Customers of the upcoming Buc-ee’s gas station in Melissa will have the opportunity to purchase two products uncommon at fueling stations. The first is ethanol free gas, sometimes called “pure gasoline,” and the other is diesel exhaust fluid, which will be available at the pump — something that will be unique to the chain, at least for now.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s site http://www.fueleconomy.gov explains a blend of 10 percent ethanol has been mandated in the U.S. for many years. There are certain provisions allowing for some exceptions such as E85, an 85 percent blend of ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, known as “FlexFuel” and E15, which is a blend containing 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. In some situations, however, it is possible to purchase pure gasoline with no ethanol.
After breaking ground just off Highway 75 in Melissa in January, the new Buc-ee’s gas station, which will be located at 1550 Central Expressway, is expected to have nearly 100 fuel pumps and bring more than 200 new job opportunities to Melissa when it opens in the coming months.
Melissa City Manager Jason Little said daily traffic at the new location is expected to be similar to the Buc-ee’s location in Madisonville.
“That should be anywhere around 14,000 to 16,000 people a day,” Little said.
Buc-ee’s website states the location in Melissa is going to sell a 92 octane ethanol free gasoline once it is completed. The service station is also going to have a dispenser at the fuel pump distributing DEF for diesel customers, a relatively new feature more stations are exploring.
Buc-ee’s General Counsel Jeff Nadalo said while selling DEF at the pump is not unique to Buc-Ee’s, it is rare and not available at all locations. He also said pure gasoline is mostly offered to satisfy the demand for customers using it in their classic cars, boats and small engines. Not all 92 octane gas is going to be ethanol free, nor is all ethanol free gas 92 octane,” Nadalo explained, and different gas stations will sell the ethanol free gas at different octane ratings.
“There is a strong demand for it,” Nadalo said via email.
Ethanol free gasoline
Nadalo also said there is an increased cost associated with selling ethanol free gasoline.
“All fuel is a blend of gasoline and additives,” Nadalo said. “This fuel is more expensive because the EPA-required additives are more expensive than ethanol.”
The website http://www.pure-gas.org states there are two gas stations in Grayson County that provide ethanol free gas at the pump and two more in Gainesville. The Lone Star Food Store station, owned by Douglass Distributing, at the corner of U.S. Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 82 is one of those in Grayson County and the other is Enderby Gas just north of Whitesboro on U.S. Highway 377.
Douglass Distributing CEO Brad Douglass said pure ethanol is mostly used in small engines. He said it used to be the primary gasoline sold across the country.
“It is safe to run in your vehicle,” Douglass said. “It is still best to use the gasoline the manufacturer has rated for that engine.”
Douglass said the biggest hindrance to gas stations selling ethanol free gasoline is the market. He said most small gas stations tend to have three, or at most four, tanks for dispensing fuel. Stations often have one tank to hold the low grade, one tank to hold the premium grade and one tank to hold the diesel, while the mid grade is produced at the pump by blending the low and mid grades together. Douglass said gas stations intending to sell ethanol free gasoline at the pump would require many to install an entirely new tank and pump due to the inability to blend ethanol with non-ethanol gasoline.
DEF at the pump
Douglass said it is easier for a new gas station or truck stop to sell pure gasoline or even DEF if it is set up during the construction phase, though challenges preventing pure gasoline’s widespread use include the increased cost and low demand.
When it comes to DEF, Douglass said many of the same challenges arise except there is another caveat, the U.S. government requires all diesel engines, regardless of size or application, to add DEF. He said the majority of users will purchase a 2.5 gallon container of the fluid and pour it into the special tank on their respective machine themselves. Still, there is an increasing trend of offering DEF at the pump and Douglass said as older diesel vehicles become retired and new engines come on board, the need to provide DEF at the pump will increase.
“It is required by law in all diesel engines,” Douglass said. “We are now starting to install it at the pumps. The new (Lone Star Food Store) location on FM 1417 (at Hwy. 75) is going to have a dispenser for the diesel exhaust fluid. It will be the first gas station in Grayson County to offer DEF at the pump.”
He said the biggest challenge to offering DEF at the pump is a combination of the need to store it, similar to offering gasoline without ethanol, as well as the need to keep moisture out of the mix. The website http://www.discoverdef.com has a location finder to assist customers in finding places selling DEF. The website does not currently show any stations in Grayson County as selling it at the pump, but there are several stations in Anna and McKinney that offer DEF at the pump.
Douglass said it is common in the industry to offer DEF at large truck stops and ethanol free gasoline at smaller stations, usually near a marina as boats are a common vehicle that would use the gasoline.
He said there has been a move away from pure ethanol in recent years for a number of reasons. Douglass said the 100 percent ethanol fuel is and doesn’t offer the same combustion as normal gasoline or even gasoline blended with ethanol.
Douglass said it is best to match the type of fuel — be it octane rating, ethanol blend, etc. — with the recommended type listed in the owner’s manual of the vehicle. He said using a lower octane rating than intended can cause issues, especially in older cars, though he added newer cars are better at compensating.
A representative from QuikTrip said the chain does not offer ethanol free gas in any of its stations in Texas, but does offer DEF at the pump in its truck stops and travel centers only at this time.