Ethanol, a biofuel made from corn, has been increasingly creeping into gas pumps in this part of the country since 2008. Blending it with gasoline is a way to combat high gas prices and make powering vehicles more environmentally friendly. But there have been many complaints about the tendency of a gas-ethanol blend to separate over time, which can cause problems in boats and motorcycles because they are not driven as frequently as cars. The blends also reduce gas mileage because ethanol contains one-third less energy than gasoline.
The most common blend of ethanol is E10, which is about 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol by volume. All modern nondiesel cars are certified to run on a blend of up to 10 percent.
If you want to stay away from the blends entirely, you may face some difficulties. North Carolina did away with labeling requirements on pumps carrying ethanol blends in 2002.
Bill Witherspoon of the N.C. Petroleum Council and Tom Crosby of AAA Carolinas both said their agencies are not set up to track that kind of data.
Witherspoon offered this explanation: “It’s going to depend entirely on the retailer and whether he accepts unblended product from his supplier or whether he buys it blended. Some retailers because of their contract may not have that choice. Others clearly do have that choice. Those that have the choice have over the last year or so clearly gone back and forth, offering in one truckload a blended product and then choosing not to put ethanol in the next load. It really is a variable out there on the market.”
The best way to find out about what’s in a retailers gas pumps is to ask. If you know of any stations that sell pure gasoline, please post the information below.
2013 UPDATE: Pure-Gas.org maintains a list of stations that sell ethanol-free gasoline, including several in the Wilmington area. MyReporter cannot vouch for the accuracy of this list.
N.C. House Bill 187 was signed into law in 2011, requiring that labels be placed on gas pumps indicating whether the gas has greater or less than 10 percent ethanol. According to Fuel-Testers.com, the N.C. law is not enforced.
Date posted: July 8, 2009
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