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Ricardo Research Shows E15 Poses Minimal Risk to Older Vehicles

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Raising the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline from the current 10 percent maximum to 15 percent poses little risk to the inner workings of vehciles manufactured from 1994 to 2000.

That’s the result of a research study conducted for the Renewable Fuels Association by the Van Buren Township-based automotive engineering firm Ricardo Inc.

The proportion of vehicles manufactured in this era but still in use today is  significant. Model years 1994 to 2000 represent 62.8 million vehicles or about 25 percent of the light vehicle fleet on the road in the United States.

Ricardo said it used a “reliable statistical sampling” approach in the analysis, targeting the top-selling platforms from the six auto manufacturers that represented the overwhelming majority of auto sales in the period.

Based on the engineering analysis performed, the Ricardo study concluded that the adoption of E15 as the blend limit for standard U.S. pump grades of gasoline should not adversely affect vehicles manufactured between 1994 and 2000 in terms of their performance and durability based on normal specifications and usage profile.

“Older vehicles represent a significant yet previously comparatively under-researched element of the U.S. national vehicle fleet,” said Kent Niederhofer, president of Ricardo Inc. “In considering the potential risks and benefits of increasing the current ethanol blend ceiling in regular gasoline from 10 to 15 percent it is crucial that the interests of the potentially very large stakeholder group represented by the owners of these vehicles are investigated. While many previous studies by Ricardo and others have evaluated the impact of higher ethanol blends on newer vehicles, this study demonstrates for the first time that raising the blend ceiling to E15 is likely to have a negligible impact on vehicles manufactured between 1994 and 2000.”

With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the United States and Asia, England-based Ricardo plc provides strategic consulting and engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls and electronics, and hardware and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel-cell powertrain technologies. Ricardo’s customers include the world’s major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial, off-highway and clean-energy sectors. The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies.

The Renewable Fuels Association is a national trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry.

More at www.ricardo.com.

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