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- 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
- 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”
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
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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