Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ethanol

 Recently at work we have employed a new guy who had been running his own service station. We got talking about fuel prices and fuel saving methods, which is when he started telling me about Ethanol being added to petrol. I decided to look deeper into what he had told me and the following is what I've found out based on what he had said.



 In 2013 the Ethanol content in Petrol is due to go up from 5% to 10%. This move from the European Union is received by many as a greener alternative to crude oil. Fuel companies are obliged to add 3.5% bio fuel to both Petrol and Diesel and each year the content of bio/renewable fuel is set to rise by a small percentage.


 What is Ethanol?


 In short Ethanol is a modified form of alcohol, made from distilling fruit, vegetables or grain, which is a good way to get rid of unwanted crop waste and use less fossil fuels, and as it's made from plants they would absorb some of the carbon that vehicles generate as they grow. Sounds just what we need to help save the environment.


How will affect us?


 Research estimates over 750,000 motorbikes wont run on the mixture of Petrol and 10% Ethanol without some adjustments.
Ethanol is acidic so is very corrosive. When added to petrol the fuel is of a poorer quality.
 Being corrosive, Ethanol will clean old deposits from the fuel lines and fuel tank which can block up the fuel filter and in some case's cause running problems. Ethanol will cause damage to rubber pipes and seals, it reacts with sealants and on older engines can cause carburettor icing when humidity is above 77% and ambient temperatures are below 12C . In the USA they have been using a 10% mixture already, and common problems from the poor quality of the petrol is causing engines to struggle with starting, lack of power and mpg can be up to 10% worse than with 5% mixture. Once you have filled your motorbike with fuel at the service station, you should remember that Petrol with Ethanol added has roughly, only a 3 week life span, after this the petrol and the ethanol separate which is called Phase Separation.

Phase Separation describes what happens to Petrol containing Ethanol when water is present. When Petrol containing even small amounts of Ethanol comes in contact with water, either liquid or in the form of humidity, the Ethanol will pick-up and absorb some or all of that water. When it reaches a saturation point the Ethanol and water will Phase Separate, actually coming out of solution and forming two or three distinct layers in the tank. The only option when this happens is to get rid of the fuel as it will damage the engine.

 Fuel specialist are advising fresh Petrol every 3 weeks, as at present there is no additive that will stop Phase Separation.


(For more information click here to visit the Motorcycle Action Group website)

 Some of our bikes are affected see below.
Kawasaki are still considering the effects of E10 and do not recommend its use.
Yamaha models are compatible with E5 and some new models are compatible with E10.
Suzuki's have been compatible with E10 since 2005.
Honda models have been compatible with E10 since 1993 but carburettored vehicles could suffer poor drivability.

All the major Fuel brands currently run a mixture of 5% Ethanol in Petrol, apparently added to the tanker in seperate operations. Supermarkets get their supply's of fuel from the same refineries, I cant find any other details, so expect them to have the same content.
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