The topic of ethanol raises it ugly head from time to time and is usually followed by fiery debate about the pros and cons of the “new fuel”
Ethanol, or more correctly bio-fuel is made from sugarcane, sorghum or grains and can be either diesel or petrol blended fuel.
In Australia legislation imposes a 10% cap on the concentration of ethanol blends. So bio fuels containing 90% unleaded petrol and 10% ethanol are commonly referred to as E10. There are of course other blends with concentrations as high as 85% (E85) but these are not readily available at your local servo.
This is not the case elsewhere in the world, where concentrations can be 15% (united States) or 85% for Flex Fuel Vehicles*.
Like many other jurisdictions around the world, Australia has set targets for the implementation, production and sale of bio-fuel sales. In fact, the Australian government has imposed a tax embargo on ethanol fuel to try to bolster sales and make it more attractive to the consumer.
The embargo ends on 30 June 2021.
Even some state governments are getting in on the act.
The Queensland State Government passed the Liquid Fuel Supply (Ethanol and Other Biofuels Mandate) Amendment Act 2015 on December 1, 2015. This mandate takes effect on January 1, 2017 and all fuel retailers will be required to meet a 3% sales target. Meaning, 3 out of every 10 tanks of regular unleaded petrol (ULP) sold by a petrol station will have to be E10.
The 3% target will increase to 4% after 18 months: July 1, 2018.
So far, from what I can tell, the inclusion of ethanol will only be in regular 91 RON unleaded fuel (ULP); Both 95 and 98 RON (PULP and UPLUP) will not have any ethanol in their mix.
This is good news for me, because Bluey is only fed 95 or 98 RON depending on availability.
I’ve found regular ULP fuel around here causes her to ping and generally lack her usual pizzazz. The higher rated fuels burn cleaner too, so that works in her favour as well.
The debate rages:
Do ethanol blends cause premature engine failure; are vehicles less economical when using ethanol blends, will the emissions from vehicles using ethanol blended fuels promote premature hair loss?
I have no idea.
But until such time as the technology is proven to be safe and effective, I’ll stick with ethanol free fuels for the foreseeable future.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for renewable alternatives, but not at the expense of an engine or some other expensive component… I just can’t afford such a repair bill at any time, let alone now.
On that note, I’ll leave you with an article I came across on the Cycle World website.
The article describes some common problems ethanol fuels can cause and has solutions you might like to try before you venture off to the dealer for some hip pocket surgery.
A Real World Look at Alcohol in Your Tank <Link>
- Flex Fuel Vehicle: As an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel
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