The vapour pressure or Reid Vapour Pressure (RVP) is one of the industry's methods of measuring the volatility of gasoline which is a very important part of petrol specifications since it has implications on e.g. product availability, product handling and safety, evaporation losses and vehicle performance. The Fuel Quality Directive 2009/30/EC describes the volatility requirements and allows EU Member States to apply for a relaxation of the summer vapour pressure limit for gasoline if using bioethanol and if air quality criteria are met.
The European Commission has sofar strictly enforced the criteria when assessing the RVP waiver applications from Czech Republic, Poland and Spain. EFOA feels that there is no reason to allow RVP Waivers for several reasons, including:
- It ignores the Commission’s own scientific studies which recommended against such a waiver. This is clearly stated in section 4.15.5, page 108 of the Commission’s impact assessment: "Increasing the permitted maximum vapour pressure for ethanol blends in petrol should not be permitted". This is because:
- An increase is not necessary for encouraging the use of biofuels or for ethanol.
- An increase will lead to a significant increase in VOC emissions, contrary to the goal of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution and commitments in the Biofuel Strategy.
- An increase purely for blending ethanol in petrol would discriminate against alternative uses of ethanol as a petrol blending component and unfairly disadvantage those industries.
- An increase would discourage development of better biofuel components for blending in petrol running counter to the goal of encouraging development set out in the Biofuel Strategy.
- An RVP waiver is inconsistent with studies undertaken by the Emissions and Health Unit of the Commission's Institute of Environment and Sustainability comparing Ethanol and ETBE. These studies show that blending ethanol-ethers (ETBE) into petrol would reduce VOC emissions further than directly blended ethanol only. Ethanol-ethers can be mixed with petrol at any rate without causing vapour pressure increase.
Bio-ETBE is an important route for blending bio-ethanol today. Jeopardising the development of bio ether fuels puts at risk the EU's biofuels targets. Ethanol can be, and is today, directly blended into specially prepared petrol base blends. These Blendstocks for Oxygenate Blending (BOB) are readily available on the market and allow the final products to match the specifications in terms of vapour pressure as well as other requirements.
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