A handful of gas stations in states like Wisconsin, South Dakota and Minnesota experimented with the use blender pumps – offering consumers a choice of several ethanol blends. Monte Shaw, with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, says there are currently no blender pumps in Iowa, but they would be easy to install. Most gas stations in the state already utilize a two-tank system, with regular gasoline and gas blended with 10 percent ethanol.
A blender pump system could involve one tank of regular gas and another with 100 percent ethanol."Then the pump itself would take fuel from the tanks to create any blend level that you programmed it for," Shaw explains, "you might be able to have a regular gasoline, an E10, an E20, an E50 and an E85. So, you could offer many more products to your consumer with the same two tanks that are already in the ground today." Currently, only motorists with flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are legally allowed to use ethanol blends above E10.
But, Shaw says that could change. "We don’t really know what the future’s going to hold," Shaw says, "there’s a big move to get E20 approved for all cars. So, if you’re out there today thinking about putting in an E85 pump, as we see that blend grow by 20 or more percent a year, why not put in a blender pump that allows you to be ready for any future?" Shaw says his organization has been encouraging gas companies in Iowa to consider installing blender pumps.
"As the number producer of ethanol in the country, we certainly think Iowa should be at the forefront of this," Shaw said. Researchers in Minnesota have been testing E20 in regular vehicles, with positive results. That research could be delivered to the Environmental Protection Agency soon – along with a recommendation to allow E20 blended fuel for all vehicles.