Green and great for the fuel tank: NASCAR switches to E15

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) will use E15 fuel in its three racing tours in 2011, the organization announced October 16. E15 is a new fuel blend that has just won approval from the Environmental Protection Agency for use in all light duty gasoline engine cars manufactured in 2007 or later. Ethanol advocates expect EPA to approve E15 for all vehicles produced after 2000–a November announcement is anticipated.

The blend is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline transportation fuel.

“Indy Racing has been using 100 percent ethanol for several years and now NASCAR joins the renewable energy revolution with the blend that is soon to be approved for the majority of American cars–once again proving that higher ethanol blends are not only good for cleaner air and energy independence, but these are also high performance fuels,” said Greg Schwarz, a farmer in Le Sueur, Minnesota and president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

E15 may be the most tested vehicle fuel in the history of transportation. Among the many venues that have put E15 to the test, Minnesota Center for Automotive Research (MnCAR) has taken part in rigorous testing of both E15 and E20 on a variety of conventional engine gasoline cars and small engines. MnCAR’s testing has found no performance or emissions problems in either blend level. This research will provide the foundation for Minnesota’s move to E20 statewide, in most gasoline, in 2013. It’s usability in small engines will be a reassuring for many operators, especially farmers, who utilize a whole range of small engines connected to food and livestock production.

NASCAR has developed a partnership with Sunoco, which will produce the E15 at a Pennsylvania facility and provide it to all NASCAR teams free of charge, as it does with the racing league’s fuel needs currently.

NASCAR began what it calls its Green Innovation program in 2008 Up to now the program has promoted recycling and has funded tree plantings, but this is the first step that actually has to do with the operation of its racing vehicles.

“With Sunoco Green E15, we are leading by example, showing that this renewable fuel — which reduces greenhouse gas emissions — works in the most demanding racing environment in the world,” said Dr. Mike Lynch, managing director for Green Innovation for NASCAR. “NASCAR and Sunoco look forward to highlighting the efforts of the whole racing community to transition to Sunoco Green E15 in time for the Daytona 500 — from its manufacture all the way to the race track.”

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