Ethanol fuel is used as a motor fuel and often as a biofuel additive for gasoline. Ethanol can be derived from the sugars found in grains such as corn as well as rice, sugarcane and sugarbeet. Ethanol is a renewable fuel because it is made from plants. In 2014, about 13 billion gallons of ethanol were added to the gasoline consumed in the United States.
In 2005, Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that set minimum requirements for the use of renewable fuels, including ethanol. In 2007, the RFS renewable fuel use targets were set to rise steadily to a level of 36 billion gallons by 2022.
Ethanol can have an effect on several properties of gasoline, including vapor pressure. Ethanol raises the vapor pressure of gasoline. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets minimum standards for vapor pressure during the summer months. For more information on how to blend mid-grade gasoline with ethanol and stay compliant with the EPA’s standards for vapor pressure see this factsheet.
In Montana, an in-state market for ethanol has been limited because there are no ethanol plants in the state and transportation of the fuel is currently cost-prohibitive.