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E85 –Alternative Fuel Info

About E85

Ethanol is a colorless liquid that is distilled from agricultural crops -- usually corn. Ethanol can be produced not only from corn, barley, and wheat, but also from cellulose feedstocks such as corn stalks, rice straw, sugar cane bagasse, pulpwood, switchgrass, and municipal solid waste. Most ethanol is produced in the grain-growing states of midwestern U.S. and a commercial ethanol plant will begin operation in Virginia in 2010.   

Because ethanol has lower energy content than gasoline, E85 use will reduce fuel economy. The magnitude of the reduction depends on the vehicle, driving habits and conditions, but 15% is an often-cited average.  From a consumer perspective, there is no noticeable difference in vehicle performance when E10 is used.

Using E85 reduces petroleum consumption: use of E85 will reduce overall use of petroleum and replace it with renewable-based fuel produced in the U.S.

E85 is better for the environment: E85 offers environmental benefits such as reducing carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter emissions when compared to gas.

E85 is easy to use and handle: E85 fueling equipment is only slightly different and of similar cost, and is similar to petroleum fuel storage and dispensing.

Vehicle Verification –

Generally, Virginia fleet vehicles that are E85 compatible will have a FlexFuel, E85 sticker on the rear of the vehicle and/or a yellow gas cap.   

All gasoline vehicles are capable of operating on gasoline/ethanol blends with up to 10% ethanol. In fact, some states require the seasonal or year-round use of up to 10% ethanol as an oxygenate additive to gasoline to mitigate ozone formation. These low percentage oxygenate blends are not classified as alternative fuels. We speak of ethanol vehicles as those specifically manufactured to be capable of running on up to 85% denatured ethanol, 15% gasoline (E85), or any mixture of the two up to the 85% ethanol limit. E85 may be seasonally adjusted in colder climates such that the real proportion of E85 is less than 85% ethanol. Vehicles manufactured for E85 use are commonly called flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs).

FFVs specifically designed to run on E85 are becoming more common each modely year, and FFVs are typically available as standard equipment with little or no incremental cost. Visit for a listing of FFVs.

FFVs may operate on gasoline or E85, and a driver may simply fuel with either fuel as the situation dictates.

E85 fuel locations
DGS has installed a refueling facility at the main Richmond fleet site.  A listing of additional public, government, and military access E85 stations can be found at the following link.
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