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The Problem with Ethanol
Ethanol Harms Rubber and Plastic Did you know that ethanol can have devastating effects on power equipment? Ethanol blended gasoline can damage plastic and rubber fuel system components, particularly in older power equipment not designed to tolerate ethanol. In the example to the right, the bowl gasket became brittle and non pliable. The 2-cycle carburetor diaphragms on the far right are stiff causing starting and running problems. The primer line and return lines are brittle causing fuel to leak.
Ethanol Corrodes Engines Ethanol is corrosive by nature and hygroscopic (attracts water), particularly when higher amounts of water are present. This type of damage to a carburetor is typical when phase separation occurs and the highly corrosive ethanol / water mixture corrodes fuel system components.
Ethanol Causes Fuel Decay
High amounts of oxygen in ethanol blended fuels cause gasoline to decay faster, and if left standing for long periods of time, the decaying fuel leaves varnish and sludge deposits as depicted in these carburetor images.
Gasoline and milk are both organic -- they decompose the same way. A foul, sour smell indicates BAD GAS! Power equipment not treated with an ethanol fuel stabilizer will become hard to start within 30 days. Gasoline will decay in as little as 60 days!
2 Cycle Phase Separation The engine to the right has been destroyed from phase separated fuel. Ethanol is hygroscopic (absorbs water), the vial to the right is from the fuel tank of this engine. The fuel on top is gold in color because 2 cycle oil will only bond with the gasoline. The octane is also lower because the ethanol has separated from it and bonded with the water below. Approximately ¾ of the clear fluid in the bottom of the vial is ethanol. The ethanol water mix settles in the bottom of the fuel tank and is picked up by the fuel system, then delivered to the carburetor. The engine ran on this ethanol mixture, causing it to run extremely hot with no lubrication. This damage occurs in only a few minutes of operation. The engine also ran out of control, which poses serious safety concerns for the equipment operator.
4 Cycle Phase Separation
This carburetor suffered from severe phase separation. More than likely, rain water entered into this fuel system, creating the severe corrosion you see. This carburetor cannot be repaired and must be replaced.
Engine Failure from Varnished Fuel This piston and crankshaft assembly came from a 2-cycle engine that ran on stale fuel. The engine was hard to start and had low power. It ran long enough to gum all of the internal components, including sticking the rings.
Why bad gas occurs The problem with gasoline containing ethanol (E-10) is when it is left standing in a fuel system for long periods of time with fluctuations in temperature & humidity -- the fuel will start to decay in as little as 60 days. What would happen if you left milk in the back of the refrigerator for 60 days? E-10 gasoline decomposes the same way, just not as visual -- a foul, sour smell is prevalent when E-10 is decaying.
Warranty Concerns A majority of the carburetors being replaced and returned under warranty are for problems related to fuel quality and contamination, not due to defects in materials or workmanship. In many instances, the fuel being used today is making these problems even more prevalent, therefore it is more important than ever for end users to maintain the fuel system according to the guidelines published in their operators manual. All warranty claims for carburetor replacements must be for an identifiable defect in material or workmanship as documented in the warranty statement.
The number one Service Issue for AOPE Customer's In 2012 was Fuel Related... primarily due to Ethanol