Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Editor's Pick

BP Delays E85 Expansion

CHICAGO, Oct. 26 — The farm-produced fuel that is supposed to help wean America from its oil addiction is under scrutiny for its potentially corrosive qualities.

E85, a blend of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, could be eating away at metal and plastic parts in pumps being used to dispense the fuel at gasoline stations, Underwriters Laboratories, the private product-safety testing group, said this month.

BP, the British oil company, said on Thursday that it would delay the expansion of E85 at its American gasoline outlets until the laboratories certified an E85 dispensing system.

“BP is tracking this issue very closely,” Valerie Corr, a company spokeswoman, said.
Underwriters Laboratories and the Department of Energy are holding two days of hearings next week at the testing group’s headquarters outside Chicago, inviting oil companies, automakers and researchers to help develop standards for E85 equipment.

Underwriters Laboratories, which certifies the safety of everything from toasters to televisions, has temporarily withdrawn authorization for the U.L.-approved label on parts used in E85 dispensers. Those dispensers, it turns out, were modified from regular gasoline dispensers and were certified only for a maximum of 15 percent ethanol concentration; U.L. said it had never certified any E85-specific pumps.

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