Houston, We Have a Problem

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Dec 6, 2003
Austin, TX
http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/classifieds/automotive/14717195.htm (middle of page)
Hillary’s flip-flopping aside, let me be the first to inform you of the next act in the ethanol tragedy; the story may break tomorrow or three years out, but it’s coming. Recently the Boat Owners Association of the United States issued a warning to owners of older, expensive boats, after numerous members reported ruined engines with “black gunk sludging their intake valves.” The culprit is E10 gasoline, the same thing we are now using in the Metroplex; it’s melting away parts of their fiberglass fuel tanks — and the resulting gunk is clogging their fuel filters and fuel lines and ultimately destroying some very expensive motors. That’s when it occurred to me: a whole lot of gas stations have fiberglass storage tanks. Sure enough, the American Coalition for Ethanol’s Web site even carries a warning for gas station operators on the use of the E85 blend: “However, fiberglass storage tanks manufactured prior to 1992 MAY NOT be able to handle E85.” You see the obvious contradiction; boat owners using fuel containing just 10 percent ethanol are already reporting melted fiberglass storage tanks and ruined engines — but the American Coalition for Ethanol claims that problems with fiberglass tanks come only from using 85 percent ethanol blends. That sent me to the Fiberglass Tank & Pipe Institute, which also spells out warnings on using or storing ethanol in older tanks, although their concern seems lukewarm at most; they suggest that with proper tank maintenance there might not be a problem at all. But then, on the FTPI Web page marked “Ethanol and USTs,” this bombshell pretty much explodes that optimism: “Ethyl alcohol, because of its affinity for water, is not blended into gasoline until it is loaded into the delivery tank truck.” American Petroleum Institute member companies address the need to control the ethanol blend component in API RP 1626, which states, “In-truck blending is not recommended since complete blending may not occur. Thus, splash-blending ethanol is not recommended since the ethyl/gasoline components tend to stratify and remain stratified after delivery to the refueling facility. Thus, the pump may pick up a high concentration of stratified ethyl alcohol, damage the automobile engine and not be covered under warranty.” Let’s see: Owners of older boats have already filled their fiberglass gas tanks with E10 gasoline and watched them go away. One ethanol lobbying group states that an 85 percent ethanol blend could melt fiberglass storage tanks. The Fiberglass Tank & Pipe Institute claims tanks built before 1992 “could” have a problem with ethanol blends, but then spins around and says that the way we are delivering ethanol to local stations does an inadequate job of blending ethanol. Therefore, high concentrations of “stratified” ethanol are stored in fiberglass gas tanks and pumped into your automobile’s fuel system. And, because the ethanol doesn’t fully blend, parts of the fiberglass storage tanks are holding concentrations of ethanol much higher than 10 percent — which everyone recognizes means trouble on older tanks. It’s a ticking time bomb, just like MTBE: Sooner or later, because gasoline storage tanks either are older or are not properly maintained, the higher concentrations of stratified, or insufficiently mixed, ethanol could eat through their walls. Next thing you know, subsoil gasoline plumes will invade local neighborhoods … and the water supply. In case you didn’t know, benzene is not good for St. Augustine grass — or children. This is what Hillary wants more of? For that matter, this is what Congress mandated last year?
Ethanol is good political tool right now. It’ll buy you votes from the red states that produce it, get you lobby money from AMD (this is what started it all back when Newt made deals), sell well with the uneducated voters who are po’d at the oil companies. Both parties will be playing this card this election year, not just a Hillary thing. Remember when marine fuel hose changed to gray color? Not sure what year but it had to be 15+ years ago. The cause and effect of eth in boats and storage was big topic at that time, still a concern but nothing new. Personally I avoid it in all my machines.
Is non E10 gasoline offered anywhere for 'off road' purposes? If so, then the article is idiotic. Materials incompatibilities exist the world over, and it is on the boat owner to make sure that they are putting the right stuff in their tank. Of course, if there is no option but to buy E10 at the docks... then we DO have a problem. Otherwise, its just polarizing political banter by people who think they are informed, but are just as uninformed as anyone else. Yes, the whole ADM and ethanol thing isnt very straightforward or truthful, and there is a lot of bad info floating... But every attack is just as bad as the original bad info. JMH
It’ll buy you votes from the red states that produce it, get you lobby money from AMD
AMD is Advanced Micro Devices (computer chips) ADM is Arched Daniels Midland (food substances)
We are trying to get unblended auto gasoline dispensed at one of our local airports. Since ethanol is added to the truck at the terminal, that should be possible. No answer yet. 100 octane leaded aviation gasoline is not well suited to antique and auto-engined aircraft. 87 octane unleaded aviation gasoline is no longer made.
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