Ethanol in Petrol

Updated 5th January 2014 – See comments below – DfT postpone E10 Introduction Until 2016!

Since we originally reported on this campaign by the Yorkshire Region of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK), we have had some background conversations to clarify some of the finer details.

The Yorkshire Region of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) has launched a campaign regarding the maximum permissible content of bio-ethanol in petrol, from 5% to 10% (known as E10), under EU directive 2009/30/EC, which is due to come into force in 2013.
The campaign is requesting confirmation that the key recommendations made in the independent QinetiQ study commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) will be implemented, prior to the EU directive 2009/30/EC, coming into force next year.

In addition to this the campaign is lobbying that all fuel pumps should be clearly labelled with the bio-ethanol content of the fuel, giving the consumer a clear and informed choice.

Specific guidance and recommendations should also be made widely available, as the majority of owners are unaware of these potential issues with their older vehicles.

Yorkshire MAG says, “It is widely accepted that vehicles ten years old and older will not be compatible with E10 blends, though of course there will be exceptions to this.

There are approximately nine million petrol passenger cars and light duty petrol vehicles in the UK that are ten years old or older, which equates to about 38% of the total petrol vehicle population.

In addition, approximately ¾ million powered two wheelers (PTWs) may also be incompatible with E10 fuel.

It is not only classic and vintage vehicles that may be affected, as thousands of relatively new first generation petrol direct injection vehicles in the UK, the last new vehicle probably being sold as late as 2007, are also not compatible with E10.”

While adding that, “The UK government says this need not mean that all pump fuel should contain biofuel, and that is being left to the fuel supply and retail industries to decide. On the other hand, nor does UK government policy require that non-ethanol fuel should be widely available on forecourts.”

Yorkshire MAG Ethanol in Petrol Campaign – Click Here

Independent Study – QinetiQ

The Department for Transport (DfT) commissioned an independent study by QinetiQ to assess fuel system compatibility with bio-ethanol in early 2011. This study made a number of key recommendations:

  • Vehicles ten years old or older, carburettored vehicles (including PTW’s) and first generation direct injection spark ignition vehicles should not be fuelled on E10 unless the manufacturer can state the vehicles are compatible with E10
  • The automotive industry should produce a comprehensive list of vehicles compatible with E10. While it is acknowledged that some lists do already exist, if in doubt, the vehicle operator should seek clarification from the vehicle manufacturer
  • E5 should not be phased out in 2013, its widespread availability should continue for the foreseeable future
  • Consideration should be given to maintaining a specification for E10 fuel for historic and vintage vehicles

QinetiQ Study – Click Here

Basics of the Campaign

The basics of the campaign asks you to contact your MP, to raise awareness of the issue (and/or the Department for Transport) so that Yorkshire MAG can get questions asked in the House of Commons, directed to the Transport Minister and to request confirmation that the QinetiQ recommendations will be implemented, prior to E10 being introduced in 2013.

That specific guidance and recommendations should also be made widely available, as the majority of owners are unaware of these potential issues with their older vehicles.

The aim is to ensure that E10 is implemented in a controlled manner with minimal detrimental impact on owners and operators of older vehicles.

Yorkshire MAG will be collating responses from MP’s so they ask to forward any replies you may receive to their campaigns email address. A draft campaigns letter is available to use as a basis to writing to your MP and links to how to contact your MP.

Read this in full – Click Here

Ethonol Issues From Yorkshire MAG

The resultant problems for vehicles not compatible with E10 include:

  • Fuel filter blockage and increased wear of fuel system components: Ethanol acts as a solvent loosening abrasive deposits
  • Galvanic corrosion: Ethanol is more highly conductive compared to hydrocarbons leading to corrosion if electrically dissimilar metals are present in the fuel system
  • Air/Fuel mixture problems: Ethanol contains about 35% oxygen, so the air/fuel mixture has to be adjusted otherwise the vehicle will run lean which could cause drive-ability problems and overheating
  • Drive-ability: E10 blends can be more volatile, causing hot problems (poor hot starting, hesitation etc) and cold weather problems (vaporisation problems)
  • Deposit formation: Inlet system and combustion chamber deposits have been reported with the use of E5 and E10 blends compared to E0.
  • Material compatibility: Some materials used in fuel system components are less compatible with ethanol in fuel resulting in loss of structural integrity, swelling and softening of materials (some older glass-fibre petrol tanks and tank sealants will melt).
  • Ethanol holds more dissolved water and associated impurities leading to corrosion of metallic components.

In addition to increased maintenance & reduced vehicle life, possible catastrophic failure (fuel fires due to leaking hoses, piston seizure etc), could actually directly result in driver / rider fatalities.

It should be emphasised that for some older vehicles, or small market value, the required modifications to make the vehicles compatible with E10 or repairs after damage by E10 will be such that the vehicle is beyond economic repair.

Hence the effect of this will fall disproportionately on the poorer members of society who run these older vehicles and cannot afford to purchase newer more expensive vehicles.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs when a significant proportion of the population are suffering hardship in this difficult economic climate.

Read this in full – Click Here

The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC)

Yorkshire MAG have included a link to information from the FBHVC which lays out the issues and key points and includes information on:

  • Fibreglass Fuel Tanks
  • Effects On Tank Sealants Etc
  • Additives For Use With Biofuels
  • Use Of Kerosene In Petrol In Historic Vehicles
  • Study Into Material Compatibility And Carburettor Icing
  • Combustion Issues

The FBHVC also gives some background on the lobby work already completed by the Federation through contribution to a consultation on Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations from the Department for Transport (DfT) and representation at several Stakeholder Meetings held at the DfT.

Their conclusion is that” “It should be remembered that our vehicles use a very small percentage of the total UK fuel sales and it may be difficult for retailers to commercially justify stocking such fuel even if the oil companies will distribute it. The Federation will continue to monitor the situation and are working with the All Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicle Group to see what can be done. Regular meetings are being held and the discussions will be reported in the FBHVC newsletter.”

Read this in full – Click Here

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  1. E10
    From ACEM the motorcycle industry in Europe a list of ACEM member company petrol vehicles compatible with E10 petrol
    (i.e. EN 228 with the current volatility limits specified in EN228: 2008)
    Important note applicable for the complete list hereunder:
    The European Fuel Quality Directive[1] introduces a new market petrol across the European Union from 1st January 2011 that may contain up to 10% (by volume) ethanol (E10).
    For vehicles equipped with a spark-ignition (petrol) engine introduced into the EU market, this list indicates their compatibility with E10 petrol which complies also with the EN 228: 2008[2] volatility limits.
    Other information:
    The European Fuel Quality Directive requires that member states of the European Union must ensure that sufficient volumes of today’s petrol are available for vehicles that are not compatible with the use of E10 petrol.
    Owners of the vehicles indicated in this list that are not cleared for the use of E10 should therefore continue to have EU-wide access to today’s petrol (EN228: 2008 ) that may contain up to 5% (by volume) ethanol.
    In addition, it is a general recommendation that fuels containing metallic additives should not be used.

    Full List On ACEM website –
    Click Here

  2. Just posted on Right To Ride EU:
    Steve Rowe says: 10th April 2013 at 12:16 pm
    I have had an email from Michael Wright, Biofuels Regulation Branch, Low Carbon Fuels,
    Department for Transport who informs me that:
    “The Department is in the process of evaluating with industry bodies forecasts on how much of the vehicle fleet can operate satisfactorily on E10. This is with a view to assessing the need to legislate for a protection grade beyond 2013. It is not anticipated that this evaluation work will conclude before the end of the summer.”
    Hopefully, we will continue to have access to petrol (EN228: 2008 ) that may contain up to 5% (by volume) ethanol.
    Click Here

  3. Steve Rowe says

    Department for Transport – Consultation

    The consultation closes on 27th September 2013
    I received an email informing me that:
    “Today the Department for Transport published a targeted consultation which seeks views on amending UK legislation to extend the current requirement for filling stations supplying 3 million litres (fuel per annum) or more, and choosing to supply super unleaded, that this has a maximum content of 5% ethanol (E5) for a further 3 years, to the end of 2016.
    The consultation, titled “Consultation on a proposed amendment to the Motor Fuel Composition and Content Regulations 1999” is available on the Department’s website at:
    Consultation respose document as a word document – Click Here
    The consultation closes on 27 September and we would welcome any responses you may wish to make. If you have any questions about the consultation please send these to
    Michael Wright
    Biofuels Regulation Branch
    Low Carbon Fuels
    Department for Transport
    Great Minster House
    33 Horseferry Road
    SW1P 4DR
    phone : 020 7944 4378
    e-mail :
    I would ask your members / readers to support this by completing the Consultation Response form so people like me can continue to ride our bikes for at least another 3 years.
    Steve Rowe

  4. EAST Yorkhire MAG (Motorcycle Action Group)

    Finally, some good news on the introduction of 10% Ethanol (E10) into Petrol, which was scheduled to be bestowed on us in 2013.
    A huge thanks to all of you who followed the Yorkshire MAG campaign, signed the e-Petition, contacted your MP / Transport Minister and responded to the recent Government consultation. All this campaigning has paid off as the Government has now postponed the E10 introduction until 2016.
    Whilst undoubtedly good news, this is a postponement and not a cancellation, so the campaign is to stay on the ‘back burner’ for now, but MAG is watching developments carefully, and as and when required, a new National Campaign will be launched.
    Watch this Space for developments !!!
    Original Source – East Yorkshire MAG – On Facebook
    Department for Transport (DfT) – Response to: Consultation on a proposed amendment to the Motor Fuel(Composition and Content) Regulations 1999 – pdf – Click Here

  5. All very well asking for E5, petrol contaminated with 5% Ethanol, this agent has done more than enough damage at that level. Before long the UK’s standard fuel will be E10 and come with a warning notice, immagine that, our standard fuel with a warning notice and the only alternative until 2016 will still be laced with this dangerous solvent! Then E10, so much for choice, just like the light bulbs.
    How about a campaign for E0 for those that don’t want to damage their old bikes?
    The government are committed to their renewable energy policy and if they can’t get there via windmills and solar panels then the petrol gets it.
    They don’t care about your bike or old car, that is why they introduced Ethanol by stealth in 2006 and gradually increased the volume.
    When are you all going to wake up?
    The FBHVC were supposed to be fighting our corner but ended up in bed with the government, suggesting you can pay even more by purchasing anti Ethinal agents that might help fight the damaging effects of Ethanol.
    Why put the stuff in your tank in the first place?
    Currently you can use BP Ultimate (Not in the South West of England) or Murco Super where suppled from their own refinery. Mill Lane, Beverley, East Yorkshire is one such outlet.
    Use it or lose it and don’t say I didn’t warn you that one day you’ll be on an electric bike by law, some choice!

  6. Farm Bill Removes Subsidies for Biofuel Blender Pumps
    From the USA maybe this the way it will go.
    The Motorcycle Riders Foundation reports that the United States House of Representatives has passed a bill that would end a federal subsidy for biofuel blender pumps in rural areas. The measure passed by a vote of 251-166 and costs the U.S. taxpayers $956.4 billion.
    The Senate is expected to vote on the matter next week and there is little that those in support of the subsidies can do to reinstate the money. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.
    Putting an end to these subsides will likely result in less biofuel blender pumps in the market place and therefore less E-15 fuel.
    The Motorcycle Riders Foundation supports the removal of E-15 from the market until thorough, scientific study is conducted on the effects of the higher blend on the entire power train, not just the tail pipe emissions.
    Original Source – Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) – Click Here

  7. Steve Rowe says

    Is this another nail in the coffin of ethanol?
    “Motorcycle Riders Foundation Congratulates ABATE of Illinois
    On Wednesday, February 26th ABATE of Illinois made history. They successfully lobbied for a resolution that was passed by the State House of Representatives. The resolution throws the weight of the general assembly behind a federal bill that would conduct a scientific study on the effects of the new blend of fuel known as E15. This new blend is up from the previously approved blend of E10 fuel that contains up to 10% ethanol.
    When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the waiver that allowed for the sale of E15 they did not study the effects of the blend on the internal components of an engine. In fact, motorcycles are not even on the list of vehicles approved by the EPA to use the new blend. Using the blend in a motorcycle, boat, lawn mower etc could be a violation of federal law as they were not included in the waiver.
    The Illinois general assembly resolution supports H.R. 875, a bill in the United States House of Representatives that would halt the sale of E15 until an independent scientific study is conducted on the effects of E15 on motorcycles and every other vehicle. Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) sponsored the bill.
    “This sends a crystal clear message to Washington. A top corn growing state is telling the EPA to do its homework” Said Jeff Hennie Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). He added “The EPA never even considered what the E15 could do to a small air cooled engine or really any other engine except for a handful of passenger vehicles.”
    The MRF salutes ABATE of Illinois for their tremendous leadership and bravery. They continue to be one of the models of how a State Motorcycle Rights Organization (SMRO) should work.”
    Hopeful Europe will follow suit.
    Original Source ABATE of Illinois: Click Here

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