Does E15 Octane Matter? Yes it Does!
Urban Air is thrilled that Magellan is offering E15 at its terminals. This move will help push the adoption of E15 at retail locations, which will then help apply pressure on the political and regulatory roadblocks restricting access to higher level ethanol blends.
While this is great and welcomed news, the ethanol industry needs to remain aware of a potential octane change. The question at hand is whether the E15 will come into the market at 87, 88, or 89 octane? As you know, when you simply add ethanol to gasoline, you increase octane values and improve air quality.
Currently most retailers are passing the value of E15 to the consumer with both a superior fuel and a less expensive price at an 88 or 89 octane. So the consumer is currently enjoying better engine performance, no mileage loss, lower emissions, and more money in their wallet.
The retailers are doing this by utilizing blending pumps that typically mix E85 and E10 to dispense E15. If the retailer does not have a blending pump, they will pick E15 up at the terminal and truck it to their stand-alone tank and dispense it directly.
If Magellan offers E15 at 87 octane, then the octane value is not captured by the consumer or their engine.
This happened about eight years ago, when E10 went from 89 octane to its current 87 octane. The upstream suppliers lowered the octane of the E0 base fuel and took advantage of the octane that 10% ethanol brought when added. The consumer and auto manufacturers lost that octane value.
So while Urban Air is thrilled Magellan will give more retailers the ability to sell E15, we will continue to actively educate that octane matters. We encourage retailers to stay diligent in offering consumers the full value of E15 at an 88 or 89 octane, which improves engine performance and air quality.