Experimental and Modeling Study of the Flammability of Fuel Tank Headspace Vapors from Ethanol/Gasoline Fuels; Phase 3: Effects of Winter Gasoline Volatility and Ethanol Content on Blend Flammability; Flammability Limits of Denatured Ethanol

Research output: NRELTechnical Report

Abstract

This study assessed differences in headspace flammability for summertime gasolines and new high-ethanol content fuel blends. The results apply to vehicle fuel tanks and underground storage tanks. Ambient temperature and fuel formulation effects on headspace vapor flammability of ethanol/gasoline blends were evaluated. Depending on the degree of tank filling, fuel type, and ambient temperature,fuel vapors in a tank can be flammable or non-flammable. Pure gasoline vapors in tanks generally are too rich to be flammable unless ambient temperatures are extremely low. High percentages of ethanol blended with gasoline can be less volatile than pure gasoline and can produce flammable headspace vapors at common ambient temperatures. The study supports refinements of fuel ethanol volatilityspecifications and shows potential consequences of using noncompliant fuels. E85 is flammable at low temperatures; denatured ethanol is flammable at warmer temperatures. If both are stored at the same location, one or both of the tanks' headspace vapors will be flammable over a wide range of ambient temperatures. This is relevant to allowing consumers to splash -blend ethanol and gasoline atfueling stations. Fuels compliant with ASTM volatility specifications are relatively safe, but the E85 samples tested indicate that some ethanol fuels may produce flammable vapors.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages58
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5400-52043

Keywords

  • ethanol
  • ethanol-gasoline blends
  • flammability
  • gasoline
  • headspace vapors

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