AAA says E15 gasoline could damage engines - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

AAA says E15 gasoline could damage engines

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(11/30/12) - AAA is urging federal regulators and gasoline refiners to stop the sale of E15.
That's a blend of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol. The agency says motorists might damage engines - and void warranties - because they don't understand what the fuel is.

The EPA recently approved the sale of E15 after much testing. The federal agency says it's safe to use in flex-fuel vehicles and in 2001 model year and newer cars and light trucks. But AAA says the blend needs more study.

"The concern is as you increase the blend of ethanol in the fuel, there might be problems," said Dr. Greg Davis, mechanical engineering professor at Kettering University, in Flint.

Ethanol is a strong solvent. While it can clean away some residue, it can also attack engine parts. In Michigan, most gasoline has a 10 percent mixture of ethanol.

"The problem you might see is some of the rubber components, some of the seals tend to swell and shrink. So you might develop a little bit of leakage there," Dr. Davis said.

Dr. Davis participated in Department of Energy ethanol testing on car engines made in the mid-'90s. He's satisfied it won't cause major problems.

"I've got a lot of experience running different blends of ethanol in different vehicles and we haven't seen any, at least no significant issues," he said.

Dr. Davis says E15 could damage small engines. So those who operate lawn mowers and snow blowers would have to be careful about the fuel they use. Motorcycles and marine engines could also be damaged by E15. Its not believed any Michigan retailers currently sell the blend.

"If you look at the pump, its going to tell you if you're going to be running E15," Davis said.

For more information on the AAA study, click here.

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