What is ethanol?

Ethanol is an alcohol-based alternative fuel currently made from corn. Most gasoline is blended with up to 10 percent ethanol, because any vehicle can run on up to a 10 percent blend. E85 is fuel blends of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. It can only be used in specially designed flex-fuel vehicles. Ethanol raises the oxygen content of gasoline to help mitigate air emissions. Map of ethanol plants in Indiana

What is E85?

E85 is an alternative, renewable fuel made from corn. E85 is the term for a motor fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

What is a flex-fuel vehicle?

A flex-fuel vehicle is specially designed to run on any ethanol blend up to 85 percent ethanol. Special onboard diagnostics read the fuel blend, enabling drivers to fuel with E85 or gasoline in any combination. The computer adjusts the vehicle's fuel injection and ignition timing to compensate for the different fuel mixtures.

What if E85 is not available?

The flex-fuel vehicle system allows the driver to use any combination of gasoline or ethanol, from 100 percent unleaded gasoline to 85 percent ethanol. Therefore, a driver can use unleaded gasoline if E85 is not available.

What are the differences in a flex-fuel vehicle compared to a regular gasoline-only model? Are different parts used?

The only major additional part on a flex-fuel vehicle is the fuel sensor that detects the ethanol/gasoline ratio. A number of other parts on the flex-fuel vehicle's fuel delivery system are modified so that they are ethanol compatible. The fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel injectors, computer system, anti-siphon device and dashboard gauges have been modified slightly. Alcohols are corrosive; therefore, any part that comes in contact with the fuel has been upgraded to be tolerant to alcohol. Normally, these parts include a stainless steel fuel tank and Teflon lined fuel hoses.

Is E85 more toxic or dangerous than gasoline?

No. The fuel ethanol must be denatured with 15 percent gasoline or a bitter agent to prevent ingestion. Also, ethanol does not contain the harmful carcinogens and toxins found in gasoline.

If E85 is spilled on the ground, can it contaminate ground water?

Ethanol is water soluble, non-toxic and biodegradable.

Can ethanol blends be used in small engines, such as boats, lawnmowers or chainsaws?

Yes, most manufacturers know that up to 10 percent blend of ethanol is very common in gasoline and make their engines compatible. Check with your manufacturer to make sure ethanol can be used in your small engine if you are unsure.

Where can I find E85 pumps?

Click here for a list of E85 pumps.

How do I know if my vehicle is flex-fuel?

Please visit the Growth Energy website or read your vehicle's owner's manual to determine if your vehicle is capable of handling E85.