Simply put, E85 is an abbreviation for a motor vehicle fuel blend consisting of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The resulting fuel can be used in flexible fuel vehicles, which are specifically designed to run on gasoline, E85, or any mixture of the two.
Ethanol can be produced from any material that contains sugars, these are typically referred to as “biomass”. Most gasoline sold in the U.S. today contains a low-level blend of ethanol to reduce air pollution and oxygenate the fuel supply. This is considered a low-level ethanol blend. E85 is considered a high-level ethanol blend. Studies have estimated that ethanol and other biofuels could replace 30% or more of U.S. gasoline demand by 2030.
In the United States, most ethanol is produced from corn. In other parts of the world ethanol is also produced from sugar cane, potatoes, and manioc. This reliance upon plants typically used as foodstuffs has created some concerns that reliance upon these nutritional staples for fueling motor vehicles could have the effect of driving food prices up. However, many experts assert the majority of the corn kernel is still available for use in other products like animal feed.