The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a study this week that shows a move to a nationwide 95 Research Octane Number (RON) fuel by 2022 can be made by minor refining adjustments and doesn’t guarantee the use of higher ethanol blends.
Many auto manufacturers have long supported increasing octane ratings to improve emissions and ensure compliance with ore stringent fuel economy standards. Ethanol has a blending octane of 113, and is the cleanest, most affordable octane available today.
The study put forth by the EIA this week examined the impacts of a scenario in which vehicles model year 2023 and newer would require the use of a higher octane 95 RON fuel. Most importantly, the study found that “existing domestic refineries should have no problem meeting the 2022 requirements based on the assumptions in this study.”
Rather, the study found that by increasing the reformer severity of their refining process, oil refineries could “significantly increase the average octane of refinery produced gasoline,” and they could do so without the use of ethanol. Additionally, by increasing reformer severity, refiners could achieve higher octane without any significant changes to refinery configuration or throughput.
The EIA’s study is very timely, as the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce is set to hold a subcommittee hearing to discuss draft legislation from Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL) and Bill Flores (R-TX) on this topic. Growth Energy has and will continue to stress that in order to fully take advantage of the long-term benefits of higher-octane fuel beyond even a 95 RON, octane requirements must therefore be implemented without dismantling the RFS and stripping our nation’s ethanol producers and farmers a market for their goods.
We have long supported and advocated for the use of higher octane fuels, but in raising the nation’s octane, there is no need to do so at the expense of the highly-successful Renewable Fuel Standard. By coupling a stable Renewable Fuel Standard with improvements to octane standards, consumers can continue to reap the increased engine efficiency, environmental benefits, and cost savings that ethanol provides. Any sunset of the RFS would only be a step backwards for our nation.
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