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NEW YORK -- Underwriters Laboratory (UL) will allow up to 15 percent ethanol blends to be dispensed from gasoline pumps, and supports Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) deciding to permit legacy system dispensers, listed to UL 87 and currently installed in the market, to be used with fuel blends containing a maximum ethanol content of 15 percent, DomesticFuel.com reported.
Existing fuel dispensers certified under UL 87 were intended for use with ethanol blends up to E10 -- the current legal limit for non-flex fuel vehicles in the United States under the federal Clean Air Act, according to UL. However, data the company gathered as ongoing research into higher ethanol blends supports findings that existing dispensers can be used with ethanol blends up to 15 percent. AHJs are advised to consult with the dispenser manufacturer to confirm that the dispenser is compatible with the fuel to be dispensed, according to the report.
"UL determined that there is no significant incremental risk of damage between E10 and fuels with a maximum of 15 percent ethanol. This conclusion was reached after careful examination of the effects of varying levels of ethanol on components," John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager for UL, told the Web site. "We will continue to evaluate test and field findings, as well as the scientific literature, as it becomes available and make this information available to AHJs."
UL researchers found that using equipment certified to UL 87 to dispense blends with a maximum ethanol content of 15 percent should not result in critical safety concerns, the report stated.
However, NACS staff and counsel raised questions as a result of UL's ruling, and in a report, stated the announcement may not materially alter the legal requirements with which retailers must abide.
NACS' questions are:
-- Will the announcement apply to all existing infrastructure (e.g. tanks, pipes and connecting equipment) or just dispensers?
-- What effect, if any, does UL's announcement have with respect to state law and local fire marshall matters, as some local codes and the fire code require official certification of equipment.
-- What effect, if any, does the announcement have with respect to equipment compatibility requirements included in tank insurance policies or state tank fund programs, as many require official certification.
-- What effect, if any, does UL's announcement have with respect to retailer exposure to liability associated with selling E15 through non-certified equipment?
NACS added in a report that it "remains concerned that retailers choosing to sell E15 through existing equipment are exposing themselves to considerable financial risk."
In addition, UL emphasized dispensers pumping a higher percentage of ethanol should be subject to regular inspection and preventative maintenance as specified by the dispenser manufacturer, as the potential for degradation of the metals and materials in a dispensing system increases as the percentage of ethanol increases, the Web site reported.