What is E85 Ethanol?
E85: An Alternative Fuel
E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) is considered an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct). It is used to fuel E85-capable flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are available in a variety of models from U.S. and foreign automakers.
The 15% gasoline content in E85 enables FFVs to operate normally under cold conditions; fueling a vehicle with pure ethanol (E100) creates problems during cold-weather operation. Ethanol can also be mixed with gasoline in lower-level blends, which provide many benefits but are not considered EPAct alternative fuels.
Other than lower gas mileage, motorists will see little difference when using E85 versus gasoline. E85 has about 27% less energy per gallon than gasoline. However, E85 is typically priced lower than gasoline, so that cost per mile is comparable. For more information about E85′s energy content and other fuel characteristics, see Fuel Properties and E85 Specifications. Use the FFV Cost Calculator to determine FFV fuel economy, fuel costs, and greenhouse gas reductions. Learn more about E85 Emissions.
As of July, 2009, more than 1,950 U.S. Ethanol Retailers offered E85 to the more than 7 million FFVs on U.S. roadways. Stations are more common in the corn belt (Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois) but are spreading throughout the country. In fact, E85 is now offered in more than 40 states. See E85 Fueling Station Locations for sites near you.
E85 typically costs less than gasoline on a gallon-for-gallon basis but more than gasoline on an energy-equivalent basis. For detailed price information, see the Alternative Fuel Price Report.