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ETHANOL USE IN SMALL ENGINES

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Ethanol Use in Two and Four Cycle Small Engines

10. Can I use ethanol in my ATV and chainsaw?

Yes. An ethanol blend may be used anywhere that unleaded gasoline is used. Nationwide there are farmers, cities, counties, and rural electric co-op fleets, plus snowmobile racers and fishing guides using ethanol blends exclusively with no performance problems.

11. If ethanol can be used in outboard motors, why do some of the owners manuals say not to use it?

When these cautionary statements were first put in the owners manuals, there was confusion with methanol, and also a concern about the quality control of ethanol, which was produced by a brand new and rapidly growing industry. Since boats are usually in close proximity to water, and often stored outside, there was concern about "phase separation", if the fuel was contaminated with excessive water. All marine motor manufacturers now approve the use of 10% ethanol blend. In addition,the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) no longer requires the sticker warning about alcohol fuels to be placed on new boats.

12. What testing has been done with ethanol in small engines?

A number of tests have been done. One of them was done at the Lake Area Vo-Tech at Watertown, South Dakota; where they put a lifetime of use on seven different models of small utility equipment. They acquired matched sets of each of the seven models, and ran one on an ethanol blend and the other on an unleaded gasoline. After each test, each motor was torn down for laboratory analysis. The most significant difference was that the ethanol blend engines had slightly fewer carbon deposits. The Detroit Lakes Technical College at Detroit Lakes, Minnesota studied the "Hydroscopic effects of a marine environment on Ethanol blended gasoline", and concluded that the amount of water an ethanol blend will absorb from the atmosphere is minimal, and should not be a concern. Other tests are ongoing at many locations across the country.

13. What is phase separation?

When a 10% ethanol blend is contaminated with over .5% water, the ethanol and water mixture will separate from the gasoline and fall to the bottom of the gas tank. This is an inconvenience, because the fuel system must then be drained and new fuel added. Before using ethanol blended fuel for the first time in an older small engine, it is recommended that the fuel tank be drained to assure that there is not water accumulation. Since many outboard motor carburetor problems result from water in the fuel system, continuous use of an ethanol blend will prevent water accumulation, and will also prevent unnecessary maintenance.

14. Will two-cycle oil separate from an ethanol-blended gasoline?

No, all approved two-cycle oils will remain in solution with an ethanol-blended gasoline as long as they will with a non-ethanol fuel

2006 Gilles Desormeaux