Ethanol and you

General Messages Post you pics as well

Postby xgary » Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:04 am

full article here

Dangers of Automotive Gasoline Containing Ethanol
by Brian Kenney, Senior Advisor Fuel Quality and Additives, Petro-Canada
This article was originally published in COPA Flight, June 2006. Reprinted with permission.

This is meant as a warning to pilots who are using automotive gasoline, that times are changing. The use of ethanol in gasoline is proliferating and is, or soon will be, mandated in some provinces. Ethanol use in Saskatchewan was mandated to start in the fall of 2006. Therefore, starting sometime around October, gas stations that previously dispensed hydrocarbon-only gasoline may have been forced to supply gasoline containing some ethanol. The conversion was to take about six months. Ontario has similar plans for 2007. Ethanol use in Quebec is also increasing, with the support of the government—which means that at least one major oil company will be selling gasoline with 10% ethanol, starting sometime in 2006. These are new initiatives and therefore add to the existing ethanol use in Canada. A regional oil company and a number of independents in Ontario are already selling gasoline containing ethanol (GCE). Similar trends have started in the west. The federal government has a target to make 35% of the gasoline in Canada contain 10% ethanol by 2010.

One consideration that has not yet been determined by fuel suppliers is whether a non-ethanol gasoline will be available in all areas. This is not guaranteed, and if the worse case scenario evolves, it may be impossible to buy gasoline without ethanol in large areas of the country. This would actually eliminate the practice of many pilots buying gasoline at local service stations and bringing it to the airport to fuel their airplanes. This would also cause a problem for certified aircraft owners using a supplemental type certificate (STC) for unleaded automobile gasoline: most, if not all, of the STCs prohibit the use of ethanol in gasoline. In fact, this would make the only legal fuel for aircraft 100LL in some areas of Canada.

Since there is a cost advantage to using automotive gasoline, some may continue to use it anyway. If the pilot owns an amateur-built aircraft, this is not illegal. In both cases, the pilot that uses GCE is in danger of becoming an accident statistic.

Before explaining why it may be dangerous to use GCE, let me state that it is possible to design an aircraft that can operate safely using it. The problem is that at the moment there are virtually no aircraft designed to run on GCE, whereas car companies have been designing cars to use it for years.

So what are the dangers?

Fuel starvation
Fuel leaks or fire
Power loss or failure
Reduced aircraft durability
What is the risk? I can’t state for sure what the potential risk is for any one aircraft. However, I would like to make an analogy to drunk driving: you may get away with drunk driving once or twice—some may get away with it every time—but, sooner or later most people end up in serious trouble. It is only a matter of time. It is just not the right thing to do because of the dangers involved.

I don’t have space in this article to define all the potential problems or tell you how to convert your amateur-built to use GCE, but here are some things you should consider if you decide to ignore the advice and use GCE anyway:

Ethanol is a great solvent that often attacks elastomers and dissolves sealants and sloshing compounds. It will dissolve old gasoline gums that may plug screens or filters. Therefore, introducing GCE may interrupt your fuel supply in several different ways—assuming your fuel doesn’t immediately start leaking. It took about an hour for a friend’s fuel tank to start leaking after he used GCE in his amateur-built.
Ethanol is corrosive to aluminum, terne-plate and galvanized steel under particular conditions. Aluminum needs to anodize in order to be free from corrosion.
Ethanol contains oxygen and will lean the engine. This can burn valves, blow pistons and cause power loss. Because it contains less energy, it needs higher fuel consumption for the same power, and therefore, may also require fuel-system modifications.
Ethanol can be extracted by water and lose octane as a result. The engine may detonate or suddenly stop if this happens.
When GCE is mixed with gasoline that does not contain ethanol, the vapor pressure increases to be greater than the separate fuels. Therefore, while separately the products may meet specifications, mixed together they may not. (This is why some cars may experience driveability problems if you switch from one type of gasoline to another.) In an aircraft, this could contribute to vapor lock problems.
So, hopefully, I’ve convinced you that the danger is real.

So, how do you protect yourself if you are not sure whether or not gasoline contains ethanol? Some companies, including the one I work for, will put a label on the GCE pump, stating the gasoline contains ethanol. However, this practice is not universal. Therefore, you should determine a reliable brand that you know does not contain ethanol, or will label it if it does. If you are in an area where most stations have ethanol, you should assume that others likely do too.

The safe practice is to test your gasoline to see if it contains ethanol. This is easy to do because adding water to a gasoline sample will extract the ethanol and increase the water phase volume. The test methods are shown in the box below. Safe and enjoyable flying!

Brian Kenny is a fuel quality expert with a major oil company. He is responsible for automotive and aviation fuel specifications. He owns and operates both an amateur-built and a certified aircraft with an STC for automotive gasoline use.
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Postby xgary » Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:16 am

I have done an experiment by mixing water and gas and methanol ( gasline antifeeeze - I had it on hand) I have not tried it with ethanol gas yet but I willl soon and post some pics. I am only assuming that methanol and ethanol will act in a simular way.

Did this experiment a few months ago and it clearly shows the separation that occurs.

You can shake this bottle at any time and it will all kind of mix together. Let it sit for a minute and you have 2 distinct layers

- one is the gas on top
- layer on bottom is the water and methanol.

shake it -- repeat and it always comes back to 2 layers

Now here is the Kicker.......... I added a little bit of Castrol super 2 stroke oil the other day and it a very high quality premix or injection oil plus it is dyed blue to show this . Ok now shake it up baby !! you got premix............

BUT ----------------------------------------

wait for a minute here --let it settle...........................

WHat the heck !!!!!!!!!!!

Now we got 2 layers again ..............
GAS/OIL ( all blue from oil ) on top layer ...........
Bottom layer __----SAME water and methanol...........

So if ethanol does the same then my therory of pre mix and ethanol gas is conclusive that premix will not mix with the water that gets absorbed by the ethanol........ (methanol in this case)

FURTHERMORE ----------- You will need more throttle to get same power........
so is you used to used 5 gals to got 100 miles you might only go 95 miles this time.......................

ETHANOL- -- we have no re-course but adapt to it and make it work unless you want to always hae to hunt for a gas that might not have ethanol like Shell V power Premium and pay an extra 30 to 80 cents a gallon..........
NOT ME ............ I burn 1200 to 1500 gals a year in 2 strokes ands that would be a big expense that is really un-necessay in my opinion..

Both videos a bit choppy done on cheap asss camera. will try another with better cam -- check back

Download this 7 meg video to see the methanol and oil separate

Download this 7 meg video to see the methanol and oil separate antoher version
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