Ethanol Equipment Options
Equipment Compatibility and Availability
All existing tank and many associated UST equipment manufacturers have prepared letters stating compatibility with ethanol per EPA's guidance for the storage of biofuels blends.
E85 equipment listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is available for above-ground equipment. Prior to the availability of UL-listed equipment, E85 stations used existing equipment with a waiver from the local authority having jurisdiction. It is preferable to install UL-listed E85 or blender-pump equipment, which became available in 2010. This ensures a station is meeting all laws, codes, and regulations.
Underground Tanks: In 2011, EPA issued a guidance for the storage of biofuels blends in existing underground storage tanks (UST). The guidance provides a method for alternative compliance, because many tanks were listed prior to the widespread use of biofuels. The guidance requires UST manufacturers to provide a statement of compatibility for their products with specific biofuels blends. All tank manufacturers have issued statements of compatibility with blends of up to 98% ethanol. UST compatibility letters are available from the Petroleum Equipment Institute and the Steel Tank Institute. EPA UST regulations are implemented by individual state agencies.
Above-Ground Tanks: Above-ground tank manufacturers have also provided statements of compatibility with all ethanol blends including E85.
Tank Preparation: Existing tanks and lines must be cleaned prior to storing E85. E85 will "clean out" and absorb contamination left behind by years of petroleum fuel storage. Converting diesel equipment might require more thorough cleaning owing to scale in these systems. Some tanks might need to be replaced completely.
UL-Listed: Both U.S. dispenser manufacturers—Gilbarco and Wayne—offer UL-listed E85 and blender pump dispensers. These dispensers cost more than conventional dispensers due to specialized metals and seals designed to perform with high concentrations of ethanol. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that dispensers be listed for the fuel dispensed. Dispensers are typically replaced every 15 years.
Filters: Typically, 10-micron gasoline and 1-micron E85 dispenser filters should be changed on a three- to six-month cycle. The age of the tank, condition of the fuel system, and other factors can shorten this cycle. When replacing a filter, it should be dated so its age can be determined later. The maximum legal limit for dispensing fuel is 10 gallons per minute. If a sudden drop in fuel flow occurs or the flow slows (to 6 or 7 gallons per minute) over time, it's likely time to replace the dispenser filter.
UL-Listed: Hanging hardware includes hoses, nozzles, swivels, and breakaways. OSHA requires nozzles and breakaways be listed for the fuel dispensed. Although E85 dispenser failures are rare, fuel contamination problems have been uncovered. In nearly every case, these were attributed to poor tank cleaning or a failure to use the proper filters, nozzle, or hose. Replacing hanging hardware with UL-listed E85 equipment is an inexpensive solution to meet regulations.
The Petroleum Equipment Institute provides information on other dispensing products compatible with E85.