Shock US study shows biofuels like E10 petrol may be worse for environment

E10 biofuel: Department for Transport explains why it’s ‘better'

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Fears over the benefits of the UK industry standard E10 fuel have been raised by a new study in the US that claims ethanol is 24 percent worse for the environment than gasoline, due to the increased carbon emissions in producing it. The ‘E’ in E10 stands for ethanol and E10 contains twice the amount of the previous E5.

In the USA, a higher amount of ethanol in petrol has been standard for some time, with E10, E15 and E85 regularly used at the pumps.

Changes were originally made due to high fuel prices, with the idea that as ethanol is a byproduct of producing corn, and America makes huge amounts of that, it could be put into fuel to aid with supply and help the environment.

Under the 2005 Renewable Fuel Standard Act, U.S. refiners began mixing 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol into gasoline.

And corn farmers who would have been supplying corn for food instead began processing it to make petrol.

Those farmers were given Government subsidies to do so, despite one result being increased food costs.

With regard to E85, which is a majority ethanol-based fuel, car makers even changed their designs to be able to run on the fuel and accrue valuable Government ‘credits’ for meeting economy standards.

But now a National Academy of Sciences study has found that the huge increase in corn production (6.9million acres) to produce the ethanol needed is 24 percent more carbon intensive than previous methods.

In the UK, E10 fuel became the industry standard in September last year, replacing 95 octane.

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According to the Government, E10 “will help to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with petrol vehicles and tackle climate change.

“By blending petrol with up to 10% renewable ethanol, less fossil fuel is needed, helping us reduce carbon emissions and meet climate change targets.

“The introduction of E10 petrol at UK forecourts could cut transport CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year.”

But letters reported by the Open Democracy website state that an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Bioethanol lobbied MPs to introduce E10 petrol “as swiftly as possible” despite warnings about its environmental credentials.

Nick Molden, who runs independent testing firm Emissions Analytics said of the environmental benefits of E10: “You might have one source that is really good, but another source that’s worse than crude oil. So how certain can we be that it comes from a good source?

“A lot rests on the certification of ethanol. But I have concerns that the system may not be guaranteeing that.”

He added: “I’m not confident that E10 is actually reducing CO2 emissions, and theoretically it could be making it worse.”

Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of The Renewable Fuels Association which represents the ethanol industry in the US, called the NAS study “completely fictional and erroneous” and said it relies on “worst-case assumptions and cherry-picked data.”

In January, The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the ethanol industry to reinstate year-round sales of E15 (which contains 15 percent ethanol) which is currently banned due to
‘summer smog’ between June and September.

Donald Trump lifted the ban in June 2019, however the Supreme Court said that exceeded Presidential authority.

Two days ago senators again asked for the ban to be lifted in order to help fuel supplies due to the ban on Russian oil.

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