Ethanol Research: Alternative Fuels & Life-Cycle Engineering Program: November 29, 2006 to November 28, 2011
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Ethanol Research: Alternative Fuels & Life-Cycle Engineering Program: November 29, 2006 to November 28, 2011

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      Final Report November 29, 2006 to November 28, 2011
    • Abstract:
      This report presents the results of the successful ethanol fuel demonstration program conducted from September 2007 to September 2010. This project was a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Alternative Fuels and Life Cycle Engineering Program conducted by the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies (CIMS) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) under award number DT0S59-07-G-00049. The initial literature search identified two primary methods in which ethanol is used as a transportation fuel: first as a petroleum extender with a small percentage added to gasoline, and second as a primary fuel (E85) to be used in flex fueled vehicles. Research was identified to cover both of these ethanol fuel uses. In the summer of 2007, RIT received a request from the DOT to perform a special, “high interest” evaluation of a mid-level blend (E20) ethanol fuel in older vehicles that were not designed for ethanol fuel mixtures. Mid-level blend fuel was not an approved fuel and would require a waiver from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be used by the general public. This approval process required data to enable the EPA can make informed decisions. In response to the DOT request for E20 research, RIT expanded its ongoing E85 ethanol study and partnership with Monroe County to implement a plan to test E20 ethanol fuel within the County fleet vehicles. Vehicles were chosen that had significant accumulated miles (between 30,000 and 120,000 miles) and model years ranging from 1998-2004. This would ensure a representative test population that already had significant gasoline use but could potentially still be in operation if midlevel blends were implemented. After preliminary results were mainly positive, the test fleet was expanded to include nearly 400 gasoline vehicles in the Monroe County. The E20 investigation focused on issues requiring evaluation to receive the EPA waiver, such as: vehicle emissions, drivability, and engine and fuel system durability and reliability. This research was designed to leverage off the well-documented use and historical record of the Monroe County vehicle fleet running on gasoline. County fleet vehicles consist mainly of medium- and light-duty trucks, and passenger vehicles. At the time of this writing, the research fleet includes over 400 conventional gasoline engine vehicles running on E20, and 103 flex fueled vehicles (FFV) running on E85 or a combination of E20 and E85 making the County fleet the largest known ethanol study fleet in the country. The E20 vehicle fleet in particular has used more than 350k gallons of E20 and driven more than 5 million miles on E20 without any adverse effects on the vehicles. CIMS accomplished all the program tasks and objectives established at the beginning of the DOT program and results of this program were used to support the mid-level blends waiver approval. We consider this a successful vehicle demonstration program and we look forward to engaging in future ethanol projects and vehicle demonstration programs.
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