Enerkem launches world's first, game-changing full-scale waste-to-biofuels and chemicals facility in Edmonton, Alberta

The Future of Biofuels A World View (August, 2013)

An overview of the current biofuel policy from Europe and other jurisdictions around the world and some of the advancements being made in biofuel research. report is based upon attendance at the World Biofuel Congress held in Rotterdam in March 2013.

Ethanol and My Vehicles PDF Print E-mail

Can I use ethanol in my vehicle?

Ethanol blends up to E10 can be used in all modern engines designed to run on unleaded gasoline produced since the early 1980s.  On modern engines with oxygen sensors, the air/fuel mixture is adjusted automatically, accounting for the leaner-burning (oxygenated) ethanol.  

What about material compatibility?

Low level ethanol blends are fully compatible with modern vehicles and fuel storage equipment.  For vintage vehicles that may be made with fuel system components containing very old materials such as natural (nitrile) rubber, older forms of plastic and some metals, ethanol blends may penetrate or degrade these items. Nitrile rubber parts should be replaced with modern (aftermarket) fluoro-elastomer equivalents.

Has ethanol been adequately tested on the road?

Across North America, trillions of kilometers have been driven on ethanol-blended fuel since 1980.  Suncor has been blending E10 in Ontario since the mid-1990’s as has Husky in Western Canada.  Ethanol has been an important part of Canadian and US initiatives to reduce smog-forming emissions through the use of reformulated gasoline (RFG) containing oxygenates.

How does ethanol affect my warranty?

Since the early 1980s, all major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have built vehicle engines, power equipment, motorcycles, snowmobiles and outboard motors to be compatible with ethanol blended gasoline.  All major OEMs permit the use of ethanol blends in their products.  For example, one car manufacturer includes the following in their car manual: “Your vehicle is designed to operate on oxygenated gasoline containing up to 10% ethanol by volume”.  Consult your owner’s manual for information about suitable fuels for your vehicle. To find a car manual, contact your vehicle manufacturer or an online source such as Edmunds.

How does ethanol affect winter performance?

Ethanol acts as gas line antifreeze, reducing the potential for moisture in fuel systems to freeze. In terms of operability, blends up to E10 perform the same way in winter operation as gasoline.

What about my older car?

Old-fashioned carbureted engines may need to be adjusted, depending on the blend.  For statically tuned vehicles such as vintage muscle cars, ethanol blends may run slightly ‘leaner’.  Because part of the volume of ethanol blended gasoline is oxygen and not hydrocarbon, ethanol blends may run stoichiometrically leaner, meaning the air to fuel ratio is slightly increased.  See this document for further information.

What about other engines?

Most newer small engines, such as those in your lawnmower, snowmobile, motorcycle, boat and personal watercraft, can use ethanol-blended fuel. Due to the increasing availability of ethanol in North America, most manufacturers have made their new engines ethanol-friendly. Honda, Kawasaki, Ski-Doo, Briggs and Stratton, and Lawnboy are just a few manufacturers who permit the use of ethanol-blended gasoline.  Check your owner’s manual for older equipment. For more information.

How does the fuel economy differ from gasoline?

Ethanol contains oxygen but has less chemical energy compared to petroleum gasoline.  However, the oxygen in ethanol supports a more complete combustion of the available hydrocarbon fuel. At E10, the fuel contains slightly less energy but delivers similar power and torque in modern engines, however fuel consumption may increase marginally.  The difference in fuel economy with E10 is within the variability of other factors such as tire pressure, driving behavior and ambient weather conditions.

Fuel economy differences become more noticeable with high blends, such as 85 per cent ethanol-gasoline blend (E85).  However, vehicles designed to run on E85 (such as ethanol racecars) can be tuned for higher performance due to the fuel’s ability to resist detonation at high compression.

What are best practices for handling fuel?

Ethanol blends up to E10 can be handled in the same way as conventional gasoline.  However, it is important to keep fuel tanks free of water which may have accumulated due to condensation, rain or splashes in marine applications.  Routine fuel management practices are always wise, such as:
•    fuel storage tanks should be checked regularly for water (from condensation) and drained accordingly,
•    tanks should be equipped with dispensing filters to catch debris,
•    fuel should be used within a reasonable timeframe to ensure product quality; where longer storage is required, consider installing a desiccant vent filter

For outboard motors, special care should be taken to prevent contamination with water.  

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 16:43

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