Iowa Fueling Station Offers E10, E20, E30 and E85
New gas station serves up mixes of gas, ethanol
Unity Biofuels manager Jason Egli of Cedar Falls programs a temporary sign Monday on U.S. 34 in Mount Pleasant. The company has opened two ethanol stations. The other is in Olds.
By DARCIE HOENIG
MOUNT PLEASANT — One of Iowa’s first retail fueling stations dedicated to dispensing ethanol opened last week on U.S. 34 in east Mount Pleasant.
Outfitted with three 24-hour pay-at-the-pump blender pumps, Unity Biofuels offers four different blends of ethanol: E10, E20, E30 and E85. The station also offers biodiesel at one of its pumps.
Using tanks of 98 percent denatured ethanol and unleaded gasoline, the blender pumps mix the consumer’s selection right at the pump. If E30 is selected, for example, the pumps blend 30 percent ethanol with 70 percent gasoline, said Jason Egli, manager of Unity Biofuels.
Egli, along with area businessmen Tom Fullenkamp, Paul Von Tersch and Dave Reiff, opened a similar station next to the St. Avenue Stop in Olds on Sept. 5.
“We wanted to bring in our local resources to fuel local cars,” said Egli, a Crawfordsville native who resides in Cedar Falls.
The cost per gallon of each blend varies, each contingent on the price of E10, the ethanol blend found at most gas stations. Typically, E20 will run 15 to 20 cents cheaper than E10, E30 between 20 and 30 cents less than E10, and E85 will be priced 70 cents to $1 lower than E10.
Of the four blends offered at the station, E30 has been shown to be the most economical in studies done by the University of Minnesota and elsewhere, Egli said.
“In terms of the cost per mile driven, there was no loss to slightly better with E30,” Egli said.
While all vehicles are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to fill up with E10, blend levels above 10 percent ethanol are only approved for flexible fuel vehicles. Flexible fuel vehicles, which are equipped with multifuel engines, are manufactured by Ford, Chrysler and Dodge, Egli said.
The EPA is still researching whether intermediate ethanol blends can be used in standard vehicles.
Since the pumps blend the fuel on site, Unity Biofuels earns the blender credit or Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, which was established in 2004 to provide oil companies with an incentive to blend ethanol with gasoline. Earning up to 51 cents per gallon, the blender credit helps keep costs at the pump lower.
Using an ethanol source less than 30 miles from Mount Pleasant also helps keep prices down. Recently, Unity Biofuels worked out an agreement with Big River Resources, an ethanol production plant in West Burlington, to provide the ethanol for the station.
In the future, the station may obtain its ethanol from one of its own production facilities. Unity Ethanol LLC, a separate company headed by the same individuals, is planning to build two 110-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plants, one in Cotter and one in Ottumwa.
While the company has land options for both facilities, they are still in the financing process, said Egli, who is also chief operations officer for Unity Ethanol.
Egli said a convenient store and restaurant at the blender pump station are also in the works, and both should be open by summer 2009.
Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol. Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program. Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.