Ethanol, currently found in most fuel, is the same kind of alcohol in your pantry but distilled to the point where it is nearly pure. The United States ethanol industry is largely based on corn ground into “meal” and paired with enzymes to convert it’s starch to simple sugars. Yeast is added and the combination is distilled then dehydrated to produce a 200 proof alcohol (a small amount of gasoline is added to keep this undrinkable.) Ethanol is highly miscible meaning that it attracts water, and because of this is can not be transported in pipelines, rather it is added to gasoline filled tanker trucks before delivery to gas stations.
Advantages of ethanol?
The US Department of Energy says, “Ethanol is a clean, renewable fuel. It is helping to reduce our nation's dependence on oil and offers a variety of economic and environmental benefits.” Ethanol treated gasoline is said to have contributed to a 20% reduction in green house gases in comparison to normal gasoline.
Disadvantages of ethanol?
First things first, current motorcycle/scooter fuel systems are not designed to run on alcohol. Rubber fuel lines being to harden and crack, seals and o-rings deteriorate and most noticeable of all, plastic fuel tanks begin to deform. Ethanol also has a negative effect on engines in that it reduces gasoline’s natural lubricating characteristics. Fuel’s lubricity is important in all engines but especially in 2 stroke engines. These engines are now running hotter due to ethanol, and the ethanol is washing away the oil on cylinder walls. I have seen dozens of 2 stroke engines seize due to the effects of this new fuel additive. The next biggest problem has already been mentioned, ethanol’s miscibility, or attraction to water. If water contaminates E10 (gasoline with 10% ethanol) the water will dissolve into the ethanol and disperse throughout the fuel tank. Once the water has reached the tolerance level of the ethanol, the mixture will simply sink to the bottom of the tank producing 2 distinct layers, this phenomenon is called phase separation. These two layers consist of a low octane fuel on top and an inflammable mixture of water and ethanol (the low octane fuel comes from the separation of the ethanol which boosts octane rating to what is said on the pump). This separated water then rusts metal fuel tanks and other small metal components in the fuel system and has actually grown algae in the bottom of some carburetors. Now if you’re thinking, “I don’t ride in the rain, so I can’t get water in my fuel,” you’re wrong. All fuel systems require ventilation systems for temperature change, meaning that the fuel in the tank is always exposed to the atmosphere, and if you live in an area of high humidity like we do, this obviously poses a large problem.
How to deal with this problem
There are many options out there these days for fuel treatments, but I took some of the most recognizable and put them head to head in a “reverse phase separation battle”
I started off with 4 empty glass vials
Added an equal amount of 93 octane Exxon fuel to each
then added an equal amount of water to expedite the process of phase separation or simulate the water that is either in your tank or in the tank of the “Quick-E-Mart” you filled up at. (The screw is to show what this mixture does to a metal fuel tank)
The first vial is our control, the second had Sta-bil, the third has Star-tron and the fourth has a new product called K100 (which you can almost immediately see a difference in)
Give it a good shake!
Then the mixtures are allowed to settle and as you can see all mixtures are still separated except for the K100.
2 weeks later and you can see how the screw beings to rust on untreated fuel, simulating some fuel tanks.
Advantages of treating with K100
Your plastic tank wont expand, your metal tank wont rust, you can keep gas longer without going bad, you get a boost in octane and you get a slight increase in power (about 1/10 of a HP noticed on our dyno)
I have a lot in of K100 stock so pass by soon to scoop some up!
It's been over a year and a half since I wrote this article and we haven't stopped the experiment.
The control is the first bottle and what hasn't evaporated destroyed the screw (fuel tank simulation) and has a layer of rust. The second bottle is Sta-bil which has kept the fuel treated, but the water is still separate. The third rust filled container is Star-tron and the last one is our tried and true K100. K100 has kept the screw looking brand new and the fuel, water and ethanol under control. I would have no problem dropping this year and a half old gas back into my fuel tank and you can see why!