"E10 Petrol - The Ethanol Menace"

Recommended Posts

Having read the article titled as above in the latest copy of Chicane, I think that members should know that what is written there is missing some crucial facts, & could mislead or panic some folk.

1. There is no E10 on sale in the UK today, & none is going to be sold here until 2015.
2. E5 fuel is largely restricted (but not totally) to "standard" grade pumps i.e. those supplying 95 RON rated petrol.
3. Most suppliers of "super" grade fuel i.e. 97 RON & above do not add any ethanol at all to their petrol mix. There are some exceptions to this, & one known for sure is the 99 RON fuel at Tesco forecourts.
4. The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) has been involved is discussions with government & petrol suppliers for some time regarding the introduction of E10 petrol, & has also undertaken extensive testing of a number of additives that claimed to neutralise the effects of ethanol in pump fuel (in much the same way as they did when unleaded fuel was introduced) & from this research they have published a list of additives that do work. Their announcement was as follows :-

"The FBHVC is pleased to announce the results of its fuel stability additive test programme. This research was designed to test the anti-corrosive properties of proprietary additives claiming to provide a high level of protection against potential corrosion of fuel systems, including tanks, pipework and fuel metering equipment on historic vehicles caused by the addition of ethanol into petrol.

VSPe Power Plus, VSPe and EPS from Millers Oils; Ethomix from Frost A R T Ltd; Ethanolmate from Flexolite all received an ‘A’ rating in the research which enables all these products to carry an endorsement from the FBHVC. The endorsement is in the form of the FBHVC logo and the words: ‘endorsed by the FBHVC as a fuel additive for protection against corrosion in metals’."

The additive shown at the end of the Chicane article is not on the list.

For full details of the FBHVC information on this subject you can visit their web site :-


Be warned, there's a lot of reading here!

I have been following this topic for a long time on behalf of The Sunbeam Lotus Owners' Club.

Edited to add - re the 2015 date - there are apparently currently 4 million definitely non-E10 compliant cars on the the road in the UK, & the current government has been very involved in establishing this date. So ....... when is the next general election due now we have fixed term parliaments ....... could that be 2015 perhaps? Work it out folks, but do get prepared, & also think about the E5 situation that exists right now.

Please note that I don't know what the situation is outside of the UK. I was in France with the Elan only a short time ago, & there were "super" grade pumps there definitely labled with E10 (I added VSPe Power Plus to my tank at these locations)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have just had a qick glance through my Chicane which just arrived.

I think that the page in question should be accredited as being an advertisement, not an article! :angry:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I endorse all of the above. There is a lot of misinformation and, as someone who has sat in on Ministry meetings on the topic, I feel very well informed.

There is little doubt that some of our cars might need the help of additives if the ethanol content increases over the years but I agree with John that the article in Chicane is probably more advertorial than editorial. For what it is worth here are some notes from my attendance at that meeting.......

[b]Ethanol in Petrol - Fuel Stakeholder meeting, 17 February 2012 [/b]

The Department for Transport invited FBHVC member clubs to a Fuel Stakeholder meeting on 17 March 2012 to discuss ethanol in petrol. The meeting was well attended by club representatives. The AA was also represented, and the meeting was well attended by oil company representatives who were generally helpful and sympathetic.

One of the key messages which DfT were keen to put across was that E10 is definitely not going to be mandated in 2013. It was widely believed that E10 would become the norm in 2013, but this was stated to be an error or myth. Up until the end of 2013 Super unleaded petrol (97 RON) sold at filling stations with more than 3 million litres per annum fuel throughput must contain no more than 5% ethanol ('E5'). It is a requirement of the Fuel Quality Directive that Member States' legislation explicitly mandates that some E5 be available. The intent was to support operation of older vehicles if petrol containing 10% ethanol (E10) is introduced. This requirement may be academic in the UK as no E10 is currently supplied and biofuel targets for 2013/14 are set at the 5% level. In fact, 10% ethanol is the MAXIMUM allowed at present under the EU Fuel Quality Directive, that seeks to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) by 6% over 2010 figures by 2020, but there is no minimum limit. Some 4 million vehicles in the UK vehicle parc are thought not compatible with E10. EN 228 is the European Industry Standard for Petrol. Any pumps dispensing E10 MUST be labelled and include the words "Not suitable For All Vehicles".

In addition to mandatory requirements specified in regulation, more detailed specifications for petrol are defined in BS EN 228 which is a national (i.e. UK) implementation of the European industry standard EN 228:2008. This supplements regulatory requirements with standards on fuel stability, corrosivity, pump marking, winter volatility etc and sets out to ensure compatibility of vehicles and fuels. BS EN 228 specifies a maximum ethanol content of 5%.

It was confirmed that most super premium petrol (i.e. octane quality of 97(RON) or above) does not currently contain any ethanol. In addition, some 95 RON fuels are supplied in UK without any ethanol content. The UK distribution network means that garages may get fuel from any of the refineries and the ethanol is added when the fuel is put into the tanker. This introduces an inconsistency such that not even the garage selling the fuel knows whether the fuel contains any ethanol, only that is has been supplied as compliant with BS EN 228 (max 5% ethanol and no minimum level). The industry representatives agreed that there are almost certainly garages in UK that have never (since the introduction of ethanol recently) had a delivery of fuel containing ethanol but it might be almost impossible to confirm which ones they are or to guarantee that they will not have a delivery of fuel containing ethanol. So, it is not always easy to know exactly which forecourts are selling ethanol-free petrol and which are selling petrol with some added ethanol but buying 97 RON fuels in UK still represents the best chance of minimising or avoiding ethanol, albeit with a cost penalty (but maybe a performance advantage?).

Use of ethanol in fuel is not a new idea. Ethanol's high octane rating and ability to be produced from local resources made it of interest from the earliest days of motoring and commercial petrol-ethanol blends were supplied in the UK from 1928-1968 with 10% or higher ethanol content. Brands included Cleveland Discol, and Cities Service KOOLMOTOR. Specifications on ethanol content of petrol were first introduced in industry standards (BS 4040 Leaded Petrol) in 1988 which specified a maximum 5% ethanol content. Subsequent standards (EN 228, BS 7800) also include this limit. Ethanol was reintroduced in UK petrol at up to 5% content by some suppliers from 2002 so your car may have run on fuel containing ethanol at any time between 1928-68 and 1988 until now!

The FBHVC are looking into the suggestion that they should collaborate with the oil industry to try to establish a more detailed and accurate picture of where ethanol-free super-premium petrol could be obtained for those interested in buying it. This will only be a temporary respite as it is clear that ethanol is not going to go away, and that a sensible strategy is to learn to live with it. The Department summed up compatibility as follows:

* At current E5 blend levels

- Some fibreglass fuel tanks (mostly on motor cycles) are incompatible
- Some aftermarket fuel tank sealants are incompatible
- These would need to be replaced to run vehicles on E5

* If historic vehicles are to use future E10 blends

- Carburettor jets and needles may need changing
- Fuel hoses and seals may need replacing

* Alternative is to use 'protection grade' fuels (currently this means the 5% ethanol level)

The three-pronged approach advocated by the Federation is:

* Compatibility: move progressively to the use of compatible materials as this becomes necessary.
* Corrosion: employ a proven corrosion inhibitor in the fuel tank as a precautionary measure.
* Combustion: adjust mixture strength to counteract the leaning effect of ethanol in the blend and re-route fuel feed lines and/or employ baffles or other thermal barrier devices to reduce heat transfer from the engine to the liquid side of the fuel metering system on the vehicle remains a valid and common-sense approach to the potential problems of the use of fuels containing ethanol.

The international organisation, FIVA, has submitted views to the European Commission on a consultation on the future infrastructure requirement to ensure the increased use of alternative fuels in the EU. The submission stated FIVA's view that both traditional fuels and E5 must remain available on the market to ensure the continued use of historic vehicles because experience has also shown significant technical problems for historic vehicles by the use of E10 - with vehicles most likely to be affected being vehicles ten years old or older, carburettored vehicles and first generation direct spark ignition vehicles.

So, ethanol is here to stay and we all need to adapt, use additives, adjust mixtures, replace sensitive components etc etc etc. On the other hand, we may all have being putting ethanol in our tanks since 1988 and almost certainly since 2002. So, if it hasn't broken yet, and if we can hang on to 5% maximum ethanol content fuels (the so-called protection grades) then we might just carry on as we are.


Since compiling this, I have had the following communiqué from the DfT:

I am emailing to clarify a couple of points I have seen reported from our meeting and to give you an update on circulation of information regarding the ethanol content of Super Unleaded.

I have seen a couple of reports saying that E10 is 'definitely not' going to be introduced in 2013. As indicated in the presentations at our meeting, UK targets for biofuel uptake are set at 5% for the 2013/14 financial year as an average across all petrol and diesel supplied. It is therefore correct to say that there is no necessity for suppliers to introduce E10. There is though nothing to prevent fuel suppliers marketing E10 if they wish, so it is not possible to categorically say that no E10 will be marketed in 2013. However, as discussed at the meeting it is not expected that there will be a major shift to E10 (and any pumps dispensing E10 would have to be marked "Not suitable for all vehicles etc"). Apologies if this seems a slightly subtle distinction, but I wanted to avoid any misunderstanding on this point.
I have also seen one report that Super Unleaded petrol "does not contain ethanol". As discussed at the meeting this is true in some but not all locations. I have now received information from some contacts on the ethanol content of Super Unleaded petrol distributed from specific UK fuel terminals, but am still awaiting responses from others. I will circulate a consolidation of the information I have received once I have the outstanding responses.


So. it's fair to say that you might need additives and the FBHVC has tested many and recommended a few (see first post from Maulden7). There are and will be many others and I'm sure that they are marketed with good intent. But be realistic about the effects of E5 which most of us have been putting in ours cars for years.

E10 is already available in Europe but pumps MUST be labelled, under EU regulations, to warn buyers of its potential unsuitability.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now