The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality is studying if raising the octane available at the pump could improve fuel efficiency. According to Christopher Grundler in a discussion with Automotive News, director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, 95 octane gasoline could be a possibility. The logic is that higher octane levels mean that a fuel is less likely to detonate or pre-ignite, meaning compression ratios can be increased, which translates to more or equivalent amounts of power from smaller displacement engines (such as Mazda’s SkyActiv and Ford’s EcoBoost technology).
However while studies are underway, according to Grundler, there are significant challenges affecting the idea’s potential. The EPA would have to prove that there are no other technologies that could give the same benefits, as well as prove that the benefits of mandating higher octane across the country are worth the cost. In addition, the potential for finding higher octane at the pump also depends on whether consumers are willing to pay for it.