Ethanol-Blended Fuels: The Basics

Issue 110 and Volume 162.

BY GREG HAYES We have all heard the cliché “What you see is what your get.” In the case of ethanol-blended fuels, that is not entirely the case. Because of the high ethanol (alcohol) concentration, you are dealing with an alcohol fire instead of the type of fire you usually encounter. Thus, you need to understand some basic considerations before you approach an incident involving an ethanol-blended fuel. ETHANOL GROWTH According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the estimated ethanol production in the United States was nine billion gallons in 2008. In turn, there is also an initiative that calls for blending ethanol into all consumer gasoline distributed. Most likely, the gasoline in the vehicle you are driving now has at least 10 percent ethanol blended into it. If not now, it will be soon. Ethanol is being produced by 179 operating ethanol bio-refineries across the United States; most of them…

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