fuels damaging rubber components?
John Targett at a Goodwood Track Day (Photo: Victor
Targett, an English auto plastics specialist and V8 enthusiast
in the US, has sent in a contribution to the debate started
by Barrie Jones. (Jan 08)
There is a major mis-statement in Barrie's summary in his briefing
note in that even my '04 GMC Yukon is rated to run on E85, as
have most of GM's fleet for some years. Yes E85 is 85% ethanol
and E10 is 10% ethanol . . . truly! Not yet commonly available
in the US, but evidently on it's way. The farmers, and converters
of corn to ethanol, are beginning to catch up with production
of ethanol such that E85, which has been
unavailable, is now appearing at a few petrol stations. Those
who have tried this in an effort to be "green"
and patriotic find that the cost is higher than regular
E5 or E10, and their vehicles' fuel consumption collapses by
at least 20% and up to 25%! Reeling from the price of gasoline
doubling during the past couple of years, drivers' enthusiasm
for use of E85 is hard to find.
Meanwhile, the addition of ethanol at 10% is indeed quite widespread,
such that fuel consumption in winter time (in the colder parts
of this large country) is noticeably worse, as Barrie notes
in his observation about more difficult starting. I am puzzled
that, since ethanol contains additional O2, use of it adversely
affects fuel economy; will have to think about that one. It
must contain less energy per given volume.
Meanwhile, I will think too about the possible effect of ethanol
on plastics that will have been selected for use in petrol.
My first reaction is that there may not be a problem, since
petrol immersion itself is a tough environment. Rubber is a
different animal, and I can certainly picture that ethanol may
leach out some of the additive packages and cause embrittlement.
Manufacturers here of course have produced rubber formulations
rated for use with E85 even, to keep GM and several other manufacturers
happy. I imagine that such tubing is available in Britain and
mainland Europe. It's a good subject to attract readers to the
See also the
briefing note from Barrie Jones and reports of known problems.
of the rush to biofuels?
John Targett prefaced his comments above on the ethanol damage
to rubber components with a brief digression on the wisdom
of the rush to biofuels saying it would be interesting indeed
to have a discussion on this topic, central Government interference
in the market place, and the law of unintended consequences!
John comments: briefly, the Feds here decided it would be
popular to "reduce dependence on imported oil" so
have subsidised farmers who grew corn for conversion to ethanol.
The subsidy was generous, so especially the big farms switched
to growing corn. Guess what happened? Cattle are fed corn
which becomes scarce now it's being shipped to ethanol producers,
so corn feed doubles in price. The cost of beef and milk escalates
wildly. Farmers like the subsidy so much that they now convert
their fields that produced other crops and vegetables to growing
even more corn; price of bread doubles and vegetables (very
healthy to eat one's veggies) prices rocket! You can picture
the reaction! "I'm from the Government, and I'm here
to help". Sure.
views on this technical topic on the
V8 Bulletin Board
You can send
your comments or views on this technical topic to Barrie Jones
using an online response form