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OED > Bio & Alternative Fuels > E85/B20 FAQs E85/B20 FAQs

E85

E85 is the alternative fuel made from the ultimate renewable resource...corn. E85 is the term for motor fuel blends of up to 85% ethanol and just 15% gasoline. E85 is an alternative fuel as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy.

What is a Flex Fuel Vehicle?

A flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) is specially designed to run on any ethanol blend up to 85% ethanol. Special onboard diagnostics "read" the fuel blend, enabling drivers to fuel with E85 or gasoline in any combination from a single tank. There are no switches to flip, no mixing or blending. The computer adjusts the FFV's fuel injection and ignition timing to compensate for the different fuel mixtures

What if E85 is not available?

The FFV system allows the driver to use any combination of gasoline or ethanol-from 100 percent unleaded gasoline to 85 percent ethanol. A driver can therefore use unleaded gasoline if ethanol is not available.

What are the differences in an FFV compared to a regular gasoline-only model? Are different parts used?

There is only one major additional part that is included on an FFV-the fuel sensor that detects the ethanol/gasoline ratio. A number of other parts on the FFV's fuel delivery system are modified so that they are ethanol compatible. The fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel injectors, computer system, anti-siphon device and dashboard gauges have been modified slightly. Alcohols are corrosive. Therefore, any part that comes in contact with the fuel has been upgraded to be tolerant to alcohol. Normally, these parts include a stainless steel fuel tank and Teflon lined fuel hoses.

Can a car be retrofitted or converted to use E85?

We do not recommend the conversion of a gasoline-only vehicle to operate on E85. FFVs that come with original equipment from the manufacturer have the same warranties as gasoline vehicles and they are specially suited to use E85 as efficiently as possible and to burn cleaner.

Is E85 more toxic or dangerous than gasoline?

No. 100% ethanol can be ingested by human beings. The fuel ethanol must be "denatured" with gasoline or a bitter agent to prevent ingestion. Also, ethanol does not contain the harmful carcinogens and toxins found in gasoline.

If E85 is spilled on the ground, can it contaminate ground water?

Ethanol is water soluble, non-toxic and biodegradable. E85 contains roughly 80% less of the potential contaminates found in gasoline.

Where can I find E85 pumps?

Please visit our interactive map to see if E85 is available near you.

How do I know if my vehicle is flex-fuel?

Please visit the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition's website to determine if your vehicle is capable of handling E85.

E85 Fact Sheets

Additional information about E85 can be found on the Fact Sheets page.

BIODIESEL

Biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

How is Biodiesel made?

Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products -- methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin.

Why should I use Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is better for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel. It is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar. Since it is made in the USA from renewable resources such as soybeans, its use decreases our dependence on foreign oil and contributes to our own economy.

Can I use Biodiesel in my existing diesel engine?

Biodiesel can be operated in any diesel engine with little or no modification to the engine or the fuel system. Biodiesel has a solvent effect that may release deposits accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel storage. The release of deposits may clog filters initially and precautions should be taken. Ensure that only fuel meeting the biodiesel specification is used.

Is Biodiesel approved for use in the U.S.?

Biodiesel is registered as a fuel and fuel additive with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Neat (100 percent) biodiesel has been designated as an alternative fuel by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

Where can I find biodiesel (B20)?

Please visit our interactive map to see if B20 is available near you.

B20 Fact Sheets

Additional information about B20 can be found on the Fact Sheets page

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