Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from various plant materials, which collectively are called “biomass.” More than 95% of U.S. gasoline contains ethanol in a low-level blend to enhance octane and reduce air pollution. Ethanol is also increasingly available as E85 (51%-83% ethanol depending on season and geography), an alternative fuel that can be used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs).

Benefits of Ethanol

Energy security: According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the ethanol produced in 2013 alone displaced gasoline refined from more than 450 million barrels of imported crude oil.

Energy efficiency: Corn ethanol can provide up to 1.7 times more energy than the fossil energy used to produce it; the use of corn ethanol results in the consumption of 40% less fossil fuel energy than the gasoline it replaces.

Power and performance: Because ethanol is a high-octane fuel, it offers increased vehicle power and performance.

Emissions reduction: On a life cycle basis, including fuel production and distribution, E85 made with corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 19% to 52%, depending on the production process used. When E85 is made from cellulose materials, such as corn and wheat stalks or forestry waste, it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 86%.

Availability: In 2014, there were 90 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) FFV vehicle models available, at little to no increased cost over conventional vehicles.

For more information: Alternative Fuels Data Center