E85 and Beyond: Exploring the Next Generation of FlexFuels for Wholesale Distribution

By: protecfuel May 15, 2023 1:15 am

E85 and Beyond: Exploring the Next Generation of FlexFuels for Wholesale Distribution


In a world increasingly focused on reducing emissions and promoting cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, alternative fuels have become a crucial part of the conversation. Flex fuels, or flexible ethanol fuels, are one such alternative that can offer both environmental and performance benefits. These fuels are composed of a combination of gasoline and alcohols like ethanol or methanol, allowing vehicles to run on a variety of fuel blends. One of the most popular and widely used flex fuels today is E85. In this blog post, we will delve into E85 and its wholesale distribution, as well as explore the potential of next-generation flex fuels for wholesale distribution.

E85: A Primer

E85 is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, specifically designed for use in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). Ethanol, derived primarily from corn and other plant materials, provides a renewable and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gasoline. There are several benefits to using E85:

  1. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: E85 can produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, contributing to a cleaner environment.
  2. Higher octane rating: E85 has a higher-octane rating than regular gasoline, which can result in better engine performance and efficiency.
  3. Domestic production: The majority of ethanol used in E85 is produced in the United States, reducing dependence on foreign oil and supporting the domestic economy.

Current State of the FlexFuel Market

The flex fuel market has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by a combination of factors including environmental concerns, government incentives, and consumer demand. Some key trends and statistics include:

  • The number of flex-fuel vehicles and conversion kits available to change engines to higher ethanol fuels, on the road has increased dramatically, with millions   now in use worldwide.
  • E85 infrastructure, such as fueling stations, has expanded to accommodate the growing market. There are now over 5,000 E85 stations across the United States, with a particularly strong presence in the Midwest.
  • Market projections indicate that the global flex fuel market could reach a value of nearly $20 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 5%.

Despite these positive trends, there are still notable differences in the adoption of flex fuels across different regions. The South, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic areas have seen slower adoption rates, and companies like Protec Fuel Management, LLC are working to bridge that gap by providing ethanol fuel solutions to distributors, retailers, and fleets across these areas.

Wholesale Distribution of E85

Wholesale distribution of E85 presents unique challenges and opportunities, as the fuel blend requires specific infrastructure and storage considerations. Some of the key aspects of E85 distribution include:

  • E85 must be stored in dedicated tanks, separate from other gasoline blends, to prevent contamination and ensure proper fuel quality.
  • Infrastructure investments, such as blending systems and fuel dispensers, are necessary to accommodate the growth in E85 demand and usage.
  • Protec Fuel Management has played a significant role in the distribution of E85 in the South, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions, supplying over two hundred retailers with ethanol fuel solutions and offering a range of financial products and technical expertise to support their customers.
Protec Fuel's E85

Next-Generation FlexFuels

As the demand for alternative fuels continues to grow, research and development efforts are focusing on creating new flex fuel options that can offer even greater environmental and performance benefits. Some of the most promising next-generation flex fuels include methanol-based fuels, advanced biofuels, and electrofuels.

Methanol-based FlexFuels

Methanol-based flex fuels, such as M85 (85% methanol, 15% gasoline), offer some potential advantages over ethanol-based fuels like E85. These benefits include:

  • Lower production costs, as methanol can be produced from a wider range of feedstocks, including natural gas, coal, and biomass.
  • Higher energy density than ethanol, potentially resulting in better fuel efficiency.

However, there are also drawbacks to methanol-based fuels, such as their higher toxicity and lower energy content compared to gasoline, which may limit their widespread adoption and potential for wholesale distribution.

Advanced Biofuels

Advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol and algae-based fuels, represent a significant step forward in the development of renewable and sustainable fuel sources. Some key aspects of advanced biofuels include:

  • Production from non-food biomass sources, reducing the competition with food crops and potentially lowering production costs.
  • Potential for even greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to first-generation biofuels like corn-based ethanol.
  • Market projections indicate a strong growth potential for advanced biofuels, with a CAGR of over 40% expected between 2021 and 2028.


Electrofuels, also known as e-fuels or synthetic fuels, are produced through a process that combines hydrogen (derived from water electrolysis) with carbon dioxide to create hydrocarbon fuels. Key aspects of electrofuels include:

  • The production process can be powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, resulting in a highly sustainable fuel option.
  • Electrofuels have the potential to be carbon-neutral, as the carbon dioxide used in their production can be captured directly from the atmosphere or from industrial processes.
  • While still in the early stages of development, electrofuels show promise for future wholesale distribution, particularly as a means to reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation sector.

Challenges and Opportunities in Wholesale Distribution of Next-Generation FlexFuels

The wholesale distribution of next-generation flex fuels faces several hurdles, along with opportunities for growth and innovation. Key factors to consider include:

  1. Regulatory environment and government support: Policies and incentives that promote the development and adoption of alternative fuels will play a crucial role in the success of next-generation flex fuels.
  2. Investment and infrastructure requirements: Expanding the distribution network for new flex fuels will require significant investments in infrastructure, such as storage facilities, blending systems, and fueling stations.
  3. Balancing cost, availability, and environmental concerns: The ideal next-generation flex fuel will strike a balance between affordability, widespread availability, and environmental benefits, ensuring that it can successfully compete with traditional gasoline in the marketplace.

Protec Fuel Management’s Role in the Future of FlexFuels

As a leader in the ethanol fuel market, Protec Fuel Management is well-positioned to play a significant role in the development and distribution of next-generation flex fuels. Protec’s expertise and experience, along with their commitment to providing innovative fuel solutions, make them an ideal partner for stakeholders looking to invest in and support the growth of flex fuel options. By leveraging the strengths of Protec and their affiliates, customers can access a full range of integrated fuel solutions tailored to their needs.



The potential for next-generation flex fuels in wholesale distribution is both exciting and challenging. As the demand for cleaner, more sustainable fuel sources continues to grow, companies like Protec Fuel Management will play a crucial role in driving innovation and adoption in the market. By supporting the development of new flex fuel options and investing in the necessary infrastructure, stakeholders can help shape a cleaner, more sustainable future for the transportation sector.

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