BAR HARBOR — The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BOATUS) reports the Environmental Protection Agency is considering a 50 percent increase in the amount of ethanol that can be blended into the nation’s gasoline supply. The decision is expected this summer.
Most gasoline sold in the United States today is a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10) and the new ruling being considered by the EPA would increase the percentage to 15 percent (E15).
BOATUS concern with the ethanol increase is that EPA testing data has only been completed on a small group of 2001 and newer automobiles. Owners of older cars, boats, off-road vehicles and other gas-engine-powered equipment may find the new blend is not compatible or safe for use.
The problem is that ethanol is a solvent, and if there is any gunk or residue in fuel tanks, ethanol may dissolve them and clog the fuel filters.
Ethanol can cause additional problems with watercraft. Most fiberglass fuel tanks do not resist ethanol and it can break down the resin and create a sludge that bypasses the fuel filter and wrecks the engine.
Unless the boat manufacturer can confirm their fiberglass fuel tanks were built to withstand the effects of ethanol, the tank should be replaced with another tank made from material such as aluminum, stainless steel, or polyethylene.
Also, not all fuel hoses are compatible with ethanol, especially pre-1990 systems. Boaters need to check and make sure their fuel hoses are marked J-1527.
Another problem with blending ethanol in gasoline is ethanol attracts moisture and as a result, when the motor sits idle for a long time and the fuel tank is only partially filled, the water and gasoline could separate, leaving the water and ethanol at the bottom of the fuel tank where it is sucked up into the engine when trying to start it.
For additional information, visit the BOATUS website, www.BoatUS.com/gov.
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