Tricia Braid

Mar 22, 2019  |  Today's News |  Ethanol

In this editorial (below) and in the High Octane, Low Carbon (HOLC) mailer you might have received in your FarmWeek, IL Corn is spelling out the benefits of a new high octane fuel.  This fuel will include more ethanol, increasing its octane and lowering its price.  Win, win for farmers AND Americans!  Read on!





For nearly a century, the oil industry has supplied nearly all the transportation fuel – mostly gasoline – consumed in the United States. But Big Oil’s undisputed reign is coming to an end. In the last dozen years, ethanol has gone from almost nothing to 10% of all US motor fuel. That’s due in no small part to the efforts of corn farmers to prove the benefits of ethanol to not only farmers’ bottom lines, but also the benefits to the environment and human health.


Today, automakers need higher octane fuel to enable higher efficiency engines for the vehicles of the future. It is not easy or cheap to increase the octane rating of gasoline. High octane premium grade gasoline typically costs 40 – 80 cents per gallon more than lower octane regular grade gasoline.


Adding more ethanol to today’s regular grade gasoline, however, not only increases its octane but lowers its price.


A recent study done by the Defour Group has shown that if all the US oil refineries were converted to produce a 91 octane premium gasoline (using no additional ethanol), the owner of the same 2023 vehicle would end up spending nearly $1,000 more for fuel over the lifetime of the vehicle. No one likes the idea of spending more on fuel.


In addition, as this higher-octane fuel replaced regular grade gasoline, the price of that legacy fuel would increase as well. This would result in owners of older vehicles paying more for fuel so that new vehicle owners would have the fuel they needed for their vehicles. For instance, the owner who purchased a 2022 model year vehicle – the year before high efficiency engines went into production -- would end up paying $498 more for fuel as the higher octane fuel drives regular out of the market.


Enter corn-based ethanol to this discussion, with its high power, high octane, engine safe, and earth smart benefits.


The Defour Group study also illustrates how effectively ethanol can boost the octane of motor fuel. Moving today’s 87 octane regular gasoline to a higher blend of E25 would increase its octane rating to that of the highest available unleaded gasoline – 94 octane racing gasoline. If that fuel were available in the year 2023 and vehicles that year were equipped with high efficiency engines, the average car owner would save nearly $500 on fuel over the lifetime of the vehicle.


In addition, since this high-octane fuel is made by adding more ethanol to today’s regular grade gasoline, the price of regular gasoline would not increase, keeping driving affordable for owners of older vehicles.


Adding 10% ethanol to gasoline has already saved consumers billions of dollars. Adding more ethanol to gasoline to make a higher octane motor fuel would save consumers much, much more, while at the same time, increasing demand for corn, thereby supporting corn prices.


IL Corn, through investing Illinois corn checkoff dollars administered by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, is committed to improving corn farmer profitability. Doing the hard work to bring high-octane fuels, low-carbon (HOLC) fuels to the marketplace is a challenge we gladly accept as we are certain it is a win-win for consumers and for corn farmers.


Don Duvall

ICMB Chairman