What you need to know about the switch to E10

As you probably know, the UK is making the switch from traditional petrol to E10 fuel. Many people are concerned about how this will affect their engines and also what this means for the environment. In this post, we want to try to give you all of the information so that you can make that decision for yourself.

What is E10 fuel and why is it being used in the UK? 

Both E5 and E10 fuels are a blend of ethanol and gasoline that is being used in the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, is an organic chemical compound that occurs naturally, which means that it is a renewable resource. When burned, ethanol produces fewer harmful emissions than gasoline. 

The main difference between E5 and E10 fuel is the percentage of ethanol that is contained in each blend. E5 fuel contains 5% ethanol and 95% gasoline, while E10 fuel contains 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. 

Environmentally speaking, E10 fuel is a better option than E5 fuel because it contains more ethanol. When burned, ethanol produces fewer harmful emissions than gasoline. This makes E10 a cleaner and more environmentally-friendly fuel choice.

However, the additional ethanol content in E10 can cause some issues for engines, so if using E10, it is important to take some extra precautions.

Which fuel should I use for my outboard?

Fuel quality is the most common running problem for outboard motors during the season. This is most often due to water in the fuel or degradation of the fuel. With this in mind your choices regarding what fuel to use in your engine are critical to a smooth running engine. There are a few factors to consider here:

Water absorption

In terms of your engine’s demands, super unleaded or fuel grade with the least Ethanol is ideal. This is due to its ethanol’s hydrophilic nature, which means ethanol holds water, which in turn isn’t so good for your engine. The higher the percentage of Ethanol, the higher the absorption rate will be and the more water your fuel will hold.

This obviously isn’t ideal, as environmentally the E10 will have a smaller impact on the environment. So if you are keen to use the more environmentally friendly E10, you can combat this absorption by using a fuel stabiliser to minimise the amount of water absorbed. This works both as an antioxidant and by absorbing the water molecules and therefore stopping them from being absorbed into the fuel.  This is something we also suggest for E5 fuel, but obviously with the lower absorption rate, the fuel stabiliser won’t need to work as hard in the E5 as it will in the E10 to keep your engine running smoothly.

Fuel Storage

It’s important to remember that fuel can degrade over time, which will cause problems for your engine. Ethanol is particularly prone to this, as it can absorb water from the air and separate from the gasoline. This means that if you are using E10 fuel, you should be extra careful about how you store it. 

Storing your fuel in a cool, dry place will help to keep it fresh for longer. The fuel stabiliser we mentioned above will also help to minimise the effects of degradation.

As a general rule, it is ill advised to store fuel for long periods of time, but it is worth considering, some manufacturers suggest that the lifespan of E10 is just 3 weeks, which is a lot less than other fuels including E5 that can be stored for up to 6 months.  This is something to bear in mind if you are planning on using E10 fuel in your outboard.

Effects on the engine

Ethanol is a solvent which can attack certain material compositions. This means that it can cause damage to the parts of your engine that are made from materials which ethanol can dissolve. This can lead to corrosion to metal parts, deterioration of rubber or plastic parts and fuel permeation through rubber fuel lines all of which can lead to starting and operating difficulties. 

If you are using E10 fuel, using fuel stabiliser should help to minimise these damaging effects, but it is important to check your engine regularly for any signs of damage. If you notice any damage, it is important to get it fixed as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your engine.

Age of Outboard

Finally, the age of your outboard will have an effect on what fuel you are able to choose. It is not advised to run pre-2003 outboard motors on E10 as they are not designed to do so and this can lead to damage. 

If your outboard is post-2003, then it should be fine to use E10, but as we mentioned before, it is important to take some extra precautions to make sure that your engine doesn’t suffer any damage.

What is the verdict?

Overall, the decision of which fuel to use in your outboard is a personal one. 

As a general rule of thumb, the lower the Ethanol percentage in your fuel, the happier your engine will be and the less chance there will be for running problems. We would be foolish, however, to overlook the environmental benefits of using E10.

If you are planning on using E10, then there are a few things to bear in mind to make sure that your engine doesn’t suffer any damage. However, as long as you take the necessary precautions, E10 should be fine to use in your outboard. 

We hope this has helped to clear up some of the confusion around E10 fuel and what it means for outboards. As always, if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We ‘re always happy to help.

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