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Ethanol vs. Non-Ethanol Fuels

Ethanol vs. Non-Ethanol Fuels  

81 members have voted

  1. 1. What best describes your experience running ethanol fuels in your powersports vehicles?

    • I've NEVER had any troubles that have been directly related to running ethanol fuels.
      13
    • I HAVE had troubles directly related to running ethanol fuels.
      48
    • I never run ethanol fuels in my powersports vehicles.
      20


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Since ethanol fuels (<10%) seems to be a hot topic of late, we wanted to take a poll on rider experiences with it as it relates to problems or damage believed to be the result of running fuels with ethanol in their dirt bike, ATV/UTV or other powersports vehicle.

This poll should NOT include lawn & garden equipment or automobiles. Just powersports vehicles.

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Heres what you get when you leave e gas in a carb for a long time. Access plug in the bottom of an XR400 carb.

20190818_152026.thumb.jpg.ae305a12788896fd3161653b19917fa7.jpg

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I used to be all about the ethanol blended fuels. 94 Octane HAS to be better, right? Well back in my forced induction car days it was. Multiple different high horsepower cars, showed less knock-retard on 94 Octane Ethanol blended fuel vs 91 Octane with or without. So in that application it 'was' better. So I did use it in everything back then.

But then when the kids got into motorcycles, I was needing to clean the tiny little pilot jets in their 50's and 110's at least once every season. The pilots would always start closing up with this white crust. So I started thinking "Hmmm, maybe it's the ethanol". So I started using only Shell 91 which does not contain ethanol. That was 3 seasons ago, and I have not had to clean one of those little carbs a single time since. The one and only single change was running fuel without ethanol in it. We've got 3 kids that have went through the 50, 110, 125 route, so the sample size and length is definitely one that gives me no doubts.

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My experience is pretty much along the lines of Goatse; ethanol fuels play heck on small orifices in 4T carbs. Since I've had no issues with two cycles, I'm guessing the oil reduces oxidation.

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1 hour ago, DaveCR said:

My experience is pretty much along the lines of Goatse; ethanol fuels play heck on small orifices in 4T carbs. Since I've had no issues with two cycles, I'm guessing the oil reduces oxidation.

I'd call it a corrosive reaction not "oxidation" attacking the weaker die cast aluminum or zinc mix combination of materials used in carburetors.  Still a bad combination also attacking Bing carbs of the 70's era BMW's as well attacking Amal carbs of the 60's & 70's Norton's. First hand damage prevention an ongoing battle times 10 motorcycles.   50's & 60's era gas tanks on through to the exhaust valve seats vehicle damage also. ........~~=o&o>........ 

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People incorrectly attribute lots of problems to ethanol in their fuel.

I've never had a problem with corrosion or anything else running pump fuel.  It is a non issue for me.  Run it in a 468whp turbo car, a 14000 RPM sportbike, numerous two stroke engines from a 99cc trail spud to the 125 and 250cc KX's.  With the exception of the one time I tried a can of VP just for kicks, I have used nothing but E10 for decades.  No problems. 

Sometimes o-rings go flat, sometimes fuel lines crack.  This shit is 15-20 years old.  It doesn't last forever.

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8 minutes ago, ThumperHead said:

I'd call it a corrosive reaction not "oxidation" attacking the weaker die cast aluminum or zinc mix combination of materials used in carburetors.  

No issues with the carb bodies, only the brass. 

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Posted (edited)

Im not sure what to make of this pol. 

I've used ethanol for over ten years, and yes I've had a number of issues,   in the begining. 

I had to search out plastics and 'rubbers' that were compatible with this fuel, learnt a lot. 

Originally made my own blend, E90, but now E85 is available at the pump so I use that. 

Also found that E85 in not suitable for use through a carburetor (air cooled engine) as there is mixture change required at approx 75 degrees C , fuel needs to go approx %5 richer, hard to do with a carb. So EFI is best for control.

I have found Bosch pumps and injectors are ethanol compatible, metal filters required, viton seals and O rings, alloy or steel tank. Fiberglass and some plastics are a no go. I use a steel rotary valve induction not reeds. Actually that is probably your biggest problem with ethanol, fiber reeds, they will soften over time and change your tuning even carbon Vforce apparently. I'm sure there would be somthing available compatible with ethanol but I haven't bothered looking yet. 

So, yes bluntly ethanol is a problem but with a little effort its usable and in fact performance / cost wise is highly desirable. 

Our ethanol in NZ is made from the dairy industry, a by product, whey. The energy to manufacture is from hydro and geothermal power. So apart from the carbon used by the tankers picking up the milk and the odd farm tractor, the carbon held in the fuel is mostly recycled from the atmosphere, not fresh from under the ground. 

 

Edited by uniflow
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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, DaveCR said:

No issues with the carb bodies, only the brass. 

Opposite and worse problem with expensive and now rare carb bodies at my end while brass parts and jets just easy replacement items. I started to see green corrosion buildup on brass parts when alcohol was introduced into the gas years ago hence the drain, run and flush for winter with the above Union 76 110 octane with lead racing gas. Problem solved. Riding to bike rallies or "exploring" the Sierra mountains, leaving the house with 50/50 76 with unleaded crap, out on the highway refills unleaded crap with a large dose of Redline's Lead Substitute additive. All my bikes except the 85 XL350 require leaded gas protecting the vale seats and valves. Virgin original with several being show winning bikes. Unleaded conversions way too expensive vs the little trouble of adding gas additives. I do have a source of old TTL additive, did an oops once adding too much TTE hence lead fouling the plugs. BTW, a couple of my Norton's have fiberglass tanks, yes a problem with alcohol based gas not alone stated rejetting also required. Thank goodness of purchasing 84 XR350 carbs, larger jets plus able to reposition the slide needle vs single grooved needles on the XL350 carbs. Tuning to the 60's & 70's era my scoots were designed by, 85 XL350 will be included also. .......~~=o&o>.........   

Edited by ThumperHead

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Posted (edited)

If you don't mind water on the cold metal of your engine, run ethanol.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygroscopy

https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/14392/ethanol-and-water-hygroscopic-equilibrium-concentration

Fuel for vehicles

Main articles: Methanol fuel and methanol economy

Methanol is occasionally used to fuel internal combustion engines. It burns forming carbon dioxide and water:

2 CH3OH + 3 O2 → 2 CO2 + 4 H2O

One problem with high concentrations of methanol in fuel is that alcohols corrode some metals, particularly aluminium. Methanol fuel has been proposed for ground transportation. The chief advantage of a methanol economy is that it could be adapted to gasoline internal combustion engines with minimum modification to the engines and to the infrastructure that delivers and stores liquid fuel. Its energy density is however only half that of gasoline, meaning that twice the volume of methanol would be required.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol

Metal corrosion by methanol and methanol-gasoline has become a key problem for methanol as one of substitute fuels. Many kinds of metal samples were dipped in methanol and methanol-gasoline. No obvious corrosion happened with the samples in pure methanol and M85, but the copper sample in M15 was obviously corroded. On the M100 electro-chemical test, copper samples separately act as anode and cathode, surface appearance shows that the copper connected with anode appears obviously pitting corrosion and the sample connected with cathode has no more corrosion. So, copper corrosion in M15 is both chemical corrosion and electro-chemical corrosion.

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/5557621

 

Methanol is injected into pipelines within Canada and other cold climate locations in large quantities due to the extremely low temperatures in order to alleviate or prevent hydrate formation. Unfortunately, the introduction of methanol into sour gas lines, which are common in Alberta, can increase the risk of corrosion by a number of factors. These factors can include the following:

At certain methanol (MeOH) concentrations, the iron sulfide (FeS) structure can change, causing an increased risk of localized corrosion

Oxygen (O2) is more soluble in methanol than it is in water; if MeOH is used in large amounts, the dissolved oxygen can produce elemental sulfur, which increases the risk of localized corrosion

Under sour gas conditions, the presence of methanol can increase the risk of sulfide stress cracking (SSC) and stress orientated hydrogen induced cracking (SOHIC)

Methanol can increase the rate of vapor phase corrosion, which directly increases the risk of a top-of-the-line corrosion failure

High quantities of methanol may reduce the success of a corrosion inhibitor treatment program

Although corrosion mitigation is used in conjunction with MeOH injection, as an industry wide and commonly accepted practice, there is very little literature on the subject. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) guidelines 1 state, "there is no clearly defined boundary where methanol becomes a corrosion contributor. Industry experience is that continuous MeOH injection should be limited to a 1:1 methanol/water ratio or the amount required for hydrate inhibition." This rule-of-thumb is widely applied, but there is little literature to support it. CAPP further recognizes the risks associated with the introduction of oxygen and the potential for the diminished efficiency of corrosion inhibitors.

A recent study using de-oxygenated methanol under sour conditions showed that localized corrosion increases significantly as the methanol/water ratio approaches 50% 13. At higher methanol concentrations the FeS film thickness decreases and severe pitting takes place. At these concentrations the structure of the FeS layer tends towards cubic iron sulfide.

Methanol can contain up to 40 mg/L of dissolved oxygen at 25°C: an amount that can not only increase corrosion rates, but also change the corrosion mechanisms

https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/NACE-07663

Electrochemical and corrosion behaviour of metals in alcohols are the subject of numerous investigations because of the application of mentioned solvents in chemical engineering, production of oxide nanoparticles (sol-gel techniques) and application of alcohols as fuels. Despite relatively rich bibliography related to electro-catalytic oxidation of alcohols on metal surface in mixed aqueous–alcohol solutions, the knowledge of the mechanism of reactions on metal/anhydrous alcohol interface is still not sufficient. Anodic oxidation of metal surface in alcohol leads to several electro-catalytic reactions with formation of surface compounds being the product of metal and alcohol oxidation. Identification of these products is very difficult. Therefore, our knowledge of the composition and structure of passive films or corrosion products on metal surface in anhydrous alcohol solvents is poor. Our paper presents the investigations of anodic behaviour of metals (Cu, Zn, Fe, Ni, Al and Ti) and semiconductors (p-Si) in methanol solutions of electrolytes, performed in our laboratory within the last 10years. On the base of electrochemical measurements (linear sweep voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy), spectroscopic investigations (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy and low-energy electron diffraction) and scanning electron microscopy techniques, the role of metal–alcohol intermediates in the formation of surface and soluble compounds is discussed. The practical application of electrochemical etching of metals as a method of production of micro- and nanoparticles of metals and oxides is also shown.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225110843_Corrosion_and_passivity_of_metals_in_methanol_solutions_of_electrolytes

Edited by Beta300recat
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I was a Honda Suzuki Yamaha dealership tech / svc manager for almost 30 years. We would sell brand new Gold Wings, CBRs, GSXRs, etc., & ppl would go directly across the street & fill up. They'd be back later with the engines farting & popping, some with blued pipes. Always the same story - they filled up with 'Premium', which is ONLY premium because of the added ethanol. As soon as the regular we told them to use mixed with the 'premium', the bikes returned to normal, expected performance. Being that it takes roughly 2x ethanol to equal 1 part gasoline, a 10% portion of ethanol leaves you WAY lean of gasoline. Not to mention damage it may do to various metals, rubbers, & plastics. Best bet is 50% race gas & 50% regular, for high compression performance bikes, anyway.

DPH_Bikes2.jpg

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1 hour ago, Beta300recat said:

If you don't mind water on the cold metal of your engine, run ethanol.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygroscopy

https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/14392/ethanol-and-water-hygroscopic-equilibrium-concentration

Fuel for vehicles

Main articles: Methanol fuel and methanol economy

Methanol is occasionally used to fuel internal combustion engines. It burns forming carbon dioxide and water:

2 CH3OH + 3 O2 → 2 CO2 + 4 H2O

One problem with high concentrations of methanol in fuel is that alcohols corrode some metals, particularly aluminium. Methanol fuel has been proposed for ground transportation. The chief advantage of a methanol economy is that it could be adapted to gasoline internal combustion engines with minimum modification to the engines and to the infrastructure that delivers and stores liquid fuel. Its energy density is however only half that of gasoline, meaning that twice the volume of methanol would be required.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol

Metal corrosion by methanol and methanol-gasoline has become a key problem for methanol as one of substitute fuels. Many kinds of metal samples were dipped in methanol and methanol-gasoline. No obvious corrosion happened with the samples in pure methanol and M85, but the copper sample in M15 was obviously corroded. On the M100 electro-chemical test, copper samples separately act as anode and cathode, surface appearance shows that the copper connected with anode appears obviously pitting corrosion and the sample connected with cathode has no more corrosion. So, copper corrosion in M15 is both chemical corrosion and electro-chemical corrosion.

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/5557621

 

Methanol is injected into pipelines within Canada and other cold climate locations in large quantities due to the extremely low temperatures in order to alleviate or prevent hydrate formation. Unfortunately, the introduction of methanol into sour gas lines, which are common in Alberta, can increase the risk of corrosion by a number of factors. These factors can include the following:

At certain methanol (MeOH) concentrations, the iron sulfide (FeS) structure can change, causing an increased risk of localized corrosion

Oxygen (O2) is more soluble in methanol than it is in water; if MeOH is used in large amounts, the dissolved oxygen can produce elemental sulfur, which increases the risk of localized corrosion

Under sour gas conditions, the presence of methanol can increase the risk of sulfide stress cracking (SSC) and stress orientated hydrogen induced cracking (SOHIC)

Methanol can increase the rate of vapor phase corrosion, which directly increases the risk of a top-of-the-line corrosion failure

High quantities of methanol may reduce the success of a corrosion inhibitor treatment program

Although corrosion mitigation is used in conjunction with MeOH injection, as an industry wide and commonly accepted practice, there is very little literature on the subject. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) guidelines 1 state, "there is no clearly defined boundary where methanol becomes a corrosion contributor. Industry experience is that continuous MeOH injection should be limited to a 1:1 methanol/water ratio or the amount required for hydrate inhibition." This rule-of-thumb is widely applied, but there is little literature to support it. CAPP further recognizes the risks associated with the introduction of oxygen and the potential for the diminished efficiency of corrosion inhibitors.

A recent study using de-oxygenated methanol under sour conditions showed that localized corrosion increases significantly as the methanol/water ratio approaches 50% 13. At higher methanol concentrations the FeS film thickness decreases and severe pitting takes place. At these concentrations the structure of the FeS layer tends towards cubic iron sulfide.

Methanol can contain up to 40 mg/L of dissolved oxygen at 25°C: an amount that can not only increase corrosion rates, but also change the corrosion mechanisms

https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/NACE-07663

Electrochemical and corrosion behaviour of metals in alcohols are the subject of numerous investigations because of the application of mentioned solvents in chemical engineering, production of oxide nanoparticles (sol-gel techniques) and application of alcohols as fuels. Despite relatively rich bibliography related to electro-catalytic oxidation of alcohols on metal surface in mixed aqueous–alcohol solutions, the knowledge of the mechanism of reactions on metal/anhydrous alcohol interface is still not sufficient. Anodic oxidation of metal surface in alcohol leads to several electro-catalytic reactions with formation of surface compounds being the product of metal and alcohol oxidation. Identification of these products is very difficult. Therefore, our knowledge of the composition and structure of passive films or corrosion products on metal surface in anhydrous alcohol solvents is poor. Our paper presents the investigations of anodic behaviour of metals (Cu, Zn, Fe, Ni, Al and Ti) and semiconductors (p-Si) in methanol solutions of electrolytes, performed in our laboratory within the last 10years. On the base of electrochemical measurements (linear sweep voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy), spectroscopic investigations (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy and low-energy electron diffraction) and scanning electron microscopy techniques, the role of metal–alcohol intermediates in the formation of surface and soluble compounds is discussed. The practical application of electrochemical etching of metals as a method of production of micro- and nanoparticles of metals and oxides is also shown.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225110843_Corrosion_and_passivity_of_metals_in_methanol_solutions_of_electrolytes

methanol? 

Quite different to ethanol.

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3 hours ago, uniflow said:

methanol? 

Quite different to ethanol.

 

3 hours ago, uniflow said:

methanol? 

Quite different to ethanol.

Different to drink, for sure. Both alcohol, both hygroscopic and both corrosive to metals. Other than not wanting either in my fuel tank, there are a few noteworthy differences. :thumbsup:

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Somebody said something about converting to methanol....problem is, you HAVE to change your oil after EVERY outing because it gets watered down from the water getting into the combustion chamber....

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It's worse in areas with high moisture.  The alcohol absorbs the moisture from the air and becomes corrosive and turns to yellow goo.  I'm in Florida where it's regularly 90+% humidity, especially in the mornings.  Anything I leave ethanol gas in for more than a couple of weeks gets clogged up.  A TTR110, KLX110, both of my boat motors and generators.  The 2 pit bikes get it the worst.  Any more than a week and the pilot jets clog up and they won't idle.  I've got cleaning them out down to a science.  Using stabil helps but is not a cure.  Ethanol free gas does not cause the same problem.  

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5 minutes ago, Dave Hoelcher said:

Somebody said something about converting to methanol....problem is, you HAVE to change your oil after EVERY outing because it gets watered down from the water getting into the combustion chamber....

This is what I'm talking about.  Water vapor is a product of the chemical reaction that takes place during combustion.  Ethanol has nothing to do with water vapor in the crankcase and running E10 absolutely does not require different oil change intervals.

Typical of many of the "problems" I see attributed to ethanol.

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1 hour ago, Beta300recat said:

 

Different to drink, for sure. Both alcohol, both hygroscopic and both corrosive to metals. Other than not wanting either in my fuel tank, there are a few noteworthy differences. :thumbsup:

Apart from the fact that methanol is four to one burn rate,    ethanol 7 / 8 to one and petrol 13 / 14 to one burn rate per weight of air.

With methanol your engine is basically swimming in alcohol, ethanol, way less of a problem. Methanol is toxic poison, absorption will end in blindness then death, ethanol is just, well ethanol, think a hard night out. It won't kill you like methanol will, unless its a real good night out. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger      accept methanol, it will kill you. best its not used any more in motor transport. 

Quite different fuels, look it up.

Edited by uniflow
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Actually I run 80 to one castor / synthetic oil, protects everything nicely. Never once purged on petrol, never bother cleaning the tank out, just uses it like petrol, but I do make sure my strorage drums are sealed well, no mosture can get in. Special sealed fuel tank cap for storage and run through an EFI system, no problems. Plus side, undetonatable engine (even though its an air cooled 350) and gobs of power. And compared to race gas it's as cheap as chips. 

All these problems with having to fit radiator fans, gone, long gone. I guess its no good for those that don't know what they are doing,    those, should just stick to petrol.?

E85. (85% ethanol) 

 

Edited by uniflow
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11 minutes ago, uniflow said:

I guess its no good for those that don't know what they are doing,    those, should just stick to petrol.

Not many of us can design / cast / machine our own engines like you can.  ?

Edited by redrider144
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