Thursday, July 2, 2015
One of the great misconceptions following ethanol is that it causes compatibility issues in certain engines. But new data shows that the opposite is true, and ethanol-free gasoline blends actually increase much of the wear and tear on hoses, seals, and fuel tanks.
This is the finding of new research released today by ICM, Inc. and the Urban Air Initiative (UAI). The findings were presented at the semi-annual meeting of ASTM, an international standards organization that develops and publishes technical standards. Steve VanderGriend of ICM and technical director for UAI presented data showing how the high aromatic content of gasoline, particularly toxic aromatics like benzene and toluene negatively impacts engine parts. The toxic aromatics create a significant increase in the escape of harmful emissions that can have a devastating impact on public health given that these aromatic compounds are known and suspected carcinogens.
“What we are seeing is that benzene and toluene are increasing permeation, which means increasing the amount of fuel vapors that seep from a vehicle. For anyone who has a garage at home and smells gasoline, vapors are escaping through the vehicles fuel system or small engine gas tank”, said Mr. VanderGriend.
Ethanol is often blamed for increasing evaporative emissions. However, the ICM and Urban Air Initiative research clearly shows increased aromatics cause a greater degradation on hoses, plastics, and other components which creates an escape route for gasoline vapors to permeate into the air.
In his presentation at ASTM, VanderGriend explained the extensive testing done on fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components. These materials were each soaked in straight gasoline (E0) and a 10% ethanol blend (E10) for extended periods of time. In every case the ethanol free gasoline increased the damage to fuel lines, gas containers, and plastic components, while the materials soaked in E10 were impacted less.
To better visualize the damaging effects of straight gasoline, click here to watch a time lapse video involving a simple Styrofoam cup. The E10 blend contained 20% aromatics and had a slower impact on the cup. The E0 blend, with 26% aromatics, instantly destroyed the cup. While not as scientific as soak testing, the results are similar.
“The notion that somehow ethanol free gasoline is superior product could not be further from the truth”, said Mr. VanderGriend. “In our home town of Wichita, the average E0 has 46% more benzene and toluene by volume than the same 87 octane blend with ethanol. The fuel costs more and presents a mechanical and health risk that is incorrectly being attributed to ethanol”.
He went on to explain that ethanol, with the highest octane value of any fuel additive on the market today, could not only continue to replace aromatics like benzene and toluene in today’s gasoline but it will be critical as future vehicle designs will require higher octane to meet mileage and emission standards.
Mr. VanderGriend called on the ASTM to establish a task force to define maximum levels of aromatics in gasoline and to establish standards for the use of toluene as a blend component. ASTM agreed to begin a task force to begin monitoring aromatic levels in gasoline.
For more information on the work of the Urban Air Initiative, visit www.urbanairinitiative.com and www.fixourfuel.com.