February 22, 2000 | By: Haven Miller

UK has found a way to operate its motor pool more cost-effectively and help the environment at the same time. Its recently-refurbished Motor Vehicle Service Center has installed a fully-automated, 24-hour refueling station for state-owned "flex-fuel" cars that run on 85 percent ethanol. The price of ethanol fuel has lately fallen below the price of conventional gasoline.

According to Bill Peterson, UK Director of Management Operations for the College of Agriculture, the new tank holds 10,000 gallons of E-85 fuel. E-85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline. The new facility is currently the only on-site state facility for refueling state-owned E-85 vehicles.

"Installation of the new fuel pumping facility, which also supplies conventional gasoline, was a top priority for us," said Peterson. "We currently have 51 cars in our UK fleet that are flex-fuel, and will add more each year. We put only E-85 fuel in these vehicles."

The new E-85 facility is the result of cooperation between several organizations. The Kentucky Department of Energy, the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, and Ford Motor Company all cooperated to help fund the facility. The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition provided planning assistance.

Ford, which manufactured the first, mass-produced commercial car that runs on E-85 fuel, has invested in several E-85 facilities nationwide.

"Partnering with the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Corn Growers Association is a great way for Ford Motor Company to promote the use of environmentally-friendly E-85," said Greg Zilberfarb, National Accounts Manager for Ford. "It's also an opportunity to educate the youth of Kentucky on the fuel's benefit to society."

State officials view the new fueling facility as evidence of a solid commitment by Kentucky to not simply purchase vehicles that can use 85 percent ethanol, but actually use the E-85 fuel. Increased use of ethanol also is seen as a benefit to agriculture, and to the environment.

"The University of Kentucky is a leader in the application of renewable fuel technology," said Lt. Governor Stephen Henry. "They have spoken volumes with this commitment – education by experience, and teaching by example."

"We look on this as a win-win situation," said Oran Little, Dean of the UK College of Agriculture. "The farmer wins because increased ethanol usage means a larger market for corn. And the public wins because ethanol is a cleaner-burning, environmentally-friendly product."

While ethanol can be produced using a variety of agricultural feedstocks, the vast majority of domestic ethanol is produced from corn. EPA studies have shown that high blends of ethanol reduce harmful carbon monoxide emission levels by more than 25 percent.

In addition to the Lexington campus facility, UK's agricultural education and research vehicle facility in Princeton, Kentucky also is scheduled this year for a facelift, and already is supplying E-85 fuel to state vehicles.


Bill Peterson 606-257-2983