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Can I Use Ethanol-Blended Fuel in my Weed-Whacker and Lawnmower?

April 26, 2011

           

Today, ethanol makes up for 10% of our gasoline supply and can be found at nearly every station across the nation.  This domestic, home-grown fuel is being utilized in all engine types, including automobiles, non-road engine types like lawnmowers, weed-whackers and snowmobiles, and marine engines.  Due to the increase in ethanol-blended fuels, small engine manufacturers have made modifications to the engine fuel systems to be compatible with ethanol blended fuels.  This can be seen through the collection of varying recommendations from equipment owner's manuals from over the years.  These changing recommendations have led to some confusion about the selection of fuels to use in various non-automotive applications.  To help clarify any questions, the RFA has put together The Use of Ethanol-Blended Fuels in Non-Road Engines. In this document, the RFA thoroughly addresses numerous concerns expressed by equipment manufacturers that pertain to the care of both categories of non-road engines; Recreational equipment such as snowmobiles, ATV's and watercraft, and Lawn/ Garden power equipment.  Areas of question include materials compatibility (i.e. metals, plastics, & elastomers), lubricity, enleanment, storage considerations (phase separation, fuel stability), and over blending of ethanol fuels (i.e. blends containing more than legally permitted levels of ethanol). Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol as an acceptable fuel for use in all engine types.  Likewise, nearly all automakers warranty the use of E10, with some recommending its use.   As the U.S. aims to move toward a more energy independent future, the amount of ethanol blended in America's fuel is increasing.  This has been most recently portrayed through the EPA's approval of E15 for us in all automobiles and light duty trucks made in model year 2001 and newer.  The RFA has recognized some of the concerns raised by the small and non-road engine community as fuel beyond E10 has not been approved for these types of engines.  As such, many authoritative entities, such as the RFA, the State of Minnesota, and the U.S. Department of Energy and Coordinating Research Council, are focused on investigating the effect of higher levels of ethanol content in gasoline and their suitable use by conventional engine platforms. As a reminder, fuels such as E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) and mid-level ethanol blends (MLEBs), E30, E40, E50, etc., are available in many markets.  These MLEBs are for use in specially prepared flexible -fuel vehicles (FFVs) and should not be used in non-FFVS or non-road engine platforms. You can find RFA's Use of Ethanol Blended Fuels in Non-Road Engines document here.