Ethanol has been used in engines for more than a century. In fact, Henry Ford designed his 1908 Model T to operate on alcohol. Since 1980, and the birth of the modern U.S. ethanol industry, trillions of miles have been driven on ethanol-blended fuel. Today, ethanol makes up 10% of our gasoline supply and can be found at nearly every gas station in the country. This domestic, home-grown fuel is being utilized in all engine types, including automobiles, off-road engines, marine engines and motorcycles. And ethanol is a proven performance fuel. It is the fuel of choice for NASCAR, IndyCar and American LeMans. Ethanol has an octane rating of 113 and helps boost the octane level of gasoline, which produces a better option for your engine, typically at a lower cost per mile.
- RFA’s Update for Boat Owners: Ethanol Blended Fuels for Use in Marine Equipment
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Winterizing Your Boat after E10 Use
- The Use of Ethanol-Blended Fuels in Non-Road Engines
- Gas Becomes “Stale” Long Before Water Uptake of Ethanol-Gasoline Blends Becomes a Concern
Boats and Marine Engines:
Ethanol is the oxygenate of choice in some water-recreation areas because of its clean air and clean water benefits. All major marine manufacturers including such companies as Honda, Kawasaki and Mercury Marine, allow the use of gasoline containing up to 10% ethanol (E10) in their products. Ethanol and water sports can mix, as boaters and fishermen in Minnesota, “the Land of 10,000 Lakes,” have proven for more than two decades. Communication, knowledge, and a dose of common sense will lead to a resolution to this debate on which all parties can agree. E10 is, in fact, the fuel preferred by the National Boat Racing Association. WATCH VIDEO
Some marine manufacturers specify certain precautionary actions such as a water separator filter, and include fuel storage guidance like draining the tank at the end of the season, or using a fuel stabilizer. As is always the case with different fuels, there are some basic maintenance strategies that can be employed to mitigate any possible fuel-related issues. Typically, the maintenance issues encountered by the marine engine community arise from residual fuel deposits being cleaned up by the ethanol portion or, as is the most prevalent case, improper fuel storage and handling conditions that have allowed the uptake of water during storage. Proper maintenance, vigilance over the performance of the engine, planning, and communication with marina operators can help to mitigate any impacts boaters may encounter with the switch to ethanol blended fuel. Click here for information on winterizing your boat after E10 use.
Click here to view answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Everyday boaters prove ethanol’s value as a fuel in competition. The Renewable Fuels Association is a proud co-title sponsor of the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail. If you would like to learn more about Crappie Masters or ethanol’s role in the sport visit http://www.crappiemasters.net/. We hope to see you at one of the tournaments across the nation this year!
It should be noted, there have been isolated reports of materials compatibility issues in some vintage (pre 1980) watercraft. Ultimately, your watercraft operator’s manual should be consulted.*
Check your owner’s manual for further guidance.
E10 has been approved for use in motorcycle engines for decades, just check your owner’s manual. In fact, Indian now approves ethanol blends up to 15%! E10 has been used by motorcyclists as a safe and cost saving alternative to straight gasoline. It burns cooler, cleaner and is made from renewable sources. For many years, the RFA has partnered with the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground in South Dakota to promote ethanol around the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The partnership has allowed RFA to educate motorcyclists about ethanol use and offer free tanks of E10 93-octane fuel to motorcyclists. Says Rod Woodruff of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, “My ’99 Low Rider has run on nothing but E10. I’ll be right in line every day during the RFA’s Free Fuel Happy Hours to top off my tank. There’s nowhere else to get it and I love the way that 93-octane fuel adds a little more ‘zest’ to my ride. Thank you, RFA.” (link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONcy7Ott2ss). Check your owner’s manual for further guidance.
RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White discusses fueling motorcycles on ethanol blends with two representatives from the American Motorcyclist Association in this podcast by Clutch and Chrome Magazine
Small Engines/Off-road Engines
All mainstream manufacturers of power equipment and snowmobiles permit the use of gasoline blended with up to 10% ethanol in their products. Tests completed on lawnmowers, chainsaws, weed trimmers and blower vacs with ethanol fuels showed no engine failures, no unscheduled maintenance and good performance. To help clarify any questions, the RFA has put together The Use of Ethanol-Blended Fuels in Non-Road Engines. Check your owner’s manual for further guidance.