Can Fuel Efficiency Standards Be Met Cost-Effectively? The Potential for High-Octane, Low-Carbon Fuels
(Environmental and Energy Study Institute) To cut petroleum usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fuel efficiency standards are set to rise significantly by 2025 under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards—jointly administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA. However, the automotive marketplace has changed significantly since the standards were written in 2009. Sustained low gas prices and the growing popularity of trucks and SUVs have led the auto industry to claim that it will be impossible to meet both 2025 and long-term efficiency standards without significant changes to the programs. Fortunately, there is another low-cost pathway available to regulators to preserve strong fuel efficiency standards and improve fuel quality. Research suggests that high-octane, low-carbon fuel is the lowest-cost compliance option for both consumers and the automotive industry.
Key to this discussion is an understanding that automakers are increasingly producing smaller, more efficient direct-injection, turbocharged engines. According to the Energy Information Administration, the production of these vehicles has increased from around 3 percent in model year 2009 to nearly 18 percent in model year 2014, and is expected to increase to over 80 percent of all light-duty vehicles sold in the United States by 2025. In producing these vehicles, automakers are creating additional demand for high-octane fuels, as higher amounts of octane are needed to prevent engine knock in these engines and produce efficiency gains. Premium gasoline is a high-octane fuel – whose octane can come from either a renewable, clean burning source – ethanol – or from aromatics, a petroleum derivative, which is toxic. READ MORE includes VIDEOS