Drivers refuel at a station along the I-75 Clean Fuels Corridor in Lexington, Kentucky. | Photo by East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition
With the launch of the I-75 Clean Fuels Corridor, drivers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida can fill up their vehicles at stations in the world’s longest biofuels corridor. Supported by a 2009 award from the Energy Department’s Clean Cities program, the 1,786 mile route includes 26 retail stations selling E85 (an ethanol blend up to 85% that can be used in flexible-fuel vehicles) and 9 stations selling B20 (a 20% biodiesel blend that can be used in diesel vehicles).
The accomplishment addresses a major challenge facing alternative fuel vehicle deployment: having a sufficient number of fueling stations on America’s most popular highways. The I-75 corridor project added refueling locations for E85 and B20 from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Miami, Florida, allowing drivers to travel along the entire corridor entirely on biofuels. In addition, all of the biofuel pumps are no more than three miles away from an exit on I-75. As there are nearly 100 models of flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) on the market and 10 million FFVs already on the road, many drivers can already use E85. Similarly, there are an increasing number of diesel vehicles for which manufacturers have approved the use of B20, including the newest Ford F-series trucks and Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel. While the vehicles that can be fueled with E85 and B20 can also run on gasoline and diesel respectively, having quick and easy access to biofuels pumps encourages drivers to use them more often.
While the corridor is still expanding, it has already exceeded the Energy Department’s expectations. Even though the initial project proposal only included 22 stations, the project team has already installed 32 stations, the result of sound management and additional private investment. With some of the stations opening as early as 2010, the participating retailers have sold more than 3.3 million gallons of biofuels so far. In addition to the existing stations, the project partners expect to open eight more before the end of the project. As biofuels are domestically produced, sales at these stations support the American economy.
The project’s success is built on strong private-public partnerships. The Energy Department’s initial award provided about $818,000, while private partners contributed more than $1.6 million to the project. The East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, the project lead, collaborated with several other Clean Cities coalitions, including those in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, and Central Florida. The group also worked with local fueling retailers, regional biofuels companies, state energy offices, and non-profit organizations.
From Canada to the Caribbean, the biofuels available along I-75 will help travelers drive on more clean, domestic fuel than ever. Learn more about the project at cleanfuelscorridor.com.