Episode 169: What are flex fuel vehicles?

Flex fuel vehicles will help the alternative fuels market, which in turn will help reduce our carbon footprint

Stephanie Seki, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineering and Public Policy Department, discusses flex fuels and flex fuel vehicles, and how they can revolutionize the transportation sector.

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Flex Fuel Vehicles by U.S Department of Energy

Automobile and truck fuel economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas standards by R. Schnepf & B. D. Yacobucci

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Adoption Increases Fleet Gasoline Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions under United States Corporate Average Fuel Economy Policy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard by A. Jenn, Ineš Azevedo & Jeremy Michalek

Transcript

HOST: Have you ever noticed a “flex fuel” symbol on the back of a car and wondered what it meant?  On this week’s Energy Bite, Stephanie Seki, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

STEPH: Conventional gasoline vehicles can only use up to 10% ethanol blended with gasoline. However, flex fuel vehicles can use fuel with up to 85% ethanol. Less than 10% of vehicles on the road are flex fuel. You may notice that most flex fuel vehicles are visually no different from conventional vehicles, except for a yellow gasoline tank cap, though internally there are engine modifications.

HOST: Why are there flex fuel vehicles on the road?

STEPH: Automakers produce and sell flex fuel vehicles because government regulations categorize them as fuel-efficient alternative vehicles. The companies obtain credits and use them to counterbalance the less efficient vehicles they produce. Although flex fuel vehicles can consume fuel with 85% ethanol, most are only fueled with conventional gasoline with 10% ethanol. This is due to consumer choice, the lack of stations and pricing.  So although companies get credits, the impact may not be as expected.

HOST: Would you buy a flex fuel vehicle? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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