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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
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Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  #1  
Old 24 Mar 2015
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Ethanol in fuel - older bikes information

I am aware that with the introduction of Ethanol in fuel 5% and 10% mix at some fuel stations ( ie supermarket fuels) there are a number of problems starting to arise with older bikes and even not so old bikes as this fuel has properties that do no work with pre 2006 manufacturing specifications.

Some facts about Ethanol -

1) Water accumulation in the fuel tank - ethanol absorbs water from the air. The water condenses in the fuel tank and will pull the ethanol out of suspension with the petrol. This is bad news because it strips the octane out of the petrol, leaving you with a layer of octane-poor fuel on top and a water-ethanol layer mixture on the bottom. If this gets sucked into the combustion chamber, you will have poor starting and very rough running with potentially engine damage.

2) Deposit is like to build up - Ethanol when mixed with water readily forms Gums in the fuel system much quicker than fuel without Ethanol. These Gums coat fuel system components including filters, carburettors, injectors, throttle plates and will then form varnish and carbon deposits in the intake, on valves, and in the combustion chamber.

3) Lower fuel mileage, Decreased performance and acceleration. Ethanol contains less chemical energy than petrol does, and this means less mileage for the driver. 3-5% drops in mileage are expected.

4) Corrosion of internal engine components - Water contamination may cause fuel system corrosion and severe deterioration.

5) Contaminants in fuel system – water, degraded rubber, plastic, fibreglass and rust may get drawn in.

6) It could encourage microbial growth in fuel. Ethanol being organic and hygroscopic may allow the growth of fungus.

7) Short shelf life - as short as 90 days

8) Corrodes plastic and rubber - Ethanol is a strong, aggressive solvent and will cause problems with rubber hoses, o-rings, seals, and gaskets. These problems are worse during extended storage when significant deterioration could take place. Hoses may delaminate, o-rings soften and break down, and fuel system components made from certain types of plastics could either soften or become hard and brittle, eventually failing. Fuel system components made from brass, copper, and aluminium may oxidize. The dissolved plastics and resins now in the fuel could end up in blocked fuel filters or gummy deposits.

9) Melts Fibreglass - bikes and boats with fibreglass fuel tanks can have structural failure as the Ethanol will break down and pick-up some of the materials the tanks are made from. Again this material, dissolved from the tank, can be carried through the fuel system and can cause damage to carburettors, fuel injectors and can actually get into the combustion chambers.



The first is the fact that older fuel lines are not Ethanol proof and start to disintegrate the lines become soft /spongy and the fuel can become discoloured where it picking up chemicals leaked out of the rubber - the pipes eventually leak and are porus.

Carburetors get internal corrosion on steel parts and furring of the aluminium parts, and in some cases rubber parts (o rings , seals etc) like the fuel lines start to degrade quickly.

fuel pump similarly to the Carbs can start to degrade.

Fuel tanks may start to go soft, they can misshape and will eventually become porus - the first sign is small blisters on the paintwork.

Already i know of some Moto Guzzi plastic fuel tanks from the V11 series prior to 2006 have become unusable due to this problem.

up until lately all super unleaded was Ethanol free but alas not so now - below is a list of the fuels containing Ethanol and those that do not.

There are Ethanol additives which prevent corrosion to the metal parts i mention and help reduce some of the efeects of Ethanolie seperation, hydro absorbtion etc - but none so far prevent damage to fibre glass, plastic and rubber components that i can find - but i am trying to find a lifeline with one of the producers of ethanol stabaliser.

This information was up to date in February 2015.

BP Fuel - Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol at all sites across the UK.
BP Ultimate (super unleaded petrol) does not have Ethanol added, except in the South West of England.

Esso - Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol at most sites in the UK.
Esso Super Unleaded petrol does not contain Ethanol, except in the South West of England (Devon & Cornwall)

Shell Shell gives no information to the question. It is therefore an assumption only, that all Shell petrol should be considered to contain 5% Ethanol.

Texaco Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol.
.Texaco Super Unleaded petrol does not contain Ethanol

Total - Ethanol is not added to any Total fuel (including standard unleaded petrol). Except in the North West and South East of England.

I also had an e mail from jet fuels ltd today they use ethanol in all of their fuel. They say the area logistics comes down to the main storage and mixing plants which are regional, so if your petroleum supply depot adds ethanol to the mix its almost across the board to all fuels from that particular depot. Jet say that they would suspect / expect by the end of this year all fuel in the UK will contain ethanol.
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Old 24 Mar 2015
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Wow. Great information, thanks for sharing.

Any specific recommendations on additives to combat effects of ethanol?
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Old 24 Mar 2015
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All the above is probably true - and the same information was circulated in Australia when a10% mix was introduced here about five years ago. All I can say is I've run all my bikes and car on it since then and had no problems with any of the fuel systems and a strip of one of them after about 50,000k showed no obvious problems. Having said that all have metal tanks so I don't have any experience with using it in plastic tanks and I would be very cautious there.

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Old 24 Mar 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake View Post
I am aware that with the introduction of Ethanol in fuel 5% and 10% mix at some fuel stations ( ie supermarket fuels)
That's a useful update and a reminder of the state of play within the UK.
Naturally, it is a world wide phenomena, brought on by the politicians in the various countries and absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the lobbyists.

For Europe, such developments are driven by EU-based rule making.

I have read elsewhere (and I don't recall exactly where but I think it was a website about classic cars) that Murco fuel stations here in the UK have not contained any ethanol, to date.
But I think the Murco rep did say that it would eventually.
As pointed out above, the fuel is not "owned" by the fuel station necessarily but distributed from the refinery to where ever their catchment area happens to be - hence the SW peninsula of the UK will get much the same "stuff" no matter what the branding (not unlike the market for insurance with the brokers as the intermediaries).

On the international scene, the wiki information has not been updated by the experts in this field for a while but it does give a feel for the worldwide nature of the adoption of ethanol as a fuel (which itself is not a new feature - see the historical info therein about Ford for example)
Ethanol fuel by country - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 24 Mar 2015
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Yup...

Had this problem riding in Brazil with my XT600.

Gummed up something and clogged my carb filter. It was probably the fuel pipe lining or maybe my tank liner. I'll never know for sure.

Best thing is just to be aware of it and keep riding.
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Old 25 Mar 2015
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Both my 25 year old Fiat car and the Enfield Electra lose about 10% mpg using E10 (10% alcohol) so it is cost effective to use the higher grade when there is a choice, MY Triumph Thunderbird 900 also does much better mpg using the higher grade fuel. so have switched to using that as the extra range alone is worth the small surcharge.
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Old 26 Mar 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MT350 View Post
Wow. Great information, thanks for sharing.

Any specific recommendations on additives to combat effects of ethanol?
There are a number of ethanol mixes on the market -

I am currently using FROST Ethomix, just to stabalise the fuel, i carry a few small (medical sample bottle tubes) on the bike with enough Ethomix for one tank of fuel in each tube and add it if i am unsure about the fuel i am using but i do try to use Ethanol free fuel at present - The long term strategy is maybe get the fuel tank coated, replace the diagphram in the fuel pump and i have already changed the rubber components in the fuel system lines / seals etc.

Tchus Jake.
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Old 26 Mar 2015
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Petrol but not diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake View Post
Jet say that they would suspect / expect by the end of this year all fuel in the UK will contain ethanol.
I kind of recall this being a "strong forecast" from my earlier reading on this subject.

I've just put up the thread linked below which might bring forward some informed discussion about the future for diesel engine technology.
This is related because, IIRC, the fuel producers are under an EU-driven remit to introduce "green" fuels (hence all that 5%/10% issue about ethanol).
But whether they do that via additives to petrol/gas or to diesel, or both, is left up to them, in the UK at least.
So far the industry has chosen to deal only with petrol additives (again I think this is in relation to the UK).
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Old 26 Mar 2015
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I have found a liquid sealant that fixes to most tank materials and protects them from Ethanol its called Caswell GTS 1750, it can be bought as a home applied kit or there are a number of companies in the UK who apply it - I have sent an enquiry to one of them just to get an idea on price.

This link gives information on the kit, the product and the UK companies.*GTS1750 Gas Tank Sealer - Caswell

Jake.
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Old 26 Mar 2015
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An nteresting post Jake. I have some friends who live and ride bikes in Thailand and the situation there with ethanol is worse. Any bike with a carburetta, if left for more than a few weeks it refuses to start recuiring the carb to be stripped. It's lethal stuff!
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Old 30 Mar 2015
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Hmm - anyone know how this all plays out in South America? Got 28,000k now on my xr250 and no issues but maybe start using the more expensive grade fuel?
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Old 6 Apr 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridetheworld View Post
Hmm - anyone know how this all plays out in South America? Got 28,000k now on my xr250 and no issues but maybe start using the more expensive grade fuel?
Brazil has been using very high concentrations of ethanol, as mentioned above in relation to the XT600; maybe a 50/50 ratio of ethanol or even more.
IIRC, Brazil got into this early if only because they have been replacing rain forest with the crops needed to produce the ethanol.

Other countries in SA will have their own policies about this fuel additive.

I came upon an article about the UK situation, as of 12 months ago.
I don't think it brings up any new factors though.
The TRUTH about ethanol (E10) in your fuel - MoreBikes | MoreBikes
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Old 4 Jan 2018
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20% ethanol content

Talking with a guy who sells and services petrol driven lawnmowers in the UK, he says that as of Aug last year all UK fuels now contain 20% ethanol.
That is because of UK law apparently - there is no escape!
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Old 4 Jan 2018
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Not sure that last post is correct as most motor manufacturers specifically advise against using any fuel with more then 10% ethanol in it. The fuel would have to be labelled E20 to conform to EU standards, as for its the law in the UK am afraid he is talking pants.....
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Old 4 Jan 2018
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Originally Posted by chris gale View Post
Not sure that last post is correct as most motor manufacturers specifically advise against using any fuel with more then 10% ethanol in it. The fuel would have to be labelled E20 to conform to EU standards, as for its the law in the UK am afraid he is talking pants.....
Yes, it looks like something of a sales pitch.
Biofuels | AA

There is an amount of pressure to bring in E10 fuels more widely in the UK by 2020.
Motorcycle Action Group
From that link, I can't say that I have noticed this kind of labelling:
" where E10 is sold, fuel pumps will be labelled ‘E 10’ in the same size lettering (15mm) as the words ‘Unleaded Petrol’ and the octane rating (95). The warning to ‘Not suitable for all vehicles. Consult vehicle manufacturer before use’ will use smaller (10mm) lettering"
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