Government Fleet Top News

Underwriters Laboratories Develops Certification Requirements for E-85 Dispensers

October 31, 2007

NORTHBROOK, IL – Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a North American safety testing and certification organization, has established safety requirements for E-85 fuel dispensing equipment, and is now accepting submittals for certification investigations.The establishment of safety requirements follows the completion of UL’s comprehensive research program to investigate potential safety concerns associated with dispensing highly concentrated ethanol-blended fuels. The research included extensive gathering of technical data, field studies of existing E-85 installations in the United States and Brazil, analysis of material compatibility for dispenser components, and a co-sponsored technical forum with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) that brought together 32 national experts from automobile and petroleum companies, ethanol producers, dispenser and component manufacturers, industry associations, government agencies, and university researchers.“UL’s research into the safety aspects of the equipment used to dispense high percentage ethanol-blended fuels was a significant undertaking that required the participation of government agencies such as Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Association (EPA), as well as technical experts in biofuels and material compatibility from around the world,” said Gus Schaefer, UL’s public safety officer. “We took the need for E-85 dispenser requirements very seriously due to the unique characteristics of ethanol-blended fuels and believe the potential issues we identified through our thorough process will help promote the efficient, effective delivery of E-85 as safely as possible.”UL’s research indicated that although certain materials found in commercially available dispensers can be expected to perform acceptably when exposed to motor vehicle fuels blended with high concentrations of ethanol, some materials experienced significant deterioration during research tests. The new safety requirements address these material compatibility findings.Working closely with the DOE, UL’s scientific research program was designed to advance public knowledge about the long-term effects of highly concentrated ethanol on the components of E-85 dispensers and the subsequent effects on fire safety. One element of the research program included a long-term conditioning test. Test results were used to assist UL in determining the necessary protocols for evaluating potential degradation of dispenser materials from exposure to E-85.As part of ongoing research, UL is currently working with DOE, EPA, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to conduct additional long-term, dynamic testing of materials to be used in E-85 dispensers.

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