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Refining Economics of U.S. Gasoline: Octane Ratings and Ethanol Content

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MathPro Inc., P.O. Box 34404, Bethesda, Maryland 20827, United States
Ford Motor Company, MD RIC-2122, P.O. Box 2053, Dearborn, Michigan 48121, United States
General Motors Company, 823 Joslyn Avenue, Pontiac, Michigan 48340, United States
Chrysler Group LLC, CIMS 482-00-71, 800 Chrysler Drive, Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326, United States
*Phone: 301-951-9006; e-mail: [email protected]
*Phone: 313-248-6857; e-mail: [email protected]
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2014, 48, 19, 11064–11071
Publication Date (Web):August 21, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

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    Increasing the octane rating of the U.S. gasoline pool (currently ∼93 Research Octane Number (RON)) would enable higher engine efficiency for light-duty vehicles (e.g., through higher compression ratio), facilitating compliance with federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards. The federal Renewable Fuels Standard calls for increased renewable fuel use in U.S. gasoline, primarily ethanol, a high-octane gasoline component. Linear programming modeling of the U.S. refining sector was used to assess the effects on refining economics, CO2 emissions, and crude oil use of increasing average octane rating by increasing (i) the octane rating of refinery-produced hydrocarbon blendstocks for oxygenate blending (BOBs) and (ii) the volume fraction (Exx) of ethanol in finished gasoline. The analysis indicated the refining sector could produce BOBs yielding finished E20 and E30 gasolines with higher octane ratings at modest additional refining cost, for example, ∼1¢/gal for 95-RON E20 or 97-RON E30, and 3–5¢/gal for 95-RON E10, 98-RON E20, or 100-RON E30. Reduced BOB volume (from displacement by ethanol) and lower BOB octane could (i) lower refinery CO2 emissions (e.g., ∼ 3% for 98-RON E20, ∼ 10% for 100-RON E30) and (ii) reduce crude oil use (e.g., ∼ 3% for 98-RON E20, ∼ 8% for 100-RON E30).

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