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Ethanol

G’day

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.

Photo Credit: BP Australia

Photo Credit: BP Australia

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.

ethanol002

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>

Cheers

  • 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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10 responses

  1. Some part of burning food in order to move seems like a bad longterm plan to me. I also have a few friends with boats who have rebuilt engines no thanks to ethenol (from what I’m told). I too am not sold on the economy of this whole ethenol push.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 9, 2016 at 1:05 AM

    • The debate will rage for a long time yet I think. Until the Ethanol community can prove without doubt their product does not cause these issues. Many, like you and I, will baulk at using it.

      Liked by 1 person

      November 12, 2016 at 6:16 PM

  2. The big issue with E10 and higher here in the States is what it can do to the plastic tanks in bikes and how it effects boat motors. It seems to separate into water when it sits and that causes problems.

    A few Tiger owner (hubby and PolarBear included) have noticed bubbling in their tank graphics from the off gassing of ethanol fuel too – both have plastic tanks on their Tigers. Some service stations offer non-ethanol premium but most do not.

    the AMA, American Motorcyclist Association is helping fight E10 usage for bikes and recreational vehicles nationally.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 9, 2016 at 6:02 AM

    • Thats good you have someone in their to argue against ethanol use we have no such lobby group that I’m aware of… But then, we don’t have as much of it over here like you guys do

      Like

      November 12, 2016 at 6:18 PM

  3. I only feed the KLR650 lowly 91 octane fuel as it’s a bit of a tractor at heart. I’m sure it’d probably do no harm, but I’m still steering clear of the ethanol added stuff!

    Like

    November 9, 2016 at 8:35 PM

    • I’m with you.

      I don’t think it’s the engine but the bits attached to it likenfuel pumps and the like.

      Liked by 1 person

      November 12, 2016 at 6:20 PM

  4. Dan

    Good post man, I’ve always wondered where the E10 thing came from, now I know.

    I’ve got mates who totally rage on this debate, and the octane debate too, where I try to run 100% 98 RON fuel in all of my bikes, some say its a waste of money and others think it’s all a big scam.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    • I’m ok using 91 as long as the vehicle can take it. I’ve even used it in Bluey once when I had no other option, but she definitely didn’t like it.

      95 or better is my choice.

      Like

      November 12, 2016 at 6:24 PM

  5. Bob

    Here in the US, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), is now trying to push E15 into our gasoline. It boils down to the US gov subsidizing the corn industry to produce more corn, hence those growing corn make lots of money and debunk any notion that ethanol enhanced fuels harm engines and fuel systems. It is a political boondoggle fueled by special interest groups. Thankfully the AMA is taking on this fight for us motorcyclists. We may have to start looking seriously into electric motorbikes if the EPA gets its way!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 14, 2016 at 12:47 AM

    • I’d heard about E15 being introduced over there on a podcast I listen to. I wonder how long it will be before they up the anti again – E20 perhaps?

      It’s a sad state of affairs when the loud minority can influence the “those that are to blame” (the government) on the majority.

      Liked by 1 person

      November 14, 2016 at 10:59 PM

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