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WASHINGTON -- Supporters of ethanol fuel are looking to double the amount of the alternative fuel found in some types of gasoline from 10 percent, known as E10, to 20 percent, in an effort to boost usage of the fuel while avoiding the challenges of E85, USAToday reported.
Studies by the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University at Mankato reveal that non-flex-fuel vehicles could burn a mix of 20 percent ethanol, called E20, the same way they now use E10, according to the report. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was scheduled to announce the study results at a conference in Washington yesterday, the report stated.
Minnesota law requires 20 percent of fuel used in the state to be ethanol within a few years, according to the report. The mandate could be satisfied if motorists burn E85 to raise the average to 20 percent, or if E20 replaces E10 as the state's standard fuel, the newspaper
"We see E20 not exactly as bypassing E85, but supplementing it," Gene Hugoson, Minnesota agriculture commissioner, told USAToday.
Hitting the state's goal by relying on E85 "will take awhile," Hugoson told the paper.
However, for E20 to become a legal fuel, it would need U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval, the report stated.
In addition, automakers have doubts that E20 is as benign as E10. While they are testing the fuel, they told the paper there is not enough data to determine the risk of the fuel to engine components and vehicle emissions, the report stated.
"Our vehicles are able to handle E10, but to move to E20 there are technical issues. It's not that simple," Ford Motor spokeswoman Kristen Kinley told the paper.
General Motors spokesman Alan Adler cited E20 tests in Australia, where "40 percent of the vehicles sustained [catalytic converter] damage, which allowed essentially unchecked tailpipe emissions," he told USAToday.
"We believe there's not data sufficient to prove that all vehicles will function OK with E20," added Reg Modlin, director of environmental affairs for Chrysler. "It's not a legal fuel, and it would void the warranty."