Throwback Thursday: Clearing Up Myths About E85 And Ethanol

Wow. Can you believe it’s Thursday already? The end of the week is staring us straight in the face. That means it’s time for another Throwback Thursday. This week, I decided to focus on a subject that causes a lot of debate among enthusiasts: running E85. There are a lot of reasons to run corn liquor in your car and just as many not to. That’s why the article, Clearing Up Myths About E85 And Ethanol: 16 Things You Need To Know, was so popular back in 2018. The previous popularity prompted me to make it this week’s throwback article.

The original article starts by explaining that Ethanol is a fuel created from the distillation of sugar. This fuel comes from renewable resources, such as corn and sugar cane. This fuel has certain advantageous attributes that make it a popular fuel for performance and racing. Currently, NASCAR uses race gasoline mixed with 15-percent ethanol, and the Indycar-series racers that initially switched from methanol to E98 subsequently converted to E85 in 2012.

E85

A quick way to measure a percentage of ethanol in gasoline like E85 is with this simple glass vial tester from Holley. Add a measured amount of water with the fuel, and mix it. The water will separate the fuel from the gasoline and display the ethanol percentage.

To clear up some of the confusion about this distilled fuel, the original article covers some serious talking points that every enthusiast needs to understand about running ethanol-blended fuels. For instance, a common misconception is that ethanol is corrosive. In actuality, by itself, ethanol is not corrosive. An E98 fuel (98-percent ethanol) will likely contain an average of 0.5-percent water. This is because it is extremely expensive to remove that last bit of water. When ethanol is mixed with sufficient amounts of water, this can cause corrosion. However, the effects can be minimized with easy steps such as keeping the fuel tank full when the vehicle is stored.

Oddly enough, ethanol is also an excellent cleaner and will remove deposits often left by “bad gas.” Ethanol is often mistaken or linked with a fuel called methanol, a wood- or petroleum-based alcohol that is especially corrosive when stored in solution with bare aluminum. Ethanol is not an acid and has little effect on aluminum fuel system components.

E85

Production flex-fuel engines are designed to run on differing percentages of ethanol, requiring an ethanol content sensor in the fuel system. Several companies, including Innovate Motorsports, offer a gauge that will display the percentage of ethanol in the fuel using one of these factory flex-fuel sensors.

One of the questions covered in the original article has to do with using rubber fuel lines with ethanol fuels. While ethanol has taken the blame for much of the “damage” that has occurred from reformulated gasoline (RFG), it’s important to point out that 25-percent of US fuel contains aromatics that are also detrimental to fuel systems. Over time, it has been shown that it is these aromatics, and not necessarily the ethanol, that can cause fuel system damage.

The polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) linings now popular for performance fuel systems are similar to what the OE manufacturers use for fuel systems today. It is not mandatory that you use the PTFE-style fuel line, but it will offer long-term reliability.

There is a lot more vital information in the original article, and you really need to check it out. It definitely gives a lot of information that you need to consider. Since there is a lot more vital information in the original article, I felt, Clearing Up Myths About E85 And Ethanol: 16 Things You Need To Know would be a great article for this week’s Throwback Thursday showcase.

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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