BoatUS criticizes pro-ethanol ad campaign

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BoatUS is taking exception to a Renewable Fuels Association advertising campaign that promotes the use of gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol in boats.

BoatUS said the RFA “continues to spread mistruths” in supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard, a 2005 federal law that requires the blending of biofuels such as corn ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply.

An RFA ad that appears as a two-page spread in the May-June issue of Marina Dock Age and unveils the association’s campaign says 10 percent ethanol blends “are increasingly becoming the fuel of choice for savvy boaters.”

BoatUS counters by arguing that although E10 is the fuel most commonly sold in the United States, it is not the choice recreational boaters prefer.

“According to those surveyed by BoatUS, 91 percent prefer non-ethanol fuel for their boats,” BoatUS said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, non-ethanol gas is facing more uncertainty, as the government mandate to increase the volume of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply may actually reduce the availability of ethanol-free gas,” BoatUS added. “While ethanol boosts a fuel’s octane rating, the U.S. Department of Energy acknowledges that ethanol contains less energy than gasoline and ‘result(s) in lower fuel economy.’ ”

In an infographic that is not in the Marina Dock Age ad, the RFA offers this tip: “Ensure a tight seal, if water is found, dry the tank before refueling.”

Says BoatUS, “This impractical and potentially very unsafe ‘tip’ asks boaters with built-in fuel tanks to do the impossible. Removing and disposing of phase-separated fuel — a result of too much water in moisture-attracting ethanol fuels — can only be done safely by professionals and is expensive. Even for those with portable fuel tanks, this RFA spin offers no practical, reality-based solution to the challenging disposal issue of the ethanol-and-water-soaked gas.”

“Regular maintenance is key,” the RFA infographic says. BoatUS counters by arguing that 87 percent of respondents in a 2016 survey by Boating Industry magazine said they saw boat engine damage that ethanol caused.

“Ethanol is a boom for the service departments [and a] huge drag on our industry because it negatively affects the customers,” a boat manufacturer said in the survey. “It makes them hate boating. It ruins their day, their boat and their entire boating experience.”

The RFA ad includes comments supporting the use of E10 from Mike Valentine, president and owner of the Crappie Masters, and Vernon Barfield, former vice president and tech chairman of the National Boat Racing Association.

“The fact still remains that E10 fuel has been approved to safely run in all marine motors,” Valentine says in the ad. “For three seasons now, Crappie Masters has received zero complaints nor had any fuel-related engine problems reported. Every poll taken has shown 100 percent of our tournament anglers are using E10 fuel in their boats.”

BoatUS counters that the RFA sponsors both of those organizations.

The RFA said that beyond the ad in Marina Dock Age, its campaign will feature educational outreach and additional ad placement in news outlets throughout the country.


2 comments on “BoatUS criticizes pro-ethanol ad campaign

  1. PJ Lash

    Ethanol – the gift that keep’s giving, to service departments that is! Be interesting to find out how many “cool fuel” modules have been sold in the after market and how many injectors have been removed and sent for cleaning or just replaced.

  2. Fletch

    PJ Lash,

    In Brazil the common gasoline contains not a measly 10% ethanol but a whopping 27.5% minimum and they have the same boat engines we do and no diversion of injectors to that country.

    It has work so well for so long that Argentina, Paraguay, and others are going to high levels as well.

    Water separates from straight gasoline, not ethanol blends:
    According to a paper published by the Society of Automotive Engineers, at 68 degrees F, alcohol with as much as 45% water will mix with gasoline and not separate. With 4%, alcohol will form a stable mix with gas down to about minus 22 degree F.*

    *A.C. Castro, C.H. Koster, and E.K. Franleck, Flexible Ethanol Otto Engine Management System 942400(Warrendale, PA:Society of Automotive Engineers International, 1994)

    …Mercury Marine says, “After the transition period from E0, E10 may actually be a superior marine fuel as it tends to keep low levels of water moving through the fuel system, keeping the system ‘dry.'”

    …Mercury Marine, which recently hosted a Webinar on ethanol myths, noted that ethanol does not “grab water molecules out of the air.” It is hydrophilic, which means ethanol holds water. With regular gasoline (E0) as well at E10, the primary cause of water collecting in tanks is condensation on tank walls. But unlike E0, which can absorb almost no moisture, E10 can hold up to half of one percent of water by volume, and the water molecules will dissolve in the fuel. The “solubilized” water will bypass the water separator and burn harmlessly through the engine…

    They used to sell a lot of little cans of alcohol called HEET and DRY GAS to >>>FIX<<< the water problems that used to exist in winter with the use of straight gasoline back before E10.

    If ethanol caused problems with water, every single winter there would be thousands upon thousands of stalled cars throughout the upper US and especially Canada with frozen fuel lines. It is the exact opposite today, we do not freeze fuel lines and don't need HEET or DRYGAS because we already have alcohol in our gasoline..

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