e85 ethanol Safety Concerns

As in the dispensing of petroleum-based fuels such as traditional gasoline or diesel, E85 should be handled with the highest level of safety in mind. Although E85 use may be lower in some pollutants, E85 fuel is poisonous and flammable. E85 should never be confused with beverage alcohol. Cigarettes and other open ignition sources should never be allowed in fueling areas.

In general, the same safety measures that apply to gasoline apply to E85. All employees and the vehicle drivers using an E85 fueling system should:

  • Know basic safety practices
  • Understand the purpose and content of your fuel site’s emergency action plan
  • Be familiar with signage and emergency equipment at that site including the emergency shut down button
  • Understand what emergency actions need to be taken in an accident.

At a minimum, your emergency action plan should include:

  • Identification of what incidents may trigger the action plan
  • Actions to take for specific events
  • Notification procedures
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Safety systems
  • Emergency event action items

Emergency telephone numbers should be posted at the fueling site, near all office telephones, and in adjoining facilities. These contacts should include, but may not be limited to:

  • #911 (emergency reminder)
  • Fire department
  • Emergency medical
  • Police
  • Maintenance contacts and equipment vendors
  • Contacts for the adjoining buildings and businesses

E85 has been determined to be a flammable liquid per the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, and should be handled accordingly.

The safety standards for handling E85 are the same as those for gasoline. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes 30 and 30-A pertain to refueling stations and the handling of motor fuels and other combustible liquids.

In the event of a fire at your fueling site:

  • Never attempt to disconnect the dispenser nozzle from the vehicle
  • Evacuate immediate area of the fire
  • Trigger the emergency shut down button; which should be located nearby.
  • Contact emergency personnel

For E85 fires, carbon dioxide, halon or dry chemical extinguishers marked B, C, BC, or ABC should be used.

For larger fires, water spray, fog or foam (AFFT/ATC) can be used. Only those who are adequately trained and equipped with proper protective equipment should attempt fire fighting.

Remember that fuel vapors can travel along the ground or be moved by ventilation and ignited by sources such as pilot lights, sparks, electric motors, static discharge, or other ignition sources at locations distant from material handling. For additional fire related information, see Codes & Standards.

ethanol e85 conversion kits

Update 06/2008: Since the writing of this post, ethanol conversion kits are now available. You can purchase a e85 ethanol conversion kit here.

It sounds like a simple idea. Converting a car from normal unleaded gasoline to ethanol 85 should be easy with the aid of a conversion kit. Unfortunately, this is not the case, there are no conversion kits available that will pass EPA standards.

In the 1990’s the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put laws into effect that made it rather hard for such conversions. The laws basicly state that if there is a conversion to be made for any type of alternate fuel, the exhaust must be as clean or cleaner than gasoline.

An excerpt from e85fuel.com "Today, 99.9 percent of the vehicles that are capable of operating on alternative transportation fuels are produced by the original equipment manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler. Engineers from these companies are able to design and build vehicles that meet the EPA exhaust emission standards. These companies also are required to warranty the exhaust emissions from these vehicles for 10 years or 100,000 miles, something very few conversion companies are able to accomplish."

At this point there are only two options, convert your car with a non-certified EPA conversion and fail inspections or the better idea of purchasing a new car that is e85 ready. There are many options to choose from, you can view all the cars available at e85fuel.com or you can purchase an e85 ethanol conversion kit here.

e85 the new alternative fuel

First off, I’d just like to say, I’m no expert in this field. I am just an average consumer that feels obligated to promote this new alternative fuel. With barrels of crude oil surpassing $72 a barrel, many consumers soon need to figure out an alternative to oil. Unfortunately our society is way too dependent on oil, whether it is foreign or not. We need to begin to move off of oil as it does not make economic sense anymore.