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Ethanol and Gasoline Marketing

29. Where does the ethanol used in Minnesota today come from?

We currently produce about 40,000,000 gallons of ethanol per year in Minnesota. Additional ethanol that is needed to meet our demand is produced mainly in North Dakota, lowa and Illinois. As our production increases, Minnesota should become an ethanol exporting state.

30. Some gasoline stations advertise "pure gasoline" what do they mean?

The statement "pure gasoline" is a marketing gimmick. Gasoline is a complex mixture of hundreds of organic hydrocarbons that are pro- duced at a petroleum refinery. Gasoline components are not even mixed to a specific "recipe," but are blended so that the final product falls within certain specifications with the least costly ingredients available.

31. Are the major oil companies against the use of ethanol as a fuel?

Some are, because ethanol is a direct competitor to non-renewable crude oil in the gasoline marketplace.

32. Are most gas station managers informed about gasoline composition?

No. Most of them are business people, concerned more with the problems and challenges of operating a business rather than the chemis- try of gasoline.

33. Who determines the price of gasoline at my local station?

Every area has one or two gasoline retailers who are the "leaders" in setting prices. Since these stations control the marketplace, the small stations are forced to price accordingly. Ethanol blends are also priced by the retail marketer.

34. Where can I find a station that sells ethanol?

During the Oxygenated Fuels Program all the stations in the ten county metro area of Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Washington, Dakota, Scott, Carver, Wright, Chisago, Isanti dispense ethanol from every pump. Even when this wintertime program ends, the majority of those stations continue to offer ethanol blended gasoline. The only sure way to know today is to ask the service station manager whether ethanol is still offered.

35. Will ethanol ever be blended at levels more than 10%?

Brazil sells a 22% ethanol blend instead of 10% as a means to extend their gasoline supplies. Blending at 22% will probably not happen in the U.S. until much more ethanol is produced, or the next crisis in the Persian Ciulf drives up oil prices. While most cars produced today would operate very well on a 22% blend, there is a tremendous amount of testing needed by the auto manufacturers before any new fuel formulation can be approved and covered under their warranties. The auto manufacturers have no incentive to pursue such an effort and the oil companies would certainly oppose it.

36. What are potential new markets for ethanol?

Ethanol is replacing methanol in the windshield washing formula for automobiles which will help to protect the environment. Pure ethanol (E100) may become a common fuel for small aircraft since airplanes need a low volatility, high octane fuel to replace leaded Avgas. A mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline (E85) is a qualified alterna- tive fuel to comply with the fleet requirements of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which requires an increasing number of alternatively fueled vehicles during the next decade. The State of Minnesota currently has over fifty E85 cars in its fleet. A Minnesota company has successfully completed testing of ethanol as a computer board solvent to replace isopropyl which is currently being used. Isopropyl will be phased out because it is both an environmental and health concern in the workplace.

2006 Gilles Desormeaux