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European Commission study highlights benefits of higher ethanol fuel blends

A report recently published by the European Commission (EC) highlights several benefits of higher ethanol blends in petrol, including boosting car engine performance while reducing emissions of dangerous pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM). The study was conducted in October 2015 but only published by the Commission in summer 2017 – over six months after the Commission proposed phasing out crop-based biofuels post 2020.

A new study finds that increased ethanol blends in petrol would have a positive effect on vehicle emissions and air quality.

A new study finds that increased ethanol blends in petrol would have a positive effect on vehicle emissions and air quality.

The study, “Impact of higher levels of bio components in transport fuels in the context of the Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998, relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC” was conducted by ICF for the Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate, assessed the impact of higher levels of bio components in transport fuels.

It found that increasing the amount of ethanol in petrol blends – for example from 5 percent to 10 percent or 20 percent – would have a positive effect on vehicle emissions and air quality and help reduce reliance on fossil petroleum products.

The Commission report found that increased ethanol blends in petrol would result in reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM). For example, ethanol blends reduce emissions of HC/CO/PM by 5 to 20 percent compared to petrol with no ethanol.

Furthermore, the study also found that compared to current blending levels, the use of higher ethanol blends will not result in adverse evaporative emissions impacts in petrol.

Emmanuel Desplechin has been appointed new Secretary General of ePURE replacing Robert Wright (photo courtesy ePURE).

“This Commission report once again confirms the many benefits ethanol brings to EU transport, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Emmanuel Desplechin, Secretary General of ePURE, the European Renewable Ethanol Association (photo courtesy ePURE).

The study was conducted in October 2015 but has only just been published by the Commission in summer 2017 – more than six months after the Commission proposed phasing out crop-based biofuels after 2020.

Renewable ethanol, sustainably produced in Europe, already helps reduce emissions of GHG and harmful pollutants in petrol across Europe, and blends such as E10 are compatible with today’s vehicles. But with increased blends, it could do even more – and help reduce Europe’s dependence on imported fossil fuel. Instead of calling for a phase-out of sustainably produced biofuels like ethanol, the EU should be promoting their use, Desplechin said.

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