Posts Tagged ‘E10’

We’re less than a week into the NFL lockout where billionaires are arguing with millionaires about compensation and now there’s whining reports from players who say they can’t afford health insurance premiums.  Normally, teams pay for that but during a work stoppage each player is responsible for their own coverage.  And under the federal COBRA law it allows employees to continue coverage at their own expense where the average monthly fee for a family policy is about $2400.

So we have a group of players whose average salary is approaching $2M and where a minimum rookie salary was $320K last season… is “worried” they can’t pay COBRA over a long term?!  This is utterly preposterous.  Many of us are worried about paying for the next tank of gas so welcome to the real world NFL players!

And speaking of fuel prices, are you ready to pull out larger bills from your wallet for even higher prices due to the imminent delivery of boutique fuel called E15?

Here’s the background:  Growth Energy, an ethanol industry trade group, petitioned the EPA in March 2009 to raise the limit on ethanol in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent. Several engine product and auto manufacturers as well as others urged EPA to be deliberative in its review process, and do adequate testing to assure that E15 would not harm existing products or pose safety risks. Despite the fact that E-15 blends were proven to cause engine failures from overheating as well as emission increases and emission (durability) impacts and material compatibility issues, in October, 2010, the EPA approve higher levels of ethanol (E-15 or 15% ethanol) in gasoline for use in only 2007 and newer automobiles. It seems that scientific facts were ignored.  Not the first time the EPA has ignored facts.  Remember the Uniroyal/Alar truth?

At any rate, motorcycles are exempt from E15 use, but there is significant risk that consumers will unknowingly or mistakenly put E15 in motorcycles (“misfueling”).  Since we’re all smart and would never knowingly misfuel our precious ride, the more likely case is where fuel retailers are not prepared to offer both E10 and E15 at their stations, and given the choice, will likely opt to offer E15 only.  I don’t know about you, but in my motorcycle travels across Canada and the western U.S., there were many stations ill equipped to accommodate an additional fuel.  This would then lead any business to choose between E15 and E10 fuels – and E15 will win out since it’s more profitable for them to carry for automobiles and motorcyclists will have no choice but to fuel with E15 and suffer the mechanical consequences.

You might think the EPAs got your global warming back, but the agencies prior experience with fuel transitions isn’t stellar.  In 1974, as the EPA led the transition to unleaded fuels, the Agency reported a misfueling rate of 15 percent over ten years after the introduction of unleaded gasoline.  We’ve all seen the reports of station attendants fueling diesel in non-diesel automobiles which resulted in huge expense so it happens.

It turns out the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has recently filed an E-15 Partial Waiver Legal Challenge to request that the EPA, consistent with prior precedent, ensure continued consumer choice by requiring the continued sale of gasoline blends of no greater than E10 fuel.  Clearly the potential of reduced volume of E10 fuel in the marketplace will likely result in the elimination of supply, and/or increase the price of what little there is available for motorcycle fueling.

Photo courtesy of Growth Energy.

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Ethanol Producer Magazine

Ethanol Producer Magazine

An interesting article in Ethanol Producer Magazine about the conversion and tuning process of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to run E85 fuel (85% ethanol and 15% ordinary gas). 

The use of E10 Unleaded is approved under warranty by major motorcycle manufactures including Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.  In fact, Harley goes so far to actually promote/recommend the use of renewable, clean air fuels such as E10 because of their environmental benefits.  Their stance is on E85 is bit less clear.  However,  Ronald M. Hutchinson (Sr. VP Product Development; bio) recently provided some insight in an interview with QuickThrottle.com (October 2008 edition):

Question: Is Harley doing any initial research on alternative fuels and energy sources?  Answer: I can’t really talk about future products.  But I can tell you that we are looking at and have run and currently have motorcycles that run on a much higher level of ethanol because we sell a lot of motorcycles in Brazil.  Fuels there are sugar-based ethanol that have slightly higher energy content than stuff we get here.  But regardless we already hve the capability of providing products that do just that – that run on a higher percentage of ethanol and we are also looking at a variety of different alternatives.

More than 40 percent of the gasoline sold across the U.S. contains oxygenates such as ethanol.  There has been an dramatic increase in the availability of E85 as well as the number of automobiles that can operate on E85 (called Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV’s)).  It will be interesting to watch how this progresses for motorcycles.  For a current list of E85 station visit E85.

Photo courtesy of Ethanol Producer Magazine web site.

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