Following the lead of several other states in the Southeast, last week Georgia, implemented new fuel quality standards for gasoline that will allow for increased ethanol blending.
Until now the use of ethanol, specifically E10—a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, in Ga., and several states in the Southeast had been hampered by a lack of distribution infrastructure as well as state regulations for ethanol that failed to accommodate the changes in fuel properties that occur when it is added to finished gasoline.
The largest impediment for ethanol blending in the Southeast had been the T-50 specification under the American Society for Testing and Materials fuel quality standards. T-50 is the distillation temperature for the 50 percent evaporation point that is measured when adding fuel. The ASTM standard is 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 150 degrees F in the summer. On a temporary basis, the Georgia Department of Agriculture last year lowered the level to 158 degrees F year-round, with the new level that goes into effect tomorrow reduced to 150 degrees F year-round.
The department has also lowered the vapor to liquid ratio, which should equal 20, by adjusting the temperatures downward. For August and September, the temperature is lowered to 120 degrees F and to 113 degrees F from April through July, and 107 degrees F during November through March. The higher the V/L temperature ratio, the more volatility the fuel possesses, which can cause vapor lock, especially on older vehicles and in warmer locales.
To reflect the regulatory change in Ga., which is designed to increase ethanol blending, Colonial Pipeline said in a shipper bulletin broadcasted last week that it will revise certain gasoline specifications. The revisions by Colonial are designed to provide greater flexibility to shippers during the transition to increase usage of ethanol, Colonial said. The Reid Vapor Pressure for Colonial's W0 and X0 gasoline grades will be changed from 7.0psi to 6.8psi.
“This change creates the greatest flexibility by allowing shippers the ability to blend or not blend ethanol,” Colonial said.
In the metro-Atlanta area, which includes Atlanta and 45 surrounding counties, gasoline can have a maximum 7.0psi RVP, enforceable from June 1 through Sept. 15. Since the RVP increases with the addition of ethanol in the gasoline blend, gasoline that contains 10 percent ethanol is allowed a 1.0psi RVP waiver. E10 blends in the Atlanta area are allowed an 8.0psi RVP.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture made no change to the state’s existing RVP specifications.
Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is expected to finalize within the next few weeks proposed rule changes that would relax the Sunshine State’s fuel quality standards for ethanol blending.
Fla., is proposing lowering the level to 158 degrees F from April 1 (April 16 for end-users) through Oct. 31 and to 150 degrees F from Nov. 1 through March 31 (April 15 for end-users).
However, the proposed rule in Fla., to lower the T-50 level to 158 degrees F in the summer is still likely to result in many gasoline blends falling below performance standards, industry sources say.
The Florida DEP is also suggesting the state amend its RVP rules for ethanol blended gasoline. From June 1-Sept. 15, gasoline in the Miami, Jacksonville, and the Tampa/St. Petersburg areas is allowed a maximum RVP of 7.8psi. For the rest of the state, the allowable gasoline RVP is 9.0psi year-round. The state is also proposing to extend the 1.0psi RVP waiver when adding ethanol to conventional gasoline from just the summer months to year-round.
Additionally, the Florida DEP is proposing that the state lower the V/L temperature to a minimum of 116 degrees F for gasoline. Currently, for gasoline with a 7.8psi RVP the ASTM V/L temperature is 140 degrees F, and for gasoline with a 9.0psi RVP the ASTM ratio temperature is 133 degrees F. Gasoline with a 10.0psi RVP has a V/L temperature of 124 degrees F.
Elsewhere in the Southeast states including Tennessee, and North Carolina, passed permanent changes in February to reduce the T-50 level to a minimum 150 degrees F year-round. N.C., also waived the V/L requirement altogether. Alabama, waived the T-50 requirement and lowered its V/L ratio temperature. South Carolina, passed a permanent ruling in February that allows either the base gasoline or the ethanol blended fuel to meet ASTM standards.
In Mississippi, there is a proposal working its way through the legislative process to allow changes to the T-50 level and the V/L ratio for gasoline.