SOURCE: Underwriters Laboratories

March 22, 2007 16:08 ET

Underwriters Laboratories Moves Closer to Completing E85 Fuel Dispenser Requirements

UL to Be Ready to Accept Products for Testing by Year-End 2007

NORTHBROOK, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 22, 2007 -- Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced today its progress toward completion of research and validation of UL's safety certification requirements for E85 fuel dispensing equipment. Once the research is finalized and the science established, UL expects to be prepared to accept products for evaluation and certification. UL currently expects to finalize research and publish certification requirements by the end of the fourth quarter of 2007 and, immediately thereafter, accept E85 dispensing equipment for investigation to the safety requirements and certification of compliant equipment.

UL develops safety standards for more than 19,000 product types including gasoline and fuel dispensing systems. E85, a highly concentrated blend of ethanol and gasoline, is becoming popular as an alternative energy source and, to accommodate this trend, UL has been working to establish safe dispenser standards that guard against the significantly different corrosive effects of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) as compared with both gasoline alone as well as the 10 percent ethanol blend commonly available in the U.S. today.

Working with the Department of Energy (DOE), UL is engaged in an intensive scientific research program intended to advance public knowledge about the long-term effects of highly concentrated ethanol on the components of E85 dispensers and the subsequent effects on fire and environmental safety.

"Safety is of the utmost concern to the U.S. ethanol industry and we are committed to ensuring our product can safely be delivered to the public," said Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, the national trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry. "Through the continued cooperation between our industry, the Department of Energy and UL, we hope to expeditiously bring to a close any questions about the safety of E85. UL's certification of E85 dispensing pumps is critical to the growing use of higher ethanol blends."

To support this program, UL is investing in facility upgrades and scientific investigation. UL has four concurrent initiatives underway intended to serve as input methodologies to eventual ethanol dispenser certification requirements:

--  Information Outreach:  UL has approached more than 75 academic,
    manufacturing and governmental stakeholders for the purpose of gathering
    technical information.  UL has also thoroughly reviewed at least 175
    technical articles and research reports.
    
    
--  Research Test Program:  UL's research test program includes a 2500-
    hour static conditioning test ongoing through September 2007.  Test results
    are expected to assist UL in determining the necessary protocols for
    adequately evaluating potential degradation of dispenser materials from
    exposure to E85.
    
--  Field Observations:  Field observations of E85 installations are
    underway in the U.S. and Brazil (which has an extensive ethanol fuel
    distribution infrastructure) through March 2007.  Results are expected to
    provide UL with real-life performance data for E85 dispensers in the
    marketplace.  A U.S. field observation report was published in February
    2007.
    
--  Product Harvesting:  Since November 2006, UL has been collecting
    dispenser components used to dispense ethanol-blended fuels in the U.S. and
    Brazil.  Components from harvested dispensers are undergoing analysis for
    material compatibility effects of ethanol blends.
    
UL expects to have substantially completed its research work by the end of 2007. The knowledge gained from this research will enable UL, through its accredited Standards Technical Panel process, to lead creation of a consensus standard for E85 dispensing equipment. Consensus Standards -- developed in collaboration with industry, consumer and governmental interests -- have a long history of providing both public safety and rapid market access for new technologies such as E85.

In order to facilitate availability of listed E85 dispensers UL plans to begin accepting dispenser evaluation and certification requests immediately after its research is completed and prior to initiating UL's accredited Standards Technical Panel Process. These requests will be considered under provisional certification standards that incorporate the learning from the research program to maximize the fire and environmental safeguards built into these dispensers.

"Public safety is UL's mission and top priority. We therefore take any such concerns very seriously and seek to thoroughly evaluate the impact of new technologies on public safety," said John Drengenberg, UL's Manager of Consumer Affairs. "UL remains committed to developing appropriate requirements to best address safety concerns and ultimately to protect the U.S. public. We look forward to finalizing the E85 dispenser safety requirements and offering the industry a listing program."

About UL

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products and writing Standards for Safety for over a century. UL evaluates more than 19,000 types of products, components, materials and systems annually with 21 billion UL Marks appearing on 71,000 manufacturers' products each year. UL's worldwide family of companies and network of service providers includes 66 laboratory, testing and certification facilities serving customers in 104 countries. For more information, visit: www.UL.com.

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