Converting fueling equipment for ethanol e85 fuel

Use the information on this page as a guide to help convert existing fuel pumps to be E85 compatible. This page intends to provide a general guide to the process, but you should consult a professional as well. Every fueling location is unique and there may be some additional steps that should be taken based on your individual location requirements.

How can I convert my current fueling equipment to E85?
Understanding the issues related to converting existing equipment to be E85 compatible is an important step to installing an E85 infrastructure. In general, newer petroleum equipment that is in good condition may be used with E85 in most areas of the country and with minor modifications. Local and state requirements will vary and your project contractor will know your local rules.

Three primary concerns exist with converting existing equipment to E85 fueling.

1. Condition of the existing equipment: Your tank and lines must be clean because the high-alcohol content of E85 will “clean out” and absorb contamination left behind by years of petroleum and diesel fuel storage. If the previous fuel used in the equipment was an ethanol-blended gasoline, this may pose less of a concern. Converting diesel equipment may require more thorough cleaning due to scale that may have built up in these systems.

2. Compatibility: In addition, older fuel lines and dispenser components may not be compatible with the higher alcohol content of E85. Just as with petroleum dispensing systems, vigilance and periodic maintenance checks can help prevent leaks and component failures. If using an older dispenser, it is advisable to check them on a monthly basis regardless of what fuel is used.

Components on newer fueling equipment are often tested to be “100% Methanol or Ethanol” compatible and have been used with E85 for several years without incident.

There are no known compatibility concerns with steel tanks and E85. According to Sullivan Curran of the Fiberglass Tank and Pipe Institute (National Petroleum News interview of June 2004), single-wall fiberglass tanks may not be appropriate for fuel ethanol concentrations of greater than 30 percent. The same is not true of double-wall fiberglass tanks or fiberglass pipe; however, this should be verified with your supplier.

3. Metering Accuracy: If incompatible materials are present within the fuel dispenser and its metering system, over time, the possibility exists for the meter to fail or become less accurate. Some manufacturers feel this is a very important concern and will not extend warrantees to non-petroleum uses of their dispensers. In a decade of use in E85 pilot markets, dispenser failures have been rare. If a dispenser meter were to fail, it would lead to more (not less) fuel dispensed than would be registered. At retail locations where weights and measures agencies check fuel dispensers, a problem will be discovered during annual testing if not immediately by the station’s fuel accounting system.

Although E85 dispenser failures are rare, fuel contamination problems have been uncovered. In nearly every case, these were attributed to poor tank cleaning or a failure to use the proper filters, nozzle, or hose. At a minimum, all E85 fueling systems should use non-aluminum nozzles, 1- or 2-micron dispenser filters, and an alcohol compatible hose (e.g. Teflon-coated).

Current retailers selling e85 ethanol fuel in America

The following companies are selling ethanol E85 fuel to the public:

Cenex – Operated in 22 states including: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Phone: 800-232-3639

Holiday Stationstores – Operated in 12 states in the northern tier region of the United States: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska. Headquarters: Bloomington, Minnesota; Contact information: In the Twin Cities Metro area, call 952-921-5204, Outside of the Metro area, call 800-745-7411, Ext. 5204

Kwik Trip – Operated in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Headquarters: 1626 Oak Street P.O. Box 2107, La Crosse, WI 54602-2107; Phone: 1-608-781-8988;

Kum & Go – Operated in 13 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Headquarters: 6400 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266;
Phone: 515-226-0128

Speedway/SuperAmerica – Headquarters: Springfield, OH; Phone: 1-800-643-1948;

Ethanol Fuel, E85 Specifications and Handling

The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed E85 fuel specifications to ensure proper starting, operation, and safety. Please refer to the table below for ASTM D5798-99 Standard Specification for Fuel Ethanol for Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines.
This table of minimum commercial standards is also found on page 10 of the Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing E85 (PDF 3 MB) Download Adobe Reader. Please ensure the fuel delivered to your storage tank is guaranteed by your supplier to meet these standards. Include this spec as a requirement in your supply contract.

E85, like gasoline and diesel fuels, is seasonally adjusted to ensure proper starting and performance in different geographic locations. For example, E85 sold during colder months often contains 70% ethanol and 30% petroleum to produce the necessary vapor pressure for starting in cold temperatures. An E85 fueling site operator typically cannot carry over summer-blend E85, but rather must "blend down" any remaining summer fuel to make an E70 mixture. This may be done with relative ease by adding additional gasoline to the storage tank. There is no concern with carrying over winter-blend E70 into warmer months as flexible fuel vehicles operate on any blend of E85 and gasoline in during warmer times. For retail service stations, seasonal fuel adjustments are handled automatically at the wholesale fuel terminal.

Please refer to the Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing E85, Table 3 (p. 10) and Appendix A (pg. 22-23), for seasonal blending requirements in your area. In Table 3, the Value of Class refers to the Volatility Class by Month found in Appendix A. We encourage you to provide a copy of this reference guide to your personnel, equipment, or fuel suppliers or any prospective service station that will be working with E85.

Table 3. ASTM D 5798-99 Standard Specification for Fuel Ethanol for Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines
Property Value of Class Test Method
ASTM volatility class 1 2 3 N/A
Ethanol, plus higher alcohols
(minimum volume %)
79 74 70 ASTM D 5501
(including denaturant) (volume %)
17-21 17-26 17-30 ASTM D 4815
Vapor pressure at 37.8�C
ASTM D 4953
D 5190
D 5191
Lead (maximum, mg/L) 2.6 2.6 3.9 ASTM D 5059
(maximum, mg/L)
0.3 0.3 0.4 ASTM D 3231
Sulfur (maximum, mg/kg) 210 260 300 ASTM D 3120
D 1266
D 2622
(maximum, volume %)
0.5 N/A
Higher aliphatic alcohols, C3-C8
(maximum volume %)
2 N/A
Water (maximum, mass %) 1.0 ASTM E 203
Acidity as acetic acid
(maximum, mg/kg)
50 ASTM D 1613
Inorganic chloride
(maximum, mg/kg)
1 ASTM D 512
D 7988
Total chlorine as chlorides
(maximum, mg/kg)
2 ASTM D 4929
Gum, unwashed
(maximum, mg/100 mL)
20 ASTM D 381
Gum, solvent-washed
(maximum, mg/100 mL)
5.0 ASTM D 381
(maximum, mg/100 mL)
0.07 ASTM D 1688
Appearance Product shall be visibly free of suspended or precipitated contaminants (shall be clear and bright). Appearance determined at ambient temperature or 21�C (70�F), whichever is higher.

N/A = Not applicable