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Ethanol Reduces Particulate Matter Emissions

  • Monday, 18 December 2017 09:47

We know ethanol emits fewer carbon emissions like particulate matter (PM) than gasoline. In fact, when it comes to particulate matter, a MIT study concluded PM emissions from gasoline (E0) is three times higher than E10.

So what is PM?

PM is a particulate pollutant and particulate pollution is a major contributor to health issues in the United States. Comprising of a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air, most particulate pollution is formed from complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – pollutants that are emitted from power plants and automobiles.

According to the EPA, health issues caused by particulate pollution are:

“Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Particle pollution contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems including: premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.”

A recent study from the National Heart and Lung Institute and London-based MRC-PHE Centre for Environment concluded some shocking statistics that demonstrate how exposure to air pollution can completely negate benefits from exercising.

The study found healthy individuals who walked for two hours in a high-traffic area and were exposed to particulate pollution (such as NO2, ultrafine particles and PM2.5) saw none of the health benefits usually associated with walking.

In contrast, the study shows, walking in a traffic-free area provided significant respiratory and cardiovascular benefits.

If those findings aren’t alarming enough, a recent report by the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center concluded increased exposure to particulate matter during the preconception period for pregnant mothers increases the risk for congenital malformation birth defects.

Closer to home in Minnesota, four air pollution warnings were issued in the Twin Cities by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) this year. These warnings were issued as a result of increased particulate matter and ozone in the air.

In fact, the MPCA said there were moderate threat levels of particulate matter and ozone emissions in the Twin Cities for 106 days this year. Emissions from the transportation sector makes up 25 percent of carbon emission in Minnesota, of which 62 percent comes from light-duty vehicles, and a significant source of particulate pollution comes synthetic high-octane gasoline additives such as benzene toluene and zylene.

As we stated at the top, ethanol usage reduces particulate pollution. It has even been concluded that PM emissions decreased 34 percent nationwide from 2000 to 2013 coinciding with the implementation of the RFS. In Minnesota, a 2014 GHG Emission Reduction Report states that transportation sector emissions are on a downward trend as a result of increased biofuel usage and more fuel efficient cars on the road.

But there’s more that can be done. To further decrease PM emissions, consumers should use E15 or, if you own a flex-fuel vehicle, E85. With over 250 stations offering E15 throughout Minnesota, consumers have the option of using a fuel that is not only produced locally but can improve the overall air quality. Download our app or visit our website biofuel locator map to see all of the biofuel options that are available to you in the MN area.