U.S. Department of Transportation



Date of this Version



Dublin, Ohio (October 25-26, 2007)


Biofuels, especially ethanol, are gaining attention as partial replacements of imported fuels and to offset CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Consequently, legislation is being proposed to mandate a significant increase in ethanol usage as a fuel over the next 20 years. The planned wide-spread usage of ethanol will require an efficient and reliable transportation and storage system that encompasses both the existing infrastructure and new construction. The fuels are currently being transported by rail, truck, and ship; however, in order to economically transport biofuels from producers to users on a large scale, safe and reliable transportation by pipeline is necessary. Prior industry experience and research has shown that stress corrosion cracking (SCC) can initiate in some fuel-grade ethanols. Detailed laboratory studies indicate that primary factors contributing to the initiation of SCC include the presence of dissolved oxygen and other contaminants, including pre-existing corrosion products, and the corrosion potential of the fuel. The source of the fuel (e.g., corn, sugar cane), the gasoline-to-ethanol blend ratio, and handling of the fuel from production to end-user delivery influences the significance of these factors as well as the operational and maintenance protocols to be applied for safe transportation of the fuel by pipeline. In addition to pipeline reliability, quality of the fuel as it travels down the pipeline to the end-user must be assured. Finally, the effect of ethanol on other metallic and non-metallic components needs to be evaluated. In an effort to solicit broad perspectives on the activities needed to enhance the safe and reliable transportation of ethanol, a Road Mapping meeting was held in Dublin, Ohio on October 25 and 26th, 2007 with the support of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL), American Petroleum Institute (API), U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI).

The workshop was organized to bring together experts with diverse perspectives on ethanol to identify:

• Gaps in knowledge, current industry practices, and future industry needs.

• Technical challenges related to pre-commissioning through delivery to the end user.

• Focused areas of study to support the development of solutions for knowledge gaps and technical challenges and guidelines for implementation.

• Where and how the study can be aligned with related industry and regulatory activities.

The workshop consisted of a series of plenary presentations followed by detailed breakout sessions on four topics: Ethanol Sources and Quality Issues; Pipeline Integrity; Pipeline Operations; and Standards, Guidelines, and Training. Each of the detailed breakout sessions discussed the status of knowledge today, prioritized the gaps in knowledge and barriers that must be overcome, and identified specific activities that should be undertaken to address the gaps. This document provides a summary of the workshop findings.