Member Spotlight: Thorntons

We are kicking off what we call our “Member Spotlight” section for our August newsletter. In future newsletter issues we will feature information, stories, photos, and most importantly the role each of our members play in the alternative fuels sector.

Today, we are highlighting Thorntons, a long-time Platinum member of Greater Indiana Clean Cities. Founded by James H. Thornton in 1971, the company has been recognized as one of the top independent convenience store chains in the nation. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Thorntons currently operates 192 stores that provide fresh foods, high quality beverages and fuel in six states: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. Thorntons’ mission is not only to provide top of the line food and beverages, but makes giving back a top priority in every market.

Thorntons has partnered with federal and state energy and agricultural offices as well as clean air groups, clean cities coalitions, and corn growers associations across the Midwest to provide Unleaded15 and E85 to their guests. E85 can be used in all Flex Fuel Vehicles manufactured after 2008 (2006 for GM vehicles). It is a gasoline-ethanol blend containing up to 85% ethanol. Since ethanol is biodegradable, nontoxic, and water-soluble, E85 contains roughly 80% less of the contaminants that can be found in Unleaded gasoline.

E85 reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: On a life cycle basis, including fuel production and distribution, E85 made with corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 19% to 52%, depending on the production process used. When E85 is made from cellulose materials, such as corn and wheat stalks or forestry waste, it can reduce GHGs by 86%. The energy used to produce ethanol can also be compared to that of gasoline. Compared to the 0.78 units of fossil fuel required for one unit of corn ethanol production, gasoline requires 1.23 units. In other words, the use of corn ethanol results in the consumption of 40% less fossil energy than the gasoline it replaces.

Because ethanol is a high-octane fuel, it offers increased vehicle power and performance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are several indicators on your vehicle to determine whether it is capable of using flexible fuel.

  • Check the gas cap. Most manufacturers started putting yellow gas caps on flexible fuel vehicles starting in 2008. (General Motors started in 2006.)
  • Look for a symbol on the fuel door. Some flexible fuel vehicles have labels on the door, indicating that they can use E85 fuel.
  • Look for a badge on your vehicle’s body. Many flexible fuel vehicles have badges indicating it is a “FlexFuel” or “FFV” vehicle.
  • Check your manuals. Review your vehicle’s manual, or check the vehicle identification number (VIN) for information by visiting

Thorntons provides a station locator on their website to help customers find stations selling E85. There are currently 19 Thorntons locations in Indiana providing E85, that can be found in the following cities: Indianapolis, Lawrence, Greenwood, Plainfield, Speedway, Edinburgh, Evansville, Terre Haute, Clarksville, Jeffersonville, and New Albany.

You can connect with Thorntons on FacebookInstagram and Twitter @ThorntonsInc.

*Content provided by, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Greater Indiana Clean Cities.