AAA Warns Against Use Of New E-15 Gasoline
Utica, NY (WIBX) - You may not have heard much about it yet, but there is another new ethanol gas approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
E-15 is a new gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, a gas made from distilling or fermenting starches. It has a different chemical composition compared to the commonly used E-10 gasoline found at most pumps, and thus provides different combustion temperatures and fuel mileage.
But, Ed Welsh, with AAA, says a recent study by the Coordinating Research Council has produced disturbing results.
"In April 2012, they raised concerns about the long-term effects of E-15 on engine durability," Welsh said. "According to research, they found that 25 percent of the engines tested experienced failures because of the blend of gasoline."
Welsh says the reason the engines failed is because E-15 is somewhat corrosive if put into vehicles unable to handle the chemical composition.
"Ethanol is somewhat corrosive to rubber," Welsh said. "So when we talk about old engines, like on snow blowers and lawn mowers, anything that has a carburetor on it, it has rubber parts inside it. The ethanol will eventually start eating away at it."
The newly approved gas also burns differently, placing strain on unequipped cars. But, for vehicles with FlexFuel engines, Welsh says the new gas should be alright.
"When we talk about whether you should burn this fuel or not, if you have a car that says FlexFuel on it, that can burn E-15, E-10 or regular unleaded gas safely. So, there's a lot of brand new cars on the market that can handle this fuel change. It's all the older cars that don't have a tolerance for this, and many of which are still under manufacturer warranty."
Several manufacturers, including Toyota, Nissan, VW, Chrysler and BMW have already said the new fuel will violate their warranties. Other car makers like Ford, Honda and Kia are also on board.
So why continue increasing the ethanol content in gasoline if it has an increased chance to harm engines? Welsh says the expanding role of green energy is causing the government to add more ethanol to the mix.
"Currently, about 40 percent of the United States' corn crop is used for ethanol," Welsh said. "The federal law has, in round numbers, mandated that we use around 30 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022. What's happening now is we're using less than half of that."
He says because people are driving less and more cars are getting better mileage, ethanol is not being consumed as quickly as the government would like. Last year, roughly 14 billion gallons were produced.
"One of the ways you do that, of course, is to increase how much ethanol is in the gasoline, and that's what E-15 is," Welsh said. "It would increase the amount of ethanol being used in the gasoline."
As of now, only nine stations nationwide carry E-15 gas. Welsh says we're at least a year away from seeing gas stations carry the new products locally.