Ethanol in Petrol

Updated 5th January 2014 – See comments below – DfT postpone E10 Introduction Until 2016!

Since we originally reported on this campaign by the Yorkshire Region of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK), we have had some background conversations to clarify some of the finer details.

The Yorkshire Region of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) has launched a campaign regarding the maximum permissible content of bio-ethanol in petrol, from 5% to 10% (known as E10), under EU directive 2009/30/EC, which is due to come into force in 2013.

The campaign is requesting confirmation that the key recommendations made in the independent QinetiQ study commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) will be implemented, prior to the EU directive 2009/30/EC, coming into force next year.

In addition to this the campaign is lobbying that all fuel pumps should be clearly labelled with the bio-ethanol content of the fuel, giving the consumer a clear and informed choice.

Specific guidance and recommendations should also be made widely available, as the majority of owners are unaware of these potential issues with their older vehicles.

Yorkshire MAG says, “It is widely accepted that vehicles ten years old and older will not be compatible with E10 blends, though of course there will be exceptions to this.

There are approximately nine million petrol passenger cars and light duty petrol vehicles in the UK that are ten years old or older, which equates to about 38% of the total petrol vehicle population.

In addition, approximately ¾ million powered two wheelers (PTWs) may also be incompatible with E10 fuel.

It is not only classic and vintage vehicles that may be affected, as thousands of relatively new first generation petrol direct injection vehicles in the UK, the last new vehicle probably being sold as late as 2007, are also not compatible with E10.”

While adding that, “The UK government says this need not mean that all pump fuel should contain biofuel, and that is being left to the fuel supply and retail industries to decide. On the other hand, nor does UK government policy require that non-ethanol fuel should be widely available on forecourts.”

Yorkshire MAG Ethanol in Petrol Campaign – Click Here

Independent Study – QinetiQ

The Department for Transport (DfT) commissioned an independent study by QinetiQ to assess fuel system compatibility with bio-ethanol in early 2011. This study made a number of key recommendations:

  • Vehicles ten years old or older, carburettored vehicles (including PTW’s) and first generation direct injection spark ignition vehicles should not be fuelled on E10 unless the manufacturer can state the vehicles are compatible with E10
  • The automotive industry should produce a comprehensive list of vehicles compatible with E10. While it is acknowledged that some lists do already exist, if in doubt, the vehicle operator should seek clarification from the vehicle manufacturer
  • E5 should not be phased out in 2013, its widespread availability should continue for the foreseeable future
  • Consideration should be given to maintaining a specification for E10 fuel for historic and vintage vehicles

QinetiQ Study – Click Here

Basics of the Campaign

The basics of the campaign asks you to contact your MP, to raise awareness of the issue (and/or the Department for Transport) so that Yorkshire MAG can get questions asked in the House of Commons, directed to the Transport Minister and to request confirmation that the QinetiQ recommendations will be implemented, prior to E10 being introduced in 2013.

That specific guidance and recommendations should also be made widely available, as the majority of owners are unaware of these potential issues with their older vehicles.

The aim is to ensure that E10 is implemented in a controlled manner with minimal detrimental impact on owners and operators of older vehicles.

Yorkshire MAG will be collating responses from MP’s so they ask to forward any replies you may receive to their campaigns email address. A draft campaigns letter is available to use as a basis to writing to your MP and links to how to contact your MP.

 Read this in full – Click Here

Ethonol Issues From Yorkshire MAG

The resultant problems for vehicles not compatible with E10 include:

  • Fuel filter blockage and increased wear of fuel system components: Ethanol acts as a solvent loosening abrasive deposits
  • Galvanic corrosion: Ethanol is more highly conductive compared to hydrocarbons leading to corrosion if electrically dissimilar metals are present in the fuel system
  • Air/Fuel mixture problems: Ethanol contains about 35% oxygen, so the air/fuel mixture has to be adjusted otherwise the vehicle will run lean which could cause drive-ability problems and overheating
  • Drive-ability: E10 blends can be more volatile, causing hot problems (poor hot starting, hesitation etc) and cold weather problems (vaporisation problems)
  • Deposit formation: Inlet system and combustion chamber deposits have been reported with the use of E5 and E10 blends compared to E0.
  • Material compatibility: Some materials used in fuel system components are less compatible with ethanol in fuel resulting in loss of structural integrity, swelling and softening of materials (some older glass-fibre petrol tanks and tank sealants will melt).
  • Ethanol holds more dissolved water and associated impurities leading to corrosion of metallic components.

In addition to increased maintenance & reduced vehicle life, possible catastrophic failure (fuel fires due to leaking hoses, piston seizure etc), could actually directly result in driver / rider fatalities.

It should be emphasised that for some older vehicles, or small market value, the required modifications to make the vehicles compatible with E10 or repairs after damage by E10 will be such that the vehicle is beyond economic repair.

Hence the effect of this will fall disproportionately on the poorer members of society who run these older vehicles and cannot afford to purchase newer more expensive vehicles.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs when a significant proportion of the population are suffering hardship in this difficult economic climate.

Read this in full – Click Here

The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC)

Yorkshire MAG have included a link to information from the FBHVC which lays out the issues and key points and includes information on:

  • Fibreglass Fuel Tanks
  • Effects On Tank Sealants Etc
  • Additives For Use With Biofuels
  • Use Of Kerosene In Petrol In Historic Vehicles
  • Study Into Material Compatibility And Carburettor Icing
  • Combustion Issues

The FBHVC also gives some background on the  lobby work already completed by the Federation through contribution to a consultation on Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations from the Department for Transport (DfT) and representation at several Stakeholder Meetings held at the DfT.

Their conclusion is that” “It should be remembered that our vehicles use a very small percentage of the total UK fuel sales and it may be difficult for retailers to commercially justify stocking such fuel even if the oil companies will distribute it. The Federation will continue to monitor the situation and are working with the All Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicle Group to see what can be done. Regular meetings are being held and the discussions will be reported in the FBHVC newsletter.”

Read this in full –  Click Here

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  1. Is this another nail in the coffin of ethanol?

    “Motorcycle Riders Foundation Congratulates ABATE of Illinois

    On Wednesday, February 26th ABATE of Illinois made history. They successfully lobbied for a resolution that was passed by the State House of Representatives. The resolution throws the weight of the general assembly behind a federal bill that would conduct a scientific study on the effects of the new blend of fuel known as E15. This new blend is up from the previously approved blend of E10 fuel that contains up to 10% ethanol.

    When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the waiver that allowed for the sale of E15 they did not study the effects of the blend on the internal components of an engine. In fact, motorcycles are not even on the list of vehicles approved by the EPA to use the new blend. Using the blend in a motorcycle, boat, lawn mower etc could be a violation of federal law as they were not included in the waiver.

    The Illinois general assembly resolution supports H.R. 875, a bill in the United States House of Representatives that would halt the sale of E15 until an independent scientific study is conducted on the effects of E15 on motorcycles and every other vehicle. Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) sponsored the bill.

    “This sends a crystal clear message to Washington. A top corn growing state is telling the EPA to do its homework” Said Jeff Hennie Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). He added “The EPA never even considered what the E15 could do to a small air cooled engine or really any other engine except for a handful of passenger vehicles.”

    The MRF salutes ABATE of Illinois for their tremendous leadership and bravery. They continue to be one of the models of how a State Motorcycle Rights Organization (SMRO) should work.”

    Hopeful Europe will follow suit.

    Original Source ABATE of Illinois: Click Here

  2. Farm Bill Removes Subsidies for Biofuel Blender Pumps

    The Motorcycle Riders Foundation reports that the United States House of Representatives has passed a bill that would end a federal subsidy for biofuel blender pumps in rural areas. The measure passed by a vote of 251-166 and costs the U.S. taxpayers $956.4 billion.

    The Senate is expected to vote on the matter next week and there is little that those in support of the subsidies can do to reinstate the money. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.

    Putting an end to these subsides will likely result in less biofuel blender pumps in the market place and therefore less E-15 fuel.

    The Motorcycle Riders Foundation supports the removal of E-15 from the market until thorough, scientific study is conducted on the effects of the higher blend on the entire power train, not just the tail pipe emissions.

    Original Source – Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) – Click Here

  3. Steve Rowe says:

    Here is an update from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) about the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting comments on their intention to lower the amount of ethanol produced in 2014 by almost three billion gallons as the demand for the higher blends of ethanol, such as E15 has been lower than expected.

    There is also still concern by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation about what damage is being done to motorcycles by higher blends such as E15 and that many manufactures are voiding warranties where E15 can be shown to have damaged motorcycles.

    Original Source – Read The Full Article – Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF)

  4. Steve Rowe says:

    Excellent news and my personal thanks go to ‘Right To Ride’ and MAG Yorkshire for helping to highlight this issue and to enable me to continue riding my ’86 Vmax.

    I agree we cannot be complacent we cannot rely on other people to protest on our behalf – 18 respondents agreed to the extension – 13 respondents didn’t – it could have been the other way round – remember ‘Watch this space!!!’ even with the European Parliament proposing to amend Directive 2009/30/EC so that this date is extended further to 2018, we may still need your vote.

  5. EAST Yorkhire MAG (Motorcycle Action Group)

    Finally, some good news on the introduction of 10% Ethanol (E10) into Petrol, which was scheduled to be bestowed on us in 2013.

    A huge thanks to all of you who followed the Yorkshire MAG campaign, signed the e-Petition, contacted your MP / Transport Minister and responded to the recent Government consultation. All this campaigning has paid off as the Government has now postponed the E10 introduction until 2016.

    Whilst undoubtedly good news, this is a postponement and not a cancellation, so the campaign is to stay on the ‘back burner’ for now, but MAG is watching developments carefully, and as and when required, a new National Campaign will be launched.

    Watch this Space for developments !!!

    Original Source – East Yorkshire MAG – On Facebook

    Department for Transport (DfT) – Response to: Consultation on a proposed amendment to the Motor Fuel(Composition and Content) Regulations 1999 – pdf – Click Here

  6. The MRF (Motorcycle Riders Foundation) reported that on 15 November the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule that would force the United States to produce less ethanol in 2014 due to declining markets and that the demand for higher ethanol blends has been shrinking across the USA.

    MRF states “Ethanol has been controversial. It can harm the power trains of vehicles and leave the owner with a voided warranty. It has lead to higher corn prices, which has lead to higher costs associated with certain food items such as milk, eggs and meat. Both of which have drawn the disdain of many Americans. Ethanol was supposed to be the spark that lead to cleaner renewable fuels such as switch grass and other sources of alternative fuels, and that just has not happened since the RFS law was passed six years ago.”

    Watch this space maybe ethanol was not the panacea that everyone thought it was going to be.

    Original Source – Read The Full Article – Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) http://www.mrf.org/2013/news_release/13NR39.htm

  7. Recieved via Steve Rowe

    I received an email informing me that:

    “Today the Department for Transport published a targeted consultation which seeks views on amending UK legislation to extend the current requirement for filling stations supplying 3 million litres (fuel per annum) or more, and choosing to supply super unleaded, that this has a maximum content of 5% ethanol (E5) for a further 3 years, to the end of 2016.

    The consultation, titled “Consultation on a proposed amendment to the Motor Fuel Composition and Content Regulations 1999” is available on the Department’s website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-amendment-to-the-motor-fuel-composition-and-content-regulations-1999

    Consultation respose document as a word document – Click Here

    The consultation closes on 27 September and we would welcome any responses you may wish to make. If you have any questions about the consultation please send these to Biofuels.Transport@dft.gsi.gov.uk.

    Thanks

    Michael

    Michael Wright

    Biofuels Regulation Branch
    Low Carbon Fuels

    Department for Transport
    Great Minster House
    33 Horseferry Road
    London
    SW1P 4DR

    phone : 020 7944 4378

    e-mail : Michael.Wright@dft.gsi.gov.uk

    I would ask your members / readers to support this by completing the Consultation Response form so people like me can continue to ride our bikes for at least another 3 years.

    Steve RoweI received an email informing me that:

    “Today the Department for Transport published a targeted consultation which seeks views on amending UK legislation to extend the current requirement for filling stations supplying 3 million litres (fuel per annum) or more, and choosing to supply super unleaded, that this has a maximum content of 5% ethanol (E5) for a further 3 years, to the end of 2016.

    The consultation, titled “Consultation on a proposed amendment to the Motor Fuel Composition and Content Regulations 1999” is available on the Department’s website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-amendment-to-the-motor-fuel-composition-and-content-regulations-1999

    Consultation respose document as a word document – Click Here

    The consultation closes on 27 September and we would welcome any responses you may wish to make. If you have any questions about the consultation please send these to Biofuels.Transport@dft.gsi.gov.uk.

    Thanks

    Michael

    Michael Wright

    Biofuels Regulation Branch
    Low Carbon Fuels

    Department for Transport
    Great Minster House
    33 Horseferry Road
    London
    SW1P 4DR

    phone : 020 7944 4378

    e-mail : Michael.Wright@dft.gsi.gov.uk

    I would ask your members / readers to support this by completing the Consultation Response form so people like me can continue to ride our bikes for at least another 3 years.

    Steve Rowe

  8. AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) is lobbying on E15 Fuel bring the lobby to their Capitol Hill Washington DC.

    Meanwhile in the UK/EU the debate/lobby (very quietly) is on E10 fuel.

    Click Here

  9. I love my bike says:

    Just reading my Briggs & Stratton mower operating and maintenance instructions. Note: We DO NOT recommend the use of gasoline which contains alcohol, such as gasohol. However, if gasoline with alcohol is used, it MUST NOT contain more than 10 percent Ethanol and MUST be removed from the engine during storage.

    Obviously they don’t like it either!

  10. Steve Rowe says:

    I have had an email from Michael Wright, Biofuels Regulation Branch, Low Carbon Fuels,
    Department for Transport who informs me that:

    “The Department is in the process of evaluating with industry bodies forecasts on how much of the vehicle fleet can operate satisfactorily on E10. This is with a view to assessing the need to legislate for a protection grade beyond 2013. It is not anticipated that this evaluation work will conclude before the end of the summer.”

    Hopefully, we will continue to have access to petrol (EN228: 2008 ) that may contain up to 5% (by volume) ethanol.

  11. E10

    From ACEM the motorcycle industry in Europe a list of ACEM member company petrol vehicles compatible with E10 petrol

    (i.e. EN 228 with the current volatility limits specified in EN228: 2008)

    Important note applicable for the complete list hereunder:

    The European Fuel Quality Directive[1] introduces a new market petrol across the European Union from 1st January 2011 that may contain up to 10% (by volume) ethanol (E10).

    For vehicles equipped with a spark-ignition (petrol) engine introduced into the EU market, this list indicates their compatibility with E10 petrol which complies also with the EN 228: 2008[2] volatility limits.

    Other information:

    The European Fuel Quality Directive requires that member states of the European Union must ensure that sufficient volumes of today’s petrol are available for vehicles that are not compatible with the use of E10 petrol.

    Owners of the vehicles indicated in this list that are not cleared for the use of E10 should therefore continue to have EU-wide access to today’s petrol (EN228: 2008 ) that may contain up to 5% (by volume) ethanol.

    In addition, it is a general recommendation that fuels containing metallic additives should not be used.

    Full List On ACEM website –
    Click Here

  12. Just to keep everyone updated on this issue I had this reply from the Department of Transport:

    “Your email of 2 December about E10 (10 per cent ethanol in petrol) was passed to the International Vehicle Standards Division and I have been asked to reply.

    We recognise that older vehicles already in service need to be supported by availability of a “protection grade” fuel. Industry estimates that around 20 per cent of the current UK petrol fleet are incompatible with E10. The Government does not believe that the amount of ethanol in petrol should be raised from the current level of up to 5 per cent to up to 10 per cent while a significant number of vehicles which are not compatible with this new standard remain in service.

    There is currently no agreed British fuel standard for petrol ethanol blends of up to 10 per cent. The preparation of a British standard for E10 has been waiting on the European Committee for Standardisation, who are expected to publish a standard in the next few months.

    Any decision to supply E10 is a commercial decision to be made by fuel suppliers. It is not required by UK legislation or prevented from being supplied under UK legislation. However, we are now working with industry so that, when the time is right, E10 can be introduced with motorists having had sufficient notice and information about the new fuel.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dwight Lobban”

    Nice to see the Government recognises there is a problem – only concern is what is ‘a significant number of vehicles’ – so keep signing the petition.

  13. Thanks for that Steve, although it is an issue we are following, we are relying on the MAG Yorkshire campaign, the petition that people need to sign http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41913 and the knowledge you have on the issue.

    So that we can report on the issue………….

  14. When I first read this I thought that the BMF were having a go at Yorkshire MAG’s campaign about the introduction of E10 – but it doesn’t actually say that and in fact all it does is reiterate what has already been said by them.

    What I did notice was that BMF are saying that E5 will be available for many years and Yorkshire MAG has no evidence that this will be the case.

    However, on a personal note I have been in touch with Norman Baker MP from the Department of Transport about this issue and he said:

    “Regulations also require that a grade of unleaded petrol, currently Super, sold through highput filling stations contains no more than 5 percent ethanol. This is intended to support older vehicles. At present this requirement expires at the end of 2013, but this date is currently under review by the European Commission.”

    Therefore, in my mind it is still questionable whether E5 will be available and more importantly for how long. Therefore, as one of the potentially 8.6 million vehicle owners who may not be able to run his beloved VMax on E10 I would be grateful if the BMF or anyone else can confirm that E5 will be available for many years to come.

    Finally, I would like to add we are not the only country questioning the benefits of biofuels – in Australia an article in Drive.com.au questions ‘the environmental, performance and cost benefits of the ethanol-petrol blend’ and points out that in ‘In Victoria, where there is no mandate in place, motorists have shunned the fuel, forcing Shell to withdraw E10 from sale due to poor sales.’ or is this another scare story:

    http://news.drive.com.au/drive/green-motoring/e10-fuel-a-false-economy-20120827-24wcb.html

    Maybe we should be campaigning for the removal of ethanol from all fuels – I mean who actually said it was beneficial and to whom?

  15. Ethanol fuel scare-mongering dispelled

    6th December 2012

    There have been various scare stories around about E10 but the BMF’s Chris Hodder can now give us chapter and verse about what is the most likely scenario:

    “First of all, there is currently NO legal obligation for petrol companies in the UK to supply only E10 fuel. However, they do have to sell a significant proportion of their stock as renewable fuel and this will only be achieved by selling higher amounts of ethanol which will almost certainly be E10 (i.e. a blend of 10% ethanol with 90% unleaded petrol). What you may not know is that current 95RON petrol is actually E5 (i.e. a 5% ethanol and 95% petrol). This has been the case for several years. This means that E10 will be a doubling of the current ethanol content which is less significant than replacing 10% of fuel with ethanol outright.

    Nearly all petrol vehicles currently on the road can happily use E5 and between 83% and 92% can use E10. The manufacturer will be able to tell you whether your vehicle is compatible or not (not much help for the classic community, I know). If you are unsure, you will still be able to buy E5 for many years yet, although it may be the Super Grade option, rather than the cheaper version.

    To be absolutely clear:

    E10 will be labelled as Unleaded 95 E10
    Most vehicles will accept E10, but check with the manufacturer
    E5 (current “unleaded”) will be available if you are unsure or your manufacturer tells you your vehicle is incompatible
    If your vehicle is incompatible or you don’t know, please be cautious when travelling in Europe and filling up as different rules may be in operation.”

    Original Source – bmf Motorcycle Rider Magazine – Click Here

  16. There is now an e-petition urging the government to adopt the recommendations of its own report and it can be found at:
    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41913

  17. Updated 17th November 2012

    Since we originally reported on this campaign by the Yorkshire Region of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK), we have had some background conversations to clarify some of the finer details.

    The Yorkshire Region of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) has launched a campaign regarding the maximum permissible content of bio-ethanol in petrol, from 5% to 10% (known as E10), under EU directive 2009/30/EC, which is due to come into force in 2013.

    The campaign is requesting confirmation that the key recommendations made in the independent QinetiQ study commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) will be implemented, prior to the EU directive 2009/30/EC, coming into force next year.

    In addition to this the campaign is lobbying that all fuel pumps should be clearly labelled with the bio-ethanol content of the fuel, giving the consumer a clear and informed choice.

    Specific guidance and recommendations should also be made widely available, as the majority of owners are unaware of these potential issues with their older vehicles.

  18. Charlie Wyatt says:

    We need to know where we can buy E0 petrol without having to contact the oil company on a regular basis.

    Ethanol is dangerous stuff and should not be forced on us like wind turbines and dim light bulbs.

    No Global Warming for 16 years, so why are they bankrupting the nation and the old bike industry?

  19. Paul McQueen says:

    I hope enough noise can be made to prevent the widespread introduction of this fuel as the implications are very serious.

    The science behind it’s introduction is deeply flawed and the only real benefit is to the companies manufacturing it.

    As well as the points mentioned above, there is a huge impact being created on worldwide food supplies and many poorer countries are being encouraged to swap food production for ethanol.

    There are many campaigns to prevent big business threatening world food availability:

    http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/burn-food.html
    http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_the_Construction_of_an_Ethanol_Plant_on_Oshawas_lakeshore/

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