Stop the ethanol mad­ness that puts boat en­gines at risk.

Boating - - CONTENTS - By Kevin Falvey

Ethanol is­sues

Os­ten­si­bly de­signed to en­sure cleaner air, the Re­new­able Fuel Standard (RFS) ends up cre­at­ing pol­lu­tion, makes food cost more, and all the while pro­vides pork for corn grow­ers and ethanol dis­tillers. That the RFS puts marine en­gines at risk is the point I re­ally want to drive home. Im­ple­ment­ing RFS pro­vi­sions, the fed­eral En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency sets the lim­its for the per­cent­ages of ethanol in fuel, which re­sulted in the now ubiq­ui­tous E10 blend of gaso­line mixed with 10 per­cent ethanol.

Problems, in­clud­ing de­stroyed en­gines and ru­ined boat-fuel sys­tems, did oc­cur when E10 first hit the mar­ket. These older sys­tems and boats have been re­paired or re­placed, though the own­ers saw nei­ther a dime nor even an apol­ogy from those who un­leashed the nox­ious mix­ture upon us.

To­day, boat-fuel sys­tems and marine-gaso­line en­gines are built to tol­er­ate ethanol in amounts up to 10 per­cent. Gaso­line blends with higher amounts of ethanol (E15) cause dam­age, and, in fact, many en­gine-mak­ers void the warranty if the owner uses fuel con­tain­ing more than 10 per­cent ethanol.

At any per­cent­age, boaters are still faced with the prob­lem of stor­ing ethanol-blended fuel. Hy­gro­scopic, ethanol at­tracts wa­ter, which can cause cor­ro­sion, poor per­for­mance, and “phase sep­a­ra­tion.” When phase sep­a­ra­tion oc­curs, fuel oc­tane drops pre­cip­i­tously, cre­at­ing the op­por­tu­nity for en­gine knock, and a chem­i­cal sludge forms in the tank that can­not be burned. There is no ad­di­tive to re­move wa­ter from a fuel sys­tem or reverse phase sep­a­ra­tion — though boaters should dose ev­ery tank­ful with ad­di­tives de­signed to in­hibit fuel from at­tract­ing wa­ter and phase sep­a­ra­tion from oc­cur­ring. Since, un­like car en­gines, most boat en­gines are used in­ter­mit­tently, ethanol problems are ex­ac­er­bated. Learn the results of test­ing con­ducted by en­gine-mak­ers at nmma.org/gov­ern­ment/is­sues/ethanol.

In July, the EPA an­nounced its pro­posed 2018 Re­new­able Vol­ume Obli­ga­tions (RVO) as part of the RFS pro­gram. The vol­ume of con­ven­tional bio­fu­els (i.e., E15) is set to stay at 15 bil­lion gal­lons and con­tinue to put boaters at sig­nif­i­cant risk.

Na­tional Marine Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Fed­eral and Le­gal Af­fairs Vice Pres­i­dent Ni­cole Vasi­laros stated: “We’re dis­ap­pointed in the EPA’s 2018 RVO pro­posal, as the lev­els in­cluded are too high and con­tinue to pro­mote E15 — proven to cause sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to marine en­gines — in the fuel sup­ply. The pro­posal in its cur­rent form would deny the boat­ing pub­lic choice at the pump while sub­ject­ing the in­dus­try to an increasing sup­ply of a dan­ger­ous, pro­hib­ited fuel blend for their prod­ucts. The ex­pan­sion of E15 threat­ens ac­cess to safe fu­els like E10 and, with­out ro­bust pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts, puts con­sumers at fur­ther risk of mis­fu­el­ing. Higher RVOs also di­min­ish the avail­abil­ity of E0, which many boaters de­mand. The Re­new­able Fuel Standard is a bro­ken law that doesn’t reflect the mar­ket and con­sumer re­al­i­ties of to­day, mak­ing it more im­por­tant than ever for Congress to fix the man­date.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Boaters are not alone in this de­ba­cle. Ethanol cre­ates problems for other in­ter­mit­tently used en­gines, in­clud­ing off-road ve­hi­cles, clas­sic cars, and those pow­er­ing lawn and gar­den equip­ment.

Kevin Falvey, Ed­i­tor-in-Chief ed­i­tor@boat­ing­mag.com

GO­ING DOWN It’s rare when we get to re­port about drop­ping prices for marine ac­ces­sories. None­the­less, that’s ex­actly the news we bring you from Evinrude. Check out Jim Hen­dricks’ full re­port in Motorhead on page 68.

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