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Information @ a Glance

  • Pipelines have been used for transportation of ethanol in Brazil, and there are several ethanol pipeline projects in Brazil and the United States.
  • Main problems related to the shipment of ethanol by pipeline are its high oxygen content, which makes it corrosive, and absorption of water and impurities in pipelines, which is not a problem with oil and natural gas.
  • Insufficient volumes and cost-effectiveness are other considerations limiting construction of ethanol pipelines.
  • Delivering ethanol by pipeline is the most desirable option, but ethanol's affinity for water and solvent properties require use of a dedicated pipeline or significant cleanup of existing pipelines.
  • EA Energy assumed 48% of ethanol would be moved by pipeline.
  • The pipeline system is a “wet” system containing residual amounts of moisture from petroleum products. In the case of neat denatured ethanol shipments, the product could pick up excessive water
  • In Brazil, the Transpetro Program for Ethanol Logistics gained impetus due to the Brazilian experience with alcohol technology, and the prediction that by 2014 demand for ethanol will reach 25 million m³ in the domestic market and 5.5 million m³ abroad.
  • In December 2008, Kinder Morgan began transpor- ting commercial batches of denatured ethanol along with gasoline shipments in its 16-inch Central Florida Pipeline (CFPL) from Tampa to Orlando, making CFPL the first transmarket gasoline pipeline in the United States to do so. The 16-inch pipeline previously only transported regular and premium gasoline.
  • Wider use of pipelines to transport ethanol is problematic for several reasons. It means addressing ethanol’s water affinity problem (ethanol is water soluble meaning it absorbs water).Because water accumulation in pipelines is a normal occurrence (in most cases water enters the system through terminal and refinery tank roofs or can be dissolved in fuels during refinery processes), introducing ethanol into a pipeline risks rendering it unusable as a transportation fuel.
  • The second challenge to transporting ethanol by pipeline is the need to address corrosion issues. Ethanol-related corrosion problems can result from how ethanol behaves in the pipe. There is some evidence that ethanol in high concentrations can lead to various forms of corrosion including internal stress corrosion cracking, which is very hard to detect. This damage may be accelerated at weld joints or “hard spots” where the steel metallurgy has been altered.
  • The pipeline will facilitate the shipment of ethanol produced in the Midwest to the major markets in the Northeast and will be the first long-distance pipeline dedicated to ethanol in the United States. When complete and operational, this pipeline will have the capacity to ship 240,000 barrels of ethanol a day. This amounts to more than 3.6 billion gallons of ethanol or about one-fourth of the ethanol required to be used in the U.S. by RFS.

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