E15 Ethanol

angrypenguin

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I am sure that ethanol does do harm in some ways. But it isn't like that's the only problem or a major one in my opinion. All I know is that GM has done something to reduce the amount of deposits on the valves. We use to have run top engine cleaner through majority of the 3.6 engines to clean them up. Had to put a couple injectors in a 5.3 and the intake valves were fairly clean for 70k and being DI. Maybe the guy has ran ethanol free gas, who knows.
Very very interesting. I used to use a BG product on my last Audi and it gave me more grief than anything. I don't know how well the Top Clean product works but i'm sure it does something. It's one of the few ways to try and mitigate carbon buildup or to cleanup carbon buildup on DI engines. When people tell me to use some sort of fuel injector cleaner, I want to rage quit and punch a hole through my monitor :D

Thanks for sharing :)
 

holeinthehead

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I am sure that ethanol does do harm in some ways. But it isn't like that's the only problem or a major one in my opinion. All I know is that GM has done something to reduce the amount of deposits on the valves. We use to have run top engine cleaner through majority of the 3.6 engines to clean them up. Had to put a couple injectors in a 5.3 and the intake valves were fairly clean for 70k and being DI. Maybe the guy has ran ethanol free gas, who knows.

We see the direct injectors fail on cold starts when they double fire and end up sticking then throw a P050D. No clue if ethanol has anything to do with it, it is truly hit and miss. Some people have problems under 30k and others are going on 100k without a hiccup.
so in my little focus, 2.0 direct injected engine, should i keep running the stewarts 91, 0 ethanol?
 

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There are gas stations with no ethanol but very few in where I drive. There are many who run E85 or E30 or whatever number of E to create more power. I believe you need a tune to take full advantage.
 

OBeerWANKenobi

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There are gas stations with no ethanol but very few in where I drive. There are many who run E85 or E30 or whatever number of E to create more power. I believe you need a tune to take full advantage.
If you don't have a flex fuel vehicle, you would indeed need a tune to take full advantage of E15. Much higher than that and a tune would be mandatory for it to even run. Stoich for gasoline is about 14.7:1. Stoich for E85 is around 9.8:1. So, without compensation, the more ethanol, the leaner you get. Too lean and it won't start or idle right and if it does start, can blow up your engine with knock.
 

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I try to stick with 100+ fuel in the bike :D. Otherwise kwiktrips(if you have) them have 91 no ethanol.
 

STS134

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If you don't have a flex fuel vehicle, you would indeed need a tune to take full advantage of E15. Much higher than that and a tune would be mandatory for it to even run. Stoich for gasoline is about 14.7:1. Stoich for E85 is around 9.8:1. So, without compensation, the more ethanol, the leaner you get. Too lean and it won't start or idle right and if it does start, can blow up your engine with knock.
That's one reason why I'm pissed at CA for requiring oxygenated gasoline. Frequently Asked Questions about the California Reformulated Gasoline Program

It's stupid. Every car contains a computer that receives input from the oxygen sensors, and adjusts the fuel/air ratio to achieve a stoichiometric ratio. If it detects more oxygen in the fuel, it reduces the amount of air and increases the amount of fuel to compensate. The oxygen in the fuel doesn't do a damn thing except decrease density of the fuel, and make it where you have to go to the gas station more often. Cars aren't rockets. They don't need to carry oxidizer because they get the oxidizer from the air.
 

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Non-ethanol premium is available at a station a few miles from me in MT.
I haven’t searched for it in the bay area in a while but there used to be a 76 station in South San Jose that carried it. And it was most assuredly priced higher than the blended stuff.

I have a tuned forced induction Audi. There are quite a few people in that ecosystem who use ethanol blends to achieve higher octane ratings. I personally will not run that drano through my car.
 

angrypenguin

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so in my little focus, 2.0 direct injected engine, should i keep running the stewarts 91, 0 ethanol?
Most certainly. If you can, stick with 100% gasoline.
 

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Non ethanol fuel is easy to find here, referred to as boat fuel. Price is comparable to 93 octane 10% ethanol. Non ethanol here is 89 octane.

Most current cars on the road can run E15 without any issues. My Ford Fieta and 14 Focus ST both show E16 as a max in the owners manual.

I would prefer to run zero ethanol fuel for better MPG but not worth what they charge for it IMO. Sure you will get better mileage with non ethanol fuel, but you will still be paying more per mile compared to E10, so I don’t see the advantage.
 

rider9195

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so in my little focus, 2.0 direct injected engine, should i keep running the stewarts 91, 0 ethanol?
I would definitely keep using that. It isn't going to hurt anything. That's what I personally use when available.
 

MurrayB

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I have seen only one station selling gas without ethanol. It was somewhere in New York state in a recreational boating area. Does this "boat fuel" contain all the additives for cars?
 

mikedotd

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In my state most stations sell gas that contain up to 10% ethanol, but there's no way of knowing what you're getting unless you have a flex-fuel sensor and monitor. Some stations do still carry non-ethanol gas though.

I'm not thrilled about mandating E15 for a bunch of reasons, but I think modern cars are designed with low amounts of ethanol in mind, even if they can't necessarily take advantage of it.

As for it wrecking DI engines, I don't know. My Golf R has 45k miles on it so far on E10(ish) without any carbon deposit issues, and it's only DI without additional port injection like VW/Audi engines get in Europe, so nothing is cleaning those intake valves. Having to clean carbon deposits might be an extra maintenance item that shouldn't be necessary, but if I only have to pay to have it done once or twice before I sell it for something else so be it. I don't consider that "wrecking the engine", and I enjoy the low RPM torque and greater power numbers that DI offers to small 4 cylinder turbo's.
 

PointerCone

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A gentle reminder for all participants that discussing politics is off limits, but I will have to just make this quick announcement prior to introducing this topic.

President Trump today announced that E15 gasoline will now be sold yearlong. E15 gasoline is something we do not have in Canada, and I can still buy 100% gas / 0 ethanol. This announcement of E15 ethanol in the US of A worries me because what you guys start with, well...we end up getting. Right now, our fuel is either E0 gas, E5 gas or E10 gas.

E15 gasoline scares the pants off of me. High pressure fuel pumps, fuel dilution due to high amounts of sulphur (recently changed as per the EPA) -cars can't enter ultra lean burn (sorry to bore people) etc etc WRECKS car engines and gums up fuel injectors. It also SERIOUSLY destroys the longevity of direct injected engines.

FU**. I'm so pissed at this ethanol crap. I'm SO tempted to bring up politics here but I will not.

So - question, so my American colleagues. Can you still buy 0 ethanol in your gas? Are you concerned about E15?! Does E15 affect your engines today if it is sold now and you use it? Any noticeable differences? High pressure fuel pump failures? Fuel injector failures? Rough idles? Anything?

<sigh>. Woe is me. :(
Most cars will handle E15, but many older ones wont. Boats, mowers etc can NOT handle the E15 because the Ethanol attracts moisture and that creates issues in the fuel system of boats, which are already in a humid environment. I will go out of my way to pay more $$ NOT to buy E15. Right now, most IL gas it E10, so another 5% in a car will not kill it. The ethanol industry was pushing for E85.
 

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I’ve been running E85 in my track car for the past three years (swapped full bolt on Subaru EJ205). It was dyno tuned on E85 and 93, I’ve never put 93 back in and it continues to run great. I don’t care about gas mileage obviously though, haha
I just modified my Corvette Stingray to run E85. It's $1 cheaper than other gas and gave me a serious increase in horsepower. But the tank does empty quicker and the MPG took a dive.
 

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Random ethanol question.

I understand that ethanol is the bane of many people's lives - especially with small motors. (lawnmowers, snow blowers, marine engines).

Here's a question because I'm not used to dealing with ethanol, even with the small engines that I now own.

1) I use ethanol free gas. 91 octane from Shell. 100% gas. 0% corn.

Now that we're entering winter, I get that people freak the F out with storage due to E10/E15. They talk about things like Stabil and ensuring there is no more gas in the tank and draining the fuel lines (e.g. running it dry). I believe one concern is gas in a plastic reservoir (fuel tank) = bad, and ethanol + gas + winter = bad due to corrosion, separation from water etc.

That said, are there any serious concerns if running 100% gas? Should I still use Stabil? Should I still ensure those motors are 100% gas free before storage?

Yes, removing the spark plug + adding fogging oil, sloshing it around and then ensuring the valves are closed are all things I will do. I'm just trying to figure out what the winterization protocols are for those of us who use 100% gas. It seems like everyone freaks out these days because they have ethanol in their fuel. Thankfully, that's not a problem I have...yet.
 

dchemist

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I am well aware of the various GM DI engines on offer and I appreciate your insight here. I am curious though, do you see a systemic issue of intake valve carbon buildup on these cars due to higher ethanol content in fuel, or do you feel the ethanol content is unrelated?

I am happy to write an essay about DI engines, fuel dilution, oil flashpoint decreases and carbon buildup on intake valves if anyone wants. I just don't want to bore anyone.
3.6 L LFX DI here, write away sir! There are a few stations locally that advertise ethanol free gas but it's not premium gas. Generally speaking all stations locally run ethanol free 91 octane or higher. Closing in on 60k in the odometer and I'm noticing slight ignition knock. The only solution I know of is to have the heads/valves cleaned. Any guidance?

Posted from my Pixel 2 using the RDF Mobile App!
 

drtoddw

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E85 around my area is 70¢ cheaper than E10. There are stations that sell pure gasoline. I use the website puregas.com to find those. Generally it's very expensive but, since I use that mainly for small engines, it is a minor cost relatively speaking.
I have run a mix of E10 and E85, generally shooting for a mix somewhere around E20-E25. I've run as high as E40 doing this but whether it works well enough depends on the car. I have a friend who's an auto engineer who has an old Blazer and he's been running E85 for years without issues. As @OBeerWANKenobi stated, when he dismantled his engine his pistons looked brand new despite having over 350k miles on it.
I have noticed that my mix will get slightly worse gas mileage, but generally close to what I get running E10 when running at highway speeds. In city driving, the E10 or E0 gas is much more cost effective, even with the 70¢/ gallon discount.
I am also much more likely to burn my E10/E85 mix in the winter because it is often a mixture with with a higher ratio of gas to alcohol.
I don't say this expecting that people take what I do as advice. If you want to possibly mitigate the supposed danger, do a conversion. If you feel that it's just not worth it considering the possible ramifications, there are pure gas stations in most areas. You just need to look. As long as what's going into your tank is clearly posted, I have no problem with the influx of E gasoline. Saving $14.00/tank may be deemed worth it by some. Personally, if I'm going to be running through a tank non stop while driving out of state, using a mixture that gets me there a little cheaper and will be followed up by a full tank of E10, I'm likely to consider it.
 
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angrypenguin

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3.6 L LFX DI here, write away sir! There are a few stations locally that advertise ethanol free gas but it's not premium gas. Generally speaking all stations locally run ethanol free 91 octane or higher. Closing in on 60k in the odometer and I'm noticing slight ignition knock. The only solution I know of is to have the heads/valves cleaned. Any guidance?

Posted from my Pixel 2 using the RDF Mobile App!
Sure, happy to explain the details about DI engines and what happens behind the scenes. I lived this nightmare for years and fortunately have an engineering background to help me make sense of all of this.

DI engines started hitting North America, en masse around 2007. Audi/VW pioneered this with the 2.0 FSI engine which yours truly had the opportunity of driving. That ownership experience was what taught me so much.

Back in 2007, the sulphur content in our N. American fuel prevented DI engines from entering an ultra lean high compression mode. This was due to NOX concerns. Fast forward to today, the EPA has now mandated much lower sulphur in our fuels versus 2007, but car makers today still do not allow N. American DI engines to enter this ultra lean burn mode. Thus, all DI engines that we own in N. America never enter this ultra lean burn mode, which basically means, that at certain engine loads, our engines run "richer" than they would do in places like Europe which has always had low sulphur in its fuel. This ultra lean burn mode existed for low load scenarios - such as when cruising on the highway.

Why is this important?

Having more fuel than necessary during combustion in DI engines is problematic.

More fuel = more fuel dilution. This fuel escapes the cylinder rings during combustion and thus ends up in our engine oil. The fuel is burnt off, obviously because fuel has a lower flashpoint than oil, but by the time this happens it causes the flashpoint in our engine oil to drop. (this is called "fuel dilution" or "engine oil shearing"). As our engine oil flashpoint drops, the volatility of said oil increases. This also then causes more oil to be "burnt" which forms oil vapour, which is an issue because of this lovely thing called PCV valves. Long story short, unburnt fuel and oil vapors are directed to be burnt again through another combustion cycle. Unfortunately these oil vapors get redirected through the intake valves again and in DI engines - since there is no fuel that washes over these intake valves, they get caked in carbon.

Carmakers have tried to do various things - such as coating intake valves with various different metals to try to get these vapours to not stick to the valves. Or - like on the EA839 engine on the 2019 S4/SQ5/A6/A8/A7 Porsche Panamera/Cayenne/Macan have a secondary built in air/oil separator....who knows if it will work well, but alas. It's called out in the engine technical training document for mechanics

Adding ethanol to this makes this entire process even worse. Think of the above process as your engine catching cancer. Google Audi RS4 B7 carbon buildup. These 400hp machines would drop 30-70hp in a YEAR!

The only way to fix this? Manual cleaning of the intake valves. There is some truth to running certain types of fuel detergent cleaners - mainly redline SI1 which has the PEA additive. The ONLY reason these types of additives help is because PEA is an additive that survives combustion. -so while no fuel gets pass the intake valves in DI engines, the idea is that PEA survives combustion so a very small portion of this fuel additive is mixed with the oil vapours and such and thus goes through combustion a second or third time. This may help intake valve carbon buildup, but who knows?

The only real way to fix and clean up intake valves is a manual clean with just elbow grease and/or walnut shell blasting.

^The above is littered with grammar mistakes I'm sure - I'm at 28 hours without sleep.

Symptoms of carbon buildup?

1) CEL
2) Rough idle
3) Loss of HP
 
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drtoddw

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Sure, happy to explain the details about DI engines and what happens behind the scenes. I lived this nightmare for years and fortunately have an engineering background to help me make sense of all of this.

DI engines started hitting North America, en masse around 2007. Audi/VW pioneered this with the 2.0 FSI engine which yours truly had the opportunity of driving. That ownership experience was what taught me so much.

Back in 2007, the sulphur content in our N. American fuel prevented DI engines from entering an ultra lean high compression mode. This was due to NOX concerns. Fast forward to today, the EPA has now mandated much lower sulphur in our fuels versus 2007, but car makers today still do not allow N. American DI engines to enter this ultra lean burn mode. Thus, all DI engines that we own in N. America never enter this ultra lean burn mode, which basically means, that at certain engine loads, our engines run "richer" than they would do in places like Europe which has always had low sulphur in its fuel. This ultra lean burn mode existed for low load scenarios - such as when cruising on the highway.

Why is this important?

Having more fuel than necessary during combustion in DI engines is problematic.

More fuel = more fuel dilution. This fuel escapes the cylinder rings during combustion and thus ends up in our engine oil. The fuel is burnt off, obviously because fuel has a lower flashpoint than oil, but by the time this happens it causes the flashpoint in our engine oil to drop. (this is called "fuel dilution" or "engine oil shearing"). As our engine oil flashpoint drops, the volatility of said oil increases. This also then causes more oil to be "burnt" which forms oil vapour, which is an issue because of this lovely thing called PCV valves. Long story short, unburnt fuel and oil vapors are directed to be burnt again through another combustion cycle. Unfortunately these oil vapors get redirected through the intake valves again and in DI engines - since there is no fuel that washes over these intake valves, they get caked in carbon.

Carmakers have tried to do various things - such as coating intake valves with various different metals to try to get these vapours to not stick to the valves. Or - like on the EA839 engine on the 2019 S4/SQ5/A6/A8/A7 Porsche Panamera/Cayenne/Macan have a secondary built in air/oil separator....who knows if it will work well, but alas. It's called out in the engine technical training document for mechanics

Adding ethanol to this makes this entire process even worse. Think of the above process as your engine catching cancer. Google Audi RS4 B7 carbon buildup. These 400hp machines would drop 30-70hp in a YEAR!

The only way to fix this? Manual cleaning of the intake valves. There is some truth to running certain types of fuel detergent cleaners - mainly redline SI1 which has the PEA additive. The ONLY reason these types of additives help is because PEA is an additive that survives combustion. -so while no fuel gets pass the intake valves in DI engines, the idea is that PEA survives combustion so a very small portion of this fuel additive is mixed with the oil vapours and such and thus goes through combustion a second or third time. This may help intake valve carbon buildup, but who knows?

The only real way to fix and clean up intake valves is a manual clean with just elbow grease and/or walnut shell blasting.

^The above is littered with grammar mistakes I'm sure - I'm at 28 hours without sleep.
But you explained that well Thank you.
 

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@angrypenguin Nailed it. I have some knowledge from owning and tuning a DI engine recently. Everything he said is 100% accurate.
 

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