ethanol in petrol

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  • ethanol in petrol
  • neilnevill
    Member

    With the labelling change to E5 (and B7 for derv) I’ve noticed the E5 labels have even appeared on the high octane petrols like shell v-power. My understanding is that, unless that law changed too, there was no requirement for the premium octane stuff to contain ethanol. Does anyone know if there are ethanol free, or at least lower ethanol petrols still available?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Why do you want ethanol free petrol? If your car can take advantage of higher octane then as I understand it you can get more power from ethanol? ISTR reading about 2l Volvos with 300bhp or something silly running really high boost on ethanol.

    Could be wrong tho.

    neilnevill
    Member

    sigh. i was expecting the first response to be that question, and I really should have just answered it I guess. Ethanol has 2 or 3 problems, it doesn’t store well (it absorbs water and phase separates out as a gel) and some rubbers and plastics in some engines fuel lines really don’t like it. the 2 things together make it problematic for small engines, particularly 2 strokes. ie in the interest of not killing my chainsaws it is helpful to get ethanol free.
    Yes yes, I do limit problems by running saws to empty, by mixing fresh fuel in small amounts, by adding a good stabiliser, by using sealed cans to store the fuel, and I am also aware I could if desperate buy Aspen or Stihl Motomix alkalyte petrol….but its 4 to 5 times the cost and not as readily available as pump fuel. So I’ve used shell v-power or bp ultimate to avoid the ethanol. yes yes I know…the higher octane won’t help in a chainsaw, in fact it may take the edge off…unless I shave the keyway and advance the timing (I haven’t).

    Car, not too worried. small engines, I want to run E-free if i can. although the lawn mower seems pretty bullet proof mostly

    dovebiker
    Member

    Just paid £300 to have the twin carbs on my air-cooled camper rebuilt – less than 3 years since last done but the rubber seals were shot due to the ethanol in the petrol.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    I don’t think the fuel has changed but take a look on here.

    https://knowyourfuel.campaign.gov.uk

    neilnevill
    Member

    Oouch yeah…older engines with carbs don’t like it.

    neilnevill
    Member

    Thanks Drac. well it used to be, and i think still is he case, that there was no law to add ethanol to the premium stuff so it wasn’t. But the pumps I’ve seen have got the E5 label now. Which probably just means Shell, BP etc are ‘guaranteeing’ it is E-free. However I’m hoping it still is…usually. Anybody that knows more?

    Premier Icon duncancallum
    Subscriber

    Rcdo element innit.

    easier to blend as one product and add the octane boosters after or even on the tanker

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    My motorbike tank is plastic and ethanol fuels tend make it expand, so I stick to the 2 that don’t contain ethanol.

    BP ultimate

    Esso premium

    Esso super unleaded petrol (Synergy Supreme+ Unleaded 97) is ethanol free (except in Devon, Cornwall, the Teesside area and Scotland). We would therefore advise anyone who has concerns about the presence of ethanol in petrol to use Synergy Supreme+ – providing they do not fill up in Devon or Cornwall, the Teesside area or Scotland.

    neilnevill
    Member

    saw that but i don’t think i have an esso close. i do have a BP, i’ll stick with that for small engine fuel now then. do they still do ultimate e-free? i emailed BP…waiting on an answer

    wrightyson
    Member

    New one on me is this. Stihl saws running fine on cheap supermarket petrol. Am I inadvertently **** them up?

    lerk
    Member

    Avgas is ethanol free and will remain so as lots of aircraft fuel cells are made of rubber that doesn’t like it.
    It’s about 150% the price of forecourt fuel and even higher octane though.

    Some microlights use road fuel but also don’t like ethanol so they must be doing something.

    Premier Icon hot_fiat
    Subscriber

    My KTM 950sm HATES petrol containing ethanol. As in, it seeps out of the plastic tank and forms bubbles under the graphics that you can then pop and squeeze like some sort of automotive zit.

    If you leave it in the tank it separates out into a gooey gel layer and some petrol. The gel layer sinks to the bottom and clogs everything the fuel pickup, picks up.

    I have a ritual every few months where I strip the tank down, the carbs and all the fuel lines, dump the fuel and put it all back together again. You can sort of preemptively stop this by the occasional flush with comma petrol magic, but really it just delays the inevitable. The only thing to do is use the bike every week and keep the fuel fresh and jiggled around.

    Sui
    Member

    EN228 allows upto 10% if it wants but it must be labelled as so on the pumps. The new markings on pumps was brought in because of the E10 and B7 issues primarily but then covered any bio content.

    VPower used to be the only non ethanol fuel, but it does now contain approx 5%. Its still better than BP and Esso stuff though due to the add packs in and its also 99ron.

    Fuel suppliers ha e a remit to include a min of 4.7% bio content a cross their entire range of fuels, so I’m surprised Esso are offering E0 as this would have a negative impact on their RTFO requirements.

    DO not use AVGAS, it still contains lead and will fur up everything in your engine as there are no additives in it to clean it out.

    As for microlights they do have same issues, it’s why they are struggling to fuel. There is a new non leaded Avgas standard coming to market but it is not widely available.

    Also, if you are experiencing seal issue, just get them changed to Viton or ptfe.

    As for Stihl,

    Please don’t put supermarket fuels in them.. They are designed to run on a high alkylate based fuel (few other components as well) to keep them running well (clean) . However they will run on a good market fuel from an Esso or shell (add packs), BP etc.

    Sui
    Member

    The only thing that will separate ethanol from fossil fuel is water, so if that is happening in your tank then I’d suggest you check any fuel return lines that may be brining oil back in and check for water leaks. Your experiencing an emulsification/sludging event which the fuel will not do on its own…

    Premier Icon hot_fiat
    Subscriber

    Hey Sui, wondered when you’d pop up. From what you’re saying I wonder if it’s because the bike is so old (2006) that it doesn’t have a sealed fuel system?

    It’s a really common problem on these bikes. It even makes the plastic tanks deform and become difficult to remove / refit.

    Sui
    Member

    Actually HF, just remembered something about your issue and it is known that the ethan on some tanks will strip out plasticisers and this turns to a jelly substance. I do remember some manufacturers having issue with this year’s ago so all the plastics were changed.

    If that’s been happening regularly I’d suggest getting a new tank put in as it will also leave those plastics I. The fuel system which are very hard to clean out.

    Sui
    Member

    I won’t have any emails who it was that was suffering that far back, but fairly certain it was only bikes and forestry kit makers. Cars have had this sorted for years..

    Premier Icon spennyy
    Subscriber

    A lot of classic bikes (and probably cars) are suffering with metal tanks rotting from the inside out due to water forming in the tank, and these don’t have return lines so it’s fuel straight from the pump. I’ve had new fuel lines last a matter of weeks due to going brittle and cracking. Also on my 2018 bike it’s in the service information to check and replace fuel lines if required after 3 years.

    sobriety
    Member

    Yeah older Triumphs suffer from it.

    I’m probably going to be investing in one of these kits

    http://www.ethanil.co.uk/

    To let me strip the ethanol out of my petrol, it’s a ballache, but as my motorbikes are mostly old and two-stroke it’s worth it to not fur up engines/carbs and rust out tanks – ethanol is hydrophilic and it+water+steel tanks = pinholes.

    Sui, will using water to strip the ethanol out of petrol have any detrimental effects onthe other additives that you know of?

    I really don’t want to have to resort to ethanol free track fuels at $$$ per litre!

    neilnevill
    Member

    Sui you seem to have some knowledge, do you work in something related? The new labels being E5 suggest a reduction in ethanol as it used to be labelled E10, I’m sure that isn’t the case though. Think E10 meant ‘upto’, but I’m not quite sure what the new E5 means.

    wrightyson, you mean cut off saws and the like i assume, which you probably use regularly. If so then the fuel won’t get old and go stale but you may well find the rubber fuel line goes mush and your carb diaphragm goes hard. both cheap parts, but a faff when the saw won’t start. if you gt sludge somewhere like the carb it is more of a pain.

    Sui, I used to/usually use v=power as i heard it is most often E-free but shell never actually committed to it that I found. currently Esso do outside cornwall, and BP I’ve now found…although the BP sheet I found on the web could be old and out of date so I’ve emailed them, but it says BP ultimate is ethanol free.

    Sui
    Member

    Never seen those kits before, just rememeber that the more you play around with the Fuel the more contaminants you add and the vapours you will loose (not good for cold days).

    The water itself will not pull out the additives in its entirety but you will likely loose the 5% of what is in there as a mixture (not much).

    Don’t be too quickly to remi e ethanol, it provides a charge cooling effect when burned, which in high power high revving bikes can be a benefit as it lowers the combustion Temperature.

    Neil in short very much so.

    Ref labelling they are all “Upto” figures, so depending economics the volume in the fuel could be 0 it could be 5 or 7(diesel). Years ago the retailers jumped the gun on the labels and their was a backlash from the OEMs so there was a voluntary recall and limit imposed on standard Fuels. You will be lucky to see E10 in the UK but very common in Europe but pulps MUST state it.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    hot_fiat

    Subscriber

    Hey Sui, wondered when you’d pop up. From what you’re saying I wonder if it’s because the bike is so old (2006) that it doesn’t have a sealed fuel system?

    It’s a really common problem on these bikes. It even makes the plastic tanks deform and become difficult to remove / refit.

    TBH that’s pretty much a fitness for purpose issue rather than an ethanol issue, ethanol in fuel’s so common now and has been for a long time in some markets that it’s kind of crazy to make a vehicle that can’t handle it. Anything sold in the USA this century pretty much had to be able to deal with it. I appreciate it’s an ethanol problem for you today but is there no manufacturer option?

    Sui
    Member

    Spenny, the rot you talk about is partially down to the fuel, but the water for the most part will be ingressing from the filler cap as water vapour. As metal tanks are cold, it condenses and form droplets that don’t always homogonise into the fuel, this is why you get the rot. Most pump fuel actually has good water control. I. E. Low, so its not the fuel suppliers fault. You can get older tanks lined with an epoxy phenolic coating, this stops the reactions.

    Sui
    Member

    Northwind, don’t underestimate the ability of manufacturers to Bury their head in the sand…

    Sui
    Member

    Also the USA is a bit weird as the aftermarket additive business is massive due to poor quality of fuel. A number of manufacturers state you must use them or you void your warranty..

    neilnevill
    Member

    Sui you clearly know what you are talking about, and you say V-power will be lower ethanol than esso or BP? I’ll likely stick with v-power then. although north weald aerodrome isn’t far from mum…a wonder if they would sell 5 litres of AVGAS. Maybe not.

    Sui
    Member

    Neil it won’t be lower as that’s how they hit 99ron now, they take a base gasoline at ~97 Ron then add 4-5%ethanol chuck in some additives and there is your v power.

    The BP Esso stuff will be a lower base ~94ron w
    Which with ethanol will get it to 95.5/96ron.

    I can find out if there are def any ethanol free pumps tomorrow, but for me as long as didn’t have a fuel rank issue I’d go vpower route as I know it cleans well.

    Just a brief word of warning about aftermarket additives don’t use too much you’ll creat gums which will foul valves, best to run a premium fuel and gently remove deposits. (Injectors, valves and carbs)

    Premier Icon hot_fiat
    Subscriber

    Northwind, KTM and Acerbis (the tank maker) have been contacted plenty of times by many riders. They’ll happily sell a new tank at £700 a shot, but take no responsibility as the ethanol wasn’t specified to be in the fuel at the time of production. It also affects Ducati and Husquvarna among others. The new tanks are made using the same formulation too, so. Eventually they also go porous.

    As Neil said, bikes with metal tanks are also affected – my mate’s Tiger needs its carb stripping every Easter as all the drilling’s will be gunged up. You can’t even stop it by doing a ore-winter drain down as you get a varnish appearing on everything g instead.

    neilnevill
    Member

    valves aren’t an issue in a 2 stroke 🙂

    any comments on startron stabiliser? supposed to tackle ethanol problems as well as slowing the aromatics oxidising to gums/varnishes. could be hoodoo, but I’ve been using it and not had problems.

    thanks Sui, upto date info would be great. I see what you say though, the Ethanol is an ‘Octane raiser’ isn’t it. which is a problem with stripping it from the fuel, your left with a lower octane fuel nd may have knocking in the engine.

    Sui
    Member

    Acerbis, never knew they existed, which is not surprising they are still having issues, I’d know of them otherwise.

    The big companies like Plastic Omnium and COAVIS, Kautex do a lot of work with ethanol based fuels.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    That’s a properly shit response from KTM tbh, 2006 is way after it should have been on their radar. Like, my Suzuki is an 00, and it was the first year of that bike that was totally ethanol proof… (older ones suffered swelling in the carb slides which totally knackered the midrange fuelling, and some piping issues). But they released an optional recall for all the older models, and made the carb kit available to all the other models that used the same mikunis, which was tons- every early Bandit frinstance. It never went flexfuel but at least it didn’t melt.

    Sure, KTM are smaller than Suzuki and have less resources, but that was 6 years earlier, and had legacy support for further. It’d kind of be OK if we were talking offroad bikes or ancient Dukes or something properly ancient but it’s piss poor with a 950. I mean, even if you’re in a no-ethanol region you have to be able to ride it elsewhere, I’ve no clue about Austria but Germany was a pretty early adopter, by 2006 it was everywhere there.

    Enough resources to sell you a toaster but not enough to make a bike that works 😉

    Sui

    Member

    Acerbis, never knew they existed, which is not surprising they are still having issues, I’d know of them otherwise.

    Acerbis are a motorbike parts maker, probably mostly known for aftermarket- cheap screens and bodykits though they did make stuff like plastic overlander tanks and the like for a long time, and offroad/race tanks. I guess KTM went to them because of the plastics experience?

    Sui
    Member

    Gums and varnish more likely to come from oily products and olefins (good reactivity but unstable). The sabiliser could help but depends what’s its designed to stabilise tbh. It may actually just be an antioxidant and or antifungacide, these will stop acids and microbial growth from forming (black jelly like substance)

    Yes removing ethanol from a fuel will lower the engines ability to resist knock. It could also lower the vapour pressure if its been increased using butane (there’s a correlation of ethanol impact on dvpe when butane is added to increase overall vapour pressure.

    Sui
    Member

    I guess KTM went to them because of the plastics experience?

    If I ever speak to them I’ll ask them 😉

    neilnevill
    Member

    I’ve had a response from BP

    Thank you for your email concerning the fuel sold by BP.

    Bioethanol is present in nearly all regular unleaded petrol being sold by fuel suppliers in the UK today. Bioethanol is also becoming increasingly present in the UK’s super-unleaded (premium/higher octane) petrol too; this is because, in compliance with the UK government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, fuel suppliers have been required to increase the quantity of bio fuels in their transport fuels since 2008. As a consequence, the inclusion of bioethanol in our BP Ultimate Unleaded supply chain is an evolving situation and we are therefore unable to give you categorical assurances as to its absence or presence. However we can assure you that – as required by the The Motor Fuel (Composition and Content) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 – the content of bioethanol in our BP Ultimate Unleaded petrol may contain up to 5% ethanol and diesel fuels up to 7% biodiesel. Currently there are no plans to increase the ethanol content.

    Mikkel
    Member

    Friend work at a shell refinery and they only have to refine one type of petrol, the different octane is achieved by adding ethanol.

    MarkBrewer
    Member

    I know there are cars where certain parts of the fuel system are sensitive to ethanol (especially older ones) but I’ve got a 1993 fuel injected car which I ran on E85 for a couple of years 8 or 9 years ago and I’ve seen nothing in the fuel system that looks any worse than it would have been running on normal unleaded.

    I’d quite happily run anything built in the last 20 years on E10 without worrying about it.

    neilnevill
    Member

    Cars modern fuel injected cars, not too much of a worry. Old carburetted cars… See the examples above. Chainsaw/strimmer/cut off saw (small two stroke), used heavily also not much of a worry. Tools left unused with fuel in for a few months or fuelled with mix a few months old.. . More problematic.
    Me, I process a lot of firewood for myself and my mum but that still doesn’t need a great deal of mix. These days I only mix 2.5 litres at a time but I may take 6 months to use that, maybe more if I need a new batch at the wrong time. Hence why I’d go a little further to find e free if I could. It seems I can’t, I think I’ll be ok by using additive and small batches, but if problems start I’ll maybe shift over to Aspen (alkalyte fuel)

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    So BP have confirmed they’ve not changed their fuel mix for about 10 years?

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