Public Release: 

INEEL uses ethanol to reduce petroleum consumption, cut exhaust emissions

DOE/Idaho National Laboratory

A different blend of gasoline is being pumped into government vehicles at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. It's reducing petroleum consumption and helping the INEEL cut air emissions without additional fuel costs.

Since June, the INEEL has purchased about 63,500 gallons of E10, a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. Site drivers and mechanics haven't seen any changes in performance or maintenance needs of vehicles with the change.

What officials have seen by using E10 is a reduction of between 4,200 and 6,400 gallons of petroleum-based gasoline fuel used, and another way to comply with federal mandates such as the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and Energy Policy Act of 1992. And, using E10 contributes to the national effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Ethanol is alcohol made primarily from corn, although it can be made from potatoes, agricultural wastes, grasses, wood and other low-value biomass such as municipal waste. A renewable fuel, it is produced in many locations around the country, but primarily in the Midwest, as well as in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

The INEEL, along with the rest of the federal government, is mandated to reduce the use of petroleum fuel and the resulting harmful exhaust emissions. Some of the reductions can come by replacing petroleum products with alternative fuel, by improving fuel economy of government vehicles and by reducing the miles driven by government fleets.

The INEEL has incorporated all three strategies. By using E10, the INEEL has cut its petroleum use between 7 percent to 10 percent. Officials are now considering using E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline).

The INEEL has been using natural gas for an alternative fuel in its fleet since 1996. Seven of the Laboratory's 77 buses used in daily operations run on clean-burning liquefied natural gas. (The INEEL has 102 buses to provide for backups, emergency use and spare parts). About 150 of the INEEL's cars and trucks can use natural gas and gasoline. Last December, the INEEL and Idaho Falls businesses installed a compressed natural gas station on Grandview Avenue in Idaho Falls that is available to Site vehicles and the public.

The INEEL participates in the Greater Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities Coalition, which is focused on decreasing petroleum reliance, and increasing the number of alternative fuel vehicles and alternative fuel stations in the region. The coalition is currently working to achieve a designation for the region as one of DOE's Clean Cities.


The INEEL is operated for the DOE by Bechtel BWXT Idaho, LLC.

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