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Robb235

Chattanooga has Class 1 E85 during winter

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So I started blending E85 into my '99 Toyota 4Runner at a Speedway station here in Chattanooga.

 

I had read that in the winter time they switch the mix to E70 for easier vehicle starting. So I based my calculations assuming E70 and not E85.

 

I decided to test the fuel to verify what percentage of ethanol was in the fuel. I bought a three pack of baby bottles from Walmart and took samples. One sample was E85, the other was 87 pump gas.

 

I filled the bottles with 200ml of their respective fuel. E85 is in the green top on the left, regular pump gas in the blue top on the right:

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I was surprised how clear the E85 was.

 

I filled the third bottle with 50ml of tap water from my sink:

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I added the 50ml of water to the 200ml of E85. I expected I would have 250ml total, but I didn't. It measured right at 235ml once the water was added. I'm assuming the alcohol absorbed some of the water?

post-20415-0-54913800-1515524817_thumb.jpg

 

Assuming that the E85 did absorb the water, this indicates to me that I need to measure the gasoline portion of the mix only, since gas and water do not mix.

 

Total volume = 235ml

Separation line = 205ml

Total gasoline = 235ml - 205ml = 30ml of gas

Gas percentage = 30ml gas / 200ml total fuel = 15% gas

100% fuel - 15% gasoline = 85% ethanol

 

I was surprised to see the ethanol content so high in the middle of winter time.

 

For giggles, I conducted the same test with E10 87 octane pump gas:

 

post-20415-0-39925200-1515525426_thumb.jpg

post-20415-0-24722900-1515525399_thumb.jpg

 

Total volume = 235ml

Separation line = 60ml

Total gasoline = 235ml - 60ml = 175ml of gas

Gas percentage = 175ml gas / 200ml total fuel = 87.5% gas

100% fuel - 87.5% gasoline = 12.5% ethanol

 

Hmmm, seems they're adding a touch too much ethanol to the gas ??

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I thought the ethanol plants blended between 51% and 85% depending upon the month of the year and where the pumps are located.   There are stickers located on the ethanol pumps indicating a 51-85% blend mixture.

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The specification for E85, now called the flex fuel spec, changed years ago. The classes still exist, but they are based on vapor pressure of the fuel first, not ethanol content. Depending on the blendstocks available, you can see higher or lower ethanol contents year round that you did not under the older provisions found is ASTM Spec 5798. For the entire state of Tennessee, you are in Class 3 now. That simply means that the vapor pressure of the fuel should be between 8.5-12.0psi. You can view the latest standard here in one of DOE's publications: https://www.afdc.energy.gov/uploads/publication/ethanol_handbook.pdf 

 

As for the E10, I have used these before for testing, but the standard kit only works up to E30: http://www.fuel-testers.com/instructions_alcohol_fuel_test_kit.htmlTesting ethanol content by water gets difficult even at E30, let alone E85. I have seen tests where E85 has absorbed up to 50% water and showed no phase separation, which is what these types of test really need.

 

I did just verify with the supplier and the fuel is in fact Class 3, and has an ethanol content of 80% ethanol. Don't forget, ethanol is denatured with 2% hydrocarbon too!

 

Hope that helps.

 

Robert

RFA

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Nice experiment.  

 

Never thought of using baby bottles.  Cheap and available.   Might have to do some testing to, my usual station has E0,10, 15 & 85. 

 

Yeah I like the baby bottles a little better, as I can stick the nozzle of the gas pump right in, instead of having to pour from different containers. I can put the top with the nipple back on to squeeze out an exact amount if I need to as well.

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