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Thread: Ethanol in petrol

  1. #1

    Ethanol in petrol

    I am reading articles that this can damage the older vehicles, like my own with is a 1989 Ford Transit Petrol version. Should I be concerned about this?

    http://swanseahistoricvehicleregiste...vc_updates.htm

    Discussion also took place about ethanol in petrol. Concerns expressed by Federation members have been raised, in respect of fuel system corrosion and also high fuel volatility, which has been causing operational difficulties. The oil industry position is based on a safety concern over reduction of volatility. The validity of the safety concern was questioned and is now being checked by DfT, but it seems unlikely that there will be a reduction in fuel volatility other than a small correction to reflect the blending of ethanol into the fuel.

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't worry too much about what's in the pump, as there's not much you can do about it. Your main worry with that transit should be if it was designed for unleaded fuel or not. If not, you need to put additives in to protect the engine. On older vehicles, fuel lines are copper. The pressures in them are really low, so copper is more than adequate. It does not rust, so ethanol doesn't harm it. Carbs are usually made of aluminum and copper. Safe there. Intake manifolds are usually aluminum. Fuel pumps, mainly aluminum.

    So I'd think you're fine. I personally like ethanol, and I'd like to look into producing it myself as an alternative to gasoline alltogether. I'd like to try to run on pure ethanol, or at least E85 (85% Ethanol, 15% Gasoline).

    What it does harm, is modern vehicles that use steel fuel lines at high pressures.

    Valves and combustion chambers on the engine itself are made of steel, but with the temperatures involved, I doubt they'd be affected. Just make sure your carb has a fuel-cutoff solenoid to not flood the engine with fuel when the engine is not running. Then you can run on pure ethanol.

    The problem is that ethanol is alcohol. And alcohol always has some water in it. It is the water that can be harmful, by making things rust. Your fuel tank, on the other hand, might not like ethanol, but this is easy to change out for a plastic or aluminum one.

  3. #3
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    I've never heard of any problems regarding ethanol in petrol. Your transit should have hard seats, assuming the engine is 1989, so will run on unleaded without a problem.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by MINTY View Post
    I've never heard of any problems regarding ethanol in petrol. Your transit should have hard seats, assuming the engine is 1989, so will run on unleaded without a problem.
    I think I see what you mean. Ethanol in petrol is only a problem for vehicles that were converted to be able to use unleaded petrol.

  5. #5
    The Rider wearing Black joss's Avatar
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    i've got a bike mag that i've flicked through and theres a bit in there about Ethanol rotting steel tanks , I'll have a look at it proper and get back to you

  6. #6
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    Well, the main problem with ethanol is that since it actually contains a tiny amount of water, it is more likely to cause steel to rust.

    Steel fuel tanks with ethanol left in them for ages, will rot. I've witnessed this in Iowa, USA, where E85 is quite common as automotive fuel. Also, newer vehicles with steel fuel lines get rotting fuel lines and fuel leaks. I've witnessed this too.

    But a 5% ethanol that they might use in Europe at the moment is not really that much of a cause for concern. In the USA, 10% Ethanol in gasoline is quite common, and doesn't really affect things much. It is pure or near pure ethanol that does the damage.

    100Waves, sorry I confused you with that, but unleaded conversions have nothing to do with Ethanol. It is just a separate issue with fuel. The two are not related in any way. Vehicles designed for leaded fuel don't cope well with unleaded. But all vehicles, irrelevant of what fuel they're designed for, suffer the same damage with ethanol.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the clarification Jim. I'm not sure if my petrol tank is steel or not, will find out. For anyone else that may be slightly panicked by all of this, the link provided goes on to say that Shell V-Power fuel is guaranteed ethanol free.

  8. #8
    Actually, I may have to panic people!

    The link given i.e. http://swanseahistoricvehicleregiste...vc_updates.htm is from April 2010, but it's actually quoting (word for word!) the December 2009 FBHVC newsletter i.e. this site: http://www.fbhvc.co.uk/2009/12/07/newsletter-no6-2009

    However, the January 2010 FBHVC newsletter states that the FBHVC learnt later that V-Power is no longer guaranteed to be ethanol free: http://www.fbhvc.co.uk/2010/01/21/ethanol-in-petrol

    I think the Swansea Historic Vehicle Register need to amend that page!

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