Mercury official warns against increasing ethanol level in gasoline

Publish date:
Social count:

Mercury Marine’s Tim Reid testified before Congress on Thursday about the dangers of ethanol in gasoline to the recreational boating industry.

Reid, Mercury’s director of engine design and development, warned members of the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Oversight about the harmful effects of fuel with more than 10 percent blended ethanol on small marine engines.

Reid cited two studies — one by Volvo Penta and the other by Mercury, both in association with the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, according to a statement from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

The studies tested the effects of 15 percent blended ethanol, or E15, on performance, emissions and durability. In all cases E15 had catastrophic effects, leading to increased emissions, deterioration and in most cases complete engine failure. Reid warned that the use of E15 is not only dangerous for engines, but also creates a safety risk for the boaters who rely on them.

“E15 creates a higher probability of phase separation with water in the tank fuel, resulting in a greater chance of disabling the boat engines and stranding a boater out on the open water,” Reid told the subcommittee.

Modern marine engines are only certified to run on fuel with 10 percent blended ethanol (E10) or less. Engines made before 1990 are not certified to use any fuel blended with ethanol.

The Renewable Fuel Standard sets the levels of ethanol to be blended into the overall fuel supply at flat numbers and didn’t account for the drop in fuel consumption that has occurred. That means that to comply with the RFS, ethanol levels would have to exceed what some call the “blend wall,” or the levels that most engines could handle.

Reid reminded Congress of the incompatibility between E15 and the still numerous older engines in the fleet, warning of the dangers misfueling poses to those boaters and their engines. Reid also rebutted assertions that fuel with higher ethanol blends decreased emissions, saying that the use of E15 caused engines to run hotter, increasing the output of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.

“The absurdity of it all is that by using higher ethanol blends to achieve the mandates of the RFS, we are actually increasing emissions and lowering efficiency,” Reid said.

On Monday the comment period on the RFS mandate will come to a close. The NMMA is urging members to take action through Boating United and tell Congress why increasing the amount of blended ethanol into the market is bad for the recreational boating industry.


Senator visits Tiara Yachts

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., toured the Tiara Yachts headquarters in Holland, Mich., to meet the workers and learn about the impact of the company on the local economy, as well as the impact of boating on a state and national level.

Strong boat sales in February

Boat sales were up 2.5 percent last month in the main powerboat segments, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. data from 28 early reporting states, and up 1.1 percent across all categories.

Mixed messages on the economy

Markets tumbled on Monday as embattled Facebook sparked a tech selloff — the most recent illustration of the mixed economic indicators prevalent in the news.

Glastron adds Maine dealer

Expanding its dealer network in Maine, Glastron boats, a division of Groupe Beneteau’s Cadillac, Mich., operations, has named Branch Pond Marine as the newest addition to their distribution channel.