science—they used data loggers plugged into onboard vehicle diagnostics—the team made history. They proved that model year 1996 and newer vehicles are able to adapt to E30, and even perform better on it. Fuel economy stayed the same (compared to E10) and no mechanical issues or “check light” incidents were reported. In essence, the cars liked it.

In “No Waiver? No Sense,” on page 34,  we report on E15’s perplexing exclusion from the one-pound Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver given to its predecessor, E10. As Bailey reports, E15 actually has lower evaporative emissions than E10, so it almost defies logic that it wouldn’t be granted the same regulatory exception. To date, the U.S. EPA has said the Clean Air Act amendment that allows for the waiver applies exclusively to E10, an interpretation our industry disagrees with. That’s left E15 hamstrung by seasonal restrictions. Throughout much of the country, the fuel can’t be sold from June 1 to Sept. 15, which has encumbered its adoption. While legislative channels of opposition are possible, our trade association leaders now hope the Trump administration’s penchant for regulatory reform will yield a common sense one-pound RVP waiver for E15.

Jumping from markets to maintenance, our page-38 story examines the unique challenges of repairing, reconditioning and rebuilding different types of ethanol plant equipment. In “The Inside Story,” EPM’s Susanne Retka Schill reports on how original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and after-service companies keep centrifuges, dryers and regenerative thermal oxidizers running with optimal availability and reliability. We learn that timely cleanings, periodic rebuilds, close adherence to OEM instructions, and patience, keep major equipment running better, longer and more safely.

On page 42, we introduce readers to a new product that is improving the flowability of DDGS and making the product more nutritionally valuable. Freelance writer Debbie Sniderman reports on a Minnesota-based company applying a mineral additive to DDGS with a plethora of benefits. The product encapsulates and pulls moisture away from DDGS while enhancing the coproduct’s mineral composition and color. Ethanol plants testing the product have reported many benefits including higher product yield, lower energy use, faster turns on rail equipment and less damage to rail cars. Sounds promising.

Author: Tom Bryan
President & Editor in Chief
[email protected]