April 12, 2016

The Auto Channel Fires Back Against False E15 Claims

By Growth Energy

A motorcycle blog recetly posted a piece attacking the use of E15 in engines. The blog post relied on patently false information to make its claims against E15, and recycled the misinformed criticisms that are often levied against the fuel by those who rely on erroneous anecdotal evidence and ignore fact. Marc Rauch, Executive Vice President and Co-Publisher of The Auto Channel, penned a response to the baseless claims made in the original blog post and set the record straight on the benefits of E15. His response can be viewed in full below:

I read your post about E15 along with the comments from your friend ‘Stump.’ I'm surprised that you failed to warn motorcycle riders of the danger of riding their bikes too close to large areas of water because a Kraken monster could rise up out of the depths at any moment to seize them.

I understand that the Kraken is a mythological creature, but as long as you’re peddling fairytales you might as well go all the way.

Owning and riding a motorcycle, like owning and driving a car, doesn't magically imbue the owner with any great technical knowledge. Therefore owners of bikes and cars, like you guys, should stay away from making claims when it’s clear that you don't have any technical knowledge whatsoever. The claims you posted are completely false.

The only uncertainty in my mind is why you would make these false claims – is it just because of ignorance or are they intentional lies. If the false claims come from StarTron then I'm reasonably certain they are lies; lies made to help sell their snake oil products. Perhaps they should have stayed dedicated to making car polish products.

You posted that “Gums rapidly form in the fuel tank and fuel delivery systems as ethanol fuels age.” The substance you are referring to, which some call sludge or gunk, is caused by gasoline. This will form whether there is ethanol present in your fuel or not. This problem has been around for as long as gasoline has been used in internal combustion engines (more than 100 years). Engine treatment and cleaner products have been around for nearly as long. So to ascribe the problem to ethanol as if it’s something exclusive to ethanol is preposterous.

To solve the problem of sludge/gum/gunk build up you use ethanol or a product that emulates ethanol. When you wash your hands with soap, the soap doesn't make your hands dirtier; the soap facilitates the cleaning process. If your engine has a great deal of build up, then you will have to eventually have it cleaned. This may also require changing the fuel filter and other parts. This is standard procedure in vehicle ownership.

It may be that going from long-term use of ethanol-free gasoline to an ethanol blend will cause the sludge/gum/gunk to breakaway, but that’s what you would want to happen in order to clean your engine. However, if you have already been using E10 or if you recently had your engine cleaned and the fuel filter changed, then E15 won't cause any problems with the gum/gunk/sludge because there will be very little of it; in fact, there may be none.

Your post continues by going deeper into myth. Ethanol does not attract moisture from the atmosphere. Moisture (water) can form in a fuel tank, but it forms because of condensation. Ethanol does not exacerbate the condensation process. And the problem of condensation has been a problem with internal combustion engines for as long as internal combustion engines have existed. Condensation can occur with gasoline or even if the fuel tank is completely empty; that’s how condensation works. So again, to ascribe this problem to ethanol as if it’s specific to ethanol is ridiculous.

Moreover, if your fuel tank and fuel system did get water in it there are two ways to remove the water: First is to drain the tank and system. The Second, and faster solution, is to add something like Dry Gas. Dry Gas is ethanol. So ethanol solves the problem, it doesn't cause the problem.

Phase separation is actually a problem with gasoline, not ethanol. Ethanol breaks down water molecules and holds it until it’s expelled through the exhaust system when the engine is running. Gasoline does not have that same ability to break down and hold the water. That’s when you get phase separation. That’s when the engine will not start.

It is true that ethanol can reach a point where there is too much water and the water will lie separately from the ethanol, but this is several times more water than gasoline can handle. So if there’s a situation in which you inadvertently poured some water into your fuel tank, you better hope that you have ethanol and not gasoline in the tank.

Your post continues with more silliness. You write that ethanol fuels break down quickly. It’s gasoline that breaks down quickly, which is why gasoline stored in a fuel tank for a long time requires a stabilizer. You may have noticed a bottle of whisky in your grandparent’s liquor cabinet over years and years. They whisky never broke down; it never required a stabilizer; you can drink from the same bottle of whisky for 20 years and the taste and strength will remain the same.

An ethanol-gasoline blend may separate but the moment the engine is started the ethanol and gasoline readily mix. In addition, the “short period of time” is not a short period of time. You make it sound as if it will occur over a lunch break.

Painting the image that the separation of ethanol and gasoline is similar to the separation of water and gasoline is false. Water has no ability to combust, so if you have phase separation in your tank of water and gasoline then you will have trouble. On the other hand, if the ethanol and gasoline separates you'll never know it because ethanol combusts, and once combustion takes place the gasoline and ethanol mix together.

You post that ethanol causes lost power, performance and decreased fuel economy. This is all nonsense. Ethanol delivers more power because you get more compression. More compression leads to better performance - this is why high end performance cars and many race cars use ethanol fuels. And, the reason that a gasoline engine running on ethanol fuel will get less MPG is because the engine is optimized to run on gasoline. The same engine optimized to run on an ethanol fuel will get better MPG. In any event, if you lose 10% in miles by using an ethanol-gasoline blend, but save 20% in fuel cost, then you have a net gain, not net loss.

And finally, you raise the absurd issue that the ‘Kraken E15 monster’ will force its way into your fuel tank. Just because E15 may become available in Colorado, it doesn't mean that it’s everywhere or that it’s the only fuel choice. Also the pump and hose is clearly labeled. I realize that on occasion someone excessively stupid or drunk will pump diesel fuel into a gasoline tank, and vice-versa, but this is another reason while you should not drive when drunk or excessively stupid.

Incidentally, I own and ride a motorcycle, and have done so for the past 20 years. I have never, ever, experienced any of the problems that you, Stump, ABATE and StarTron claim. I have, however, over the course of driving vehicles of all types for nearly 50 years experienced fuel line freeze (which is virtually non-existent with ethanol-gasoline blends), faulty fuel pumps, broken fuel lines, and leaky seals… all of which happened to my vehicles using leaded gasoline or gasoline with MTBE.

If you guys don't understand these extremely simple facts about internal combustion engines then you should not be writing about them, let alone giving advice to anyone else.

Have a happy week and ride safely.
Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

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