Bio-isobutanol wins key thumbs-up from Underwriters Labs

December 23, 2013 |

In Illinois, Underwriters Laboratories announced a joint research program has determined that gasoline fuel storage and dispensing equipment meeting latest UL standards can safely and successfully use blends of up to 16% biobutanol. This is the first time that UL has made such a determination.

According to UL: “fuel storage and dispensing products intended to handle isobutanol-gasoline blends, up to 16 percent isobutanol by volume and compliant with applicable ASTM International fuel quality standards, will not require special investigation by UL if they have been Listed for use with applicable UL standards that require testing with 25% or higher ethanol blends.

“This includes fuel dispensing equipment Listed to the UL Subject 87A Outline of Investigation for Power-Operated Dispensing Devices for Gasoline and Gasoline/Ethanol Blends with Nominal Ethanol Concentrations up to 85 Percent (E0 – E85).”

The background

All power-operated dispensing devices for petroleum products (typical gasoline pumps) are required to be certified to meet UL 87/87A by Automotive and Marine Service Station Code, NFPA 30A, and the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70.

Basically every gasoline/diesel/jet fuel/etc. pump across the United States is required by law to meet the UL specifications.

A number of companies have has been working with UL for the past few years to evaluate the use of isobutanol in UL 87A pumps. For example, Gevo sponsored a study to evaluate the swelling of elastomers exposed with Isobutanol/Gasoline Fuel Blends.

The impact

State regulations require fuel dispensing equipment to be listed by independent product safety testing laboratories such as UL.

This ruling provides assurance to all of the service stations that the fuel will work fine in their current equipment without the need to purchase new pumps. This removes another hurdle to be able to full market renewable isobutanol in on road gasoline.

At the time current UL dispensing equipment test standards were finalized, biobutanol was not commercially available and was not tested. This announcement by UL means that if butanol had been available as a fuel it would have been included for service use in equipment meeting latest UL standards.

More on the story.

The relevant UL page is here, and a link to the ruling has also been listed on UL’s guidelines within its flammable liquids page, here.

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