May 16, 2005 at 7:44 PM CDT - Updated July 26 at 6:57 PM
Ethanol Fuel Sold at Half Price By: Amy Jacquin
CHARLESTON, MO -- We found the lowest fuel price in the Heartland, but not everyone can take advantage. E85, or 85% ethanol fuel, sold for 85 cents Monday afternoon in Charleston. But only designated "flexible fuel vehicles" can run on that high of octane.
"It's good for all the farmers, not only in Missouri, but everywhere," says customer Randy Wright.
The MFA pump in Charleston is the only place in Southeast Missouri you can find E85 alternative fuel. E85 is 85 percent enthanol, and means cleaner emissions.
"It's good for the environment," adds Wright. "The octane is 105, compared to the 87 in regular unleaded gasoline. Plus it's a Missouri product."
MFA buys its ethanol from one of three plants already operating in Missouri. And to help jump-start its new product E85, it dropped the price to 85 cents a gallon for a few hours Monday. That was enough to entice first-time buyer Jamie Small.
"Because it's 85 cents!" laughs Small. "Plus, I like buying something I know is grown in America."
Ethanol is normally a few cents higher than regular gasoline. But the government is helping MFA develop a new market.
"We get a tax credit that we will pass along to the consumer," says gas station manager J.T. Johnson.
"But you don't know how much, exactly?" asks Amy Jacquin. "It's flexible?"
"Yes, but it will be cheaper," states Johnson.
That's this station's pledge for the next two years.
Any crop with starch can be used to make enthanol, but corn provides the vast majority. One bushel of corn makes about 2.5 gallons of ethanol. So this is one market farmers hope takes root.
But not everyone can fill-up with E85. Some newer vehicles come with flexible-fuel engines. If in doubt, you can use your vehicle identification number to check for sure. This chart can be found on E85Fuel.com.
"Farmers have been feeding this country forever," says Ken Caspall of MFA Oil. "I'm glad to say, now they can start fueling this country, too."
In addition to ethanol, you've probably heard of bio-diesel, which also helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But have you heard of running your vehicle on 100% vegetable oil?
That's what the first creator, Rudolph Diesel, envisioned. Farmers growing their own fuel. It's being done today -- very successfully -- in Missouri. You'll learn more in Amy Jacquin's special report on "Greasel" systems, Wednesday on Heartland News at Ten.