A high-octane standard for the U.S. gasoline market could be the fastest and most cost-effective way to enhance fuel efficiency for vehicles produced in the next few years.
New reports published by the Fuels Institute analyze the market’s ability to deliver higher octane gasoline to consumers — and how it would affect the regulatory and market dynamics.
The Fuels Institute was founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in 2013 as a non-profit think tank that publishes research projects that evaluate market issues related to vehicles and fuels.
“Transitioning the U.S. Gasoline Pool to a Single High-Octane Fuel: A Baseline Analysis” and its companion white paper, “Analysis of the Potential for Increasing Octane in the U.S. Fuel Supply,” analyze the fuels market’s capability to deliver higher octane gasoline to consumers — and the regulatory and market dynamics that would be affected by this transition.
“The science demonstrates that when higher-octane gasoline is used in engines designed for it, those engines can deliver greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions,” said John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute. “These new reports go a long way to help answer questions related to the technology, regulations and costs to consumers to transition to a higher-octane gasoline standard.”
“Transitioning the U.S. Gasoline Pool to a Single High-Octane Fuel: A Baseline Analysis” aims to help guide discussions when considering a transition to higher octane gasoline.
The report modeled high-octane fuels containing various levels of ethanol and found that ethanol could reduce production costs — but introduced compatibility issues within the distribution system that would require substantial investments. And if the fuel is not similar to an existing fuel, the regulatory and transition process could take as long as 20 years or more, the report suggested.
“These new publications show that transitioning to a high-octane market is feasible, but there are hurdles that must be acknowledged and accommodated,” said Eichberger. “The white paper specifically makes it clear that consumer education prior to initiating the transition is critical because consumers are very sensitive to fuel prices and don’t understand what octane is.”
“Analysis of the Potential for Increasing Octane in the U.S. Fuel Supply,” is presented within the context of other octane-related research and the evolving market and regulatory discussions in 2018.
“Our white paper combines the learnings of our commissioned report with the findings of the Department of Energy’s Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines Initiative, additional analysis released by U.S. CAR, and various consumer and market data analyses prepared by NACS to provide a high-level overview of the issue,” said Eichberger. “Aggregating these learnings, presented against the backdrop of policy discussions in Washington, D.C., provides context that is essential to understanding the complexities of this issue.”
Download both reports published by the Fuels Institute here.