RFA Testifies in Support of High Octane Low Carbon Fuels at EPA/NHTSA Hearing

Source: By Rachel Gantz, RFA • Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2018

A high-octane, low-carbon fuel containing 20-40% ethanol used in optimized engines would be the lowest cost means of achieving compliance with fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for model year 2021-2026 and beyond, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis will testify today at a public hearing in Pittsburgh.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are holding today the third and final public hearing on their joint proposal for 2021-2026 fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards. As part of the proposal, the agencies requested comment on how high-octane fuels could facilitate engine efficiency improvements and reduced emissions under 2021-2026 fuel economy and tailpipe GHG standards for light-duty automobiles.

“Clearly, pairing advanced internal combustion engine technologies like high compression ratio and turbocharging with high-octane low carbon fuels would result in far greater fuel economy and emissions benefits than previously contemplated by EPA and NHTSA,” Davis will testify.

The proposal also highlights previous recommendations from the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance (HOLC), of which RFA is a founding member. “Consensus is building around the need for High Octane Low Carbon fuels to enable greater engine efficiency and reduced emissions. Automotive engineers and executives, government scientists, expert panels, and university researchers have called for a higher minimum octane rating for future fuels,” Davis will testify.

“Research by the Department of Energy and others has demonstrated that ethanol is an ideal source of octane for such high-octane fuel blends,” Davis will say. “A high-octane fuel (98-100 RON) could be produced today simply by blending 25-30% ethanol with existing gasoline blendstocks. However, due to the inertia of fuel and vehicle markets, this transition will not occur on its own. Action by the EPA is necessary to catalyze the development and introduction of high octane low carbon fuels into the consumer market, just as EPA action was required to eliminate lead, limit benzene, and reduce the sulfur content of our gasoline and diesel fuel,” she will testify.

In her testimony, Davis will also ask the agencies to use this rulemaking to establish the roadmap for increasing the minimum octane rating of gasoline to 98 RON and ensure automakers are afforded credit toward these fuel economy requirements for building engines that require these higher-octane fuels.

A copy of Davis’s prepared remarks is here.