Ethanol mix can spell trou­ble

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS -

THE use of ethanol in petrol can cause prob­lems on boats.

Ethanol is a form of al­co­hol made from fer­ment­ing crops such as su­gar cane and corn.

A blended ethanol-petrol fuel has a shorter shelf life than reg­u­lar petrol; this and ethanol’s strong sol­vent prop­er­ties are what cause trou­ble.

Au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy seems to cope with the fuel mix­tures sold at most petrol sta­tions but ethanol can dam­age boat

en­gines, cause leaks and even melt some kinds of boat fuel tanks.

With gov­ern­ments push­ing for an in­crease in ethanol per­cent­ages in petrol, this is an is­sue that ev­ery boater needs to in­ves­ti­gate.

Var­i­ous out­board man­u­fac­tur­ers agree that no more than 10 per cent ethanol should be used.

There is no fuel blend sold in Aus­tralia with more than 10 per cent ethanol so prob­lems with the en­gines are lim­ited but fuel sys­tems and fuel stor­age are not cop­ing as well.

Ethanol is a strong sol­vent and can release dirt and residue al­ready in boat fuel lines.

If you use ethanol­blended petrol, get into the habit of chang­ing your fil­ters reg­u­larly to avoid block­ages.

The strong sol­vent prop­er­ties of ethanol also pose a dan­ger to fi­bre­glass fuel tanks.

If your boat has such a tank, it’s best that you avoid us­ing petrol con­tain­ing ethanol, be­cause it can dis­solve the resins, weak­en­ing the tank which can lead to fuel leaks.

The chem­i­cals re­leased from the fi­bre­glass can then also make their way into your fuel sys­tem over time.

Ethanol’s ten­dency to ab­sorb mois­ture can raise cor­ro­sion is­sues in metal fuel tanks.

But even more danger­ous is when this mois­ture ab­sorp­tion leads to the ethanol and petrol separat­ing, cre­at­ing por­tions of 100 per cent ethanol in your tank.

En­gines are not made to cope with this, nor are some parts of fuel sys­tems.

It is rec­om­mended that you avoid us­ing ethanol fuel blends in boats.

Use pre­mium petrol blends con­tain­ing no ethanol. If you are ever re­stricted and have no choice but to use an ethanol blend, drain your boat’s fuel tank when you get home and use that fuel in your car.

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