This website is the home of information about our family's 1927 Daimler 20/70, which is now back on the road following restoration. It is also a repository of genealogical information about my extended family, along with some historical information about Lancashire.
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Site last updated: 3rd September 2023
Ethanol in Fuel
The proportion of ethanol in fuel sold in the UK has just been doubled, Ethanol, produced by fermenting agricultural crops such as maize, has been added to the petrol you buy from the beginning of 2011, in an attempt to force us all to be "greener". Unfortunately, ethanol causes serious problems to many vehicles, and other petrol-engined equipment, such as lawnmowers.
There is no obvious labelling on the pumps announcing this, though there ought to have been one announcing 5% ethanol fuel as E5. Indeed, the replies I have obtained from the various oil companies indicate that they can not state with any certainty which of their grades of fuel may or may not have ethanol added.
Doubling the proportion of ethanol, which took place in 2021, is likely to cause serious problems with any vehicle built before 2006, according to a report produced by technology organisation QinetiQ. The EU, however, are of the opinion that there are now no vehicles anywhere in Europe which do not have a modern fuel injection system and fuel storage and delivery system compatible with ethanol. If your fuel system has components made of any metal other than stainless steel, they are likely to need replacement because the ethanol will eat them away.
"But it won't affect many vehicles" you may think. Qinetiq reckon 4.5 million cars in the UK are incompatible with E5 petrol, and can not be converted to use it. E10 petrol causes havoc in a larger proportion of vehicles.
"But I'll still be able to get ethanol-free fuel". You should be so lucky. Remember that the fuel companies have not been able to tell you where to find ethanol-free fuel for the last ten years.
In the USA, ethanol-free fuel is still available, both at the pump and in cans for use in garden equipment. This would not work in the UK, because the taxes applicable to road fuel could not be applied to these sales. If it was cheaper to buy cans from a garden centre, many people would just pour the contents into the tank of their car. It is difficult enough to police the use of Red Diesel.
The fuel companies have been told to use bioethanol or face penalties. They would not do this just out of their concern for the planet. Bioethanol is more expensive for them to source than is petrol. Little of the ethanol mixed into petrol is made in the UK, because it is made from the same types of crops used for food, typically sugar beet or maize.
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