Lotus Elan

Ethanol in fuel

PostPost by: Geoffers71 » Wed Jul 28, 2021 7:00 am

I find this magazine article about Ethanol E10 in petrol (gas) a bit worrying. We tend not to use our Elans often enough to avoid the possible effects of Ethanol, especially E10, in fuel. I know that in some areas you can still get Ethanol free petrol especially for 97 - 99 octane, but not down here in the South West of England. I also understand that our government (?) will, FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE AT LEAST, allow higher octane fuel to remain at E5 level, but for how long? Anyway read it for yourselves.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Wed Jul 28, 2021 7:49 am

I await more knowledge than I have on what effect E10 fuel is going to have on Elan mechanicals etc but I know that it has the similar era motorcycle enthusiasts blaming it for just about any issue at all from punctures to rainy days. The hysteria has got to the point where it's hardly worth asking a question about any engine issue at all as the responses will almost inevitably mention ethanol in fuel at some point. I hope wiser heads will prevail here as if there are problems caused by ethanol I'd like to have some sort of reasoned understanding as to what they are. I've used E10 fuel in my S4 in France without any noticeable difference but that's been short term. Whether there are long terms issues - and if there are what can be done about them - I'd be interested to know.
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PostPost by: Robert10 » Wed Jul 28, 2021 1:13 pm

Shouldn't be running a Lotus T/C engine on 95 Ron fuel anyway? The following very recently from the FBHVC (E5 in "premium" fuel - & even pumps marked E5 might not contain any ethanol - to remain for at least 5 years & then reviewed - using it will help in the review)

https://www.fbhvc.co.uk/news/article/fb ... cle-owners
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Wed Jul 28, 2021 5:19 pm

Robert10 wrote:Shouldn't be running a Lotus T/C engine on 95 Ron fuel anyway? The following very recently from the FBHVC (E5 in "premium" fuel - & even pumps marked E5 might not contain any ethanol - to remain for at least 5 years & then reviewed - using it will help in the review)

https://www.fbhvc.co.uk/news/article/fb ... cle-owners



Interesting article that added a bit to my 'knowledge base' gleaned from other sources. Re running Elans on 'normal' UK fuel, I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences / opinions / practices. I've virtually always used it and not had any issues but then again these days it doesn't cover that many miles (unless I take it to France and that's not that likely at the moment). Its days as a working car are long behind it. It's whether there are any other issues such as fuel line degradation, carburettor parts eroding, fuel pump breaking, diaphragms etc that I wondered about. If you believe some of the lurid bike forum tales you'd half expect the car to dissolve around you before you'd paid for your first tank of E10.
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PostPost by: Frogelan » Wed Jul 28, 2021 8:14 pm

I have spent some time looking at the issue of Ethanol in fuel (e85) and here are a few pointers:

- the fuel offers a number of ecological advantages. In France it is produced from left over sugar beet and pressed grapes. Although the emissions contain CO2, the donor crop absorbs more CO2 during growth of the crop. In France, e85 is 0.6 €/litre. (that is about $2.8 to a US gallon and is much cheaper than 95 unleaded which is around 1.5 €/litre. It is now sold at roughly 1 fuel station in 4.

- if the fuel is left for more than a month, it can separate into its constituents. This is not an issue for regular use.

- in normal use a richer stoichiometric mixture is needed as ethanol is less "calorific" (I'm sure engineers have a word for this). Cold weather starting is often helped in winter by the fuel companies raising the amount of petrol (that is "gas" for the US).

- conversion from e10 petrol to e85 is not a huge problem if the fuel lines and filters are changed. This needs to be done as e85 will dissolve deposits that accumulate on the fuel lines.

- e85 was tried out in GB in various racing series - until the Gov realised that less tax revenue would result.

Personally, I really think that this is a realistic solution for ICE until hydrogen is economically viable. Obviously, big oil is not necessarily going to agree with me!

I hope this helps.
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PostPost by: mbell » Wed Jul 28, 2021 8:42 pm

So fuel in the US has been E10 for over a decade. Given the choice I prefer 100% petrol but E10 isn't the end of the world that some would have you believe.

The basic issues are:
- More aggressive on rubber components not designed for it
- It can dislodge gunk in your fuel system if it not clean
- Change in Stoichiometric ratio

Whether you need to do anything will dependent on the state of your car and the component used. As part of the re-commissioning of my car had had the fuel tank cleaned and coated, then installed ethanol safe fuel line (nitrate lined) between the nylon chassis line and my electric fuel pump, also between fuel pump and carbs. I've also up sized the idle jet on the carbs.

I also keep a minimal amount of fuel in the car and top it at the start of an outing. I do find the car runs a lot better with some fresh fuel in it.
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PostPost by: h20hamelan » Thu Jul 29, 2021 2:04 am

Ethanol should have more suspended oxygen too

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEf9Fdvx_Sc

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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:37 am

The problem with ethanol is that it is hydroscopic and pulls moisture out of the air. If the fuel sits around particularly this moisture can corrode fuel system components. How much ethanol is tolerable? I don't know.

https://www.alfabb.com/threads/ethanol- ... rs.191780/

Haven't tried it myself but if you are running DCOE's this gadget might help. You wouldn't want to drain the carbs with a hot engine of course!

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Jul 29, 2021 11:50 am

hmmmm - I wonder sometimes ... so some engineering input if you want to think about it.. ignore it if you think I am talking bullsh**t .....no offense taken

10% ethanol in fuel is not a problem from a carb tuning perspective as it will make no significant change to vapour pressure or jet sizing . Running 85 % ethanol in a carb car will be a real challenge as it makes a significant difference to these elements but not impossible to tune for, if you really wanted and I know a few racers have tried it as an alternative to expensive high octane race fuels.

Assuming the fuel has an adequate Octane rating for your engine compression ratio whether this is from ethanol or other component does not really matter. However some subtle changes in ignition timing may be required to reflect the changes in burn rate but this is really no more significant than issues with fuel from different suppliers

From a rubber components in the fuel system perspective ethanol may get some issues for 50 year old components but should be not an issue with more recent fuel system rubber components which form reputable suppliers at least are all designed to accommodate ethanol in the fuel.

Fuel aging can be a problem with loss of the lighter components that help the engine start when cold. Different fuel mixtures including different amounts of ethanol will loose different components as they age. A 10% ethanol blend may be better or worse depending on how it is blended with other components.

The biggest issue is how ethanol interacts with water in the fuel supply chain from refinery to your engine. This is complex and no simple answer. Ethanol tends to pick up more water and may phase out with the water in certain circumstances into the bottom of the car fuel tank or suppliers tank. This may cause the overall fuel mix changing and leading to a slug of ethanol and water into the engine with significant problems starting and running on that mixture as its sucked by the pump from the bottom of the tank. The good thing is that ethanol tends to stop water and corrosion in your cars fuel tank as it carries water through to the engine rather than leading to water and condensation build up in the cars tank. The bad thing is that it carries water into your car tank if the suppliers tank had contamination given you more problems.... like I say no simple problem or simple answers.

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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:04 pm

Irrelevant comment.

My dad assured me that a jeep will run on calvados (a French spirit), he tried this as he and his crew rampaged across Europe from D day to VE Day.

I suspect that he, in his 20’s, was also fuelled by calvados.

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PostPost by: Frogelan » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:49 pm

Thank you for your guidance Rohan.

Here in France e85 is now standard equipment (marketed as "flexfuel") on normal Fords and JLR gas guzzlers and is a popular conversion, mainly on fuel injected cars, and the "chip" business has seen the eco virtues of this.

For older cars with carburettors it is more of a challenge, but I think it is an interesting one if old cars are to have a future. As stated, ethanol produced here uses waste agri-products, not using high quality products. This helps to give a sensible CO2 balance..

With respect to the octane aspect, my understanding is that e85 can be quite easily assimilated by a high compression engine and avoids the use of additive potions. I cannot see how this would do any harm as long as the cooling system is in good condition.

There are some quite useful devices to monitor the richness of the engine made by firms such as AFR.
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PostPost by: HCA » Fri Jul 30, 2021 7:03 am

If anyone in France is tempted to convert to E85 fuel, check out the legality first. Only cars up to a certain capacity - sorry, do not know the limit - can legally use the stuff. When I say legally, it comes under taxation dodging, rather like using red diesel in a road car.

Even though it is possible to buy a conversion kit for my Evora, I may not use it and cannot even find someone with a rolling road to make the conversion for fear of the Douanes coming down on them..!
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:31 am

Frogelan wrote:Thank you for your guidance Rohan.

Here in France e85 is now standard equipment (marketed as "flexfuel") on normal Fords and JLR gas guzzlers and is a popular conversion, mainly on fuel injected cars, and the "chip" business has seen the eco virtues of this.

For older cars with carburettors it is more of a challenge, but I think it is an interesting one if old cars are to have a future. As stated, ethanol produced here uses waste agri-products, not using high quality products. This helps to give a sensible CO2 balance..

With respect to the octane aspect, my understanding is that e85 can be quite easily assimilated by a high compression engine and avoids the use of additive potions. I cannot see how this would do any harm as long as the cooling system is in good condition.

There are some quite useful devices to monitor the richness of the engine made by firms such as AFR.


Yes you could build a 13:1 compression ratio twink to run on 85% ethanol with the right modification to carbs and fuel system that would make very nice power cheaper than race fuels and be fully legal in my class as its a "pump fuel" . Cold starting could be a problem however as the vapour pressure of most 85% ethanol fuel is lower which means less vaporisation in cold carbs and intakes which is why it works best in fuel injection cars that spray the fuel under pressure to help vaporisation. Using it in Australia on a 40C race day is probably no problem especially with a few shots of Aerostart to get it running. Using it in Europe in a road car at minus 10 C every day may be more of a problem

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PostPost by: Frogelan » Fri Jul 30, 2021 12:03 pm

Hi Rohan

Your CRC Aerostart is not available in Europe!

I had in mind two possible solutions...

- fitting a choke and a fast idle control (Cf. Alfa Romeo Junior)
- using an alternative starting spray such as brake cleaner

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PostPost by: Frogelan » Fri Jul 30, 2021 12:12 pm

Hi Hal

There are 3 solutions here...
(a) having an official conversion and sorting out the paperwork - mainly for fuel injection
(b) having a mail order new box of tricks for "off road use only"
(c) some DIY to get the paperwork done.

I will investigate with one of the officially recognised places. One possibility is to fit a Jenvey Heritage conversion (Weber repro "carbs" containing fuel injectors) and work with one of these centres.

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