Biofuels are fuels made from renewable biological materials such as algae, animal fat, corn, potatoes, oils (soybean, sunflower, and rapeseed), soy, sugar, and woody biomass. In Arizona, the most common commercially available biofuels are, biodiesel, biodiesel blends, and Ethanol Flex Fuel. Biofuels are becoming increasingly available to consumers due to the Renewable Fuel Standard authorized by Congress under the Energy Police Act (EPAct) of 2005, which requires a specified volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation and heating fuels. By 2022, the Renewable Fuel Standard will require a nationwide total renewable fuel volume of 36 billion gallons. In addition, the biofuels must demonstrate a percentage reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that is set depending on the type of biofuel.
The Weights and Measures Services Division has adopted rules regarding biofuels and biofuel blends under A.R.S. 3-3433(M).
M. The associate director shall adopt rules regarding the establishment and enforcement of all of the following:
- National or federal standards for individual biofuels and biofuel blends.
- United States environmental protection agency and ASTM test methods for individual biofuels and biofuel blends.
- Registration and reporting requirements for producers, blenders and suppliers of biofuels and biofuel blends.
- Labeling requirements for biofuels and biofuel blends other than biodiesel or biodiesel blends.
- Quality assurance and quality control programs for producers, blenders and suppliers of biofuels and biofuel blends addressing rack, batch or other blending.
- Requirements that the dispensing equipment meet appropriate UL ratings where available and applicable, that the equipment comply with rules adopted by the division relating to approval, installation and sale of devices and that the equipment be compatible with the products being dispensed.
Biodiesel and Biomass-Based Diesel
Biodiesel can be sold in its pure form or as part of a blend. Biodiesel and biodiesel blends are described using a letter “B” followed by a number representing the percentage of biodiesel content. For example, “B100” represents 100% biodiesel, while “B20” represents an 80% diesel and 20% biodiesel blend. In the United States, diesel fuel that meets the ASTM D975 standard is allowed to contain up to 5% volume of biodiesel without additional notification on the product label. For biodiesel content greater than 5% and up to 20%, the label must state that the product is a biodiesel blend, and indicate the percentage and/or content range of biodiesel that the blended product contains. Biodiesel and biodiesel blend labels are light blue in color with black text. Biomass-based diesel and biomass-based diesel blends are described and labeled similar to biodiesel and biodiesel blends, only these labels are orange in color with black text instead of light blue.
Ethanol, E15 and Ethanol Flex Fuel
What is Ethanol?
Ethanol is a renewable fuel that is produced by fermenting and distilling starch crops that have been converted into simple sugars. A wide array of plant material can be used to make ethanol including corn, barley, wheat, and sugar. Ethanol can also be produced from cellulose material, such as wild grasses or plant waste. The addition of ethanol to gasoline results in a cleaner burning fuel, therefore reducing vehicle emissions. In Arizona, most gasoline offered for sale contains some ethanol. During the cooler months in the Cleaner Burning Gasoline (CBG)-covered area (Maricopa County and portions of Pinal and Yavapai Counties) and in the Tucson area, certain percentages of ethanol are required to be blended with gasoline due to air quality regulations.
What is E15?
E15 is conventional gasoline blended with 10.5% to 15% ethanol. In Arizona, E15 is allowed for sale outside of the Cleaner Burning Gasoline (CBG)-covered area. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, E15 may be used in Flex Fuel vehicles and conventional vehicles of model year 2001 and newer. It is recommended, however, that you check your owner’s manual before fueling with gasoline blends that contain greater than 10% ethanol by volume. It should also be noted that there are certain vehicles that are prohibited from using E15. A list of these vehicles can be found here.
E15 is identified on fuel dispensers by the following label:
What is Ethanol Flex Fuel?
Ethanol Flex Fuel is defined as a fuel that meets the specifications of ASTM D5798. It is a blend of ethanol and gasoline, with ethanol being 51 to 83 percent of the total fuel content. This fuel replaced a blended fuel commonly known as E85, which consisted of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. This change was made in order to allow the ethanol and gasoline blend to comply with the minimum vapor pressure requirements of the ASTM specification. Lowering the ethanol content of the blended fuel allowed this minimum vapor pressure requirement to be met, and the name of the fuel was changed to avoid any confusion regarding the newly defined ethanol content range. The name “E85” is being phased out in Arizona by January 1, 2018. You may have already noticed the new Ethanol Flex Fuel name at the pump.
What is It?
When a blend of 51 to 83 percent ethanol by volume is added to conventional gasoline, the resulting blend is known as Ethanol Flex Fuel.
A University of Toronto study found that ethanol could replace up to 30 percent of U.S. consumption of conventional fuel. This cleaner-burning fuel could play an important role in efforts to reduce Arizona's dependence on fossil fuels while improving air quality. State law allows Ethanol Flex Fuel to be sold throughout Arizona, including the Cleaner Burning Gasoline (CBG) Covered Area, which includes the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.
But It Does Have Some Drawbacks
Ethanol Flex Fuel typically sells for less per gallon than convention fuel, but yields less energy than conventional gasoline. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, vehicles that used the previously allowed E85 fuel would typically get about 15 to 27 percent fewer miles per gallon than vehicles powered by gasoline. Ethanol contains about one-third less energy than gasoline, so naturally fuel efficiency will be reduced in relation to the ethanol content of Ethanol Flex Fuel. As automotive technology improves, the fuel efficiency of vehicles that use Ethanol Flex Fuel may improve in the future.
Not every vehicle can use Ethanol Flex Fuel. Ethanol is more corrosive than conventional gasoline. It can damage a car that is not properly equipped, and could lead to poor fuel performance. Fuel stations that sell Ethanol Flex Fuel need special dispensing equipment. Fuel station owners are not liable if a motorist puts the fuel into a vehicle that is not equipped to handle Ethanol Flex Fuel. Station owners are, however, required to properly describe Ethanol Flex Fuel on their price signs and dispensers. These labeling requirements include a simple disclaimer that notifies the customer that Ethanol Flex Fuel is intended for use only in Flex Fuel Vehicles and that it may harm other engines. An example of an Ethanol Flex Fuel product label is shown below.