The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy recently released the results of two studies on the effects of using fuel that is 15 percent ethanol in volume in marine engines, and the reports showed significant problems with outboard, sterndrive and inboard engines, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported.
The studies were conducted on engines provided by Volvo Penta and Mercury Marine. The Energy Department approved the final analysis of the results.
Results of the reports show severe damage to engine components and an increase in exhaust emissions, reinforcing the recreational boating industry’s concern that E15 is not a suitable fuel for marine engines, the NMMA said.
Emissions and durability testing compared E15 fuel and fuel containing zero percent ethanol and examined exhaust emissions, exhaust gas temperature, torque, power, barometric pressure, air temperature and fuel flow.
Specifically, the report showed degraded emissions performance outside of engine certification limits, as well as increased fuel consumption on the engines using E15 fuel. In separate testing on engine durability, each tested engine showed deterioration, including two of the three outboard engines, with damage severe enough to prevent them from completing the test cycle.
The E0 test engines did not exhibit any fuel-related issues, the NMMA said.
“Current proposals by the ethanol industry to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline should seriously concern all boaters and owners of other small engine equipment,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “Although NMMA strongly supports renewable fuels as a means to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and improve the environment, there is growing evidence that ethanol is not the answer to America’s energy challenge.”