What to know about the E-15 gas blend - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

What to know about the E-15 gas blend

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Nearly every drop of regular gas in Minnesota is 10 percent ethanol, and it's been that way for more than 15 years -- but a new blend with just a bit more of the corn-based fuel will be coming to gas stations soon.

"It's just 5 percent more ethanol," Tim Gerlach, with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, explained.

There are 350 gas stations that serve up a blend of E-85 for special flex-fuel vehicles, but Gerlach said the new blend of E-15 can be used in a variety of vehicles.

"I think eventually, E-15 will just be the gasoline blend," Gerlach predicted. "Just as E-10 came into the market slowly then became the norm, E-15 will do the same."

Currently, only one gas station -- located at 60th and Penn Avenue -- is equipped with the new fuel.

"This is the future coming," Kurt Bohnan, the station owner, told Fox 9 News.

There are currently millions of flex-fuel vehicles on the roads, but a common complaint about E-85 was poor gas mileage. That led to E-30.

"It was kind of a trade-off, you know," Bohnan said. "You lost mileage, but cheaper price, where E-30 is more of a sweet spot."

So far, customers appear comfortable with E-30, but not all vehicles can accept the higher ethanol blends.

"This is a new 2014 Camry, and this one you can use up to E-15 on it," explained Doug Sprinthal at Walser Toyota. "The Highlander and RAV 4, you can't."

Although E-15 has been approved for all vehicles sold after 2001, manufacturers have been slow to give the new fuel their stamp of approval.

"I would be a little cautious about that until the manufacturers approve it," Sprinthal recommended. "It's possible you could run into warranty issues if you use a fuel that's not recommended for use in the car."

Supporters of E-15 say that's just the lawyers talking because the 15 percent ethanol blend has been studied more than any other fuel and numerous independent studies, including those conducted in Minnesota, did not find evidence the fuel contributed to deterioration in engine durability or maintenance issues."

"I can guarantee you that E-15 is quite safe for your vehicle," Gerlach said.

Over the next month, five stations will start to offer E-15 -- but it is important to know that the blend is not approved for small engines such as those found in motorcycles, snowmobiles and lawn equipment.

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