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Flex-fuel Vehicles and the Fuel of the Future

Ethanol is not only safe for your vehicle, it provides higher octane for cleaner engines, better winterizing and increased overall performance. Higher performance fuels are cleaner burning and environmentally friendly, reducing harmful hydrocarbon and greenhouse gas emissions. 

For instance, using E15 (Unleaded 88) nationwide would reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 39.5 million tons, the equivalent of removing 6.3 million vehicles from American roadways.

make healthy fuel choices

Growing corn for fuel makes Iowa’s corn growers part of a global clear air solution. In this video, Angela Tin, American Lung Association vice president of environmental health, explains the health and environmental benefits of choosing ethanol versus petroleum-based fuels.

Flex-fuel Vehicles (FFV)

Flex-fuel vehicles are designed to run on fuels from regular unleaded, super unleaded (10 percent ethanol) or any blend of ethanol up to 85 percent – hence the name “flexible fuel.” Higher blends of ethanol, such as E85, have higher octane.

View the 2019 list of flex-fuel vehicles. 


E-85, which is made from 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, has been in the marketplace for over two decades. Since the introduction of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the number of E-85 stations has increased steadily. Iowa has more than 250 E85 stations with roughly half of those offering additional higher blends of ethanol. 

Complete list of all flex fuel stations in Iowa. 

E15 (Unleaded 88)

E15 is a newer blend of higher-octane fuel made from 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. The Department of Energy conducted 6 million miles of testing on E15 – the equivalent of 12 round trips to the moon – and found no issues.

Thus, in January 2011, the EPA approved a waiver permitting the use of E15 (Unleaded 88) in passenger vehicles model year 2001 and newer. This represents nearly 70 percent of the fleet and a larger percentage of vehicle miles traveled. E15 (Unleaded 88) is an option and not a mandate like E10.

NASCAR racecars have run more than 3 million miles on E15 (Unleaded 88), starting with the 2011 racing season, and NASCAR drivers and mechanics give the fuel high marks for power and durability. 

Retailers can sell E15 (Unleaded 88) as a registered fuel. Drivers will start seeing more stations offering E15 (Unleaded 88) in the near future.

Drivers should look for these labels to see if a vehicle uses flex fuel or if a gas port provides E15 (Unleaded 88) or E85:

Click here to find a pump location near you. 


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