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indianasolar

SAE paper on alcohol fuels.

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I have to raise the BS flag here. Vehicles are running E85 all over the place that have Aluminum blocks and Heads and are not having problems. If Ethanol was corrosive to aluminum, I would think everyone would be using iron blocks and heads. I am betting that there was something else causing it. Not the Alcohol. They were probably using (aromatics) not approved or untested to make cheap gas yield a higher volume. A simple word to call it.... Greed

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I would agree with Rusty-- in 1999 methanol and mtbe was very common and yes- methanol would create such issues. If an automaker allowed it at all- methanol was limited to 5% and only if it contained another 5% cosolvents. In most articles of the day- and even today in drag racing forums, alcohol means methanol- not ethanol, or any of the many other alcohols.

 

One other thing to keep in mind here is that SAE accepts papers from all sources and most of these folks have something to sell. Most of these papers will not pass a peer review unscathed. An example that comes to mind is where a major additive company published "research" showing that additives were needed for deposit control for e85- yet really the paper only showed that certain gasoline additives did not perform as expected in E10. I felt it was more of an opinion paper published by a company who fears a cleaner burning fuel will reduce need for their products.

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Actually it is ethanol they're talking about and it is to some degree corrosive.  The new oil specs under development now are taking into account the corrosive nature of ethanol fuels.  Current oil standards do not have the ability to deal with the very slow corrosive action that burning ethanol introduces into an engine.

 

Trends in an engine take many thousands of miles and carefully tracked oil analysis to discover.  E85 introduces more water into the oil and the oil standards are being adjusted in the next generation of specs to deal with the entrainment of moisture.  It doesn't work like batttery acid in that there is a visible reaction in a short amount of time. It does however show in long term trends and repeated use of E85.

 

EPA CAFE standards and emissions requirements are making oil thinner and pushing the use of esters in the oil.  Esters are vulnerable to water so there are some adjustments being made and we'll see oils ready to deal with long term, multivehicle use of E85 in 2010.

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I did not buy the paper mpersell but these same researchers studied methanol, ETBE, and ethanol effects on fuel systems at different times. This article appears to be about fuel systems and it does say that all alcohols had some affect. Not sure how this applies to anhydrous ethanol with corrosion inhibitor as per USA spec. What was the material that showed up in excess in Japanese markets in 1999? Hydrous? Methanol? Mtbe? Etbe?

 

That said however- if one is using E85 in a non-ffv at high %'s you should be aware that a remote potential does exist for seals at injectors or fuel line fittings to fail and at risk of fire. I have heard of this occuring in one instance but do not know if it is statistically more significant risk of failures. The guy who told me about it laughed it off as an old, old car and he only had to put injector seals in it. This would concern me due to fire risk.

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I don't think there is a radical fuel issue event with recent model no-FFVs but there is an issue and we cannot just automatically write it off.  Pennies per vehicle mean a lot to the carmakers now in either direction.

 

E85 is enough of a player now to have been factored into the next set of ILSAC standards.  We do have the technology covered now or at least in the near future.  The problem may be in the performance markets where the older oils are the only ones that offer the shear resistance for the engines but the thinner more mpg oriented oils offer the E85 protection.

 

Its the business side that has me a little concerned as well.

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