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E-15 Fuel

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We all sit on our beloved rides and worry about the E-15 being pushed on us. During a ride back from Ruma Illinois I saw my first E-15 sign on a gas station, so I took a bit of time to research the issue and I would like to comment and hopefully inform on this topic.

First, we are not alone… Boat owners and dealers, engine manufacturers, outdoor power equipment owners and dealers, recreational vehicle owners and dealers, car companies, our fellow riders, all are coming out against this terrible idea of adding increasing amounts of “corn juice” to the gasoline supply. While each group is small, together we do make up a decent sized contingent of concerned citizens.

Who is safe? The short answer is nobody. Ethanol producers have a lot of slick graphics on websites and obviously a lot of high paid lobbyists who push the idea all cars manufactured after such-and-such date will be okay… this is FALSE.

Sure, an E-85 rated engine can burn the mixture and many newer fuel systems can withstand the corrosive mix, but the FACT is that the “fuel” is just as susceptible to separating in the tank of any of these vehicles. The fuel WILL separate under the right conditions leaving a mess of low octane gasoline, water, and alcohol. All it takes is a slight amount of added water from the air and the right temperature during storage, dispensing, and use.

So how can it be guaranteed that EVERY tank dispensed is okay EVERY time? impossible!

Fueling Risks:
Because all of us are aware of the danger these mixtures pose to our rides we take care to avoid using those blends, but the industry has a secret we must be aware of–blender pumps. New gas station equipment is being sold that dispenses various blends as selected by the customer, which on the surface seems okay if we choose a lower mix but there is a secret that we must be aware of.

Let’s imagine a car pulls up and fuels, they select E-15 or E-85 and fill the tank. We pull up to the same pump and select a lower blend but up to 1/3 of a gallon of the prior mix is still in the pump hoses/blending device, giving us a big blast of this dangerous mix ahead of the blend we chose. Now we are stuck with this cocktail in our tank! After repeated fillings you now have a problem!

A good bit of advice I ran across in my research is to stop using large gas cans (5 gallon) even with E-10 as the shelf life of the fuel is short and it will go bad much quicker, making storage of anything more than a 30-day supply a potential problem.

Also, once an Ethanol blend goes bad (phase separates), you must remove it. The gasoline, now much lower in octane, is sitting on top of water and alcohol in layers. You cannot add anything that will fix this. Only removal. That means no more full tanks for winter storage!

Engine Issues:
First, keep in mind engines work by exploding a small amount of fuel under the right conditions. Normally pure gasoline (E-0) is what the engine was designed to burn. Timing of the spark, pressure of the cylinder, and other details were set for a specific amount of this fuel. The addition of ethanol changes this.

Ethanol is about 113 octane if I remember correctly while the gasoline it is mixed with is about 83 octane making a stated mixture of 93 octane. Unfortunately, the ethanol can separate in the cylinder and suddenly you have two different chemicals burning. Worse yet is the slow burning nature of ethanol which causes engine temperatures to rise.

A reputable testing organization hired by the Ethanol Industry itself, reported a number of engine failures due to melted pistons, valve, and valve seat damage and even fuel pumps.

Another hidden issue is the lower fuel economy and engine power of E-10 and E-15 as well as E-85. Up to a 10% reduction in economy has been documented so far and that will get worse as the blends include higher amounts of Ethanol. There isn’t much saving in the long run with high risk of damage and reduced power.

Protecting Our Investments:
Some Products claim to be able to remove, reduce, or generally negate the effects of Ethanol. So Far I have found no truth to those claims though I would love to hear from a trusted chemist on the topic. Our only tried and true method is to avoid any and all E-15 blender pumps. Also, I found a website, buyrealgas.com, that claims to list stations that sell pure gasoline, but the claim remains to be proven..

We may also wish to discuss purchasing and storing pure gasoline (E-0) in some amounts for our members who have vintage rides. A 200 gallon tank in a truck and stored at a members home maybe? I suggest the idea may turn a tidy profit for the club if we could become the go-to option for vintage motorcycles all over the area! But I will leave that idea for better minds to think about.

What can be done, why is this happening?

Let us be frank about why this is all happening. Despite having no consumer need for the Ethanol mixture and no science supporting the benefits of its use in motor fuels, we still are facing more and more addition of this damaging substance.

The RFA or Renewable Fuels Act is the first reason. U.S. law was written to currently force 16 billion gallons of ethanol to be added to gasolines with more to be blended each year. With current usage of fuels by consumers dropping through such mechanisms as efficiency, or not driving at all, producers are being pressured to dispense more Ethanol to fulfill the mandate.

Big Agriculture wants to sell corn–lots of it–more tomorrow than today, and more after that. I think if they had their way the U.S. would be covered in corn from sea to shining sea.

Politicians–if you do not already despise a greedy politician then this is a perfect time to start as the major movers and protectors of this law are from corn producing states. Other politicians benefit from fat donations for supporting this bad idea given through lobbyists or political action committees. Some are simply mislead by the industry into thinking they are helping the environment.

I really dislike lobbyists, as simple math proves ethanol is NOT environmentally sound. Diesel and petroleum is needed to grow and transport corn. Coal fired power plants are needed to make the final product, and more diesel to transport finished ethanol to market. Spending three or four times the energy than a gallon of ethanol can provide means there is NO WAY this is saving anything.

Another issue I really dislike is the way the industry and law makers are working to keep themselves and their friends from having to pay for damages caused by Ethanol. That’s nice work getting all the riches and avoiding any responsibility for stealing our hard earned money with poorer fuel economy, increased service costs, and loss due to damages.

We will have no recourse on those who have done this because they ordered little warning stickers be placed on equipment while secretly creating conditions for those events to happen. Disgusting.

Do not Despair. There are several senators from a number of states who have introduced legislation to halt additional Ethanol production as well as a number of states and local municipalities that have already moved to halt Ethanol in its tracks. Despite what one may think of President Trump, his dismantling of the EPA may be a blessing to us in this matter.

Call up anyone and everyone you can in local, state, and federal offices. Mail letters (real old fashioned paper ones that will clog up the system; emails can be deleted with a button press). Make your voice heard! Shaming these individuals is a fool’s errand but they can be made to feel discomfort and embarrassment when confronted by facts and upset constituents.

My Final Thoughts….

I want Everyone to know that we have options. They may be as easy as avoiding known places where these bad blends are sold or harder, such as securing our own supply of pure fuel. Yet we still have the ability to help each other keep our rides safe and working properly if we gather together and work to ensure none of us fall victim to this serious issue.

So next time you hear about E-15 coming to our area (about 400 stations nationally so far) do not worry, instead take five or ten minutes of your day and act however you see fit but act.

Thank You