September 22, 2011

What's the Big Deal with Ethanol?

Actually it is a pretty big deal. Ethanol is in the news lately as the EPA has approved fuel companies to increase the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply. Currently at 10%, they are raising it to 15%.  This topic came to my attention after reading a news report from this week called "Boaters Opposed to Increased Ethanol".  It talks about a recent survey where the majority of boaters were unaware of this proposed increase.  Count me as one of those who didn't know.

I have heard that ethanol is bad for outboards, but now that I am a boat owner again, this really gets my attention.  Basically ethanol allows for increased absorption of water which can cause severe problems to engines.  I know of some fishermen who have had other issues with ethanol in their fuel lines and have had instances of hoses being cracked after continuous use of gasoline with ethanol.  The result can be damages outboard engines.  Now that the percentage is rising, it will only get worse.  The use of ethanol also means that lower quality gas can be sold because ethanol serves as a boost to the octane rating.  So even with the rising gas prices, we are actually buying a product with a quality level that is artificially increased.

So what can you do?  If you can't find one of the rare gas stations that sells ethanol free gasoline, one easy way is to use a treatment like BIOBOREB which prevents ethanol separation and fuel phasing.  It has other benefits as well and also enhances the performance of gas and stabilizes it during storage.  I won a case of this during their Roy VS. Crochet contest and have been using in my Mercury ProXS from Day 1.

Here are some more tips for dealing with ethanol, courtesy of BoatUS:
• Be ready to change fuel filters more often;
• Make sure all your hoses are marked J-1527. Not all hoses are ethanol-compatible.
• Confirm that your boat's fuel tank will handle the newer ethanol. If not, you may need to replace the tank with another material like aluminum.
• If you're leaving your boat sitting for any length of time, fill your boat's tanks to 95% of capacity. That allows room for your fuel to breathe, while limiting the space for potential condensation.

Ethanol is here to stay and we must change how we do things to protect our engines. What do you think about the increase of ethanol?
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