View Full Version : Using E10 fuel

03-11-2009, 09:38 AM
I know there's been heaps of opinions on here about the use of E10 fuel, but does anyone on here use it on a regular basis? I'm considering it, but want to know what preparations anyone has made if they use it all the time. ie. carry spare fuel filters etc.

From my own research on the net and talking to some fuel gurus, the real issue (with modern engines that are designed to run E10 of course) is the ethanol seperating from the petrol base if lots of water is present. Apparently the engine will still run if this occurs (although it will run like sh!t and not idle) and the ethanol/water mix will simply burn through if you are on the run. Alternatively you can just drain any water/ethanol out of the bottom of the water seperator or even change the filter itself.

What unleaded fuels don't have ethanol? Remember that it is only a requirement to declare the ethanol content if you go over 7%, a lot of fuel companies will stay under this percentage and they don't have to declare it by law.

I read an interesting article by club marine that stated that they still don't have an opinion on the use of E10 in power boats but they certainly have not had an increase in motor related claims or failures since ethanol blends have been introduced.

Remember that I'm only talking here about engines that are designed to use E10.

03-11-2009, 09:56 AM
Hi Paddles,

Why would you choose to use E10 given the economics ie its cost vs its heat units?

From whats been said / reported it needs to be significantly cheaper to be cost effective.

At present it just does not stack up for cars let alone boats; and thats not even considering the claimed damage to hoses, frp tanks etc etc and the subsequent issues due to filter blockages and or motors then ingesting liberated crap.


03-11-2009, 11:06 AM
I think the issue is future non availability of stanndard grade unleaded without ethanol, and the posibility that undeclared ethanol may be in higher grades of fuel.........this is likley because it will work as an octain improver......and it can be argued that it makes the car run cleaner.

The realy big issue is stale fuel......if you had a regular(like weekly or daily) and your fuel hygeen was good the fuel seperation would not be an issue, and the regular doses of ethanol would scavenge out any small traces of water.

But in tanks that don't get a majority fill, and dont get regular use it would most certainly an issue.

for those of us with water seperating filters it would be less of an issue.

Quite a lot would also depend on HOW MUCH WATER was involved in the situation.

If you have a 60 liter tank, you can expect up to 6 litres of ethanol. it would be reasonable to expect 600mL of water to disolve in the ethanol present and be burnt normaly.

but if there is a small amount of ethanol present...say from a partial fill..and there is a significant amount of water involved....the water and the ethanol may combine and drop out......I don't think majority water burns too well.

But if you had that much water in the tank anyway you would have a problem.

Consider that a clear typical bowl water sep filter will probably cope with 50 to 100mL of water and still finction 100%.

It the boys with the portable tanks and no water sep filter that have areal problem.
Consider the young brotherinlaw's boat...20 liter tank and a trip arround green from wello uses a bit more than 5 litres......there is a temtation to go out with 10 litres in the tank that has been ther for 4 to 6 weeks.....I wont but plenty will.

I'm not saying the issue is overstated.........because in some circumstances it is not.......but the liklyhood and consquences will vary.

just my thaughts.


03-11-2009, 11:13 AM
g'day chimo,

firstly because it's available for me locally. our local servo (freedom fuels) now only sells E10 and if i want regular unleaded i'd have to either haul the boat back out to the fuel depot on the highway or tank fuel home from the depot.

secondly, because of the legislation regarding labelling of fuel, there's no guarantee i'm not getting up to 7% anyway, hence the question regarding who sells unleaded with no ethanol and how would you know?

my take on this is that if my motor is designed to handle the 10%, my fuel tank will not dissolve with alcohol and my filtration will capture water and any scale from the tank. what else do i need to think about?

obviously my preference is to use straight unleaded with no ethanol at all, but it's getting harder to guarantee that's all i'm going to get.

you're thinking the way i'm thinking oldboot, using any ethanol blend is not ideal, but soon we will have to live with it, i'm interested in figuring out the best way how. agreed on the water issue, if i have enough water in my fuel to cause the ethanol to break away from the petroleum base then i'm in trouble anyway. good filtration and water seperation in the fuel line seems to be the key issue here.

03-11-2009, 12:38 PM
if you have a fairly newish motor thats e 10 compatible the problem is not the fuel and the motor but the set-up you have . ethanol attacks aluminium and fibreglass fuel tanks and some fuel hoses

03-11-2009, 12:58 PM
that's along the lines of my thinking ozbee, if i can set up properly i might be able to minimise the grief. getting as large a capacity water seperator as possible might be a good start maybe.

03-11-2009, 01:19 PM
where is the legislation that states only above 7%..i was under the impression that signs had to be in place for any ethanol added fuel.
Surely you are not going to use it in your boat..I hope you have metal fuel tanks and the appropriate fuel lines. Ethanol based fuels makes the engine run hotter and that must do something to the life span of the motor...I will never use it if possible. The so called environmental advantages are minimal..it is not much cheaper than real fuel.

03-11-2009, 02:04 PM
I wasn't aware that it attacked aluminium.:-/


03-11-2009, 02:18 PM
g'day pinhead, i think that rule has been around for a while now, i always thought the minimum level for notification of ethanol was 5% but the local servo informed me it is now 7%, which is awfully frikkin close to 10% and the reason for me asking these questions about how best to live with ethanol in fuel.

oldboot, it doesn't attack the alloy directly but there is a reaction where water becomes involved and it somehow causes a slight acidity in the tank which is said to slightly increase corrosion. i'm no chemist so i don't fully understand the reaction.

edit: hey pinhead, i've now dug around a bit and it's actually now commonwealth law to either label the pump with the exact percentage of ethanol or alternatively label the pump with the maximum percentage of ethanol in a blend. apologies for any confusion. i've now spoken to a mercruiser guy and he reckons i should simply drive to the roundabout to get fuel in large quantities and avoid ethanol altogether, but in small top-up quantities it'll be ok, it's looking like that might be safest.

03-11-2009, 04:18 PM
i would not use it any fuel injected motor myself and have heard of many issues with ethanol and fuel injectors being pitted an eaten away.........

03-11-2009, 06:07 PM
Yeh OK... there seesm to be some sort of suposed corrosion problem....not actulay due to the ethanol.. but due to the water.

But you get that in all metal fuel tanks anyway.

I recon there will be more than a bit of hokus pokus going bothe ways on this one.

If a tank has regular ( you know what i mean) majority fills of fresh ethanol fuel...I would expect that would result in any water would be scoured out..,,,as ethanol is hydroscopic.

hearing of injectors being pitted is one thing actulay knowing what the cause is is another all together.

Mechanics of all breeds are well known for making positive statements about the cause of things when there isn't much evidence......customers want a difinitive answere why their motor broke.

Now here is another curly one.......how much water is in the ethanol that is in fuel......"NONE" is the wrong answer.

I know a bloke that makes french polishing products and owns a well known woodwork forum.... he buys his metho by the 44.....( how he buys his orange cordial I don't know;))

there has been quite some to do concerning water in metho....too much and your french polish goes cloudy.

It seems it is almost imposible to manufacture 100% pure ethanol....about the best that can be reasonably managed is 2% water, and that requires additional processing...most good quality industrial metho is about 5% water (just acceptable for french polising..for mortals anyway).

As soon as you open the bottle metho starts absorbing water from the aptmosphere....so the polishers get realy uppitty about, "Putting the @$#^%$& lid back on the metho.

SO...what is the moisture content the the ethanol (OH metho is ethanol these days) used in fuel.......do they use it straight out of the first stage of the still or do they make some extra effort to get more water out.

I suspect it would be no better than 5%.

just some thaughts


03-11-2009, 08:12 PM
I can tell you major fuel companies recommend not to use it in marine applications
it takes as little as 1% water to seperate the ethanol mix out and this will render 10% of your fuel mix that will not burn (not a nice thought out to sea).
Compaies must state any ethanol that is in their fuel, whatever the %. If you buy most premiums from a major brand it will not contain ethanol, but if you want to make sure check that fuel companies website. The govt is changing to law and normal Unleaded wont be available soon, only e10 and premium.
Go premium i say, you may not get a huge performance improvement but you wont get the bad effects of e10

03-11-2009, 09:28 PM
I wouldn't use any ethonol on my boat if I can help it . Actually I wouldn't even use it on any of my cars !! Its crap!
It corodes everything, next time you are at a servo have a good look at the E1 nozle , you will see white like stuff on it , this is what it does to your motor and tank as well.
In Sydney some BP servos have put up signs that say NOT to use ethonol in boats .


03-11-2009, 11:02 PM
All E10 pumps that I have seen have "NOT SUITABLE FOR USE IN BOATS" stickers on them.....Now pure and simple this is the fuel companies covering their backsides.

Remember they still have "turn off your mobile phone" signs and this has been proved to be a crock........but they persist with them just in case

This can not be taken as a technical recommendation or any sort of explanation of facts.

We are not realy interested in blind recomendations here.....we are trying to get at the facts and the why's and where fores.

As for this 1% deal.....where do we find the documentation on this......

I would also be interested to know how much water normal unleaded can suspend before it will drop out.

No doubt the fuel companies will have these figures.

ethanol on its own will easily hold 10% water.

I don't think any of us would use E10 in our boats by choice.


04-11-2009, 08:46 AM
yep, given that there seems to be a mandate by our state government to make it compulsory for fuel sellers to have a minimum of 10% ethanol, we should at least figure out how to deal with this day when it arrives.

currently the legislation does keep getting voted down at least, but it does seem to pop up enough to make me think that eventually this will happen and we will have to use E10 in our boats because that's all that will be available.

04-11-2009, 09:00 AM
so, thets just consider something for a second, would you pay more (say 10cents pr litre) for fuel for your boat, IF it was guarranteed to not contain ANY Enthanol, and maybe a guarrantee that it contains no water, and maybe even filtered before it goes into your boat, or would we still shop for the cheapest?

04-11-2009, 02:03 PM
no i wouldn't pay more noel.

i would actually EXPECT that any fuel i buy will not be contaminated and also comply with government regulation regarding it's quality.

the question your really posing is "would i be prepared to pay less for contaminated fuel" and the answer is "no".

that being said though, a boat's fuel tank is not always a nice clean place, there's corrosion scale and water in there anyway and we rely on the integrity of our on board fuel filtration system to do the job.

Mrs Ronnie H
04-11-2009, 03:48 PM
Hey Paddles
As you know I had a thread about our local servo.
While talking to a couple of fuel companies they have said that standard unleaded would continue to be available because of the outcry it would cause from the majority of the public.
Don't care what our local servo tells you-- I will travel up the coast if i have to but i won't ever buy fuel from there and certainly wouldn't put that crap in our boat or the three cars we own.
Don't think the servo owners are going to pay the repair bills if you chance it and something goes wrong.


04-11-2009, 10:12 PM
I had a very interesting chat with my mate George this morning about fuel and other matters.

George apart from being very good with a TIG, builds and repairs competition & vintage motorbike engines and other smallish engines and is a qualified engineer.

Now there is this thing going around some small engine mechanics that higher octain fuel is not good for motors.............people raise this one in relation to running premium unleaded in boat motors and lawn mowers.....the story goes that it causes the motor to run hot and will melt pistons and stuff.

Total bunkum says george, who has had quite a bit to do with octain fiddling, in both 2 and 4 stroke motorbikes......as long as the octain is higher than specified for the engine it will actulay make the motor run cooler.

So you cant do any damage to your motor 2 or 4 stroke by running premium unleaded.......although if it is an old style motor.......running premium all the time and having the motor tuned on that fuel might be an idea.....the modern electronic injected motors will know what to do for themselves.

some interesting comments on E10 fuel....although it is suposed to be a standard equavalent, E10 usulay has a higher octain, similar to premium......but they aren't allowed to say so......he runs a couple of his cars on it because it stops them pinging.....mmm interesting.

It certainly does effect some rubber and plastic components....( a real issue in older motors).
He has seen some plastic failures that could reasonably put down to E10.

He hummed a bit about E10 making motors run hot......he mumbled something I didn't grasp.....but conceeded it might be possible.

One thing he did mention..is this fuel aging issue.....I wont mention how long he went on about how crappy the modern fuel is as far as shelf life.............Lets say he has smelled his fair share of "off" unleaded fuel........For those who havn't it smells dull and musty, rather than sharp & fruity like petrol should......motors just wont start or run on badly off fuel.

He also says that fuel goes off much faster sitting in the caby esecilay if it has 2 stroke in it..............while he will run E10 in a couple of his street cars......he certainly will not run it in any of his bikes.
Because his bikes may sit for months without being started, he runs high octain..and adds a fuel stabaliser....as a result he has started bikes with fuel that is well over 6 months old....
his strogly recomends the use of the lucas product ( and realy bent my ear about putting it in my boat tank) ( available all over the place).

so if your boat has sat for a long time....more than a couple of months....fresh fuel and drain the carbies is the go.

hope this is of some help.


05-11-2009, 06:35 AM
Oldboot...Its not just old cars...my European car (one of the big names) is less than four years old and is specifically "NO ETHANOL AT ALL" or warranty etc etc etc.....so any idea that we are only talking about "old" cars here is mistaken......Gary Fooks is the expert on this topic. Search his posts.

05-11-2009, 09:04 AM
whilst i would never go against the manufacturer's instruction, it's sometimes hard to know whether their equipment is not actually designed for use with ethanol blend or whether they are just saying they don't like ethanol blend.

05-11-2009, 10:45 AM
Yeh it is often interesting to postulate on the reasons for manufacturer recommendations.

the answer "NO" is never that simple.

it could be...

We don't know so ....NO
Our company is opposed to that so... NO
We don't know that you will do with that so...NO
We want to sell you our product so..NO
We cant guarantee that so ....NO
and in a minority of cases
Here are good reasons so..NO

Again this thread is about the why's and wherefores.

As for "Garry Fooks" being THE expert......there are plenty of people out there well qualified to comment on such matters.

and, I am affraid that Garry's credibility has take a bit of a dive since he went on radio and compared the environmental impact two stroke motors to a major oil spill.

In one of his " bench mark" addresses he claims that an 29.9 tonnes per year of polution per boat can be saved by changing from an old style outboard to a modern one.... one boat.

and compares that to 250 tonnes of the "moreton bay oil spill"

now this has to be a crock... because there is no way that any of us put 29.9 tonnes of fuel and oil into our boats a year...........that would be about 30 000 litres ( and that is assuming we dupm it all straight in the bay.,,,,,, he immissions would be far less portion than that.

Now this has been profiled off a twin 225Hp reef tour boat doing 1000 hours a year......now it may be true for that boat.......but any tour boat will be running new technology motors.

to then take this information and make a comparison extrapolated out to ALL boats...as someone will try to................is greatly misleading.

this comparison between the profiled emmissions of one boat and compare it with an oil spill is just ludicrus.

I do not believe that there is any new material contained in Garry's report....it is all information that is already available to us and has already been discussed

sorry ..... by his own admission he is not a mechanical expert........this is the sort of science that sinks our ship.

and it does not lead us any further to finding the detail of the why's and wherefores.