E85 is the term used for the motor fuel that consumes a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent Ethanol. The US Department of Energy says that this fuel is the best alternative for petrol. E85, however, contains biochemicals that can damage certain car materials. This is why proper handling is necessary for E85 users.
In the proper handling of E85, selecting the proper materials for this biofuel is the first and most important thing to do. It is essential to know that some materials react negatively when they are combined with high alcohol content fuel. For instance, car materials such as zinc, lead, aluminum, and brass are sensitive metals that degrade in the existence of a high-content alcohol mixture. Other sensitive materials include lead-based solder and Terne-plated steel (composed of lead, tin, and alloy). Both are commonly used as fuel tanks for gasoline. Bronze, black iron, stainless steel, and unplated steel are also sensitive to high-content alcohol mixture. Moreover, nonmetallic materials are included in this threat, too. These materials include polyurethane, leather, cork gasket, natural rubber, thermoplastic, thermoset polymers, polyvinyl chloride, and methyl-methacrylate plastics. Avoid these materials to prevent the harmful fuel contamination that damages engines and results in the car's poor performance.
On the contrary, not all nonmetallic materials are sensitive to E85. Some of them are thermoset reinforced fiberglass and tanks, thermoplastic piping, Neoprene rubber, nitrile, and polypropylene. E85 is lso compatible with Telon materials, so using these materials for storing and transferring fuel ethanol is safe.
Being knowledgeable about the safe and unsafe materials for E85, however, is not enough to protect engines from fuel contamination. Proper E85 handling also includes controlling the E85 composition. Controlling means knowing the required percentage of fuel blends that compose E85. Basically, the E85 composition varies, depending on the season and geographical location. The fuel mixture needs more gas in a cold weather, so that the car starts up properly. In this case, the fuel mixture must have 70 percent ethanol as minimum and 30 percent gasoline (for cold weather only).
E85 is also composed of hydrocarbons, and unleaded gasoline is the most famous hydrocarbon, which Ethanol producers use in this fuel composition. These hydrocarbons embodies ethyl tertiary butyl ether or ETBE, methyl tertiary butyl ether or MTBE, and other kinds of ethers. More importantly, E85 may also contain natural gas, which debases ethanol fuel. Detergent additives are also essential components of E85. Too much additives, however, will produce negative results to the automobile.
Speaking of automobiles, not all them can use the E85---specifically, pre-1988 models; whereas, most car companies since after 1988 already produced E85 compatible vehicles. So pre-1988 cars must not use E85, should the owners want to avoid corrosion. To assure the vehicles' safety, however, automakers developed the FFVs or flexible fuel vehicles. These vehicles can operate either with E85 or pure gasoline, and their only difference from gasoline automobiles is the materials for the engine calibration system and fuel management system.
Meanwhile, the proper handling of E85 will not be complete without knowing the significance of ethanol fuel. Why do people use this kind of fuel, in the first place? Since consumers are becoming more dependent on foreign oil supplies and are becoming more aware of the environmental effects of gasoline, they are increasingly attracted to developing alternative fuels such as E85. This ethanol blend is the perfect alternative fuel for all vehicles in various ways. First, this biofuel is more environmentally friendly than the ordinary gasoline. Second, countries can produce E85 domestically using crops or artificially using chemicals. Third, the E85 production supports rural economies, specifically farmers. The most significant reason is that E85 helps in the protection of the environment and in securing energy supplies.
Technologies used in dispensing and storing gasoline fuel is the same with biofuel because both are liquid and have circulating temperatures and pressures. In the process of dispensing and storing, however, people must only use devices that are E85-compatible to prevent negative chemical reactions. But, what's more important is the storage of E85.
Tanks are the most essential object in storing E85. In this process, money becomes unnecessary because existing gasoline or diesel tanks are still useful for E85 storage. But, tanks shall meet the standard storage of the current US Environmental Protection Agency before people can use them. As far as E85 storage is concerned, such process can use lots of underground fiberglass or metal tanks provided that these materials were manufactured after 1992.
There are two kinds of tanks that are useful for E85 storage: the underground tank and the aboveground tank. The former must have dual walls, low carbon, and cold-finished steels, though most automakers prefer welded tanks. The latter, on the other hand, are a little smaller than the underground tanks. Usually, these tanks can contain from 1000-2000 gallons of this biofuel, and they shall be composed of stainless steels, fiberglass, or cold-finished steels. Plated metals are, usually, not recommended for E85. Albeit, storage tanks must use wares that are corrosion-protected and well-maintained.
The precautions in dispensing E85 is almost like the precautions in storing except for the containers used. Tanks are used in the latter while dispensers are in the former. More so, awareness regarding the wares used in an E85 dispenser is essential. With that being said, an E85 dispenser's fuel path shall be composed of stainless, unplated steel or iron because steels or other engineering polymers are high in chemical resistance. On the other hand, people must avoid using brass, zinc, aluminum, or lead as impellers because these are soft metals. Consequently, using compatible materials prevent inaccurate meter reading and fuel contamination.
The various equipments of the dispenser of an E85 engine must be susceptible to E85, but what are the main parts of an E85 dispenser? The fill pipes serve as the biofuel door to the dispensing system. The leak detection tool monitors leaks in pumps or in pipes, while piping is where the fuel flows from any source to the dispensing system. Another equipments are the fuel filters that alter contaminated fuels to prevent engine problems, hoses that are used in transferring the biofuel from the dispenser to any tank or car, and nozzles that protect the spilling of fuel upon transferring. Connectors are also parts of an E85 dispenser. Most importantly, an E85 dispenser shall have a label.