Ethanol E85 fuel quality and fuel quality information standards

E85 is a fuel blend of 70–85 per cent ethanol with the remainder petrol. It may only be used in cars that have been specifically built or modified to use E85. These include flexible-fuel vehicles and V8 racing supercars.

Following extensive consultation, the Australian Government has now made a fuel quality standard and fuel quality information (labelling) standard for E85 under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 (the Act) to allow for optimum vehicle and environmental performance of the fuel and labelling at the point of sale (similar to labelling for ethanol blended petrol, commonly called E10). A regulation impact statement examining the likely impacts of the E85 standards is available at the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) website.

The new E85 standards are:

  • Fuel Standard (Ethanol E85) Determination 2012 – this standard specifies the physical and chemical parameters for E85, and testing methods to determine compliance with the standard.
  • Fuel Quality Information Standard (Ethanol E85) Determination 2012 – this standard sets out the labelling requirements for the sale of E85 fuel sold in Australia.

The E85 standards come into force on 1 November 2012, and must be complied with before E85 can be supplied for use in Australia. The Australian Government undertakes fuel sampling nationally, at all stages of the fuel supply chain. Penalties under the Act apply for non-compliance. The commencement date has been selected so that businesses can make all necessary preparations to meet the new standards.

E85 Fuel Quality Standard

Summary table

The E85 fuel quality standard is detailed in the following table. E85 is defined as a fuel blend consisting of 70–85% ethanol and petrol that meets the requirements of the Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001.

The legal instrument is:

The E85 fuel quality standard commenced on 1 November 2012.

E85 standard
Parameter National standard Testing method
Acidity (as acetic acid) 0.006% m/m max ASTM D1613
Benzene 0.35% v/v max ASTM D5580
Copper 0.10 mg/kg max EN 15837 (as modified in CEN/TS 15293)
Ethanol 70-85% v/v ASTM D5501
Ethers (5 or more C atoms)1 1.0% v/v max ASTM D4815
Final boiling point (distillation) 210°C max ASTM D86
Higher alcohols (C3-C8)1 2.0% v/v max ASTM D4815
Inorganic chloride 1 mg/kg max ASTM D7328
Lead content 5 mg/L max ASTM D3237
Methanol 0.5% v/v max ASTM D5501
Motor Octane Number2 87 min -
Oxidation stability 360 minutes min ASTM D525
pHe 6.5-9.0 ASTM D6423
Phosphorus 1.3 mg/L max ASTM D3231
Research Octane Number 2 100 min -
Solvent washed gum 5 mg/100 mL max ASTM D381
Sulfate 4.0 mg/kg max ASTM D7319
Sulfur 70 mg/kg max ASTM D5453
Vapour Pressure (DVPE) 38-65 kPa at 37.8°C ASTM D5191
Water 1.0% m/m max ASTM E1064

1Testing method ASTM D4815–09 has been validated for use in the analysis of oxygenates (ethers (5 or more C atoms) and higher alcohols (C3-C8)) in ethanol/unleaded petrol blended fuels containing 70 to 85% ethanol, providing standards are prepared in 80% ethanol blended with unleaded petrol.

2Testing methods for Motor Octane Number and Research Octane Number in E85 are not yet available. The minimum targets specified in the E85 fuel quality standard are interim targets until a testing method is available. These minimum targets allow for engine calibration.

E85 Fuel Quality Information Standard (E85 labelling requirements)

Fuel suppliers who supply E85 automotive fuel must comply with the Fuel Quality Information Standard (Ethanol E85) Determination 2012 (E85 labelling standard). The E85 labelling standard will commence on 1 November 2012 to inform consumers that the fuel they are purchasing contains 70–85 per cent ethanol.

E85 is a fuel blend consisting of 70–85 per cent ethanol with the remainder petrol. E85 may only be used in vehicles specifically built or modified to use it. Misfuelling in vehicles not suited to use E85 may cause engine damage.

The requirement to label E85 will commence on 1 November 2012.

The legal instrument is:

Labelling requirements for service stations

Service stations where E85 is sold by retail from a fuel pump have two options for complying with the E85 labelling standard. Pumps dispensing E85 must clearly display either of the following words:

  • ‘Contains 70–85% ethanol’ and ‘Not petrol or diesel’ OR
  • ‘Contains x% ethanol’ and ‘Not petrol or diesel’ (where x is a number between 70 and 85).

Both options allow suppliers to use their own corporate livery and include additional information if desired.

Service stations should receive documentation from distributors stating that the E85 they have received contains either 70–85% ethanol or x% ethanol (where x is a number between 70 and 85), and that the fuel is subject to the E85 labelling standard. If this statement is not received, please contact fuel.quality@environment.gov.au or 1800 803 772.

Are you selling ethanol blends? Don';t keep it a secret! flyer

E85 labelling example

Labelling requirements at other places of retail supply

Retail suppliers of E85 other than from a service station (e.g. situations such as where businesses purchase E85 in bulk from fuel depots) have two options for complying with the E85 labelling standard:

  • the buyer must be given a document, before the E85 is supplied, that prominently includes the words as described above for service stations, OR
  • if the buyer is present when the E85 is supplied, the words must appear on each container of E85 so that the words can easily be read by the buyer.

Labelling requirements for supply of E85 to a retailer

For those who supply the E85 to a retailer, you must provide the retailer with a document that prominently displays the following:

  1. a statement that the E85 contains:
    1. 70–85% ethanol; or
    2. x% ethanol, where x is a number between 70 and 85; AND
  2. a statement that the E85 is the subject of this standard.

This aims to ensure that the retailer is given information to facilitate compliance with the labelling requirements.

Monitoring

The Australian Government undertakes intelligence, monitoring, compliance and enforcement activities to detect and deal with non-compliance under the Act. Authorised fuel inspectors undertake fuel sampling nationally, at all stages of the fuel supply chain. Any fuel subject to a fuel standard under the Act will be tested, including E85. Samples are regularly taken from importers, refineries, distributors and service station forecourts. Inspectors will check for E85 labelling during their inspection. Complaints about labelling are also received from the public. These can be investigated and prosecution action may be taken.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this page is of a general nature only and should be read in conjunction with the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000, Fuel Quality Standards Regulations 2001, Fuel Standard (Ethanol E85) Determination 2012, Fuel Quality Information Standard (Ethanol E85) Determination 2012, and the Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001. Fuel suppliers may wish to seek legal advice about their obligations under this legislation.