Raleigh now has a gasoline station that sells E85 ethanol fuel -- the 18th such facility in the state built in recent years.
The Crown Express Mart on New Bern Avenue began selling the 85 percent ethanol blend last month. The station, which also sells biodiesel made from plants, has scheduled a grand opening for the E85 pump next week.
E85 is typically made from corn and costs less than gasoline because it's subsidized and it contains less energy than petroleum fuels. Crown Express is selling the ethanol blend for $3.34 a gallon.
All automobiles can use the 10 percent E10 blend sold at almost all gas stations, but only cars certified as Flex Fuel vehicles can use E85 sold at five stations in the Triangle and 18 statewide.
Ethanol remains controversial because it's believed to divert agricultural land use from animal feed and food production, which drives up the cost of food and related farm products.
Other stations in the Triangle that sell E85 are the C Mini Mart in Apex, Cruizer's Biofuels in Durham, StarMart Exxon in Garner and Cruizer's #46 in Pittsboro.
The Crown Express Mart financed the E85 pump with a $104,000 federal grant channeled through the the N.C. Department of Transportation and distributed by the N.C. Solar Center.