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More ethanol coming to pumps near you
New blend will work in any vehicle built back to 2001

The EPA is set to finalize use of a new ethanol/gasoline that might be in pumps at your local station this summer.

The current 10% blend will be replaced by a 15% blend that is expected to be available in time for the heavy summer driving season. The EPA approved the raising of the ethanol content to 15% in January -- corn farmers and the ethanol industry understandably welcomed the ruling.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told the Senate Agriculture Committee during a hearing, "We are now in the process of completing a rule that will establish national labeling. We expect to issue a final rule in the next few months." The labeling will help protect the consumer from using the new fuel in an unapproved engine.

The EPA will officially register E15 this spring, which is a requirement before the fuel can be sold at the pump. The agency has also recently received the emissions and health information to support the registration and is currently reviewing that information.

Not everyone is behind the plan to raise ethanol content in gasoline through. Critics say that using more corn for fuel will drive already high corn process up to even higher levels. Ethanol trade group Growth Energy notes that more ethanol will help people fighting fuel prices at the pump. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said, "Lifting the regulatory barriers preventing higher blends of U.S.-made ethanol from getting into the pump would start to push gas prices down right away."

The new E15 fuel can be used in all vehicles built since 2001. That means that 74% of all gasoline burning vehicles on the road will be able to use the new fuel accounting for 85% of gasoline demand. 

UPDATED: Justin Starkey, owner of VMP Tuning, had this to say about the new 15% ethanol blend and what it means for fuel economy and auto enthusiasts:

It basically hurts everyone… 

Fuel economy goes down, because of the lower energy content in the ethanol.

If you have a turbocharged or supercharge vehicle with high fuel demands at WOT, it will push your injector and fuel pump duty cycles higher.

Having more ethanol in the gas makes tuning cars more difficult and more inconsistent.  The ethanol level in the gasonline is not always held at a full 15%.  It can be all over the place from one fillup to the next.  If your car is tuned with a wideband while running 15% ethanol, and then you run fuel with no ethanol in it, you’re air to fuel ratio can shift over a point richer. This is huge from a tuning standpoint in terms of power and efficiency.  The OEMs have realized this and most 2011+ Fords including the Mustang GT and Shelby GT500 use widebands from the factory.  These vehicles are closed loop at WOT (wide open throttle) and are constantly correcting air/fuel ratio at all operating conditions.  The PCM keeps the actual A/F and the commanded A/F the same, this is great for performance, efficiency, reliability, and safety.

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RE: Argg
By FITCamaro on 3/14/2011 12:42:36 PM , Rating: 1
What year Camaro/Firebird/Corvette/SSR do you have? My dad's 2002 WS6 doesn't have any problems. Nor does my LS2 GTO which has a higher static compression than your LS1. Hell I ran E10 in my 10.46:1 carbed Camaro without any pinging. What brand of gas do you run? Sounds like you have other problems.

RE: Argg
By formulav8 on 3/14/2011 1:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
I have a modded 98 Z28 Ls1. B1 Cam, headers/full exhaust, ect... Its not low octane causing the pinging. Its probably the extra heat that ethanol produces.

I have already had to re-tune the computer with LS1 Edit. Yes I have the A/F ratio as lean as possible and the 15% ethenol will make things worse if i'm forced to eventually use it. With my car being an 98 is doesn't fall under the 2001 and newer compatibility list. But I will have to use what I can get even if that means the 15% stuff...

RE: Argg
By FITCamaro on 3/14/2011 3:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
So your pinging is likely because of running too lean under higher heat scenarios. Ethanol actually has a cooling effect in the combustion chamber though.

Like I said though, my dads car has the stock tune and runs fine. Wasn't many changes to the LS1 between 98 and 2002 either.

RE: Argg
By FITCamaro on 3/14/2011 3:31:07 PM , Rating: 3
Also make sure you set your timing right in LS1Edit.

If you're in Columbia and unsure about your tune, take your car up to Mooresville, NC to Nick Williams. He is one of the best tuners on the east coast and who I had do my tune. H/C tune runs $350 I believe.

RE: Argg
By formulav8 on 3/14/2011 5:22:34 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the link. I just might head up there and let a pro do it. Especially if the $350 includes a dyno tune. I should probably fix a couple small exhaust leaks first :)

RE: Argg
By FITCamaro on 3/14/2011 7:46:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah with mine he put it up on the dyno to get an overall tune. Then took it out for about 30 minutes to refine it a little more. He's done so many LS motors he's pretty much got tunes already for almost any combination.

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