What are Ethanol fuels?
Ethanol blended fuel is a mix of gasoline and Ethanol (alcohol). The majority of the Ethanol is made from "Corn". But there are other plants they can use also.
And why do I need to put corn in my gas tank?
Well there are several different theories behind this but the main thing is they passed a law in 1990 about oxygenated fuels. Now I do not know if the oil companies were behind this or the farmers, the environmentalist or if the legislatures just came up with all this on their own, (it is possible you know).
Ethanol blended gas has been available for a number of years as E10. This is a common blend of 90% unleaded gasoline and 10% ethanol. Another blend you may have heard about is E85. E85 is a blend of 85% Ethanol and 15% unleaded gasoline. Your vehicle will need to be rated for E85 for you to be able to use it. But as far as the E10 goes, most of us are probably already using it.
All major auto manufactures in the world approve the use of E10 under their warranty. Ethanol adds two three octane points to the fuel and helps improve engine performance. Also it keeps fuel injectors clean and lowers exhaust emissions.
These are just a few of the proclaimed advantages of Ethanol blended fuels. There are many more proclaimed advantages, from creating jobs to increasing our nation's stability.
All sounds good right? Well not everybody thinks so.
First let me start by saying you airplane people are out of the equation, for now. The use of Ethanol blended fuels are forbidden in aircraft.
The boaters are taking the hardest hit in dealing with problems with Ethanol blended fuels and you will see why later.
Next are people with vehicles that are not driven every day or may be stored for the season, RV's and show cars for example.
OK, so here are some of the problems that are being blamed on Ethanol.
- Water contamination
- phase separation
- vapor lock
- hard starting
- corrosion of the Fuel System Components
- premature fuel pump failures
- clogged filters
- clogged fuel injectors
All of these problems can be intensified if you vehicle is an older vehicle or one that sees limited seasonal use.
OH, did I forget to mention that you get less gas mileage? The laboratories show that you are only losing 3-4% but Consumer Reports claims it is a much higher loss than that.
Gasoline is formulated to be used within 90 days. I have also read that 90 days is stretching it a little and that it should be more like 60 days. So if you live in a high humidity region and have vehicles that are used infrequently or seasonally you have the conditions that will accelerate the problems associated with Ethanol blended fuels. That is why the boat owners are the squeakiest wheels in this debate on Ethanol fuels.
Funny thing is ALL the manufactures have said that their products are OK to use E10 fuels. From cars to boat motors to weed eaters, ALL of them. Call me silly, but I got a feeling the Government strongly suggested that would be ok with E10 or else their products could come become targets for stronger emission laws.
Does anybody know what is coming after E10? That's right E20, we may stop by E15 for a little while but they are going to bump it up. Just think if all the advantages of E10 could be DOUBLED if we went to E20. It would be like having rainbows and unicorns fly out of our tailpipes.
Ok, this is depressing, another government controlled situation that I have no control over. What can I do to protect my vehicles, besides quit driving them. Well you get to BUY more products to put in your gas tank. It may not fix all the issues but it can help prevent or Slow Down some of the ill effects of using E10.
You need a fuel stabilizer if you are not going to use the fuel in your vehicle in 60-90 days. NO this does not mean you fill it up and drive it once a month around the block. Before E10, many fuel additives contained, you guessed it, forms of ALCOHOL. And with E10 already containing 10% alcohol, adding more will not help you. So you need to make sure that your fuel additive does not contain a form of alcohol. Just about anything they list that ends in "OL" will be a form of alcohol. (Ammonia is alcohol also)
Also you do not want anything that contains
- mono-butyl glycol ether
- butyl cellosolve
These chemicals cause emulsification. They hold solvents and water together and they are not useful in controlling water, as they suspend water in the fuel. We already have that problem.
So we need a nonalcohol, non-emulsifying, fuel additive that
- prevents water emulsification
- eliminates old varnish contamination
- stops fuel deterioration
- stops loss of octane,
- Keeps the fuel system and combustion chamber carbon deposits under control
Ok for now I am going to use a product called Starbrite made by Startron. They have a locate nearest dealer on their home page. My local Walmart and Homedepot both carry it.