ETHANOL FUEL GRADE
Ethanol, liquid alcohol made up of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, is obtained from the fermentation of sugar or converted starch present in grains and different agricultural products. It is produced to be used in various applications like fuel grade ethanol and industrial ethanol. Fuel ethanol is made unfit for drinking by adding small amounts of toxic substance like gasoline. Fuel ethanol is also sometimes referred to as “gasohol”.
ETHANOL IN CARS
Cars of all major manufacturers warrant their vehicle to run on a 10 percent ethanol blend without any engine modification. However, some automakers make flexible-fuel ‘high-blend’ vehicles that can run on blends of up to 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
High-blend vehicles use an on-board sensor to detect and adjust for the fuel mixture being used at any given time. To handle the high alcohol content of high-blend, modifications are needed to an engine’s intake valves, ignition system and fuel-injection system. Certain vehicle components must be made of alcohol-resistant materials (zinc, lead, magnesium, aluminum and certain plastics and rubbers that are commonly used in certain vehicles can be broken down by alcohol). For example, flex-fuel vehicles require stainless steel storage tanks and fuel lines. To overcome the problem of lower energy content, manufacturers have equipped high-blend vehicles with larger fuel tanks.
ETHANOL IN SMALL ENGINES AND OUTBOARD MOTORS
It is advised that before using ethanol blended gasoline in small engines like outboard motors and chainsaws, check them for the presence of water and drain them. Small engines easily get contaminated with water and become corroded or do not perform well. It is also preferable to check for the manufacturer and warranty of small engines before fuelling them with ethanol blended gasoline.