WEST POINT, N.Y. -- West Point is getting greener, not only because it’s springtime, but because it’s now receiving and dispensing E85 fuel for its fleet of “flex-fuel” E85 capable U.S. General Services Administration vehicles.

“Twenty percent of West Point’s GSA non-tactical general purpose vehicle fleet""that’s 72 vehicles""is now E85 capable, and many of the new replacement vehicles we are receiving from GSA are E85ers as well,” Michael O’Shea, West Point Directorate of Logistics Maintenance Officer, said. “By 2015, nearly 30 percent of the West Point non-tactical fleet will be flex fuel.”

That’s good news for West Point and the Army. The Army has a goal of reducing fossil fuel emissions by 2 percent per year and West Point is now doing its part.

Non-tactical vehicles make up the majority of vehicles used by West Point organizations. These particular vehicles are for general purpose use and average about 10,000 miles a year.

“These 72 vehicles will consume about 15 percent of West Point’s fuel, as most of our miles are driven in legacy diesel buses in support of academic field trips and away sporting events,” Dave Rasmussen, West Point DOL Chief of Transportation & Maintenance, said. “We’re asking GSA and DOD now about E85 capable buses, since so much of our fuel costs come from bus use. We told them we want to be first in line if/when they become available.”

E85 is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, which is better for the environment than regular unleaded gasoline or diesel fuel.

Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from plants. Essentially non-drinkable grain alcohol ethanol is produced by fermenting plant sugars. It can be made from corn, sugar cane and other starchy agricultural products.

The cellulose in agricultural wastes, such as waste woods and corn stalks (also known as "cellulosic ethanol") can also be used as a base. In the United States, most ethanol is currently made from corn, although, because of rapidly developing research, cellulosic ethanol may soon become a larger part of the market.

Ethanol-fueled vehicles date back to the 1880s when Henry Ford designed a car that ran solely on ethanol. He later built the first flex fuel vehicle""a 1908 Model T designed to operate on either ethanol or gasoline.

Today's flex fuel vehicles feature specially-designed fuel systems and other components that allow a vehicle to operate on a mixture of gasoline and ethanol that can vary from 0 to 85 percent ethanol.

Legacy gasoline or diesel engine vehicles can only use gasoline or diesel, as E85 will damage those engines and cause them to fail. So, it is important for vehicle operators to know what type of vehicle they are driving before dispensing fuel into them.

To determine if a vehicle is an FFV, it will have a yellow gas cap marked E85/Gasoline, a sticker in the gas cap well that says E85/Gasoline, and/or a badge or marker on its body that says Flex-fuel, FFV or Flex-Fuel/E85.

West Point GSA vehicle users can now get E85 fuel at the West Point fuel points, located at Bldg. 912 near Washington Gate during normal duty hours or at the new Transportation Motor Pool on Highway 293 across from Camp Buckner, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Visit the U.S. Environmental Agency at www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels or the U.S. Department of Energy at www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/flextech to learn more.

Page last updated Wed June 8th, 2011 at 00:00