1. E85 Ethanol is corrosive
Yes ethanol is corrosive, but not very much. Gasoline is corrosive too. Ethanol is biodegradable in water. So it has a tendency to contain and attract water. It is not the corrosive properties of ethanol that can cause damage to your vehicle; it is the water which can rust a vehicle’s fuel system from the inside out. Today’s vehicles (since mid 1980s) have fuel systems which are made to withstand corrosive motor fuels and rust from water. Also today’s distilling processes are superior to way back when. We now have better techniques for drying out ethanol or reducing the water content.
On side note, gas contains water too. Ever hear of dry gas?
2. If I put E85 in my gas tank, it will eat it away.
If your car was built in the old days, it was had a lead coated, steel tank. The water in ethanol would cause the tank to rust from the inside out. The government mandated that all gas in the USA contain 10% ethanol to help reduce tail pipe emissions. In the 1980s, automakers made vehicles with fuel systems to be ethanol and rust tolerant. Gas tanks began to contain polymers and Teflon which are extremely durable.
3. If I put E85 ethanol in my non-Flex Fuel vehicle, it will ruin it.
One tank won’t hurt. Some dealers are spreading rumors and charging $300-$3000 for one tank of accidental E85 use. This use may cause misfiring and a rough ride. Your check engine light will come on. If you should accidentally or on purpose put E85 in your vehicle, drain the tank, put in regular gas and all will be well. If you use E85 without a conversion kit or non-Flex Fuel capable vehicle for an extended period, you can damage your engine.
4. Ethanol will burn up my engine.
Ethanol has a lower ignition point than gas. Ethanol has about 115 octane and E85 has 105 octane. It burns cooler and will extend engine life by preventing the burning of engine valves and prevent the build-up of olefins in fuel injectors, keeping the fuel system cleaner.
5. Ethanol will ruin gaskets, seals, rings and more.
Running 100% ethanol or alcohol in an engine can cause damage to cork products.
The rubber neoprene used in the last 20 + years is resistant to the drying effect that ethanol may have.
Today's vehicles are built to withstand the corrosive effects of water in ethanol and gasoline. Any vehicle built since 1985 will have no ethanol related issues. Older vehicles that used more steel in the fuel systems or cork gaskets may have issues from long term exposure to water.
Vehicles in Brazil have been using ethanol for 30 years and they are completely free from using any foreign oil.
6. E85 will eat my rubber fuel lines.
This is another myth from the old days. Rubber technology has significantly advanced so the concerns of a 20 year old car or newer having issues like this are extremely rare. Plus the 15% gas will help keep lines lubricated.
7. E85 will destroy my fuel pump.
E85 won’t destroy your fuel pump. If you convert a high mileage vehicle to Flex Fuel, the E85 will cause the sediment in the gas tank to dissolve and then get sucked up by the fuel pump. It is believed that this sediment may shorten the life of the pump of your higher mileage vehicle (100,000+). We have had no reports from customers with damaged fuel pumps.
Video Proof: E85 does not harm engine, fuel lines, fuel pump, injectors, etc.
We do not recommend using E85 in your vehicle without an E85 conversion kit.
8. It takes more than a gallon of energy to make a gallon of E85.
This was true at one point in time. Today’s advanced technology and distilling processes actually create considerably more units of ethanol than units of energy used. The processes continue to advance and the ratio will continue to increase.
9. E85 Ethanol is worse for the environment than gas.
There have been some people who have published reports stating that E85 is worse than gas for the environment. They have yet to show any scientific proof or case studies that support their claims. Because E85 is cleaner than conventional gasoline, it emits less hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. E85 reduces carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 70 percent — and less carbon monoxide helps reduce ozone formation and greenhouse gas levels. According to EPA, gasoline is the largest source of manmade carcinogens. Ethanol reduces overall toxic pollution by diluting harmful compounds found in gasoline such as benzene and other aromatics.
10. Using E85 ethanol will get 50% less mileage per tank.
There are some stories floating around about 50% reduction in mileage or twice as much ethanol is needed. Some of the automakers who introduced Flex vehicles did a terrible job with the fuel management systems that mileage did decrease as much as 50%. After some trial and error, the automakers have significantly improved their Flex systems and mileage conservation is within reasonable losses such as 5-15%. Conversion Kits like the Full Flex have been around for over 20 years. Realistic losses range from 5-15% as well.
11. Vehicles need more E85 ethanol so there is less power.
It is true that a vehicle does require more E85 than regular gas since the amount of energy per unit of ethanol is less than that of gas. Ethanol has a lower ignition temperature so the engine overall will run cooler increasing power. It also burns slower so instead of just burning out in one violent explosion forcing the piston down, it continues to burn the entire length of the piston stroke expanding gases more evenly and smoothly. So running E85 will give any engine more power over any pump gas. Also E85 is 105 octane. Gas comes in 85, 89 and 91 octane. The 105 octane of E85 will help to eliminate knocks and pings. All of these benefits will make an engine run smoother and quieter.
12. Won't E85 production deplete human and animal food supplies?
No, actually the production of ethanol from corn uses only the starch of the corn kernel, all of the valuable protein, minerals and nutrients remain. One bushel of corn produces about 2.7 gallons of ethanol AND 11.4 pounds of gluten feed (20% protein) AND 3 pounds of gluten meal (60% protein) AND 1.6 pounds of corn oil.
13. Ethanol does not benefit farmers.
The ethanol industry opens a new market for corn growers, allowing them to enjoy greater profitability. Studies have shown that corn prices in areas near ethanol plants tend to be 5 to 10 cents per bushel higher than in other areas. This additional income helps cut the costs of farm programs and add vitality to rural economies. The additional profit potential for farmers created by ethanol production allows more farmers to stay in business — helping ensure adequate food supplies in the future. Ethanol production also creates jobs, many of which are in rural communities where good jobs are hard to come by. A 2005 study by LECG found the ethanol industry powered the U.S. economy by creating more than 147,000 jobs, boosting U.S. household income by $4.4 billion and reducing the U.S. trade deficit by $5.1 billion by eliminating the need to import 143.3 million barrels of oil. Those kinds of numbers help farmers and all Americans.
14. Ethanol production wastes corn that could be used to feed a hungry world.
Corn used for ethanol production is field corn typically used to feed livestock. Wet mill ethanol production facilities, also known as corn refineries, also produce starch, corn sweeteners, and corn oil — all products that are used as food ingredients for human consumption. Ethanol production also results in the production of distiller’s grains and gluten feed — both of which are fed to livestock, helping produce high-quality meat products for distribution domestically and abroad. There is no shortage of corn. In 2004, U.S. farmers produced a record 11.8 billion bushel corn harvest — and some 1.3 billion bushels (about 11 percent) were used in ethanol production. Additionally, the 2005 crop was among the largest on record. 2007 will yield the largest corn crop since the 1940s. In other words, there is still room to significantly grow the ethanol market without limiting the availability of corn. Steadily increasing corn yields and the improved ability of other nations to grow corn also make it clear that ethanol production can continue to grow without affecting the food supply.
What impact will ethanol have on equipment?
by Keith Reid, from National Petroleum News-Special Report on E85
MTBE is on the way out -- sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the oxygenate requirement for reformulated gasoline is staying put, and it is even being enhanced if things continue as expected. The Bush energy policy legislation that has been bouncing around Washington for the past couple of years includes a five-billion-gallon ethanol mandate for use in transportation fuels in the United States by the year 2012. In all likelihood, marketers across the United States who may not be familiar with ethanol are going to have to get used to the new fuel formulation in the near future.
A standard nozzle should be fine for ethanol at oxygenate levels, but may or may not stand up to E85 applications.
The impact on supply infrastructure is going to be difficult, but manageable. Ethanol cannot efficiently be transported in pipelines (either straight or blended) because it picks up too much water. That means ethanol will have to be transported by truck, barge and rail into regional terminal locations for blending. Marketers and retailers will also face some issues, though not nearly as great as those faced upstream.
Ethanol is "drinking" alcohol, which serves as a high-octane renewable fuel. It is produced by the fermentation of corn and other grain products, and in the future may be economically produced from "biomass" or agricultural wastes. It is currently used in some markets as an octane enhancer and as an oxygenate in reformulated gasoline at around 5.7 percent in Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act non-attainment areas. These concentrations are in fairly common use in some regions today, and the gasoline storage and dispensing equipment can readily handle these levels.
Another fuel seeing growing interest, particularly with the ethanol mandate, is "E85." This is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. It is a high-octane fuel, but one containing less overall energy than gasoline. Special flexible fuel vehicles are required for E85 that can run on either E85 or a traditional gasoline with little or no ethanol. More than 3 million FFVs have already been sold in the United States and include a number of Ford products like recent
Taurus sedans, Ranger pickups and Explorer sport utility vehicles.
Similar to E85 is E95 (a blend of 95 percent ethanol and 5 percent gasoline) developed for use in diesel engines.
Today, most E85 fueling stations are located in the Midwest, with over 100 in Minnesota alone, though there is growth in other regions. To encourage the adoption of E85, the federal government and many states (particularly in the Corn Belt) have enacted tax or other incentives to help encourage its use. For example, Illinois offers rebates for automobile conversion or the purchase of FFVs, and incentives to petroleum marketers in the form of a $10,000 tax credit. A 54-cent per gallon federal subsidy given to blenders further encourages the spread of ethanol, which would face an economic challenge in the market otherwise.
Just what impact will the increased use of ethanol have on retailers? At oxygenate and octane enhancement levels it should be minimal, with most standard equipment used to store and dispense gasoline already designed to accommodate the additive. At E85 levels some additional challenges come into play.
The first potential impact from ethanol starts with the product drop, and with components like the fill pipe.
"From the corrosion standpoint, aluminum can have some issues when you get into 85 percent ethanol," said Mike Bartush, product manager, environmental systems for Cincinnati-headquartered OPW. "We offer an anodize product that coats these materials so that there's not a problem with these alternative fuels. We also changed some of our gaskets about five years ago to be more compatible with the new fuels. When you're talking about five or 10 percent ethanol it's not an issue with our aluminum tubes and aluminum adapters. And it's not an issue with our cast-iron shear valves and steel piping and brass. We take all the different fuels and we soak our products in them and test them."
Bartush noted that the company was making an effort to change various castings to stainless steel in order to alleviate any potential problems with more aggressive fuels, relying on an economy of scale to help keep costs down.
There are few direct ethanol issues with tanks, both steel and fiberglass.
"As far as compatibility goes, there's nothing we're putting into a tank that's going to have a problem," said Charles Frey, Jr., a vice president at Stoystown, Pa.-based Highland Tank. "An advantage is that you're not going to get much water in the tank because ethanol is going to absorb a certain percentage of the water and it provides a little bit of an improvement for fuel quality."
Ethanol at E85 levels can impact various metals like aluminum, plastics and rubber. This OPW overfill valve would have anodized aluminum components for use with high concentrations of ethanol.
Concerns have been raised -- with little foundation -- over the suitability of fiberglass and ethanol. In response, Sullivan D. Curran, P.E., the executive director of the Fiberglass Tank and Pipe Institute forwarded a paper published in Thompson's Underground Storage Tank Guide: "Due to recent state bans on methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), notably in California and New York, the use of ethanol motor fuel (i.e., a maximum of 10 percent ethyl alcohol in gasoline) is expanding in several areas. Many other states, particularly in the Midwest, have used ethanol fuel for many years. The market share of ethanol motor fuel has grown from virtually zero in 1978 to 7 percent in 1986, and to 30 percent today. Although this represents a significant volume of ethanol stored and dispensed through the pre-1978 population of underground storage tanks (USTs), it is comforting to know that fiberglass USTs and piping that store conventional gasoline or MTBE added gasoline should perform equally when handling ethanol."
Curran noted in an NPN interview that issues exist with single-walled fiberglass tanks (related to the type of resin used) and ethanol in concentrations above 30 percent. These issues are not present with double-walled fiberglass tanks or fiberglass pipe. The issue is not that great nationally, since 70 percent of the current fiberglass tanks in service are double walled.
PUMPS AND LEAK DETECTION EQUIPMENT
Don Kenney, senior vice president, Franklin Fueling Systems noted that ethanol poses no problem with the range of products the company produces, from line leak detectors and ATGs to sumps and other equipment. "All FE Petro, Incon, EBW, and APT products are compatible with ethanol of any concentration," he said. "There are no alternative fuels today that we are aware of that are not compatible with our products. Although, FE Petro has specific submersible turbine pumps designed for E85 and higher concentrations of alcohol. While we cannot guarantee that we have tested all non-conventional fuel additives, in order to be aware of as many as possible we stay in touch with the industry by meeting with our oil company customers, working with Underwriters Laboratory and other approval agencies and third party consultants to ensure complete testing, and work with our suppliers to provide equipment that meet the requirements of the market place."
As already noted, fiberglass pipe should perform fine with ethanol. "There are no issues at all with ethanol and fiberglass pipe," said Jack Bales, manager, petroleum marketing for Little Rock, Ark.-based Smith Fibercast. "We've done testing up to and including 100 percent ethanol and even 100 percent methanol, which is a tougher chemical. As the changes have occurred with different additives, we've never had to remove our pipe and we don't foresee any future problems. We do testing ourselves, and test to UL 971."
Both fiberglass and flex pipe are tested for 100 percent ethanol under UL971
Questions have been raised about flex pipe in the past several years due to some highly localized but prominent failures. Were there a technical problem with the product (which has by no means been determined), then ethanol might, or might not, be an additional factor. The current UL 971 standard tests both flex and fiberglass pipe with ethanol concentrations up to 100 percent. However, there are some differences in testing methodologies for each and UL is apparently working to revise the standard (though details are scarce). Products tested to the new standard should set the matter to rest.
Rick Whately, president of Smithfield, N.C.-headquartered Environ Products, Inc. noted that his company's flex piping has had no problems with ethanol. "We've peen putting ethanol through our products for a number of years now with no problems," he said. "We also meet the current UL standards, which covers the higher concentrations of ethanol, and we'll test to the revised UL standards which will come through in 2005 and should guarantee a higher quality product from all pipe manufacturers."
Several issues come into play with fuel filters and the conversion to an ethanol blended fuel. There is a sediment issue when an ethanol conversion first takes place. Ethanol acts as a cleaning agent, breaking loose built-up sediments from the tank and other areas and leading to an initial period where fuel filters tend to clog (the same can also happen in automobiles). After the sediment has worked its way out, water becomes a consideration.
"With ethanol, water stays suspended instead of dropping out like it does in neat gas," said Michael Gruca, product engineer for West Salem, Ill.-based Champion Laboratories, Inc. "The alcohol will carry that water and you can burn a certain amount of it, but if you get too much the engine can't handle it. With our water sensitive filters, when you use neat gas there's a polymer in there that is triggered by water and expands to plug the filter. If you use that filter in an alcohol environment, water bonds with the alcohol and goes right through, so we had to develop a phase separation filter that uses two separate chemicals that together react when there's too much water. One chemical gels and the other swells and starts to block the flow, so that the marketer is aware that there's a problem in the tank."
Higher concentrations of ethanol also potentially pose few problems.
"The main thing with a filter is to make sure it's compatible with the fuel, whether it's straight ethanol or biodiesel or whatever," said Gruca. "We do testing, and we also work with the vendors who make sensitive components, such as those made out of rubber, to make sure that they are compatible. A lot of times it has to be UL approved on top of that, so we work with UL to verify compatibility. I feel comfortable that our filters will work with straight ethanol if needed. The only thing there, is that you're looking for a tighter media in the two-micron range compared to the 10 microns we offer now, and the filter will clog faster. We have no trouble producing this media, but we're working with our customers to see if that's really needed."
As mechanical devices, dispensers have a variety of components made out of a variety of materials. There are no problems where ethanol is added at oxygenate levels, but E85 is a different story.
"We recognize that there's a growing interest in E85, given the potential outcome of the energy bill pending right now," said Scott Negley, Austin, Texas-headquartered Dresser Wayne's manager, dispenser products. "Our standard dispenser line is not compatible with E85 today. Some of the metals require special treatments and some of the seals need to be specialized to meet the compatibility requirements for that type of fuel." Negley noted similar problems with biodiesel over 15 percent concentrations. Although the metal corrosion issue is absent, biodiesel can impact rubber and plastic components like o-rings and seals.
"We're working fairly closely with a third party supplier on a program to establish an upfit package for our existing dispensers," Negley said. "You can take a standard dispenser, and for an incremental fee allow a third party to upfit the dispenser to provide all of the features and function in our main product line for compatibility with high concentrations of ethanol.
The same general issues are faced at Gilbarco Veeder-Root. "We develop equipment to be compatible with all the different types of fuels, and the standard equipment that we sell is good to 10 percent ethanol and 15 percent MTBE," said Mike Liebal, manager, global components engineering for the Greensboro N.C.-based company. "So, all of our standard equipment handles those types of fuels. The reason we set that is so that the end-users switch back and forth between alcohol and non-alcohol fuels, which has a significant impact on the seals and gaskets and such. Beyond that, such as with E85, you have to look at specialized equipment."
A major concern with ethanol is the impact on rubber and plastic components. The hose would logically be a major point of concern, but that doesn't reflect the current state of hose design.
"Ethanol has been around for as long as I've been here, which has been 15 years, and we've been constantly blending materials to be compatible with those fuels," said Jeff Berger, product sales manager for Parker Hannifin Industrial Hose, headquartered in Cleveland. "What we've seen, actually, is that the higher concentrations are easier to handle than the lower concentrations due to the increasing performance of elastomers and plasticizers in the compounds."
Dispenser nozzles, swivel adapters and breakaways generally mirror the other equipment from an ethanol impact standpoint. The nozzle, which is mechanical and made out of light materials like aluminum, has the most vulnerabilities.
"The biggest thing we look for is that we have to evaluate the elastomers to make sure they're compatible with the different fuels and also that there is metal compatibility," said Susan Murdock, OPW's product manager for vapor recovery components. "Our standard products are currently UL approved up to 10 percent ethanol, and now we're going through UL and getting our equipment approved to E85. We make a special nozzle for use with methanol that is nickel plated, which we recommend for E85 applications for the time being, but we're working on UL approval for E85 with our standard nozzle."
Short of E85, the transition to ethanol is a fairly painless process. As long as the ethanol industry can deliver the required quantities and it can be integrated with the national distribution system without adding too much to the cost (significant concerns at this point), the mandate should be fairly painless for retailers.