Showing posts from November, 2017

88 Octane Gasoline Now A Favorite Choice Of Many In Minnesota

In four years, the number of Minnesota stations selling 88 octane gasoline has gone from zero to more than 200. Many Minnesotans have become fans of a fuel that provides more octane but is usually priced lower than regular unleaded.
In the fall of 2013, only one station in Minnesota offered the 88 octane gasoline choice, Penn Minnoco in south Minneapolis. 88 octane gasoline is sometimes referred to as E15, because it takes advantage of a little more ethanol than our 10% regular gasoline to boost octane and lower the price. When it was first rolled out to the public, it generated a lot of interest, both in the news media and among drivers eager try the new gasoline-ethanol blend.

Soon stations across the state were adding new dispensers and offering both E85, for flex fuel vehicle drivers, and the new 88 octane gasoline blend for drivers of vehicles 2001 and newer.  Five stations were selling it after one year. Thirty more added it the next year and the total almost doubled the next ye…

How Minnesota Led the Way

Twenty years ago, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to require a 10 percent blend of ethanol be added to almost all grades of gasoline.  Sometimes referred to as E10, this gasoline-ethanol mix helps to make the fuel burn cleaner and reduces the state’s need for imported petroleum. It also eliminated an air quality problem in the Twin Cities few people were aware of – carbon monoxide levels were exceeding federal health guidelines. After E10 was established statewide, carbon monoxide levels lowered to below health standards, even though there are significantly more people and more vehicles in the metro area than there were in 1997.

Just as most people were unaware that carbon monoxide levels had risen, they noticed no difference in the new blend of gasoline. E10 had already been rolled out in the metro area, and when the change went statewide, Minnesotans saw little if any change in price, availability or performance.

Today, a 15 percent gasoline-ethanol blend (E15) is rap…

Where Does Minnesota’s Gasoline Come From?

Photo of a Tar Sands facility in Alberta, Canada by sbamueller, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Most of the gasoline sold in Minnesota starts as petroleum from the Tar Sands region of Alberta, Canada.  Removing Tar Sands from the ground often involves strip mining, extensive use of natural gas and water resources, and destruction of forests and wildlife habitat.

These issues continue to be a concern, but one solution can be found in the fields not far from our homes.  Biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel can be extracted from crops we can replant each year, helping to capture carbon and energy each crop cycle; processing the plants for food, fiber, and transportation fuels; and then begin the cycle over again each Spring.

Minnesota is a state with no crude oil, yet it has become a major provider of biofuels in just a few decades, producing more than a billion gallons of fuel each year.  Better yet, these biofuels produce fewer emissions than traditional petroleum fuels and are renewable.