The Facts on Ethanol Corrosion
Converting a non flex fuel vehicle so that it can run on e85 ethanol gas is now a common practice among car owners. Ethanol gas, also known as e85, is made up of 85% ethanol and 15% gas. At 85%, e85 currently has the highest concentration of ethanol alcohol found in an alternative fuel for vehicles. However, before you fully convert your vehicle to e85, you have to know the advantages as well as the disadvantages of ethanol.
Advantages of Ethanol Fuels
Many car owners have made the switch to alcohol fuel because of three main reasons. First, ethanol is much cheaper than regular gasoline. Second, using ethanol gas leads to reduced carbon emissions, which means it is safer and healthier for the environment. Third, ethanol is a renewable plant-based fuel and is in no danger of shortages.
Disadvantages of Ethanol Fuels
However, ethanol fuel does have its disadvantages. Most people considering switching to ethanol are concerned about the reduced fuel economy. Given the fact that e85 has less energy than gasoline, your vehicle will use up more fuel to cover larger distances. This is a major issue for those who use their cars frequently such as when they drive to and from work.
Another major disadvantage of using ethanol fuel, which many car owners overlook, is corrosion. Ethanol gas is more corrosive than regular gasoline, especially on metal, rubber, and plastic parts. In fact, this is the main problem that people who first used alcohol fuels back when they were first introduced in the 1970s complained about.
The Negative Effects of Ethanol Corrosion
So is ethanol corrosive? The answer is yes. Then how come it is being pitted as the next big thing in alternative fuels? To answer this, you also need to understand exactly how corrosive is ethanol and how it will affect your vehicle.
What can the corrosive properties of e85 do to your vehicle? In the past, corrosion caused engine problems as it caused fuel lines to deteriorate gradually. There is also a cause and effect relationship between ethanol corrosion and SCC or stress corrosion cracking, which is cracking caused by the combined factors of a corrosive environment and tensile stress.
Fortunately, this is not a major issue anymore as newer vehicles are now designed to resist corrosion especially since several states in the US have already started requiring a 10 to 20 percent level of ethanol in all gasoline fuels. Thus, car manufacturers are forced to make their vehicles less vulnerable to the negative effects of ethanol corrosion.
Aside from your vehicle’s own corrosion resistant nature, there are also some things you can do to help prevent corrosion when you use ethanol fuels. One is the use of an ethanol corrosion inhibitor that is added to the ethanol fuel to decrease its corrosive effects on various materials.
The threat of ethanol corrosion does not necessarily have to keep you from switching to ethanol, a more eco-friendly renewable fuel alternative. With new advances in automobile manufacturing and the availability of ethanol corrosion inhibitors, you can enjoy the advantages of ethanol fuels without letting corrosion affect your vehicle.