ALEXANDRIA, VA - With the EPA’s recent decision to allow the use of gasoline with up to 15% ethanol (E15) in 2001 and newer model cars and trucks, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) says that trailerboaters will need to remain extra vigilant when filling up their truck and trailered boat at the local gas station. That’s because while E15 could be fine for the tow vehicle, it’s not good – nor authorized by the EPA – for use with boats. A strong solvent, ethanol has been known to degrade marine fuel systems, damage engines, add safety concerns, and lead to expensive repair bills.
“When filling up at gas stations, boaters are used to pulling up to the pump and filling up the tow vehicle first, and then putting the same fuel nozzle into the boat,” said BoatUS Director of Damage Avoidance Bob Adriance. “If that happens with E15, it could be a big mistake.”
The EPA intends to put a warning on the pump – a small label with the exact wording yet to determined. “This is going to be a lot different from the choices offered to boaters today, where it’s nearly impossible to misfuel gas or diesel engines, or where there are few consequences when choosing 87 octane over a higher 93 octane gasoline, for example,” added Adriance.
All of this means that when E15 starts to appear in gasoline stations, boaters must heed the warning on the pump and shouldn’t even think about using it in a boat. Here’s why:
• Going Lean isn’t good: In addition to hydrogen and carbon found in regular gasoline, ethanol also contains oxygen, which means less air (or conversely, more fuel) is required for combustion. The term “enleanment” is used to describe what can happen when there is too much air and not enough fuel. While most cars and trucks on the road today have closed-loop systems that can adjust to prevent enleanment, most boats have open-loop systems which do not, adding a greater risk of heat-related damage to your boat’s engine with E15.
• Compatibility questions: Many components on a boat come in contact with ethanol-laden gasoline, including fuel lines, fuel tanks, fuel pumps, fuel injectors, carburetors, pressure regulators, valves, o-rings, and gaskets. The compatibility of these components with any blend greater than E10 is currently unknown. The failure of only one