BRP engineer testifies on dangers of E15

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Jeff Wasil, emissions certification engineer for Bombardier Recreational Products’ Evinrude Marine Engine division, testified Thursday on behalf of the National Marine Manufacturers Association at a congressional hearing titled “Hitting the Ethanol Blend Wall: Examining the Science on E15.”

The hearing, held by the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, was to examine the scientific and technical issues related to the EPA’s recent waiver decisions permitting mid-level blends of as much as 15 percent ethanol in gasoline and receive feedback on draft legislative language.

In his testimony, Wasil outlined the technical reasons that ethanol is incompatible with boat engines and other non-road engines, as well as concerns that the EPA’s gas pump label will not do enough to prevent consumers from misfueling.

He also endorsed draft legislation that calls for a National Academy of Sciences survey of scientific information related to the effects on engines of ethanol blends greater than 10 percent.

Wasil also testified that the warning label the EPA has proposed for placement on gasoline pumps is “completely inadequate. The label they propose will not properly warn and inform consumers about problems associated with E15, and it is almost certain to result in massive misfueling and subsequent engine damage.”

Wasil also discussed concerns that the EPA is not requiring that E10 continue to be available.

“There is no need to rush E15 into the marketplace. Let’s have a strategic pause while more testing is done to determine the effects of E15 on various kinds of engines and to see whether there might be alternatives to ethanol, such as butanol,” he added.

Click here for a transcript of Wasil’s testimony.


23 comments on “BRP engineer testifies on dangers of E15

  1. Doug Reimel

    Finally someone who has data to support all or our concerns of E15. Data that supports what we in the field have known for years of working with E10 and the problems caused by Alcohol. Thank You Jeff Wasil for testifying for the benifit of our Industry.

    I hope and pray they listend and heard.

  2. Scott Lewit- Structural Composites

    Excellent work Jeff, Thanks to you and the NMMA legislative team for taking on this very important issue.

  3. Mike Joyce

    The hearings are a regulatory requirement but the final decision will be made as usual based on political considerations. If the opinion polls say E-15 then it’s a done deal. The problem is we have not educated the consumer who in turn pressures the elected officials to do the right thing. My guess is the corn industry spends a lot more on lobbying than any of their oponents do.

  4. Name Withheld

    First, I didn’t read the entire transcript (behind the link) so please forgive me if my point is already covered elsewhere.

    One key concern with ethanol at percentages of 15-ish and higher is the fuel performance itself is affected at varying temperatures. Ethanol-infused gasoline is measured/tested at 68F and those results become the baseline for all performance specifications. These specs have no influence on the potential damage the fuel can cause on individual components (i.e. seals/gaskets/lines/etc.) because, frankly, that isn’t important to them (i.e. government entities pushing for ethanol).

    With regard to temperatures, once the mercury drops, the fuel properties change. Put a bottle of vodka in a freezer and you’ll see what I mean. Ethanol becomes thicker and less reactive with colder temps. In a fuel-mix environment, the ethanol falls to the bottom of the fuel tank while the gasoline “floats” on top of it. Therefore, when starting your car/boat/snowblower/etc., the first “fuel” that enters the fuel line and injectors is pure ethanol rather than E15 because the fuel pump gathers fuel from the bottom of the tank. This can cause significant long-term damage to the engine and create the potential of sudden stalls without the immediate ability to re-start the engine. That can be a problem…and a dangerous one at that. Of course, this issue is more geographically sensitive but it is an important technical angle to consider.

    In testing, this phenomenon starts around 15% ethanol content. The fuel performance up to about 15% is equal to pure gasoline (irrespective of fuel economy). However, above 15%, the performance degrades significantly and very quickly above that level. Since pleasure boats are generally not used every day, fuel will settle in the tank. The odds of pumping a higher percentage than 15 every time you start you engine is significant. Therefore, approach the government with more than simply the “damage card”. Hit them with the “performance card” as well. This is a huge issue with small engine makers, too (lawnmowers/generators/snow equipment/etc.). Team up!

  5. Gary Arthur

    The current administration’s drive to implement E-15 is nothing more than a political move to garner support–votes and money–from the corn lobby. Jeff Wasil has demonstrated the facts (as opposed to opinions) behind the fallacy of ethanol as a motor fuel additive. The decision to up the ethanol content in our fuel has already been made by this administration, in spite of the damage it will do and the problems it will cause–no amount of sound reasoning or science will de-rail this train. The only way to stop this particular act of tyranny is with your vote and your financial support–I am sorry to say.

  6. Ron Hill

    Great work for sure, Jeff. It never sunk into my head that the E10 could be discontinued. Such a joke, 40 or 60 per cent of our corn goes to this boondoggle.

  7. JB

    Exellent job…now if they’ll just LISTEN. Sadly, it’s money that talks and the ethanol lobbyist have plenty of it. My only hope is that all the folks associated with ethanol are the first ones to get stranded 20 miles offshore because their motor failed from ethanol gas. Hope their lawnmowers and every other small engine they own blow up too!

  8. Jim Bower

    Ethanol blends is just another example of government gone bad. The time is long over due to hold politicians accountable for what they do. If our great nation is to survive, we MUST have new political leadership. Leadership that is dedicated to doing what is best for the country, not special interest groups.

  9. anthony cavallo

    This is what I have come across, and that E10 causes the fuel lines to collapse,the alliumm in the carburetors wind up getting white powder, and clog up the passages, E10 also may cause boats to catch on fire if the fuel lines start to breakdown and leak into the bilge, when he goes to start the engine again,
    So if the E10 is bad for our boats, and Cars when they have a accident the CAR Catches on fire,
    Then there is the fact, when people ( Store) there boats and the gas evaperates, and the E10 is left behind, and the Engine will not run, and you want to put more then 10%
    Than You Anthony

  10. Bill DiFilippo, Nacote Creek Marina

    Corn is used to feed people and animals. Not Part of gas. The massive amounts used to make E10 or E15 leaves little for food. I can not blame farmers for selling to the higher bidder to make gas.
    As a marina owner I see many engines fail with clogged carburetors and leaking fuel tanks. This gas eats aluminum.
    My own outboard less then 2 years just had the carb. cleaned. the motor would not start.

  11. Steve Wiese

    Great work, Jeff! Why are the other engine/boat manufacturers not testifying as well?

  12. marine biz sites

    When the ethanol drops out of the fuel, the phenomenon is called phase separation. It is by no means limited to 15% blends as it has been happening with 10% blends. Vented tanks in the moist environment of boats “breathe” with temperature and atmospheric pressure changes, providing the ethanol with loads of water to absorb. Once it absorbs too much, phase separation. Now the fuel pickup in bottom of the tank draws nothing but the ethanol/water mix on the bottom. The boat owner ends up paying for carb cleanup, corrosion damage and tank cleanup–not to mention any engine damage from the long term effects of the fuel or from leaving it sit and corrode after a failed attempt to run it. Ethanol has no business being in boats in the first place, never mind at higher percentages.

  13. Charles C

    Being an American has always meant free choice! Something has happend here in the past few years that somehow changed that. Now we’re being told we have to burn this product that they know will do harm to our engines. Last I heard, the goverment and I mean all of goverment is suppose to be working for US, all of us and not just the ones with deep pockets. I say we investigate them all, jail everyone that has took money from big companys, strip them of all their assests and drive them to the ocean so they can start the long swim to the ones they’ve supported for the past years. Goverment needs taken down a notch or two so they’ll remember why their there in the first place. To make sure our interests are first an formost. Stop the waste of money to other countries and rebuild our nation to where it should be!

  14. Bob Edmonds

    My understanding is that the shelf life of “gas station gas” in Florida may be as short as 5 weeks. Rapid evaporation and water pick up, along with deterioration of gas lines and plastic gas tanks, create expensive carburetor problems with boat engines and other small engines. Gas kept in cooler climates in the northern US don’t seem to experience such a dramatic set of adverse circumstances. For my boat in Florida, I only use non-ethanol gas with additives. It may cost as much as a dollar more, but it is cheaper than carb repair at $350 each. We shouldn’t make matters worse by upping the ethanol to 15%. We have other alternatives to the energy crisis.

  15. Dan S

    I’ve been having periodic idle drop off, and difficultly starting on my inboard after it reaches operating temp. At times I have to open up the throttle to get it to re-fire, could this be the problem? Has anyone else had a similar issue?

  16. Neil C.

    Not trying to deny the ethanol is bad for boat engines and other small engines and even vehicle engines; but has anyone use the ethanol treatments out there? If so, does it help any or not?
    Thanks, Neil

  17. Neil C

    I’ve been using E10 in my 200HP 1994 Mercury Blackmax, my lawn mowers (riding and push), gas trimmer and my Stihl chain saw for over a year now and have not had any problems. Thank GOD. Not trying to deny all the negative effects of ethanol on small engines or marine engines; but has anyone used any of the ethanol treatments out there? If so, does it help? I do use the ethanol treatment.

  18. wnight

    To whom it may concern:
    Having ethanol gas forced down our throats is unconstitutional .We should have the right to buy regular gas without that additive .I use it in my lawn mower and weedwacker .The weedeater gas line just fell apart like it was crumbly cheese .There is hundreds of thousands of people having the same problem .It causes the rubber liner inside of a gas line to collapse , so your engine will not get any gas and looking at the gas line will not show it collapsed .It all happens inside the rubber gas line.Having this happen in a boat is not a good thing .The boat owners are forced to buy high priced regular gas at the boat docks . There should be a few gas stations that sell regular gas for boats at service stations.When you go to buy cereal , you have over fifty different brands to chose from and when you go to a gas station you have to buy what they are selling or do not drive.Lets take this country back so we have an option .

  19. Sandman

    I had tremendous problems with a carburated 1 yr old Honda outboard-had to rebuild the carbs twice-so much I traded it. No more Hondas for this kid either. I am now a believer that even E10 is to be avoided. So far my Suzuki 250 seems ok. The Government is dead wrong. Fight this thing.


    E-10 caused me to be tow in by Sea tow at horseahoe Beach Fl.The reason is in my E tech engine which was just out of warranty by a month.The E10 eat the seals out of the fuel pump.It coat 850 dollars to replace it.I was using the starite fuel treatment when this occurred last April.
    The Obama people doesn’t care about the america people at all.The EPA is the worst offender of our right that they are.They need to be stripped of there power.

  21. marina owner and boater

    As a marina owner we sell ethanol free gasoline. We charge more tha a service station because it cost us more to buy. We do not buy in the quanties that a corner service station does and we have to inventory the product and add addititves to keep it fresh sometimes for weeks.
    We make about 40 cents a gallon and when someone puts it on a credit card and I have to pay 3% to Visa then there goes my profit margin. Fuel at most marinas is not a big profit maker. There would be a lot more jobes in every state if the EPA would just use common sense!

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