Gas additives to combat ethanol
Most of the gasoline sold today in the United States contains , and the percentage is expected to increase over the next few years. Gasoline and ethanol are delivered to the gas stations separately and are blended together at gas stations during delivery. So what are the effects of ethanol in gasoline, and what can you do to prolong the life of your engines running on ethanol-blended fuel?
The Potential Problems
Ethanol is added to gasoline as mandated by the EPA to lower carbon emissions to make running of such engines more eco-friendly. Ethanol-blended fuels left untreated can start “phasing.” Phase separation is when ethanol in the fuel absorbs too much water, and separates from gasoline by dropping to the bottom of the tank since the ethanol and water mixture that results from phase separation is heavier than gasoline. Water-ethanol solutions can damage fuel systems and engines, and the system will need to get flushed to prevent further damage. Once phase separation has occurred, no additive can reverse it, and the fuel tank will require draining. If the fuel and ethanol have completely phase-separated, the fuel in the tank will be unusable and must be drained. Mechanics offer ‘pump-out’ services to drain and flush the fuel system.
Be careful on what you hear, as there is no magic ingredient to reverse phase separation after it has already dropped to the bottom. The easiest defence against phase separation is to keep the tank almost full at all times, allowing a little space for the fuel to expand in warmer weather. Moisture comes from the empty space in the tank so reducing the amount of air in your tank will reduce the amount of water that can enter with the air. This is especially important when you are dealing with equipment designed with an “Open” fuel system such as many small non-road engines and watercraft.
Ethanol may contribute to corrosion of fuel tanks and other fuel system components at a rapid rate. It is very important to pour in a fuel additive that guards against corrosion every time you fill the tank; this is especially true with small engines since many still use aluminium parts which corrode more quickly resulting in oxides that look like white rust.
A third issue is that ethanol can loosen debris that normally collects in the corners of the fuel tank and can lead to clogged fuel systems. Again, adding a fuel treatment that contains cleaners will allow for these dirt particles to pass through your system.
The final important fact to remember is that gasoline “oxidizes” when exposed to air. That is, it loses its volatility over time and may turn to varnish. Using a fuel additive that will address all of these issues will help you enjoy your gasoline-powered small engines and/or boat worry-free for years to come.
The good news is that E-10 has been used in many parts of the country for over 25 years so there are proven ways to protect your engines from the potential hazards we have reviewed.
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